We pick up in the middle of a chat, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the summer, between Encyclopedists squire and Anchises' Ghost.


12:51 AM [Ghost] ....when reading MR and WotJ, to have read all *ALL* the previous HoME volumes on the Sil (ie vols 1-5) to see what's changed.

12:51 AM [squire] Oogs.

12:52 AM [Ghost] I was pretty much hoping to rely on CT's endnotes as regards the big changes

12:52 AM [squire] Winging it for THE ENCYCLOPEDIA, Ghost?

12:52 AM [Ghost] again, in a 1000 word entry I don't know if we need to be that exhaustive

12:52 AM [Ghost] it doesn't matter if such and such an elf changed his name or not

12:53 AM [squire] Sorry, just a little paranoid.

12:53 AM [Ghost] it might make the rough 10 000 word draft

12:53 AM [Ghost] but it's not going to be in the final entry

12:53 AM [Ghost] that, to me, really seems the challenge here

12:53 AM [Ghost] re the encyclopedia entry

12:53 AM [Snow_Princess] Well, I think I'm going to head out, sorry I've been so lurkish

12:53 AM [squire] Yeah, I feel I have the makings of an academic article on The East. 500 words ain't much.

12:53 AM [Snow_Princess] Night everyone

12:53 AM [Ghost] night

12:53 AM [squire] Sorry Snow Princess, thanks for listening.

12:54 AM [Snow_Princess] I just have too many things going on to pay proper attention to chat, sorry about that :)

12:54 AM [Ghost] best example is my Danes entry: 250 words on Danish culture? That's just silly. Anyone can read a few books and write 2000 words, but who can write 250?

12:54 AM Snow_Princess has left the chat.

12:55 AM [squire] You got it. But as NEB, or drogo, or dna said, all it means is every word has to be a gem.

12:55 AM [squire] The 15000 words have to be there, in the background.

12:55 AM [Ghost] well yes, but in an encyclopedia part of the point is brevity and summarisation, I think

12:55 AM [Ghost] ie cutting out the chaff

12:55 AM [squire] You can't know what's chaff unless you know everything.

12:55 AM [Ghost] if you want to know what's in Morgoth's Ring, read Morgoth's Ring

12:56 AM [Ghost] you want to know WHY you should or should not read Morgoth's Ring

12:56 AM [Ghost] and what's worth knowing in it

12:56 AM [Ghost] you think?

12:56 AM [squire] Ah, but what do people think about Morgoth's Ring? What does Morgoth's Ring mean, in the academic community's opinion?

12:56 AM [Ghost] Yes, absolutely

12:57 AM [squire] What

12:57 AM [Ghost] but that doesn't mean what does everyone think, that means what are they arguing about, and what do they agree on?

12:57 AM [Ghost] IMO

12:57 AM [Ghost] there's no room for everyone's opinion

12:57 AM [squire] What's worth knowing is the key. As one of our leaders said, all we have to do is summarize, or even just mention the arguments.

12:58 AM [squire] But if we don't mention them, out of ignorance, that's a bad thing.

12:58 AM [Ghost] So I absolutely agree that we should read around the subject as much as possible

12:58 AM [Ghost] but I think it's more important that we grasp the subject as a whole than that we know all the details

12:59 AM [Ghost] ideally I'd be Christopher Tolkien, but I can't get to that level, so I'm aiming for a good cheap hack version of CT

12:59 AM [Ghost] The other issue is bias

12:59 AM [Ghost] if there's a controversy, I assume we're meant to be objective?

12:59 AM [Ghost] which is tricky

12:59 AM [squire] Well, with me it's a matter of logistics. I've just about run out of time, and I have 3 or 4 more books to skim that I haven't even cracked. I abandoned the idea of reading the articles, because I can't get them easily.

1:00 AM [Ghost] this is regarding Treason of Isengard, mainly?

1:00 AM [squire] On controversy, I believe one just mentions and summarizes the controversy.

1:00 AM [Ghost] right

1:01 AM [squire] No, The East and The South. I have to start writing it up very soon if it's to be done Sept. 1

1:01 AM [Ghost] Okay

1:01 AM [Ghost] did you see the stuff on Sigelwara land I posted on Yahoo?

1:01 AM [squire] The subjects are the kind of thing that show up on one page of a 200-page book on Tolkien. You just don't know which page, or which book.

1:02 AM [Ghost] right

1:02 AM [squire] So, ideally, you read them all, and tab that one key paragraph that rates one key citation or summary in the 500-word article.

1:03 AM [Ghost] Honestly, the impression I get is simply that nobody really writes much bout the south

1:03 AM [Ghost] it's taken as a given, I think, that Tolkien just used medieval archetypes of the Easterner etc

1:03 AM [squire] Thanks for the Sigelwara land. I think Drogo's in England at that conference; I'm not sure I won't have to wing it on the basis of your summary and the one I saw in my source.

