meta ring

So we’ve got a small but powerful token,

originally belonging to a powerful being, but taken by a flawed hero who didn’t know what he was getting in for,

and who is defeated, losing the item into the water.

This token comes into the keeping of an eccentric mortal for many years, giving them long life and vitality,

until they pass it on to a younger relative, and their health immediately begins to deteriorate.

The adorable, dark-haired, doe-eyed new bearer,

carrying the token on a necklace,

sets out to find someone else to take it,

but ultimately must take ownership of the quest themselves.

Along the way, they encounter endless dangers and obstacles,

finally facing their greatest challenge yet at a volcano,

and return the token to its source.

Featuring super idyllic, completely culturally stagnated hometowns,

raptors of unusual size,

Dramatic Tower Is Dramatic,

and tiny boats sailing into the sunset.

tl;dr - Moana is Lord of the Rings without the actual evil.

I’m so disappointed when elves in fiction are merely immortal humans with pointy ears, and dwarves are just short humans with beards. Perhaps others enjoy it, but I am bored of banal human conflicts and vices projected ad nauseam onto supposedly inhuman races. 

I want to see things that really make me believe elves and dwarves and other fantasy races aren’t just disguised humans. Show me strange biology, incomprehensible minds, impossible virtues and unthinkable sins, oddities and curiosities of all kinds. 

I think that’s what drew me to Tolkien’s races, who have exactly those kinds of quirks that set them apart from ordinary humans - like dwarves having only 1/3 of their race female, or elves being capable of telepathy. I love fic that explores the consequences of these strange characteristics most of all.

It’s a bit more complicated than invisibility...

This occurred to me and I feel it’s worth posting since I’ve never seen any talk on this?

The One Ring doesn’t make you invisible. 

Why would it? Seriously, what purpose on Eru’s green earth does that serve? Sauron forging his ring of power in the heart of a volcano, thinking to himself, ah yes, invisibility would be a good trick to build into this thing! No. Cause you know what? Sauron’s ring does not make him invisible. And he certainly did not intend for anyone else to ever have it. So what’s it really doing?

Two words: Dimensional shift

I believe that when mortals put on the ring, they experience a dimensional shift in which they are pulled (stretched, transported) into a higher dimension, the plane on which the true spirit forms of the Ainur (and wraiths) exist. This would effectively render them invisible to those on lower dimensions, but the wearer would be able to view them with altered enhanced perception. Such as the effects we witness as described by those who have worn the ring. Especially well portrayed in the films is the ability to see the souls of others, particularly the ringwraiths (the battle on Weathertop is a good example, as well as even in Battle of the Five Armies when Bilbo is in Dale), black and white shadowy souls clear as day but invisible to the naked eye, as they exist on a different dimensional plane. It’s quite possible to me that the ëalar of the Ainur are in a higher dimension than that of mortal fëar, but that’s beside the point. They’re at least a couple dimensions removed from our reality, and thus invisible until one puts on the ring. 

Now, why would the ring have this power? I think, if I recall correctly, that Tolkien at one point did state that it was not intentional, that it was a byproduct of its making. Again, it does not turn Sauron invisible - it wouldn’t, he already exists on that plane. Mortals are bound to their bodies and so would not be able to perceive that higher dimension, but Ainur are not. I think most plausibly, this effect exists because Sauron infused a piece of his own soul into the one ring. The consequences of this are not well understood (it’s not like it’s a common practice) and we know in other ways, it is so strong in its desire to hearken back to its master, it can even influence the wills - a product of the souls - of those around it. I would not be surprised in the slightest if having a piece of Ainur ëala in an all-powerful object would result in the ability to bend reality to attempt to match the wearer to the properties of the owner. It would bring the wearer closer to Sauron, and allow him to perceive them, thus furthering its purpose to return to the whole from which it is a part. 

Just a theory, obviously, but I find it odd that I’ve never seen anyone question the rather absurd notion of ‘magic evil ring makes you invisible!’ Tolkien set up so many intriguing questions, concepts, and possibilities with underlying scientific principles - or at least, consistent rules - that I am sure this fits into his framework. 

Alright but I just noticed the neat parallel between Sven and Romelle and Keith’s parents–and I think it’s a tradition that might carry over to Shiro and Keith, so real quick:

In 80′s Voltron, Romelle gives Sven this knife/dagger for protection. They end up being love interests in the dub. But even that aside, Romelle caring so much about Sven’s safety and wishing him well is kinda seen as a romantic gesture. Real quick, but Romelle is also an alien princess (from Pollux, Altea’s “twin” planet) and Sven is of course human. 


Yeah, Keith’s alien mom also gave her partner a thematically important knife before parting ways. So, wouldn’t it make sense that, if Keith ended up having a human love interest who was about to head out into danger–that he’d maybe give them the knife before they left? As a sign of good faith and for luck if nothing else; carrying on his mother’s tradition. Considering how important the knife is to Keith, I can see him giving it away as a measure of the depth to his devotion–I’m lending this to you for luck. But you know how important this is to me, so I expect you to come back alive and return it–something like that. 

