I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

December 07, 2012 - 4:04 p.m.

Narn but the Lonely

I've wasted too much time but let's see if I can now write a short quick edition of Wise Madness, it's better than solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

I finished read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Children of Hrin
edited by Christopher Tolkien. or as it says on the title page, Narn i Chn Hrin. The latter is how I think of it. That's the proper Sindarin title and what it was called when a version of it was included in Unfinished Tales. Calling it The Children of Hrin is like titling the Iliad "The Story of Troy."

As you can see I take my Tolkien very seriously. I write about Terry Pratchett much more than I write about Tolkien but that's only because Pratchett wrote more so I keep reading new things by him. Tolkien is forever a touchstone. I read the The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings when I was in Middle School, perhaps grade school, and they've been part of my world ever since. I waited on tenterhooks for the The Silmarillion to be published which it finally was when I was in college. I bought it the day it was released. I bought the complete "History of Middle Earth all 12 volumes. I have read every scrap that Tolkien has written concerning Ea the universe of LOTR.

Tolkien is the antithesis of Pratchett. Where Pratchett is rational, skeptical, cynical, and ironic, Tolkien is mystical, religious, and sincere, and straightforward. I'm clearly more like Pratchett but Tolkien touches my heart in a way nobody else does. The world is not as he imagines it so he imagined one that fit his notions of what a universe should be. He created Ea not as it is but as it ought to be.

The Narn (that's how Tolkien usually referred to it) is a retelling of part of the Silmarillion in a longer more immediate form. Tolkien had always planned on giving it a longer treatment along with the two other "great tales" Luthien and Beren and Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin. There are versions of all three of them in Unfinished Tales.

Luthien and Beren but the Narn has grown on me. It was too depressing for me originally. It's pretty much the saddest story ever. Brutal is perhaps a better world. The words of Turin's sister Nienor, sums things up well, "A Trin Turambar turun ambartanen: master of doom by doom mastered!" Turin's pride is but hubris and he's helpless against fate. His fate is not blind fate but the curse of Morgoth, the Black Enemy. Sauron the Dark Lord of LOTR is but a servant or emissary of the far more powerful Morgoth.

The ending is brilliant, all the threads come together and one by one Turin discovers the awful truths. He sees how Morgoth set up a giant Rube Goldberg Device and Turin was the last domino to fall. Turin is the classic tragic character, noble but with a fatal flaw.

I need to reread the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The Book of Lost Tales.. Maybe I can live somewhere in Middle Earth. Sounds good about now.

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Horvendile December 07, 2012
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