1:04 AM [squire] But it was definitely a "fuck!!" moment when I came across it and realized Tolkien had written about Anglo-saxon perceptions of Ethiopia.

1:04 AM [Ghost] yeah, I know what you mean

1:04 AM [Ghost] But it does seem almost that Tolkien was interested in the Ethiopians, rather than the land

1:05 AM [Ghost] is there a Southron entry?

1:05 AM [squire] You think: What the hell else is out there that Drout knows, and Shippey knows, and Flieger knows, but I don't know?

1:05 AM [Ghost] right, exactly

1:05 AM [squire] Yeah the Haradrim and the Easterlings get their own entry.

1:05 AM [Ghost] I liked Shippey's idea that the Balrog came from the Sigelwara, but it's not really relevant to 'The South'

1:06 AM [Ghost] it must be frustrating to keep finding little threads, and realising that they just lead into someone else's entry

1:07 AM [squire] Tolkien's East is interestingly different from the Medieval East. Christians saw the East not just as, or even primarily as, a place where invasions and pagans originated. They regarded it as the place of Sunrise, Christ's birth, and the home of the Garden

1:07 AM [Ghost] right

1:07 AM [Ghost] Oh, oh, one thing you might like

1:07 AM [Ghost] it's in the Legendarium book, I think, or Flieger

1:07 AM [Ghost] Splintered Light, maybe

1:07 AM [Ghost] the idea of going 'widdershins' to the sun

1:07 AM [squire] of Eden. In Tolkien, although all people (Men and Elves and Dwarves) are born in the far East, it is a bad place, as far as possible from Heaven that is in the West on Earth.

1:08 AM [Ghost] ie going East

1:08 AM [Ghost] right

1:08 AM [squire] Some suggest that Eden in Tolkien is in The Shire; also you can make an argument that Heaven and Eden are the same, in that Feanor rebels and leaves just as Adam did.

1:09 AM [squire] But East is definitely different. South far less so.

1:09 AM [Ghost] so Frodo's journey East is a jourey away from the light, as signified by Valinor in ME, and the path of the sun in the real world also

1:09 AM [squire] The Flieger thing is key, the anchor. You're dead on to have remembered it.

1:10 AM [Ghost] I love her whole interpretation of the SIl as light splintering and diminishing

1:10 AM [Ghost] Elwe singollo into Elu Thingol, etc

1:10 AM [squire] It's hard to judge just what the sun represents in ME. Did you know the first sunrise was in the West? Only later was it regularized to go over and rise in the East.

1:11 AM [Ghost] right, all the messing around at the beginning is hard to read

1:11 AM [Ghost] is it significant, or Tolkien just fooling around?

1:12 AM [squire] But the Elven word for East is literally "place where the sun rises". The word for South comes from "left", as in, turn left on your journey west to Heaven, and you'll be going south, buddy.

1:12 AM [Ghost] hmm

1:12 AM [squire] In 500 words, I don't think I'll be able to fit that in!

1:12 AM [Ghost] right, I think 500 words suggests Drout doesn't see a lot in the subject

1:13 AM [squire] There's the "solar hero" journey. Archetype that says the hero must travel from west to east, underground, like the sun going under the earth to rise in the east after setting west. It signifies re-birth.

1:13 AM [squire] Happens in The Hobbit and LotR about 20,000 times.

1:14 AM [Ghost] right

1:14 AM [Ghost] really the LOTR is all East-W

1:14 AM [Ghost] or West-East

1:14 AM [Ghost] the n-S axis is pretty neglected

1:14 AM [squire] Yeah, I'm sure Drout is not expecting too much. But I've become a fucking specialist.

1:14 AM [Ghost] hah

1:15 AM [squire] The North South thing is harder. Secondary, like you say.

1:15 AM [Ghost] Basically, in a European mythology, South just doesn't do much, I don't think. South is the sea, or the Sahara

1:15 AM [squire] I have some ideas, but I think the thing is to stick with established, or published, ideas if possible.

1:16 AM [Ghost] right

1:16 AM [Ghost] well, I suppose you can run them by Drout, if you think they're worth including

1:16 AM [Ghost] see what he thinks, in the absence of much by the scholars

1:16 AM [squire] There is a "moral geography" tradition in modern Europe that the South is more lazy, more decadent. But it's hard to see that exactly in Tolkien.

1:16 AM [Ghost] right, there's not much Arabian Nights

1:16 AM [squire] The south is just "out of it"

1:17 AM [Ghost] the only reference to the south I ever remember is the one about the apes in the jungles

1:17 AM [squire] Except that Gondor is "south" in a lot of LotR.

1:17 AM [Ghost] so you're left with a sort of distasteful African stereotyping

1:17 AM [Ghost] right

1:17 AM [squire] And in The Hobbit, Men live in the South, whereas Dwarves, Dragons, and Goblins live in the North.

