Jun. 21st, 2011

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I haven't been sleeping well. I always wake up troubled by the last night's dreams. I don't remember a lot about these dreams (if I did, I wouldn't describe them, nothing more dull than listening to a stranger drone about their dreams) but for the past two weeks they've been overwhelmingly characterized by regret, grief, sometimes anger. I wish I knew why.

Today I have to work on my visa. Afterwards, I'll meet up with one of my friends and we'll continue watching the Lord of the Rings. We're two thirds through The Two Towers. I don't think we'll bother with Return of the King because she saw it years ago. These movies are kind of a bitch to schedule, each a three hour epic, so the whole thing has taken on the appearance of a chore. Still, I feel like every "nerd" has to at least see LotR, especially if they have any interest in fantasy. She worked on a fantasy novel for two years, was a huge fan of Harry Potter in primary school, plays Dungeons and Dragons and still doesn't have the cultural background of Lord of the Rings.

To me, this is like trying to learn Chinese without understanding radicals or becoming a baker without ever giving flour much thought. Like it or not, every modern fantasy novel is somehow informed by Lord of the Rings, if not directly derivative of it. The obvious question is "so what?" To continue the string of awkward similes, aren't I just giving sex ed to someone who's been with twenty people?

That was a metaphor and I have no intention of restructuring that sentence.


Anyway, I'm a historian. Of course I'm going to think knowing who your grandaddy is is important. Understanding the literary roots of a work adds a great deal of nuance. In the case of Lord of the Rings, I think it's important to know the extent to which fantasy owes LotR a debt so you can appreciate the guys who are working to step out of Tolkien's shadow.


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Three Little Birds

August 2011

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