Re: [mythsoc] CJRT interview/article in Le Monde
- Yes, David, charity is called for on both sides. Of course. I didn't read John's comments to be as offensive or personally combative as you did; had he fired off several e-mails filled with ire as you had done, I might have encouraged him similarly. I don't think John was advising you (or others) to shut up and go away. John can correct us if he was intending to say this, but his one clarification already indicated that wasn't his intention. Clearly you were offended and have been responding with some effort to give offense in return. It's natural; it's also uncharitable. When you stated that there is hardly any other way to respond to posts such as John's I offered my objection, which was easy for me to offer (of course) because I had not read his post as offensive nor was I personally involved. However, I must say pedanticism is a sin especially found among bookish library consultants, and so you are not as clean as you might wish to think with respect to that charge. (No shame there necessarily--the letters of certain Oxford dons we all admire on this list are filled with pedantic rants.) In fact, I'm about to be a little pedantic (perhaps) myself . . .I appreciate that ire is provoked when a book you deeply love is, as Christopher Tolkien said in the interview which sparked this fire, 'eviscerated . . . by making it an action movie for young people'. You and others should not go quietly into the night if indeed 'Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time', as CT thinks, and voices should lament 'the chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become', if this is indeed the case as the one closest to the whole affair seems to think. Whether 'the commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing' is certainly a point worthy for debate, especially on this list. I think John was only pointing out that CT has chosen to do the only thing he can in response, and that is simply to look away. That remains an option, and for those most hurt by what Jackson and marketers have done with Tolkien's books (which for some unfortunately are ironic idols, 'their precious', as it were) by making the movies and all the paraphernalia they have spawned (like orcs in Mordor maybe), perhaps looking away until one can at least deal calmly with those people is the best response. (I am speaking generally now, and not insinuating that you David have made your beloved attachment to and enjoyment of the books your own idol, just to be clear.) But other responses are sometimes necessary. Jesus was gentle with sinners and harsh with Pharisees. Perhaps the Tolkienian temple needs cleansing, and we look for a Messiah who will come with his whip of cords and drive out Peter Jackson, John Davis, and all other profane money-changers from the holy house of Illuvatar? As then, so now: wisdom (and also charity, I hope) is required to discern the sheep from the goats.Travis
On Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 2:01 PM, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
Really? How charitable do you expect a human being to be to someone who 1) advises him to shut up and go away, 2) gives specific advice on how to shut up and go away, 3) denies that he's just given the advice he's just given, 4) calls him "pedantic" for pointing this out?
Would you advise him to be charitable towards people who are distressed at having Tolkien ripped apart and shredded in the public eye? Perhaps you should have tried that first.
From: Travis Buchanan
Sent: Dec 10, 2012 5:46 AM
Subject: Re: [mythsoc] CJRT interview/article in Le Monde
There are many other ways to react David, like charitably.Travis BuchananTravis
On Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 1:12 PM, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
We certainly have.
People who do not wish to generate pedantic replies should not offer pedantically faulty comparisons as specific advice to take as models.
People who do not wish to generate facetious replies should not profess denials that they expressed the opinions they just now expressed.
Really, there's hardly any other way to react to posts like the previous.-----Original Message-----
From: John DavisSent: Dec 10, 2012 5:00 AM
Subject: Re: [mythsoc] CJRT interview/article in Le MondeAh, we sadly appear to have degenerated from useful discussion into the more perilous realms of pedanticism and facetiousness.So I will take my own advice and choose what to read and reply to, and what to delete.John----- Original Message -----From: David BratmanSent: Monday, December 10, 2012 12:43 PMSubject: Re: [mythsoc] CJRT interview/article in Le Monde
"John Davis" <john@...> wrote:
>Personally, I see very little talk of the films in either Mythprint or Amon
>Hen (the UK Tolkien Society newsletter). Certainly no film fans 'badgering
In case you hadn't noticed, the Mythopoeic Society is more than its
newsletter. (And there was plenty in that newsletter about the LR movies,
expressing a variety of opinions, when they came out. I expect more when
the Hobbit movies come out.) And, I should have added, there is more to
Tolkien fandom than the Mythopoeic Society.
>So yes, I think it is very possible to turn one's head away. Where to? The
>books, for a start.
I'd be happy to talk just about the books. Why isn't everybody else in what
is, after all, Tolkien fandom, not Jackson fandom?
>I wasn't interested in the Olympics being held in my
>back garden in 2012, so I didn't watch TV or the news for a month.
You didn't just avoid Olympics news, you shut off TV news entirely? That
seems unnecessarily severe if one is actually interested in what's going on
in the world.
And if you're offering that as a pattern to follow (and, if not, why did you
mention it?), you are now suggesting that book fans who don't want to hear
about the movies shut off their list subscriptions for a month.
Actually, not a month. The Olympics are gone from the mainstream news after
a month, but the LR movies weren't gone from this list for over three years.
They're not gone even now. So you are suggesting that we shut up and go
away. I'm not going.
>I don't like adverts, so I don't watch TV channels with adverts.
DVRs allow you to edit adverts out without having to watch them first.
Where is the tool to edit movie-oriented e-mails out without having to read
>I'm not interested in emails about C.S. Lewis on this list, so I skip them.
Here's where it becomes clear that "not interested in" is not an equivalent.
There's several different points here:
1) If people were just talking about the movies as movies, I would skip it
too. But they're not. They're comparing them to Tolkien, and comparison to
Tolkien is inherent in the first reaction to the movies. It's not just
something to skip: it's a positive irritation.