1:18 AM [Ghost] I suppose you could look for something about a continuum of 'faeriness' from N to South

1:18 AM [squire] The funny thing about Gondor (that the movie ignored) is that Tolkien wanted a certain "Egyptian" feeling as well as the standard Roman Empire and Byzantine stuff.

1:18 AM [Ghost] right, the Numenor influence

1:19 AM [squire] He was pretty open and eclectic; Africa is not just a minstrel show to him, at least.

1:19 AM [Ghost] And the Corsairs make a mess

1:19 AM [squire] Rohan is completely out of joint in LotR; they're a Northern people living in Gondor, the south.

1:20 AM [Ghost] of the neat historical allegories

1:20 AM [Ghost] right

1:20 AM [Ghost] I think Curious is right about Rohan being inspired by the Goths

1:20 AM [Ghost] it seems Tolkien had a thing for them

1:20 AM [squire] You mean because the Corsairs are too modern to be medieval?

1:20 AM [Ghost] they're too Viking to be messing around in Harad, and too Pirates of Penzance to be in Middle-Earth

1:21 AM [Ghost] the Goths make sense as a Germanic people living in a Roman-style world as invited guests

1:21 AM [squire] I read a great piece that pointed out that a horsehair tail in your helmet was pure Cossack. It only came to Western cavalry via Russia, Poland, and Germany.

1:22 AM [squire] As Shippey, I think, says, Rohan is like the Anglo-saxons moved east instead of west.

1:22 AM [Ghost] right, but it's possible to overcomplicate. I think Tolkien could have just liked horsehair plumes

1:22 AM [squire] Well, more that he was willing to mix it all up. It's never a literal transposition.

1:22 AM [squire] It's evocative.

1:23 AM [Ghost] right

1:24 AM [Ghost] I think there's a good argument for orcs = huns, Rohan = Goths, and Gondor = Rome. It's pretty conclusive, bar the helmet plumes

1:24 AM [squire] N-S: not so much a continuum of fairiness. Maybe some kind of virtue. Arnor may have collapsed, but that's where the King's line still survived. There's a lot less decadence to the Ranger's culture than to Gondor's.

1:24 AM [Ghost] right

1:26 AM [squire] Right, but orcs are also not huns, because they're not human. They don't just live in the East, either, they're all over (Misty Mtns, etc.). Rohan is Goth, but much less so than the tribes that married into Gondor, shades of Vidugavia, etc. Rohan's Anglo-s

1:26 AM [Ghost] but if you look at the little vignette at the end of LOTR, it's pure Fall of Rome. The rest is outside the scenario.

1:27 AM [squire] Anglo-saxon language messes that up. Finally, Gondor also resembles Byzantium, as the surviving Empire of a split entity, still surviving and defending against the East, little known to the Northwest.

1:27 AM [Ghost] I think there's a perception in Tolkien that ease is bad, and hardship hardens the spirit, or something

1:28 AM [Ghost] right

1:28 AM [squire] Yeah, both my topics come down to: Tolkien focused on the North-West. He says so, numerous times. No apologies, that's where the book takes place. East and South are the Other, in all kinds of ways. Generally "bad".

1:29 AM [Ghost] right

1:29 AM [Ghost] that seems like 500 words to me

1:29 AM [squire] My trick is going to be to keep abstract, avoid the Easterlings and the Haradrim. Stay symbolic.

1:29 AM [Ghost] I wouldn't feel too paranoid about trying to find the impossible

1:29 AM [Ghost] right

1:29 AM [Ghost] there's the South as a place, and South as an idea

1:30 AM [squire] Yup.

1:31 AM [Ghost] anyway, I should get to bed

1:31 AM [Ghost] nice talking to you, thanks for the warnings/threats regarding Morgoth's Ring

1:31 AM [squire] Drout's assignment includes mentioning the Blue Wizards. That's weird, to me. Far less important or interesting than Flieger's widdershins.

1:32 AM [Ghost] yeah, but the BW are geek faves

1:32 AM [squire] Hey, thanks for letting me talk about it.

1:32 AM [squire] Morgoth's Ring. It's a biggie.

1:32 AM [Ghost] no worries, drop me an email if you want to run anything by me or panic over anything

1:32 AM [squire] Ha ha, sorry to jump on you about it.

1:33 AM [Ghost] haha, no worries

1:33 AM [Ghost] good luck with the drafts, try not to get too worried about what doesn't exist

1:33 AM [Ghost] talk to you soon

1:33 AM [squire] I really appreciate the Yahoo site. It keeps me sane on this thing, knowing everyone else is fucking up too.

1:33 AM [Ghost] yeah, it's very helpful

1:33 AM [Ghost] haha

1:34 AM [squire] Good night. Thanks to Elbereth for getting you on this topic!

1:34 AM [Ghost] I just wish drogo would panic more, damn him

1:34 AM [Ghost] okay, night!

1:34 AM Ghost has left the chat.