But now, couldn’t Romelle also appear later as part of the Blade of Marmora, and give Shiro her own knife? Perhaps. But two things–one, Shiro is already associated with Keith’s blade. And two, of all the blades we’ve seen so far, Keith’s is actually the only one that really resembles a dagger, which is what Romelle gave Sven. Antok, Ulaz, Thace, Kolivan, ect–all their blades look different in their deactivated forms. Here’s a good reference showing how unique Keith’s blade is.

Now as for Shiro, the first he hears of Marmora is right when he escapes. 

“The blade of Marmora is with you,” Ulaz says. How fitting then, that it’s a Marmora blade that cuts Shiro free when he crashes back to Earth. On a thematic level, I think this is so much more than just The rebellion is with you. It’s the narrative saying–Don’t worry, Keith will always be there for you. Because, of course it’s Keith’s blade that frees him; of course, Keith is running to his rescue. Like he always does. Of course, out of everyone, it’s Keith and Shiro who keep crashing back together whenever they’re torn apart. It’s like fate.  

Not only has Keith’s blade saved Shiro once already, but Shiro has defended Keith and his right to keep the knife in turn. If Keith is going to pass on his blade at some point like his mother (whether temporarily or not), thematically, I think it’s just a logical conclusion that that person has to be Shiro. After all, I think he’s the only one that would really understand the depth of such a gesture. Because who was there with Keith in the Blade of Marmora, who saw him fight tooth and nail and nearly die for this? Who was the one that took the form of Keith’s greatest hopes and dreams–who did he fear losing the most? Who was the person he most desperately wants to see

Ulaz was right; Shiro does have the backing of the Blade of Marmora–and his fate appears inexorably tied to one blade in particular. That Shiro was there for Keith’s trial, that he witnessed Keith bare his heart and soul and saw himself reflected there–their endurance of the trial binds them together in a way I don’t think anyone else could ever fully grasp. 

And I mean, I think it would speak volumes about Keith’s trust in Shiro if he were to offer the blade to him willingly. After all, a big part of his trial was Shiro trying to force him to give it away.

Seeing Keith give Shiro the knife to safeguard him on a mission before they parted ways would be especially endearing becuase, well–when he does give in during his trial, he only agrees because he’s so afraid of losing Shiro. 

Shiro threatens to abandon him if he doesn’t relent, and so he does. To see the blade offered then as a sign of their bond, to show just how close they are and that this isn’t goodbye forever, that Shiro will still come back–I think that’s just the kind of closure for them I want to see. 

it’s common knowledge that the names of the three elven rings match the fates of the three Silmarils, but think about the ring-bearers, too —

  • elrond is obvious; he had the ring of air, but he didn’t have his father, who was sailing through the sky with a silmaril on his brow
  • galadriel and maglor were the last of the grandchildren of finwë left in middle-earth; she bore the ring of water and longed to go back across the sea all that time, while his fate was to wander the shoreline after he flung his silmaril into the sea
  • gandalf, wearing the ring of fire, fell into the deepest parts of moria battling a demon made of flame; maedhros threw himself and his silmaril into a fiery chasm

and i wonder if the wise and knowledgeable ring-bearers could’ve noticed this, and if gandalf’s death would’ve, in a way, completed the last of the parallels

and i wonder, then, if a part of him knew, or perhaps thought he knew, that at some point he would have to die.

The Layers of Meanings Behind the Rings

VictuuriWeek 2017 – Day 7 – Victor Prompt – Promises

So for VictuuriWeek day 7, I’d like to talk about the rings and all the various promises they hold. This post is written as a complimentary piece to @lazuliblade‘s amazing meta here (2 metas for 2 rings) so please make sure to read that one as well! In this analysis, we’ll be looking at the various tie-ins the series has to the various layers of meaning represented by the rings.

I’ll be going in the order of how they’re mentioned in Laz’s post so please enjoy!

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Six Times Voltage Inc Tugged at my Heartstrings

I’ve been playing Voltage games for about four years now, and I have to say, there were moments in certain routes that made me Feel Things™. Generally, Voltage games aren’t really known for being cynical or overly emotional. Heck, their games, while having some mature content, mostly have an optimistic feel to them. However, there were some moments in particular that stood out to me—those scenes were written powerfully enough to shake me to the core.

I have to admit, it was difficult for me to select a few moments from hundreds of routes, but I tried my best to narrow it down as much as I could.


  • I limited it to one character per game to avoid repetition.
  • I haven’t played every Voltage game (or route for that matter). The moments I’ve chosen only come from the games I’ve played.
  • I didn’t include SLBP because I only started getting into it recently (plus I don’t know too much about the other lords to make solid conclusions about them lmao).
  • This is all my personal opinion, so that means you probably won’t share the same views as I do, which is cool (I’d actually appreciate it if you told me what your favorite moments were :D).

Anyhow, let’s begin! (long post below):

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Headcanons About Middle-earth’s Women

To celebrate the end of Legendarium Ladies’ April (amnesty week), I did the prompt ‘The Forgotten People.’ Here’s some headcanons about the women of lesser known peoples in Middle-earth.

