Monday, February 25, 2013

"Taking the Part of Trees" (Post Number One Thousand)

So, in the five or six years I've been blogging, it turns out I've written a thousand posts, or about a post every other day. Sometimes I go through droughts where a week or two will pass without a post, either because inspiration failed or because I'm very, very busy and/or under the weather (or both).

Of course, not all those posts got posted. Some I drafted but never hit "Send" on, not being satisfied with how it came out. Others were left unfinished, till the pot went off the boil; it might be interesting to revisit some of these one day, though many no doubt wd now be moot. And a few were finished and ready to go but I thought better of sending them; most of these were snippy bits about politics, so it's probably just as well.

This being mainly a Tolkien blog, I thought #1000 shd be Tolkien themed. I was recently reminded by something I was reading of one of the best Tolkien discussions I've ever taken part in, way back in Milwaukee days at a session of the Burrahobbits (the local fantasy discussion book group, dating all the way back to 1984 and still going strong). One of the times we did THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the question came up of what was each of our's favorite part. The result was a real eye-opener. I'd always just kinda assumed my response to the book was the same as everybody else's, and that folks who really, really like Tolkien like him for the same reasons and so would have the same favorite scenes. Such did not prove to be the case. Pretty much each of us had a different favorite scene or thing in the book that had first moved us, that kept drawing us back to re-read it again and again. I know of one friend for whom it's the arrival of the Rohirrim at the Siege of Minas Tirith. I suspect for many it must be the scene of Eowyn against the Nazgul, given how many artists have illustrated the confrontation (it must be hundreds by now). For myself, it's two chapters from THE TWO TOWERS: "Treebeard" (Bk III. Ch iv) and "The King of the Golden Hall (Bk III. Ch vi); when I feel drawn to re-read the book, it's often to read these two chapters, after which I get drawn in and start from the beginning and read all the way through.

But the one thing that first and immediately attracted me to Tolkien was the trees. I'd never met anyone, aside from my mother, who felt about trees the way I did; Tolkien was the first writer in which I had what C. S. Lewis described as that "What! You too?" moment.  When he described a tree being cut down and then just left laying there, I'd seen and felt just the same thing with a tree a few blocks from my junior high. When he described mourning for individual trees after they were gone, there too I knew exactly what he was talking about.

It's not unusual to have an interest or feeling no one around you shares, or to conclude that no one else anywhere feels the way you do. But to suddenly discover that yes, there's someone who agrees, and who can express that point of view far better than you ever could, is one of the things that can make reading a book a life-changing event.

So, thanks to the Professor for that.

--John R.

1 comment:

Troels said...

Congratulations on the thousandth — and thank you!

I have also noticed the differences in how people respond to the books. It is, I believe, reflected in how they respond to adaptations: no matter what their overall opinion of a film adaptation might be, I doubt you'll find many sets of Tolkien two fans who can agree on what the film's good sides and bad sides are ;-)