Re: [mythsoc] bogus consensus
- At 03:48 PM 3/9/2005 -0800, John Rateliff wrote:
> First, I don't submit my critical judgments to majority vote.That's a pretty funny statement, considering that you just quoted yourself
defending your own opinion in the words:
> Finally, I think there's a consensus (everywhere except on this list)There you are backing up your own opinion by claiming that it's widespread
>that Jackson's films aren't "excretions" and they're far more than merely
>tolerable: they're great works as well as successful adaptations.
and mine isn't.
> Second, your statement is so oddly phrased that I really don't know whatNone of those things. They are, as I've been saying constantly for three
>it's supposed to mean. That the films are not perfect and could have been
>better? Peter Jackson himself no doubt would agree. That I think they
>represent the best possible film adaptation? Obviously you haven't read my
>reviews. That they represent the best-ever adaptation of Tolkien? Wrong
>again; the Mind's Eye Theater's performance of The Hobbit get my vote there.
years, much worse than they could easily have been, and unnecessarily so.
> Most importantly, if you mean to imply that I'm the only Tolkien scholarNo, I said "primary" which does not mean "only," and I said "singular"
>who does not share your remarkable antipathy for the films ("excretions"),
which refers to the strength of your defense of the films. You have
certainly not claimed they were unflawed, but I know of no other Tolkien
scholar whom I respect who has been as forthrightly pro-Jackson as yourself.
>then the statement is flagrantly false, as you well know.Since it's not what I said, it isn't false.
>You yourself, inThat is not what I took him to task for. I took him to task for making
>your TOLKIEN ON FILM essay, take Shippey to task for not being sufficiently
weak arguments. My point was that if he couldn't come up with strong
arguments in favor of Jackson, nobody could. And I concluded that
paragraph by noting that even he finishes despairingly with the hope that
the film will send readers to the book.
>Brian Sibley, whose work as an adapter of Tolkien you praisewhich are very neutral and descriptive, as I recall. I can discuss Jackson
>in your essay, not only wrote two books in connection with the Jackson films
neutrally and descriptively too, if I have to, and I have: just not much here.
>Other TolkienThis list includes no fewer than three people whose credentials as Tolkien
>scholars who have either praised the films or been willing to associate
>themselves with them include Richard West, Bill Weldon, John Garth, Kristin
>Thompson, David Salo, Colin Duriez, and Patrick Curry,
scholars I don't take very seriously.
It also includes one person who was willing to associate himself with the
films until he saw them, and since then has maintained a discreet silence
which I happen to know covers a severe disappointment. (There are things
about the films he does like, but then there are things about the films
that I like too.)
The people I have talked to in the category you describe are mostly
"resignedly acceptive." They accept the film's not going away, they
acknowledge its good points, they hope some greater acceptance and
understanding of Tolkien can come of it. In short, they hope to turn the
Ring of Power to useful ends. I think they're foolish, not ignorant or evil.
Note the entire absence from your pro-film list of such obscure and
unimportant persons as Douglas A. Anderson, Wayne G. Hammond, Christina
Scull, Verlyn Flieger, Carl F. Hostetter, Patrick H. Wynne, Arden R. Smith,
Janet Brennan Croft, Jane Chance, Paula DiSante, and one Christopher
Tolkien, none of whom is on record as praising the film any more than I
have, some of whom dislike it much much more than I do, and many of whom
have likewise maintained a discreet silence which I have not, because 1) I
am much more willing to affiliate socially and intellectually with Jackson
fans than they are, 2) I am more willing to bear the slings and arrows of
outrageous fortune on the subject. And 3), as I said before, I actually
enjoyed the films. What's more, this camp also includes a huge mass of
serious Tolkien readers who are not scholars.
>That's an extremely diverse group to dismissNot as diverse as the group you dismissed out of hand with your "consensus
>out of hand
(everywhere except on this list)" which is flatly untrue.
>or to target with ad hominem attacks (e.g., your equatingWhat I said was a sign of ignorance was a belief that Jackson's work has
>disagreement with you as "ignorance");
Tolkien's greatness. I doubt that all the people on your list would say
that. I'm not even sure you would say that. But show me a person, however
eminent, who considers Jackson's work as great as Tolkien's as a
myth/fantasy tale (I'm not talking about "as a pure filmmaking achievement"
here, nor am I talking about merely chalking up numbers of
readers/viewers), and yes, I will tell that person to his face that he is
ignorant of where Tolkien's greatness lies.
>for one thing, you'd have to extendActually, I was surprised at how muted the praise of Jackson in the
>it to include roughly half of your fellow contributors to TOLKIEN ON FILM.
supposedly pro-Jackson essays in the book has been.
> No, we don't have "ample evidence", we just have some anecdotal examplesIt's just started, and it's already more widespread than its predecessors.
>of your being on a bad panel at a con, of a journalist getting a fact wrong
>(gasp), of a freshman asking a stupid question, and the like. Same old same
>old we've seen for twenty years (and some for forty).
>Besides, in a postSorry, I can't find where I said any such thing. But if I did, I'm sure it
>last week you ruled out the use of any anecdotal evidence that might
>disprove your thesis, so it's only fair that you accept a similar
>restriction against using selective anecdotes as evidence for that thesis.
was to say that no number of anecdotes that something does not exist can
disprove its existence. But it only takes a few anecdotes that something
does exist to prove that it does. The situations are not commutative.
> You yourself said people couldn't understand the different between a bookI said no such thing, so there's no point in discussing your
>with "Brian Herbert" on the cover and one that said "Frank Herbert".
disingenuousness any further.
>> We've already been over the "harm of the original work" question, and amplyYes, we have. That's what all those anecdotes prove. It's argument not by
>> proven that it does harm readerly understanding of the original work
> No, we've had no proof of that point. Repeated assertions of strongly
>held opinions is not "proof".
assertion, but by example.
>(unless you consider all the essays inYes they are, and yes I am. I deeply regret that I was forced into the
>TOLKIEN ON FILM to be "Jackson scholarship", in which case you're now a
>leading Jackson scholar).
position where I had to become one.
>I don't think that generation, looking at the web-sitesI agree that some people will be led to the book from the film - people
>set up in the last few years by people who discovered Tolkien's works
>because they'd seen and liked the films and wanted to know more, can
>altogether appreciate that the same phenomenon is at work and is likely to
>lead, eventually, to similar results.
have been led to Tolkien from Bakshi, yea even from Rankin-Bass - and I've
been saying that all along. I've also been saying that the MythSoc should
welcome such people. What I fear is that many of them will inadvertently
bring the film along with them. I haven't seen Henry Gee's book, but if it
claims to be about Tolkien I shall examine it closely for traces of being
inadvertently about Jackson instead.