  1. The traditional costume of Haladin woman includes loose trousers, worn under a tunic or a skirt that falls to the knee. This scandalizes their Hadorian and Beorian neighbors, whose women wear long skirts.
  2. It is taboo for Drúedain women to perform stone magic. The Drúedain believe that part of yourself passes into your creation, and this transfer of power cannot be recovered. A women must keep her power intact, otherwise her children will be diminished, born weak, sickly, and ill-formed. This taboo is so strong that a woman who breaks it will be socially shunned and cut off from the community. But Drúedain men are discouraged from performing other magics, because of their lessened natural powers. Young, childless girls are the only ones trusted to perform magics of foresight, and female elders who have passed their childbearing years learn their people’s healing magics.
  3. Lossoth women quite literally keep their people alive. To cope with the extreme freezing cold of their native land, the Lossoth must wear garments of watertight furs and skins. Construction of these fur clothes requires highly developed skills, knowledge of the animals, and of the seasons they must be harvested, passed down orally from mother to daughter.  
  4. Freeborn Variag women have considerable social and political power, because Variag men are often away at war, raids, patrols, or long trading trips. Most agricultural work is performed by them, and they own the food they produce. Variag thrall women, on the other hand, have almost no rights and are often sacrificed when their master dies, to serve him in the afterlife.
  5. Among the Haradrim of the Inner desert, in some camel herding tribes the women are held to be the great navigators, entrusted with the ancestral memory of the water sources that give their people and animals life.
  6. The women of Umbar still make offerings to an ancient pre-Numenorean, pre-Sauronic protective goddess of sexuality, fertility, and motherhood. Her image has the head of a cat, and every Umbarrim woman keeps at least one cat as a protective spirit. When her cats die, the woman mourns them with the same rituals she would use for the death of a family member.
  7. In the Black Numenorean communities that survived the longest - the most conservative ones who refused to mix their blood with the Haradrim - a woman lived under a form of purdah, meant to ensure her chastity and celibacy until she was married to a husband of pure Numenorean blood.

Headphone users beware! I’ve cranked up the sound in the TFP clip!

Some time ago, there was a post on my dash in which it was brought up that the ringing sound we hear when John wakes up in TFP might resemble a defibrillator sound.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the post any more … But I finally found the time to rewatch the scene.  And I compared it to

a) the ringing sound in TRF,
b) a defibrillator sound effect (x) .

At first I thought the ringing in TFP might just be a tinnitus as it was the case in TRF but comparing the sounds shows that they’re slightly different. (And is it me or does the ringing in TFP really get higher? If yes, then —>)  In my opinion, the ringing in TFP has more resemblance to the charging sound of a defibrillator.

Then there’s the groan (followed by John sitting up). I know, it’s not really the same as the shock sound effect and yes, we can still hear the ringing during the groan unlike in the case of the charging sound followed by the shock sound but let’s take a look at their functions:

The electric shock resets the heart rhythm back to its normal pattern to save the patient’s life, right?

Now let’s assume that TFP is taking place in John’s memory bungalow, that he picks up what’s happening around him and makes it part of his dream/hallucination/whatever-you-want-to-call-it:

the defibrillator is charging –> dream!John opens his eyes

electric shock results in a normal heart pattern–> dream!John groans, he sits up and dream!Sherlock notices that he’s awake

Purity culture creates assholes like Hyle Hunt

I have this headcanon where Hyle Hunt started the wager on Brienne’s maidenhead because he was hoping to marry her. The idea was that he’d pop her cherry, and then he’d say, “Well, my lady, that just happened, so you might as well marry me,” and he’d say to his bros, “This is how it’s done,” as he becomes the future Lord of Evenfall. Or Brienne would lose her virginity to some other jackass, and Ser Hyle would lose the bet but he’d also have a chance to say to her, “Okay, you’re not a virgin anymore, but I’d marry you,” and she’d see what a lucky break that is, so he’d become the future Lord of Evenfall.

That scenario doesn’t make the wager any less offensive, but it does provide a useful frame around his behavior.

The narrative purpose of Hyle Hunt is basically to be a foil against all the other men who’ve assumed romantic significance in Brienne’s life. Unlike Renly Baratheon, he is actually available to her and still alive. Unlike Ronnet Connington, he doesn’t turn on his heel simply because she’s tall and has tiny bosoms. Unlike Humfrey Wagstaff, he doesn’t object to her being a fighter.

(Honestly, let’s have a moment to marvel at the sheer jackassery of Ronnet Connington recalling “most sows have bigger teats.” The girl was TWELVE, for Seven’s sake. You want to know how anyone can defend Ser Hyle? It’s because we’ve met Ser Ronnet.)

On a sociological level, the wager was so dangerous because of the concept of virginity as a commodity. If a noblewoman is known to have spread her legs with a man who is not her husband, she’s treated like damaged goods while the man suffers no adverse consequences. Her first sexual experience is seen as an achievement for the man and a degradation of the woman. That culture is what made the wager so attractive to the participants and that is why Randyll Tarly had to put a stop to it. That the same Towering Shitbucket Tarly tells Brienne she’s to blame for the wager simply because she’s there, is of a piece with that mindfuck of penalizing women for giving men what they want. On an individual level, the wager was so hurtful to Brienne because some of those guys, and Ser Hyle was probably the most successful in this area, actually made her feel appreciated for a short time. To a girl who’s been told all her life that she’s hideous and unloveable, for that appreciation to be a lie is especially destructive.

