Okay, so here’s my first ever nerd rant on this blog. And, be warned, my target is the most holy of holies: The works of JRR Tolkien
Now, before I get into this, I need to explain one or two things. I like Middle Earth. I really do. It’s a great world. I do not like to read the works of Tolkien. I respect the man as a world builder, a story teller, and as the father of modern fantasy writing, but his books are not entertaining to me. I like Tolkien in the same way that I like The Beatles and Shakespeare, in small doses, with an incredible amount of respect, but not enough to obsess over their works. I mean, hell, I have a degree in theater and I only like reading/watching Shakespeare from time to time.
Basically, I’m too far removed from his works. He had good stories to tell, but, in my mind, didn’t tell them well. I have no interest reading a book where the main characters walk through the trees for a hundred pages and NOTHING happens. I’ve got shit to do. I really do. I can’t sit down and read the Silmarillion and listen to made up name after made up name. I didn’t finish reading The Two Towers on my first go through, mostly because the entire first half of the book was one plot line (the remains of the fellowship in Gondor), and the second half was an entirely different one (Frodo and Sam). That is not good storytelling. I fucking MISSED the battle of Helm’s Deep in the book. I had to go back and read it again. There was no build up of tension beforehand and the battle lasted maybe two or three pages. Apparently the descriptive language Tolkien had in him went entirely to the trees and birds and he had nothing left to spare.
So, to sum up my first point: Tolkien was an incredibly imaginative person who was not good at writing. That’s always been my interpretation of him. He was a visionary who couldn’t be bothered to follow the most basic tenets of plot structure, which is strange because he created some of the most endearing tropes, characters, landscapes and struggles ever penned. And I don’t really think that this is a time displacement issue, because I’ve read other novels from the time period and they did just fine in the plot/conflict department.
Still with me? If you haven’t fled my blog in disgust, here’s where things get really nerdy. This is my actual rant now.
So, how many of you have ever heard a discussion that goes pretty much like this one? Ah yes, the classic “Why didn’t they ride the eagles to Mordor?” question. Well, let me tell you, even without my knowledge of the books, I can answer that one for you. And the answer is this: Because there were a fuck ton of orcs and goblins all around Mt. Doom, not to mention Nazgul riding fell beasts (Nazgul are the ringwraiths, fell beasts are their flying mounts, don’t get them confused), and a giant fuck off eyeball made of fire and hatred less than a mile away. That’s some pretty powerful incentive for what is essentially an incredibly smart turkey to NOT go someplace. The eagles only go to Mordor after the giant army of evil get’s sucked into a deus ex fissure at the end. So, I just shot down that argument like….well like a bunch of goblin arrows shooting down a giant eagle carrying a ring-bearing hobbit. Then remember I did that without book knowledge. In the books they very specifically say that the eagles will not fly over the lands of men.
And do you know what really bugs me about this type of argument? It’s that it’s so stupid. It’s such a stupid argument to make. It’s a stupid question to ask, and most of the people who answer are stupid in their rebuttal. Nobody ever asks “Well, why didn’t they make a big earthquake before the giant battle?” or “Why doesn’t Gandalf just summon sunshine more often?” Instead they latch on to one apparent (but actually non-existent) plot hole and try to point it out and pretend that they are sharp tacks who know what’s what.
Well, I’m not like that. Oh, I’m kind of like that. I find holes in everything. EVERYTHING! Every damn thing I watch, read, or experience. But I’m different in two ways. Firstly, I don’t point things out to show how smart I am. Without trying to sound pretentious, I know how smart I am. Very. I am incredibly smart. But I also have a smidgen of wisdom, and I have realized that the second I try to act like I am is the exact same second I’ll find out I’m not. Socratic method at work. I’m smart, but I’m not all knowing.
And second, when I find a hole in a piece of fiction, it usually isn’t a tiny plot hole. I find problems with entire mythologies. So, with this in mind, I have a question to ask my readers.
Why the fuck are there no more elves in Middle Earth?
Seriously, what the actual fuck? It’s not like they are being hunted down. It isn’t as though the scenery is ugly. It’s actually quite beautiful. Yes, I understand that they originally came from Valinor, the undying land, and YES I GET that they are unhappy with Middle Earth and the way things have been going, but, honestly, when you get right down to it, the elves are only leaving because they’re bored. They are just as immortal in Middle Earth, and, hey, if they have long enough lives maybe they should, I dunno, actively try to change their adopted home for the better rather than be a bunch of winging douche bags about it. Elves live for fucking ever, you’re telling me NONE of them decided to start up the first Middle Earth YEPA (Young Elves Pagan Association)? And that’s not even the worst part about it.
Why the fuck is everyone so sad the elves are leaving? Come on people, it’s not like they’re getting in a fucking spaceship and blasting off to heaven to leave the pitiful mortals to live in squalor. They’re taking BOATS to another CONTINENT! That…..is…..all. Yeah, it’s a special, blessed holy land, but we all know how that turns out in the end *cough*Israel*cough*. This is not an irreversible process. And if it is then everyone on Middle Earth should be fucking overjoyed that heaven is literally just a fucking boat ride away. If you want to see elves, maybe you should make a boat and go and see some fucking elves.
And that’s my biggest problem. Tolkien’s elves are only kind of special. They don’t come from the Never Never, they don’t inhabit a special plane of existence. They are flesh and blood creatures with a little bit of godly sparkle thrown in. Tolkien was the first person to take the old myths and create a world where those creatures and places were flesh and blood. Then he tried to keep the mysticism and unreality of the old ways, and, to me, it didn’t quite work. Tolkien made elves real, physical things in his world (and Orcs and Dwarfs and Dragons), and then asked us to treat them like they weren’t, like “leaving these shores” was the end all be all. He created a world so completely that I no longer believe that the entire world consists of just one landmass, and as such I no longer believe elves, magic, immortality, or adventure, could ever possibly leave the closed system he created.
Maybe this comes from me having a third person omniscient perspective on everything. I have access to the complete works of Tolkien and everyone he has ever inspired. If I want to sound smart I just get on Wikipedia for twenty minutes and, bam, I’m as close to an expert as makes no difference. But I’m not entirely sure it is. Things take time to become perfected, and if we stick with the past (something Tolkien desperately wanted to do), then we’re going to stagnate.
Anyway, this was….way less funny than I expected it to be. I anticipated having many more links, references, and pictures to add. Guess I got carried away.
Oh well. I’ve fulfilled my own personal requirements and posted something today. Just writing this many words in one sitting has been helpful. Maybe tomorrow I’ll….no….wait, tomorrow I’m busy. Maybe Saturday I’ll actually post some new fiction. Unless Friday spills into Saturday, in which case, you’ll be getting Youtube links until Sunday. Deal with it.
And, as always,l thanks for reading.