The group of bloggers with whom I am associated have been (slavishly, I would call it) following the lead of our eldest and wisest member (William Wildblood) in putting up recent self-photos so as to emphasize the anti-anonymity stance we all hold in a world of masks and anti-human PSYOPS.
So Don't Blame Me for the hideous picture over there* - it is a screen capture thingy from a Youtube interview I did with Keri Ford. There is a bit of vertical stretching type distortion, which makes me look somewhat thinner than IRL. The annoyingly opinionated facial expression is, however, accurate - sadly.
The background is my 'study' - i.e. the room dedicated to storing my books (as opposed to the other rooms having other primary purposes which have a lower % of book cases, or mostly books belonging to other family members)...
For years, I never threw out any books; but dragged the increasing accumulation from flat to flat - but when I got married, and we were both keen readers; and then had kids, who were keen readers - we got to the situation when we needed to get rid of books in order to keep getting books. Since when we have disposed of hundreds - especially (not very good) novels; one way or another.
One excellent way is to pack hundreds of books tightly into boxes in the garage or attic, in totally inaccessible piles; then after several years when you have forgotten about them or not really needed them - they can be given away (if you can find anyone to accept them, which can be difficult).
But the study does not contain my most-used books; which is the Inklings section; which is downstairs. It is amazing how often I take-down and refer-to these volumes - especially those by and about Tolkien.
In recent months I have found myself drawn back to Tolkien yet again. This is quite spontaneous - and rather absurd. Why am I listening to the audiobook again, while reading relevant sections of the History of Middle Earth?
Why did I dig-out my strange Tolkien Tarot card game by Peter Pracownik? - which is dated 1996, but has a style like the early 1970s, when I was starved of Tolkien material and had seen no illustrations except a strange poster set on sale in a hippy shop on Park Street, (Bristol) - where I examined the thumbnail illustrations of the posters.
The matter of Tolkien material is illustrative of the changes of the past fortysomething years. I was terribly short of Tolkien material as a maniacal 'fan' - owning just a handful of books - and unable to afford the hardbacks with the proper maps. Indeed, Tolkien published only a few books (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and another three short volumes); and there was not even a reliable biography to inform people about his life.
To be a Tolkien fan in those days was to be like a monk in a Medieval monastery - poring again and again over the very few available manuscripts. And like the Medieval scholar, this involved a fair bit of hand-copying and commentary. I have kept some of the old copies I made of Tolkien's letters, calendars and the like - from Appendices absent from my paperback LotR but loaned from the library.
The 'commentaries' were my own attempted expansions of the world; such as little illustrations, a short story, a couple of song settings, poems, inscriptions on my possessions; and even 'automatic writing' by which I generated by own Tolkien-runic name. All these entirely for my own consumption; since I knew of nobody else who was interested to anything approaching the same degree as myself.
So - interest was maintained by going deeper and deeper, and alone.
Nowadays, of course, the Tolkien related material is in effect unlimited. So while I was narrow and deep (and, since the material was finite; the only possible direction was to cut deeper and deeper). By contrast, modern fans are broad and shallow; and maintain their interest by a constant infusion of new material from fan-fiction and fan-art shared in a vast community online, and from all over the world .
Yet, the situation of these times seems to call for something more like the Medieval/ Seventies narrow-and-deep approach than the millennial breadth and novelty - because the Tolkien communities are now all corrupted by, converged-onto, Leftist politics - ever increasingly so.
Such that mainstream Tolkien fandom and scholarship alike have become basically anti-Tolkien in their stance; in a way exactly analogous to modern Christian churches.
Thus Tolkien is used to pursue Leftism; so that those who are in the mainstream of Tolkien studies are all a sub-part of that Global Establishment agenda - with exactly the same agenda of antiracism, sexual revolution, fake-environmentalism, and the like.
(I fully expect soon to stumble-across blog discussion, papers, special issue journals, conferences, and academic volumes of multi-author essays on the theme of 'Tolkien and the Birdemic' - but I will not go out of my way to find them!)
In other words, Tolkien fandom is a world best avoided!
So - I am finding myself increasingly (and almost irresistibly!) drawn back (or forward, since it is conscious and voluntary) into mulling-over the same old few books, for my own purposes - a process of cyclical rediscovery and deepening.
You might try for yourself such a strategy of narrow-and-deep attention; but applied to whatever author (or other equivalent) that you personally have been spontaneously engaged-by.
*Note added - Don't know about you, but I can't stand that seeing that picture of me every time I look at the blog. It has to go... Now replaced with a less aggressive one of me from 2019; on a walk in Spain.
What have I started? Eldest I will accept. Wisest I certainly will not. The great thing about this little group of bloggers, and many of the commenters as well, is that we can all learn from each other. While going in more or less the same direction we have all started off from different places and taken different routes to get to where we are now so we can bring different perspectives to the quest.
@William - You need to take responsibility for what you are and what you began!
Such wriggling and evasiveness is unseemly for a man of your natural authority...
You are not unlike Inklings to myself and others, though you lack a formal name. You should all take heart that you are defined by the company you keep.
@BC - "Such wriggling and evasiveness is unseemly for a man of your natural authority..."
Is it? It seems the most natural thing in the world for a man worth more than his weight gold to underestimate his value. I see it time and again. You probably do the same.
The best example would be the Tolkien Trust, funded mostly through the copyright of some of Tolkien's works, which donates money to Asylum Welcome, an NGO that brings people from certain countries to Oxford.
@CH - All charities are now (more or less) the same charity; as part of the phenomenon by which all institutions, organizations, corporations... are parts of the same bureaucracy.
I like the new pic, but you might want to crop it a bit, as you can't really see your face without zooming in.
Anyone notice the similarity between the one ring and our cell phones. We can't take our eyes off of it, it infects us with its malignancy and we search for it desperately If lost
@WmJas "you can't really see your face without zooming in"
Yes, a shame about that, isn't it...
Whitney: very astute! And when you put the ring on, you disappear from the real world and enter the ethereal realm of the wraiths, where the Eye of Sauron can directly see you with the greatest ease.
I rather liked the first picture. A good face and handsome.
The new pic is quite Tolkienesque.
@Whitney and @Epithemus I have thought the same thing. Modern phones are like the Ring combined with the Stone of Orthanc. They are shiny and of a magic very few can comprehend. We use them to communicate, seek knowledge and disappear, but in doing so our wills are slowly bent to that of the Dark Lord. We neurotically pat our pockets to make sure they are there and feel anxiety when they are lost. And people give these things to their children!
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