The personality flaw that makes Hyle so obnoxious is that while he’s willing to learn from his mistakes and do better in the future, he can’t embrace the vulnerability that comes with apologizing. He knows Brienne is pissed off at him for trying to pop her cherry on a bet, but he can’t bring himself to say, “The way we treated you was shitty and I’m really sorry we did that to you.” Instead he keeps talking about how ugly she is. Do better, Hyle!

Even so, in the context of the ass-kissing/back-stabbing culture of Westerosi nobility, there’s something refreshing about Hyle’s willingness to say to Brienne, in as many words: “Okay, you’re homely, but you’re a healthy grown woman with lands and titles, and I’m a dickhead, but I have a pulse and a healthy sperm count, so whaddya say, babe?” It’s the most unromantic proposal in the history of proposals, but compared with Bronn marrying Lollys Stokeworth, Ser Hyle is acting like a fairytale prince. He’s still a dickhead and Brienne has every right not to trust him, but I admire his accountability.

That said, I don’t expect to see any more character development on the part of Ser Hyle. His chances of surviving the Lady Stoneheart situation rank somewhere between Robert Baratheon and Dontos Hollard. The guy’s sigil is a dead deer, for Seven’s sake, and as a foil against all the other men in Brienne’s life, he’s outlived his usefulness now that she’s reconnected with Jaime. Which would she rather have: “I’d fuck you with the candles blown out” or “Blue is a good color on you, my lady”? Would she rather have “I’ve seen other men wed lackwits and suckling babes for prizes a tenth the size of Tarth” or “Take this priceless sword covered in my family’s branding and call it Oathkeeper”?

Ser Hyle’s part is all played out.


Put this in your phone, right now. This is the hotline for the US Congress. All those House bills you’re hearing about, (such as the one to terminate the EPA, defund Planned Parenthood, repeal the ACA, etc), this is where you start protesting them. It starts with a recorded message, and will ask you to input your zip code. It will then give you a list of your representatives, House AND Senate, based on that zip code. Leave messages for all of them.

I know this is tough for some of you. Believe me, I know. My hands shake all day leading up to and following these calls. Some of you might not have the time during your workday. You might not be able to even hear the prompt over whatever is going on in your head, in your home, in your life. If all you feel you can do is signal boost, please do. Type  “Who represents me” into Google, find out who your reps are. Visit your representatives’ websites, fill out those “Contact Us” forms, blast their contact info all over your FB page if you feel it’s safe to do so. 

I haven’t been seeing many stories lately about conservative representatives whining that their constituents won’t leave them alone. Let’s change that. 

I get really annoyed by macho fantasy novels written by men because they try so hard to be tolkien reboots and some are even labeled “for fans of lord of the rings” and its just like, friends, tolkien taught u better than this. he gave us some of the least macho male heroes ever. and y’all wanna smear his legacy with boring ass failed aragorn archetypes? 


-the true heroes of lotr are frodo and sam

-frodo is not macho at all, frodo is not like your typical masculine hero. he is unassuming and rather demure and never angry and very calm and steady like a river. frodo shoulders his burden with no complaints. frodo admits when he needs help. frodo has zero physical prowess. yet he is considered the best choice for the quest. and his quest doesnt include any rigorous physical training or magical abilities that prove him worthy. he is worthy because of the pure nature of his hobbit heart and his morality.

-sam. sam is such a soft lovely male character. he is just trying to support and love and care for his friend. they have such an honest bond. Sam isn’t even called upon to be in the quest, he basically tags along and ends up saving the day. Lil ol samwise gamgee, the hobbit gardener, is responsible for saving middle earth. not aragorn. not borimir. not any of the more masculine characters. and why is that??? bc tolkien is fucking explicit about the fact that men are morally corrupt and easily swayed by the ring. hobbits aren’t as easily corrupted and are better heores for this quest because of it. their softness/gentle nature makes them better heroes.

-merry and pippin- also brilliant and not very masculine and lovable and help save middle earth

-boromir: the most macho character but also the biggest fuck up

-aragorn- now. so this is the one y’all male fantasy writers have been trying to recreate for years. well. you all fail. Aragorn’s character, while i guess more traditionally masculine than the hobbits’ also avoids the pitfalls of machoness in that he is all about responsibility and honor and duty. i mean yes he is basically the best warrior ever but he is also a. born to be that way and b. not a dick about it.

so fantasy writers, if u want to follow in tolkiens footsteps, please give me a cast of nuanced and well written and sensitive men who avoid the macho stereotypes.

anonymous asked:

I was wondering what your thoughts were on Hooks new rings? Like the rings themselves and what they might mean on a meta level since they aren't his "murder rings" anymore. You think it's a permanent change to go with the wedding ring? I love your thoughts on the show and jewelry!

First, thank you for asking my opinion! That doesn’t happen very often (and probably for good reason, lbr. ;) ). I would have replied sooner, but I’ve been at work. 

