Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The New Arrival: Norwenglish

So, when I arrived home yesterday from the Kalamazoo trip, we found a book waiting for me on the porch. This is something that'd popped up on amazon, under their 'recommendations' ('if you like Book X, you're sure to enjoy Books Y & Z!') when I was looking at something else. Their system is obviously triggered by a few keywords (e.g., "Tolkien" or "manga"), but on the whole it seems a remarkably poor judge. In this case, however, I was intrigued by the fact that there was apparently a book on Tolkien that I knew nothing about. It sounded from the brief description* as if it might wander off into, shall we say, eccentric directions, a la Vanderploeg's notorious QUEST FOR MIDDLE-EARTH.

We'll, it turns out to be a v. slim little volume -- more a pamphlet than a book, really, w. only 34 pages, many of them half-blank. But its most notable feature is its sheer irreadability. The author clearly wrote his essay in some language other than English (probably Norwegian), then used an internet translation program to Englishize it. The results are, shall we say, unfortunate, but fascinating in their sheer awfulness, and strongly reminiscent of the opening credits of MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL, except that instead of Moose it keeps bringing up "Thousands Of Years!"

The argument, so far as I can make it out, seems to be that Tolkien's chief inspiration was Norwegian Viking Culture, which Carlson claims has been in the same place for at least the past ten thousand years. This came as a surprise, given that Norwegian is an Indo-European language and thus I wd have thought cd only have come to that part of the world much more recently than that (I assume displacing the Lapps). In any case, he soon wanders off into a discussion, rather hard to follow, asserting that Middle-earth/Norway is a plus-space alined with Good and Light and plusness, while Eisengard (Isengard) is an Outgard or outside-place of minus alined with Darkness and Evil. Albert Einstein comes into it at one point, for having allegedly worked out a mathematical proof of the existence of God ("where that scientifically work is today maybe in Pentagon -- can't know"). Carlson advances the somewhat dubious assertion that all Einstein's work was "100% perfect" so that "No more explanation need ever -- Einstein's work was complete without any faults . . . USA accepted Einstein and understood he was right in all his doings". After that it gets a little weird . . .

I can't manage any kind of summary of the final half of this little book; among its stranger moments is a passage that contains one of the relatively few references to Tolkien:

"The King and the Queen are crowned and live luckely [sic] all the time in their castle in the New Jerusalem. The sun sets down in red in the horizon -- over the castle and new days to come in Middle Earth. Pure symbolically there is being told by Tolkien that "The Ring" at last get throw away and made in to nothing in the "Doom Rock" -- and thereby just disappear for ever. "The ring" it self is though not evil -- only the human being who can be evil -- the ring it self has only a mission and that is to bring a message through to the humanity and that message itself is a good message." This follows a passage that seems to come out of nowhere about "a rubin . . . the color of a rose" (???) which has been "digitalizesed" [sic], a ring apiece for the King and Queen ("The Queens ring is stolen from time -- that's the problem. It has to be fetched back"), a rose for the queen (who we're told is both a candle and a pearl), &c.

To get a flavor of Carlson's prose, here's a link that reprints his Prologue


And, short as it seems, there's actually even less here for your money ($14.40) than its mere 34pages wd indicate: at one spot there's a five page section that gets repeated without any indication the author has done so (so muddled is his prose, and so repetitive, that it took me a while to realize this); elsewhere it's a full page recycled; here a paragraph, and everywhere lines and phrases used over and over again.

So, overall I'd have to say this is the most inept and incompetent publication I've ever seen. Even mimeographed fanzines with clip art show more professionalism and coherence. Worth checking out only if you are a fan of Wm McGonagall, Amanda McKittrick Ros, and other writers of that distinctive stamp. Maybe I shd take it to Mythcon to see if anyone wants to do a round-robin reading from it.

--John R.

1 comment:

Jason Fisher said...

Maybe Carlson learned the language from English as She Is Spoke. This sounds like a hoot! :)