2) If the movies weren't adaptations of Tolkien, but just big fantasy
blockbuster movies without a Tolkien book source, there wouldn't be so much
talk about them on Tolkien-oriented lists in the first place. How much talk
of the "Game of Thrones" miniseries has there been on this list? Very
little, and that's a huge fantasy blockbuster.
3) This being the Mythopoeic Society, this list is also a Lewis list. If
Lewis talk really annoyed or irritated me, I could join another, purely
Tolkien society. I was not aware, when I joined the Mythopoeic Society,
that I had joined a Peter Jackson Society.
>The joy of a pluralist society as it applies to the arts is that those who
>enjoy something can be catered to, and those who don't do not have to
I don't know what planet you live on, but in the Western culture of Earth,
media badgerment about the latest fad in the arts is a constant, avoidable
only by hermitage. I in fact do not watch television news, or (except
rarely) television at all, because I find it the most badgering medium.
Fortunately there are other, less annoying media to get my news of the
But never mind that. You say we don't have to read. Fine, so where is the
MythSoc list that doesn't contain people lecturing me about what my attitude
towards the movies should be?
>And incidentally, I wasn't suggesting that 'movie fans should enthuse all
>they like...while those not so inclided shoul[d] just shut up' (not in that
>post at least). I am not sure how you read that between my lines as
>I was merely completing a quote by Christopher Tolkien, where I felt that
>his most important point had been unfairly cut.
Ah, well then it must have been somebody other than yourself who added to
your post the words (not quoted from Christopher Tolkien), "[it] seems
advice to those who dislike the films." Perhaps you ought to check the
security of your e-mail account.
- John Rateliff has given a more authoritative word, if coming from Roger Lancelyn Green, as well as a very sensible perspective. (He seems endowed with great sense, judging from his postings.) I had felt because of Tolkien's later letters (e.g., no. 252 to his son Michael) and Carpenter's biography (and Colin Duriez and others who follow him) that the 'cooling' (word first used by Carpenter?) in Tolkien and Lewis's relationship began or was accelerated by the arrival of Charles Williams in Oxford during the war, and the immediacy with which he and Lewis became intimate friends. It is popular knowledge of course that Tolkien wasn't fond of the Narnia stories, but I had never encountered the opinion offered by Bruce Charlton on the blog (http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2012/08/timing-and-causes-of-breakdown-of.html) that Lewis's writing of The Chronicles was the breaking point in their relationship, or that Tolkien saw that as a violation of their original pact to both write some fiction where the chief characters discover or enact myth, which Lewis finished in good time (his Ransom trilogy under the theme of space-travel) and Tolkien--'that great but dilatory and unmethodical man', as Lewis commented in a letter on whether Tolkien's contribution to their agreement would ever be completed--never did (his The Notional Club Papers, under the theme of time-travel). Neither did Tolkien approve of several other of Lewis's works and certainly was bothered by Lewis's (mostly unsought) position as a popular articulater and defender of 'mere Christianity' to a generation (I think because he thought it improper for one without professional theological training to assume such a role (Austin Farrer would have been better suited, from the Anglican position, I assume Tolkien would say (indeed if he did not say so himself somewhere))--even if such a role was foisted upon Lewis--and he disagreed with many of Lewis's theological views due to their differing from traditional Catholic dogma--for example, in Letter 83 (1944) Tolkien commented that 'there is a good deal of Ulster still left in C.S.L. if hidden from himself'; and Tolkien was working on a commentary of objections to views presented Lewis's Letters to Malcolm which he never finished or shared with him, but which he was privately referring to as 'The Ulsterior Motive'). I would still guess (though Charlton has disagreed) that Tolkien was somewhat jealous over Lewis's quick and intimate friendship with Williams, which somewhat displaced him as an influence on Lewis, as well as Lewis's productivity and growing popularity beginning with his war broadcasts and the publication of The Screwtape Letters (1942), which incidentally was the only of his works ever dedicated to Tolkien. That, based on my limited exposure to the literature, is the explanation of the beginning of the 'cooling' with the most evidence, including Tolkien's own recollections about the arrival of Williams in Oxford and his (spoiling) influence over Lewis's writing (again see Letter 252). But Rateliff's common sense observation certainly also seems right, that 'friendships are complicated, and the ending of a long-time one is tragic but hardly unprecedented or strange', and so accumulative and thus difficult to trace to a specific event or point in time, as well as the apparent testimony of Roger Lancelyn Green Rateliff relayed by Rateliff that 'the cooling of the Lewis/Tolkien friendship was mutual, which seems to be far more likely than that Tolkien didn't like something Lewis had written and unfriended him on the spot'.TravisOn Sun, Dec 23, 2012 at 7:27 AM, John Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:On Dec 21, 2012, at 2:00 PM, dale nelson wrote:Thanks for the link, Dale. Having just read the post and skimmed the comments (what do those folks have against Spenser, anyway?), have to say I'm entirely unconvinced that the breakdown of a friendship of twenty-plus years' standing can be easily dated and traced to a single simple event. In some cases, yes; in this particular one, no. Roger Lancelyn Green told me the cooling of the Lewis/Tolkien friendship was mutual, which seems to be far more likely than that Tolkien didn't like something Lewis had written and unfriended him on the spot. Besides which the blogger's theory that CSL's starting Narnia violated the Lewis/Tolkien space-travel/time-travel pact doesn't take into account other works Lewis or Tolkien had worked on during that time that didn't fit into either category, like JRRT's FARMER GILES or CSL's THE GREAT DIVORCE, to name but two.In short, too pat. Friendships are complicated, and the ending of a long-time one is tragic but hardly unprecedented or strange.--John R.