As we know, rings can be very symbolic—both in real life and to Killian specifically. We know at least two of the rings have been reminders of a violent past (even if one of those stories doesn’t actually work with the timeline and when we first saw it…ahem), and another was a reminder of his older brother. Rings mean something to him, but not generally anything good. 

“Every ring is a sad story.” (Killian Jones, “Birth”)

From Colin’s Instagram, here are the three main rings Killian has worn throughout the series: the two larger with red stones and some design around it along with a relatively simple silver band for his thumb. We know the two red-stoned rings were taken from men Killian felt wronged him. As he tells Emma, they were once trophies and then reminders. They carried weight—the weight of both hands—and they never let him forget what those hands and hook have done.

Let’s dig into Killian’s jewelry box before we get to the good stuff.

When he gets his hand back on loan from Rumple, he doesn’t let that hand go without a ring, and here we see a pinky ring with a purple stone, somewhat like the one Liam gave him (although I don’t believe they are the same. The stone is similar, but the band is different). 

This is Liam’s ring, although we don’t know where he got it or who gave it to him, if anyone. But Killian poses that it might be the thing that has kept him a survivor all these years. Liam gave it to Killian because it was the ring responsible for always bringing him home safely and he wanted that same thing for Killian when they were about to face what should have been certain death. That ring is so important to Killian, it remains hidden for almost 3 seasons and only comes out when Killian wanted to make sure Emma came back to him safely while she was the Dark One. A pirate doesn’t give his prized possessions to just anyone. 

And here we have Dark One Killian’s rings. Gunmetal and likely onyx or jet. They are as dark as his soul at that moment, and that’s saying something given how dark Killian probably feels about himself and his deeds most of the time. I do like that they gave him a new set of bling for his outing as Dark Hook. I think it was important to illustrate that he was himself yet vastly different, too. The rings they (and possibly Colin) picked for Dark Hook were perfect. Sleek and somewhat classic. And oh so dark. 

Up to this point, every ring has been a sad story. 

But not for long.

(FYI, spoiler picture under the cut.)

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f-f-f-fight  asked:

have you talked about azazel's ring yet?

i have not! but ty for mentioning it bc while i noticed the pentagram in the ep, it wasn’t until i zoomed in that i realized it’s an inverted pentagram.

the inverted pentagram has different meanings depending on context; most scholars from what i can see tend to write about it only in relation to their studies on anti-christ movements, heavy metal, and horror movies.

i think Eliphas Levi was an early occultist who suggested the inverted pentagram represents “evil” or matter taking over the spirit; much of the discussion around it stems from early occultist writings that later was adopted by the Church of Satan and other similar schools of thought. One theory proposed by a member (or at least someone associated with them) is that the inverted pentagram represents the gateway into Tartaros/Hades. Seeing as Azazel rules one of the realms of Hell, I think that’s an intriguing aspect to consider as it’s possible the writers dug into these concepts for inspiration.

That said, on a It’s Probably Not That Deep note, I suspect they just gave it to him because it looks cool and popular culture associates inverted pentagrams or even the pentagram itself with dark magic.

ON ANOTHER NOTE, the shape and style of his ring looks a lot like the rings Magnus wears that are stamped with his initials and while you may say, literally this is the most common style of rings for men??? and you are not incorrect to do so, Magnus and Azazel share similar tastes in rings and you will pry this association from my cold dead hands.

Brief thoughts about elves & children & Edain. I found an online copy of LACE and read this line, “for Ingwe and Olwe beget many children in the bliss of Aman,” and thought to myself “cool, this is not in the Silm - what does ‘many’ mean, I must know a number,” which accidentally led more rumination than strictly necessary.

So we know the maximum number of children is seven for elves, and only achieved once, because for elves it’s spiritual strength rather than sperm count that determines how many children you have. For the average elf couple that’s 1-6 children.

So if re:Finwe, one is few, is 3 about average and 4-5 means many? (Then 6 means ‘lots’?) But then I made myself sad when I thought about how elves had many fewer children in the later Ages, and did that mean that Elrond’s three children would have been ‘many’ children by then?

But seven really isn’t that many children for humans without contraception! Ten or fifteen maybe, but six is hardly noteworthy. Humans must have a ridiculous amount of babies by elvish standards. Do elves find human babies fascinating because elf babies are so rare? 

Whenever they come visit human friends, do they cluster around the new babies and hog holding them from each other? Are they the babysitter who is always eagerly available but terrible because they don’t have any experience? Do they sometimes confuse babies with their new siblings, because they’ve only been gone a year, you can’t have a new baby yet! And elves trying to talk with babies, and being very confused when they don’t talk back, because elf babies form sentences much earlier (Your baby is very rude, says the elf.)

Do the rangers have to teach younger elves visiting their camps - with longing in their eyes but hesitant fingers - how to hold babies, because they’ve never had a baby in their family to care for and they’re so afraid of breaking this tiny fragile little human? 

Are some of them disapproving when they find out you’ve got twelve children, because my goodness your poor wife, how does anyone survive that?! (But a little bit awed too when they meet her, because twelve children she must be so powerful!) How can you take care of them all?! And so close to one another, not even a decade between them. Scandalous!

an orc no more

It’s funny the way you can know a book so well that you practically have every line memorized, and yet not really think about what it means until something jogs you.

