Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The President Quotes Tolkien?

So, saw an interesting post today by someone purporting to identify sources for inspiring lines from the President's not-quite 'State of the Union' speech last night. Among the sources claimed were great orators like JFK and Wm. Jennings Bryan and Dan'l Webster, or great writers such as the author of The Book of Isaiah or Shakespeare, was -- J. R. R. Tolkien.

I think most of these so-called source identifications are dubious, but the idea that we now live in a world where someone can suggest in that sort of context that the President is drawing on Tolkien's words for inspiration, and expect to be taken seriously, is amazing. Somewhere out there the ghost of Edmund Wilson is silently harumphing its disapproval.

Here's the relevant passage , from Aaron Zelinsky's "Obama's Rhetorical Inspirations: Presidents, Poets, and Hobbits":

6)"But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary."*

Fear not, Hobbit-fans. You have not been left out of the speech! J. R. R. Tolkien is this phrase's progenitor. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gildor Inglorion declares that, "Courage is found in unlikely places."

and here's the link to the full post:

current music: THE SMITHEREENS 'The Beatles' B-Sides.

*Note: my own recollection is that Obama actually said "ordinary Americans, who are anything but 'ordinary'".

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