Wednesday 8 September 2021

If hobbits were still alive... What then?

When I first read Tolkien in my early-middle teens; I had a yearning desire that hobbits, elves, dwarves should still be alive in the world. I felt that - if this could only be the case - then life would become magical and beautiful... or would it? How exactly?

Nowadays, I regard this as one of the traps of materialism. When half of us 'knows' (because we are materialists) that there are no other speaking peoples than man, no giants or dragons, no magical wizards or ghosts... 

Then the other part of us - which remains spontaneously and naturally spiritual - automatically concludes that If such things were real For Sure, our world would be magical, re-enchanted, romantic...

And in this half-way house of hope-less yearning - we Get Stuck. 

Because, it would not really be the case that hobbits would make a better world - not unless our way of thinking also changed. 

Because the reality of hobbits somewhere in the world would not transform our condition any more than the reality of the pygmies; the reality of magical sorcerers would just be a different kind of 'science'; the presence of invisible fairies would be just some novel electromagnetic phenomenon... 

Because we are so materialist, so mundane in our way of thinking, that these would be just more facts about the dull, thin, alienated reality which we perceive asif looking-out at a TV screen from inside our brains. 

This, indeed, is exactly what happened with New Age spirituality - it just became another (mundane) alternative-science - based on consciousness understood as vibrations, frequencies, energies or fields (a quasi-physics, mostly); and a branch of 'therapy' - but using acupuncture, crystals and shamanism instead of surgery, drugs and counselling.   

Even meditation - which used to be regarded as the most advanced form of mystical spirituality - is now materialized to the mundane activity of 'mindfulness' (and taught with state approval by mega-bureaucracies). 

Fundamentally; the problem is not in the world, but in our-selves; or rather our lack of real-selves. 

It is because we-our-selves are self-aware at a superficial and externally-imposed level of thinking: our personality, our thoughts, and even our thought processes are passively assimilated from our environment; and our environment in one that is officially dead, meaningless, purposeless; and operating on the basis of some mindless mixture of causality and randomness. 

We take the world, ideas and concepts, and our experiences; and we make them mundane.  

The first step in escaping this Black Iron Prison is to cease assisting in its construction and maintenance. Every thing, all knowledge and understanding, entails mind; so our miserable and pointless world is mind-made; made (partly, and essentially) by our own minds. 

We are our own jailers and tormentors. It was we who painted ourselves into this corner from which we perceive there to be no possible escape. 

Habits are hard to break - especially when it is habitual thinking - as such - from-which we need to escape. 

Yet it can be done; and we can recognize and value when it is done - and repent when it is not. We can understand our lives as the best times when we know the world to be alive, conscious, created; and that the other mundane materialist times are an evil spell with which we collude. 

The materialist mundane miserable reality is real; but only because we help to make it real. The enchanted romantic reality is also real, but only when we acknowledge it as such. 

As usual, it is a choice; and nowadays (and increasingly - for most people) a binary choice. 

Cease hoping for rescue

By hobbit and elf, 

By dragon or spell;

And repent our complicity

In the thinking of-Hell. 


Colin said...

For a devout atheist (such as my elder brother) everything in theory could be explained by science. And reduced to the material. By definition. Therefore discussing anything deemed to rely on non-scientific ‘magic waves’ which by definition can’t exist can only ever be for entertainment.
So yes, the best is to turn away. And return to the personal. The romantic Christian path you describe in the latter half.

A said...

I remember children are supposed to see the magical living world, but I wonder if these End Times makes it even shorter.

My son said he saw angels at Mass when he was two, but now doesn't remember at five.

David Stanley said...

I'm becoming aware of more demons everyday.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DS - Yes, we share this world with a different species (I mean, as well as women!).

agraves said...

Currently there is a bit of a UFO craze going on with videos of flying objects provided by the US Navy pilots no less. When I bring this to the attention to Navy personnel (atheists), they say it cannot be true, not possible. So they don't even believe their own service members. I think we are better off without actual contact given our present state of affairs on planet earth. Any alien landing on earth would surely become a political pawn, asking if they have democrats on Mars, or if they believe in the welfare state. This would seal their fate as enemy or friend depending on party affiliation. If I were an alien approaching earth I would check my flight path and zoom around it. Maybe that's why they are seen as traveling so fast, flooring it before we make too much of them.

Anonymous said...

Tolkien does sound like a Hobbit ethnologist in The Hobbit, and various of his works record contacts between Elves and Men in Anglo-Saxon times and (though here, rereading s in order, for me) later. What were his (ostensible) conclusions? I wonder how worthwhile bringing Lewis's considerations in the 1944 Preface to The Pilgrim's Regress and Surprised by Joy to bear might be, here.

Something that seems weird to me, is how some enthusiasts of 'ancient astronauts' seem to act as if their demonstrability would somehow simultaneously explain God away.

Demons have been mentioned, and Mr. Andrew notes a possible experience of angels - and, indeed, what 'expiration date' can be persuasively posited for the exortation of the Letter to the Hebrews (13:2): "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

What creature - or possible creature - cannot conduce to grateful Godly wonder if we are properly disposed?

David Llewellyn Dodds

Brief Outlines said...

This is absolutely brilliant!

Bruce Charlton said...

@brief - Thanks! This is, of course, Barfield and Steiner re-explained. But this line of reasoning helps make clear exactly why we cannot be rescued (and live well) from our situation by anything external (by any institution, by any reform or betterment).

Nothing 'wonderful' that could happen in 'the world' (not angels, aliens, channeling or telekinesis), nothing that could happen 'to' us, will suffice - because it will just automatically (mostly unconsciously) be processed into the mundane by our thinking.

Rescue and a meaningful/ purposeful life must come from within, *primarily* from (real-)self initiated change in our thinking.