It seems to me that a lot of people have a tendency to view Tolkein’s work, Lord of the Rings particularly, through the lens of the inspired works that came after it rather than for itself. There’s a lot of things that most people don’t seem to get about what Tolkein was trying to do with this story. Primary among this is that guys, Tolkein was hella pacifist.

Here’s what I was thinking about today:

Towards the end of Sam and Frodo’s journey through Mordor (I won’t blame you if you don’t remember this part; it was awfully difficult to read, and deliberately so) Sam is trying to convince Frodo to put on an orc disguise, consisting of black-painted chainmail and an orc short-sword, to better sneak around orc-controlled country. Frodo protests, saying basically that he just hasn’t got the stamina to carry all that extra weight around; they agree that at this point, speed is more important than subterfuge, and ditch all the equipment down the nearest crack in the ground. Frodo has a line here, something to the effect of: “There; I’ll be an orc no more.”

But this line isn’t just about a disguise.

The thing about orcs in Lord of the Rings is that they are not and were never meant to be a race unto themselves, the way many later fantasy worlds have them as a race. Rather, they are Elves and Men that the Dark Lord has corrupted; and in the segments where we see the orcs up close (during Merry and Pippin’s captivity,) we see what form that corruption takes. An orc is not a creature, the way a giant spider or a warg is a creature; an orc is a person who has become so degraded by destruction and desensitized to violence that it is all they know. It’s very important to know, I think, that Tolkein based the dialogue of the orcs off of his own experience as a soldier in the trenches.

Frodo, throughout the books to this point, has never exactly been a great warrior; that was never the point of his character. He always preferred to hide or run from confrontations rather than fight, which is wise given that he’s smaller and weaker than just about anybody else. I don’t believe he ever succeeds in killing  anything, but he does on a few occasions try;  he fights the Wraith King on Weathertop, and he stabs the troll in the foot in the battle in Moria.

But this scene marks the last time in the books that Frodo even attempts  to use violence. Even when Gollum attacks him for the Ring a few pages later, after  Frodo pushes him off he doesn’t take the opportunity to kill him, instead just warning him off trying again. In the Scouring of the Shire epilogue, while Merry and Pippin are leading an army of hobbits Frodo doesn’t even have a weapon. His only role in the battle is, basically, talking the angry Hobbits down from massacring their prisoners. (The others even call him out on this; Merry says something to the effect of ‘You won’t cleanse the Shire by being stern and sad, Frodo.’)

From this scene until the end of the book, even until the end of his life, Frodo carries no weapon and makes no move of violence on any other living being. He’s not just throwing away a shitty orc disguise; he is forswearing violence and death. He will no longer be a slave to hate and destruction. He’ll be an orc no more.

Fandom’s lost innocence

Every few months I feel sad about the loss of fannish culture as I’ve known it in the past. Every few months I make an effort to be more active on Livejournal/Dreamwidth/Tumblr, and every few months without fail that effort gets lost again in what just feels wrong somehow.

I’ve been wondering for years now what’s happened. And I think it’s that fandom, as a whole, has changed drastically.

We’ve lost our sense of wonder.

There’s so little pure excitement and joy about new things, it seems as if we’ve forgotten how to simply be happy and enjoy something. Everything gets taken apart and studied under a microscope of proper representation, privilege and artistic merit. And when it’s found wanting, which inevitably happens to almost all things, it’s torn apart with a viciousness that no friendly group will gather for fear of being included.

We’ve gone from celebrating each bit of progress in opening up mainstream culture to complaining that each step taken is not yet enough, and this creates a feedback loop of criticism and negativity. You’re only supposed to enjoy the perfect gems, while all other offerings must be discarded because they’re flawed in some way.

Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an example. I remember watching this when it first aired, and I remember the sheer amazement of having Willow in a homosexual, loving relationship. Sure there was criticism, but in plenty of fannish circles, Joss Whedon got praised to the high heavens for including this and for portraying Willow and Tara as no different than their hetero and/or demon-loving counterparts.

Today I think he’d get torn apart for sending Willow back to Oz at the end (bi-erasure) (brain-fart on my part, of course she later was in a relationship with Kennedy, not wolfie), for killing off Tara (of course the lesbian had to die), for appropriating artifacts of various cultures, for turning Willow evil only after she’d entered a same sex relationship, for so many other reasons. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of criticism for this at the time, but we didn’t focus on the bad things so much that we overlooked the massive progress it meant to have two complex female characters in love in a mainstream tv series, and have it drawn just like a “regular” relationship. Today, I fear, the joy over this progress would get lost. It would be seen as a step forward but flawed, and thus not worth anything.

I’ve seen this happening in the Hobbit fandom in the past few years, and in the overall reception of the movie trilogy. Is it perfect? Dear god, no. Is it as good as the LotR movie trilogy was? Absolutely not. The trilogy has flaws, it has bloat, and it has moments that really shouldn’t have been included. But the criticism sometimes feels deliberately hostile and harsh because the movies aren’t perfect. There are plenty of wonderful moments in there, plenty of characters who’ve been given depth they never had in the book.

