Heather and Douglas

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24 April 2007

Comments

Heather

Two questions:

1. Does this Turin dude remember to bring the map?

2. Are there any non-rhyming character names?

Douglas

1. No. Geographical knowledge is pretty word of mouth in Middle Earth. There's a line in the story somewhere about Morgoth, who makes a big deal about being just about all-knowing, not knowing very much about the seacoast.

2. Yes. One thing I didn't mention is the inordinate amount of nicknaming in this story. Whenever two characters form any kind of bond they rename one another, which causes confusion for third parties and really ramps up the dramatic irony.

Alan

Who's a frigging churl!!!

There was map at the back of my copy. Are all the problems in Tolkien's books really just the result of wide-spread illiteracy?

Douglas

I think because Middle Earth is created (Silmarillion, chapter one), there's no petroleum in the ground. No petroleum, no BP road atlas.

Heather

So: http://books.guardian.co.uk/digestedread/story/0,,2064264,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=10

Alan

Speaking of endemic racism against non-existant peoples...and churls...what, then, is up with those Geico Neanderthal ads anyway? Is it funny because it is racist?

My name in Nargothrondian is "Gurg"

Douglas

I hadn't seen those commercials until I looked them up on YouTube just now. See, there is a use for Web 2.0 after all. The commercials are funny because they're about racism. The racism in Tolkien isn't that funny because you're expected to buy into the old blonde=noble, swarthy=evil paradigm. Then there's the theological problem of the Orcs, who are treated as irredeemably evil, which is not very good religion. Gurg is more of an Orc name. Your Nargothrondian name would be something more like Aelion. Or whatever means Beer-Friend in Elvish.

Douglas

Ylvmeldir.

Alan

OK, nickname.

The Geico ads do have an underlying premise that it is OK to speak about racism as a joke - but only as against an extinct group. How does this differ from a similar campaign naming Beothics or Visigoths for that matter?

Douglas

It's not living versus extinct. It's us versus them. You can make fun of pretty much anyone as long as you signal that you're making fun of us. Cavemen and Visigoths are us because they eventually turned into us. Beothuks are more difficult because they were all killed off, and not too long ago. Kind of hard to make that funny.

This is a bit off topic because Tolkien is not trying to be funny. He just wants you to buy into his version of us versus them.

Alan

There is no "off topic" when the topic is a cruddy book.

I need to teach the kids "cruddy".

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