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Re: [mythsoc] Gandalf's old bones, old crotchety Wilson, old dead white manmusics

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    ... True enough. But, while Gandalf may well have been subject to aches and pains, and even have complained about them, he would certainly not wonder _why_ (or
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 29, 2001
      >Regarding the ongoing discussion of Gandalf's aching bones--
      >
      >There is one point I recall where Gandalf does take on the querulous old man
      >persona, you may recall when he is about to enter Meduseld they try to take
      >away his staff, but he complains that as an old man he needs the support.
      >But I am not sure that Gandalf is immune to the ravages of age any more than
      >privations of the flesh. Like Christ, I think he has to be convincing as a
      >human, or man in M-e parlance. This might well involve aching bones. It
      >seems to me that there are some other hints of this sort of humanity.


      True enough. But, while Gandalf may well have been subject to aches
      and pains, and even have complained about them, he would certainly
      not wonder _why_ (or that) the Valar sent him to Middle-earth in the
      form of an old man. For one thing, he most likely arrayed _himself_
      in flesh, as did other Maiar, according to his tastes and
      temperament, at least initially; though it is possible that he lost
      the ability to alter this form easily, through long habit. For
      another, he would know, at least as well as we do, the designs of the
      Valar. I expect that this underlies why such a statement coming from
      Gandalf rings so false to many of us: it implies an ignorance of
      Gandalf of his nature, mission, and constraints that strains
      credulity.
    • David S. Bratman
      ... Considering what ensues, and the absence of any other references, it seems pretty clear to me that Gandalf s motive here is not purely physical. The
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 29, 2001
        At 12:02 PM 11/29/2001 , DL wrote:

        >There is one point I recall where Gandalf does take on the querulous old man
        >persona, you may recall when he is about to enter Meduseld they try to take
        >away his staff, but he complains that as an old man he needs the support.

        Considering what ensues, and the absence of any other references, it seems
        pretty clear to me that Gandalf's motive here is not purely physical. "The
        staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age," points out
        Hama, and it emerges that the request to have it left outside came from
        Wormtongue, who knew well what Gandalf's staff was really for.

        >But I am not sure that Gandalf is immune to the ravages of age any more than
        >privations of the flesh. Like Christ, I think he has to be convincing as a
        >human, or man in M-e parlance. This might well involve aching bones. It
        >seems to me that there are some other hints of this sort of humanity.

        Very well: either Tolkien, through these other hints, rendered Gandalf
        convincing as a man (he's a man in our parlance more than he is in
        Middle-earth's), in which case added querulousness about aching bones is
        not necessary; or else that added querulousness is necessary, in which case
        Tolkien to that extent failed to make Gandalf convincing. Is anyone
        prepared to make the latter argument?

        What Carl says in all seriousness is the point I was intending in my more
        whimsical manner in an earlier post, when I regretted that Jackson's
        Gandalf had apparently not read Appendix B.

        >I'm not sure what else I've read by A.N. Wilson, but I was glad to have read
        >the biography. Even though he (Wilson, not Lewis) comes across as a rather
        >poisonous person, I rather enjoyed reading a biography of Lewis NOT by
        >someone fawning over him. I think I like Sayers' _Jack_ best, but it
        >doesn't provide the sort of thing that Wilson's does. While you have to
        >suspect practically every fact, increasingly I think you almost have to in
        >any book, and I think Sayers is wrong in some places, too.

        Do you think that Sayer [not Sayers], or Green and Hooper, fawn over Lewis?
        Alas it is true that there are errors of fact in Sayer.

        >Re: Wagner vs. Tolkien, I remember reading the Wagner plots in this opera
        >plot summary book which my mother had when I was 12 or so, and being very
        >excited about Wagner's operas before ever hearing them. Well, I can enjoy
        >the Ring, especially Das Rheingold, and parts of the other operas, but aside
        >from _Parsifal_, which I recall liking pretty well, I was mostly
        >disappointed in the Wagner fantasies. Give me Debussy's opera instead, or
        >Mozart's _Magic Flute_. And here's a note from a collection of Bax's
        >collected symphonies:
        >"This tremendous score launched Bax's reputation with his British public as
        >a symphonist, and during the inter-war years this master of the evocative
        >tone-poem took the brilliant orchestral technique he had developed in his
        >many orchestral works and distilled the essence of his art in to a total of
        >seven unique symphonies: a world of epic legend inextricably tangled with
        >personal experience, which surpasses even Tolkien's later achievement of
        >manufactured saga in breadth and imaginative command."
        >
        >Makes me wonder if they could have used some of Bax's music in LOTR, instead
        >of the insipid Enya.

        You haven't heard the film soundtrack album yet, have you? It was released
        last week. Relax: there are only two Enya songs on it (neither of them
        particularly memorable). The vast bulk is competent symphonic movie-music
        hackwork by a competent hack symphonic movie composer, Howard Shore. Most
        is not at all in the bright, brittle Richard Strauss tradition of John
        Williams, though. My initial reaction was that it sounded like an inferior
        version of Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky", with touches of Sibelius and
        Stravinsky (and a bit of Celtic folk music in one or two hobbit places),
        but it could well have done for Arnold Bax, too.

        And it's not much less good. Bax is a decent enough composer, but that
        liner note strikes me the kind of embarrassingly over-the-top burblings
        that second-rank British composers in particular seem to attract, and not
        an accurate indicator of his quality. The last two phrases in particular
        would be a better description of Wagner.

        David Bratman
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