We got considerably more female representation than before with the Hobbit, in what I think really was the only way to do it without gender-bending an existing character (which would never have flown with the studio or large parts of the book-based fanbase). And yet Tauriel as a character gets massive amounts of backlash. She’s considered the “token female character”, she’s a Mary Sue, she’s too privileged, she’s only there as a love interest… the list can go on for ages. A lot more people find redeeming points with the Necromancer than with Tauriel.

There was a similar reaction to Arwen’s role in the LotR movies, back in the day. At the time, the backlash came from the mostly male gatekeeper fans who considered her not pure enough and not enough of a canon warrior to be allowed to play a bigger role. With Tauriel, Peter Jackson pushed past that and ignored the purist complaints to make the trilogy a less “bloke-ish movie” (to paraphrase from Martin Freeman). He essentially delivered on what we might have wished for in LotR, and in my opinion did fairly well given the studio constraints and their demands for her to be a love interest or scrapped. And yet he gets derision and negativity without acknowledgment that it’s a step forward again to have a new female character with considerable screentime in a movie where the canon material doesn’t make room for her.

I just wish we could go back to praising progress without demanding perfection at the same time. There will never be perfection, so all this attitude achieves is that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you watch/read/hear something you like. Let yourself enjoy something, see the good bits without the flaws. See the growth and progress. Hold the content creators accountable for steadily improving, but don’t just tear them apart for not getting it completely right when they’re already pushing the boundaries. They’ll push again next time and gain a little more ground, and it’s in that way that growth happens for us to enjoy.

And that joy and wonder is what I wish we’d all get back.

While Lord of the Rings imo becomes an overall better and richer and more substantial book after one has read The Silmarillion, et al, it does feel like it trades off something in…scope? space? expanse? openness? possibility? suggestion? In LOTR-ignorant-of-the-Silm there is no or very limited explanation on just what the hell all those references to various historical events, or glimmers of sublime spiritual transcendence, or surges of inexplicable significant imagery, or half-told songs of long-ago legends and mostly-alien concepts, or glimpses of the strange and magic and inhuman and otherworldly, are about. It just is, and it feels right, and it means something, but the full understanding is beyond one’s grasp. And this is honestly one of the best aspects of the book. Even in the Appendices where there is more explanation, it strongly comes across that this information is distilled into mainly just the plot-relevant details while only just barely brushing the edges of relevatory wonder, giving the entire world of Middle Earth an enormous, limitless, labyrinthine, enchantment-soaked quality that seems to hold so much density and variety in information that no one could know it all, and therefore there are huge swathes of reality that are a complete and utter tantalizing shrug and fair game for the imagination.

The Silmarillion is also vastly incomplete, yet it doesn’t feel the same type of incomplete. It’s got the “ok, I can easily wring 50K words of elaboration out of that 4 sentence summary,” type of incomplete in spades, but unlike Lord of the Rings or its Appendices, it does not show glimpses of or gesture towards an expanse of universe beyond the veil of “here are a few of the plot-relevant realities of this world, there’s a untold mountain of other ones too, but that’s a long story, and even I only know a very little bit of it.” It instead gives off a vibe that suggests - falsely! - that the stuff that is spelled out in the text comprises a more-or-less sufficiently complete working summary of the universe and its contents, and the suggestion that any elements or events or peoples or concepts or things or stories that may exist or may have occurred outside of its scope (or inside of the enormous gaps in both the maps and the timelines where there is no or very sparse information, within its scope) are either unimportant, irrelevant, or just more of the same, and therefore tends to make the fictional universe feel limited by the bounds of the existing explanations.

This feeling sort of makes 0 sense because the Silm touches on even more ideas than LOTR, but I guess it’s kind of like, if you’re on the surface of the water and you see an iceberg, you’re very aware that most of the iceberg is underwater and you’re only seeing the tip. But if you dove down to see the underwater portion of the iceberg, it might be really difficult to remember that you only saw the surfaces of the underwater portion, and not all the tons of ice deeper inside the chunk, and that you can’t actually say “I saw the whole iceberg.”

There’s one type of false circumscribing which is “nothing important happened when we weren’t looking” and/or “if we didn’t observe it change, it hasn’t changed during the 6,000 years we weren’t looking.” And a second type, about the existing contents of the fictional world - ideas, histories, powers, peoples, creatures, myths, cultures, Just So Stories, backstories, spiritual concepts, social concepts, powers and phenomena. And when some stuff that exists doesn’t fit into the pattern of the things that are explained through the explicit world-origins (eg, Tom Bombadil, obvs, but a lot of more subtle things too), the tendency is to ignore it and assume it either a) doesn’t really affect anything, or b) is a rare weird outlier – rather than assume its existence signals that the contents of the world have a lot more to them than what the small amount of existing plot-relevant metaphysical and historical explanations have clarified. The Silm does contain multitudes of possibilities outside its lines, anything from key events and concepts that affect the characters’ lives, to trajectories of change regarding societal epochs or prejudices or technology or individual character development, to aesthetics or setting/atmosphere/flavor and quantity of magic-ness. But unlike LOTR it is less helpful in invoking the awareness of this, somehow, I suppose since its style is so explanatory that it can feel like it’s a tell-all, which it isn’t, in-universe, and I don’t think Tolkien ever meant it to be, out-of-universe.

anonymous asked:

yes talk about eowyn and antifeminism

Okay, so this might be a little lengthy.

