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Tolkien: Ecofascist?

Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 06, 2008, 01:11:09 PM
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Although Tolkien always insisted that Lord of the Rings was not allegorical, it is apparent that the Ruling Ring and the destruction of the natural world that flows from the desire for its power are a reflection of Tolkien's concern for humanity's ability to destroy both itself and the earth. That Tolkien chooses a course of total rejection of such knowledge and power is perhaps one of the unconscious sources of some critics' reaction to the work. Such a rejection strikes at the heart of the concept of progress as it has developed in western civilization.


http://www.enotes.com/lord-rings

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J.R.R. Tolkiens' Middle Earth did not come out of thin air. Tolkien, an academic linguist, drew on the following source materials to inspire his world-building exercise. The texts presented at this site are complete and in some cases in the original languages.


http://www.sacred-texts.com/ring/index.htm


Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 06, 2008, 07:23:47 PM
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Although Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was not allegorical, it is apparent that the Ruling Ring and the destruction of the natural world that flows from the desire for its power are a reflection of (my own) concern for humanity's ability to destroy both itself and the earth. That (interpretations of this work) chooses a course of total rejection of such knowledge and power is perhaps one of the unconscious sources of some critics' reaction to the work. Such a rejection strikes at the heart of the concept of progress as it has developed in western civilization.


Fixed.

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 06, 2008, 07:45:25 PM
Tolkien isn`t allegorical and Black Sabbath is "just"
horror movie music

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 06, 2008, 09:17:38 PM
And the second wave of black metal was just a group of teenagers trying to be "evil" though it doesn't really matter the authors intentions were so much as what "you" bring out of it. Most good art doesn't have political intent.

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 07, 2008, 09:54:19 PM
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Most good art doesn't have political intent.


All art intends to communicate something. If it's crap art, that becomes the amorphous "feelings."

Really good art tackles the epic issues of our times and minds. As the ancients knew, politics and philosophy and religion are un-entangleable.

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 08, 2008, 04:12:55 AM
Yes, art can mean anything. Disregard what I said. I just don't like how people continue insist on putting words in Tolkien's mouth when he went to great lengths to state that his work didn't mean those things. I wouldn't say that there is no meaning in Tolkien's work but the author says nothing about our modern times.

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 08, 2008, 08:26:22 PM
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I wouldn't say that there is no meaning in Tolkien's work but the author says nothing about our modern times.


I think Tolkien's meaning is clear, because he is retelling an ancient Greek tale:

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Now that those who practise justice do so involuntarily and because they
have not the power to be unjust will best appear if we imagine something of
this kind:  having given both to the just and the unjust power to do what
they will, let us watch and see whither desire will lead them; then we
shall discover in the very act the just and unjust man to be proceeding
along the same road, following their interest, which all natures deem to be
their good, and are only diverted into the path of justice by the force of
law.  The liberty which we are supposing may be most completely given to
them in the form of such a power as is said to have been possessed by
Gyges, the ancestor of Croesus the Lydian.  According to the tradition,
Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the king of Lydia; there was a great
storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the place where he
was feeding his flock.  Amazed at the sight, he descended into the opening,
where, among other marvels, he beheld a hollow brazen horse, having doors,
at which he stooping and looking in saw a dead body of stature, as appeared
to him, more than human, and having nothing on but a gold ring; this he
took from the finger of the dead and reascended.  Now the shepherds met
together, according to custom, that they might send their monthly report
about the flocks to the king; into their assembly he came having the ring
on his finger, and as he was sitting among them he chanced to turn the
collet of the ring inside his hand, when instantly he became invisible to
the rest of the company and they began to speak of him as if he were no
longer present.  He was astonished at this, and again touching the ring he
turned the collet outwards and reappeared; he made several trials of the
ring, and always with the same result--when he turned the collet inwards he
became invisible, when outwards he reappeared.  Whereupon he contrived to
be chosen one of the messengers who were sent to the court; whereas soon as
he arrived he seduced the queen, and with her help conspired against the
king and slew him, and took the kingdom.  Suppose now that there were two
such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other;
no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand
fast in justice.  No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when
he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and
lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he
would, and in all respects be like a God among men.  Then the actions of
the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at
last to the same point.  And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof
that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any
good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks
that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust.  For all men believe in
their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than
justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are
right.  If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming
invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another's, he
would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although
they would praise him to one another's faces, and keep up appearances with
one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice. - THE REPUBLIC


The point is simple: power outside of life itself conceals, and that includes, and primary is directed at, social power.

It's hard not to read an allegory for industrial society into Tolkien's work, but it's impossible to see whether he identifies it as symptom or cause.

But look at the properties of the ring:
* Invisibility to bearer (good/evil ambiguous)
* Immortality to bearer
* Ability to see into spirit world

His commentary may not need to be closely tied to Mongols or industrial society, although it has elements of both in it. It is an eternal allegory, and so while the book may not be about modern society, it's fair to apply it to that -- if the shoe fits...

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 15, 2008, 03:34:28 PM
There are many concious or unconcious themes latent in Tolkien's works. Which ones were truly intentional is the real debate.

In a related story, Peter Jackson has agreed to do two more movies based on his books. This is good news.

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
April 30, 2008, 10:18:57 PM
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There are many concious or unconcious themes latent in Tolkien's works. Which ones were truly intentional is the real debate.


Does it matter?


Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
May 01, 2008, 03:30:07 AM
Tolkien was undeniably opposed to industrialization, and particularly one of its consequences: modern warfare.  I guess part of that came from being born in the late-19th century and seeing the acceleration of environment destruction and rampant materialism take hold, and of course his service in World War I.

I believe this is why in his writing, the "good" cultures fight in the old romantic ways, with swords and bows, while the "evil" cultures use war towers, explosives, and build elaborate machinery.  Likewise, the "good" cultures are in harmony with the environment, while the "evil" cultures only care about producing armies and weapons, if it doesn't serve that purpose they destroy it.

Eco-fascist is probably too strong a word, but certainly there are some parallels.  For me, one of the deepest, most resonating passages from all his writing is the following (from LOTR):

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They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting monument to the dark labour of its slaves that should endure when all their purposes were made void; a land defiled, diseased beyond all healing -- unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with oblivion.  "I feel sick," said Sam. Frodo did not speak.

Everytime I read this, I can not help but think of the places I have seen that meet this description.  I felt sick.  And now the Great Seas are in fact rising to wash us with oblivion...

Yeah, you can't tell me he wrote this in a vacuum.

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
May 09, 2008, 01:28:57 AM
It was definitely about reality, like all great books, and it had a point to its telling.

Hipsters insist that art exists in a vacuum. Artists know otherwise.

A lot of it seems to be about what it purports to be about, which is the struggle for a soul that wants to stay awake and fix a great ill instead of going deep into sleep and ignoring it from the couch, whether drugged on dope, PBR, liberalism or "Traditionalist theory."

shadowmystic

Re: Tolkien: Ecofascist?
May 10, 2008, 03:12:15 AM
Art is not created 'in a vacuum', that mich is obvious, however  to associate it with something as contingent as politics does not do it justice.  If there appear to be political themes in Tolkien's work it is only as an outward appearance of something far more complex and subtle, and never comes close to penetrating the heart of the art itself.