I will admit, when I first read The Return of the King (I was ten) and I realized that Éowyn had “given up” fighting and warfare for healing, I was offended. I was hurt. Éowyn was a lot like me - fiery, headstrong, determined - and suddenly I was faced with this realization that I was expected to settle down and be quiet and be nice and just not do what she did. I hated it. She was still my favorite character, but I really resented Tolkien for doing what I thought was something horribly sexist.

And then? Well… then I grew up. Oddly enough I sort of became Éowyn. I grew depressed. I fought not to protect others but because somewhere in the corners of my heart I sought death. I fell in love with the idea of someone rather than the true person, and it turned me hard and cold. And suddenly it made sense. Suddenly I understood that she didn’t fight for any healthy reason. She went to war to die, both because she felt trapped by society and because she felt she had no other choice. She wanted the glory of battle, not the joy of knowing that she was protecting her homeland. This I think is best evidenced in her argument with Aragorn - he’s pointing out (very wisely) that she’s not being left behind with the women and children, she’s being charged with the defense of Edoras. Somebody has to stay behind and rule and do queenly things, somebody has to protect those who cannot fight. And she doesn’t want to do that. She wants to fight for herself and her own reasons, she wants the glory. Aragorn calls her on it, tells her that soon she could be called to fight, “valor without renown”, and she hates that. So she suits up, goes off to battle, and seeks to die because she thinks that being left with the responsibilities is somehow lessening her value as a person.

It takes a stint in the Houses of Healing to show her that she’s wrong.

I almost think that it was her relationship with Faramir that brought her around. Not in a “love transforms you” sort of way, though. Because Faramir is the opposite. He doesn’t seek out war and valor. He wants to fight to protect his people, but his true joy is in peacetime. I’d say that being exposed to that mindset helped her see how wrong she was, which is why in the end she chooses to lay down her sword.

Personally I don’t think she stopped fighting, but I think in the future she fought to protect her people rather than for her own gratification.

I see a lot of myself in Éowyn. Always have. And so it’s hard for me, looking at Tolkien’s work eleven years later, to see this very natural character growth as antifeminist. Especially when we’ve got women like Lúthien, Aredhel, Nessa, Nienna, Varda, Galadriel, Míriel, and Haleth to show that Tolkien did in fact respect women, did believe that they could be valiant and could be whatever they wanted. I think his message with Éowyn was not “women shouldn’t fight”, but “if you fight, fight for the right reasons”. It doesn’t help that he was very  opposed to war and to bloodshed for its own sake.

anonymous asked:

Ok but like.... why resist temptation? We would love to hear about the significance of frodo's name

Okay fine since you forced my hand.

So Frodo comes from the Old English Froda, which actually means “old,” but with the implication of “old and wise,” specifically with the wisdom that comes from hard experience. It also frequently carries with it the sense of suffering survived, and wisdom gained through that suffering.

It’s not a heroic name, in the traditional warrior-hero sense. It is a king’s name, but it’s the name of a king known for his wisdom, not his prowess in battle. (Actually, the mythical Froda, or one of them at least, was known for the peace of his reign and wasn’t a fighter at all.)

And that’s the thing about Frodo. His character is all about the wisdom that comes through experience and suffering, experience he never asked for but nevertheless took on voluntarily because someone had to do it. And he wanted to save the Shire and he did - at the cost of himself.

Mythically speaking, Frodo is the maimed king, the wounded healer. The Fisher King, if you will, but in reverse: it’s his wound that heals the land. (But not for him. Because as he tells Sam, that’s how it is, when things are in danger. Someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others can keep them.)

I think we often miss this final development of Frodo’s character as a wisdom figure, in part because people can get so focused on the fact that he failed his quest (which he did), and in part because, tbqh, the movies really did him an injustice in this area.

One of my fave scenes in the book is that final confrontation between Frodo and Saruman, when Frodo stops the other hobbits from killing Sharkey, and Saruman says with a furious snarl, “You’ve grown, halfling.” Grown wise, and in Saruman’s opinion cruel, because he’s fallen so far that he can only see mercy as a cruelty. And Saruman mocks Frodo, saying that his wisdom has been bought at a terrible price, that he’ll never be able to live in this Middle-earth again, and…he’s not wrong.

When the hobbits return to the Shire, Sam, Merry, and Pippin all say that it feels like waking up from a strange dream. But Frodo says, “Not for me. For me it feels like falling asleep again.” He has, to put it bluntly, seen too much of the underlying reality of the world, and he can’t go back.

Merry tells Pippin in the Houses of Healing that it’s not possible for Hobbits to live too long on the heights. They must come back to good earth and pipeweed and the simple pleasures of life in order to remain Hobbits.

But Frodo has spent too long on the heights. He has experienced and suffered too much, and the wisdom he’s gained has fundamentally changed him.

And all of that is contained in his name. Froda carries a sense of wisdom, but it’s a wisdom that only comes at the cost of suffering. There’s an inherent melancholy in the name that fits the character perfectly.