Woops. I almost suckered myself into writing on that topic. Not gonna happen, because my insurance policy is simply not adequate enough. The battle between Tolkien’s moral vision and George Martin’s bleak nihilism is a deadly one, fraught with many stories found on the continuum between those two poles. Many a farmboy has come to grief on that battleground. One day, perhaps, I’m going to write a doctoral thesis on the foundational philosophies of the genre, but not today.
Actually, that’s a bit of a dream of mine. Back to school for a doctorate. I’d love to study literary theory. Not the lame marxist critique or feminist critique that most blockheads teach in academia (sorry, I have no pity or patience for such ivory tower chowdermumblebrains), but a critique theory that actually delves into the aforesaid moral vision of the oldsters (Tolkien, Chesterton, etc) versus the post-modernism of Martin, Cook, and others. One’s vision and understanding of the world shapes one’s stories. There’s no getting away from that, and there’s no getting away from the moral or amoral responsibility (can I say amoral responsibility?) that goes hand in mailed glove, regardless of the careless and shallowly constructed excuses of many of my contemporaries.
So, me for a doctorate and my wife would tackle a master’s in Jane Eyre. She’s currently re-reading Jane Eyre for about the twentieth time right now. I’m definitely the fifth wheel out when Jane and Mr. Rochester are in the house. Cambridge, perhaps?
Yesterday, I drove onto a work site where we were tearing down some old fences and replacing them with new ones. I arrived just in time to see one worker suddenly break into a frenzied impression of Michael Flatley doing his Lord of the Dance (Riverdance?) routine. Only, I doubt Flatley could’ve done such fast footwork as this fellow. There was a certain lack of rhythm and grace in his movements, but, boy, was he fast. He was also doing a lot of hollering at the same time. Turns out that he had just flipped over a large masonry block and uncovered a nest of black widow spiders. Several adults and about forty Barney-aged youngsters (Barney and black widows–now that’s a perfect combination). They all came boiling out like the four horsemen of the apocalypse (well, the forty-four horsemen, if we must be precise). Hence, the dance impression accompanied by the frantic yodeling.
Spiders as terrifying as those that planned to sup on Bilbo and the dwarves. It just goes to show you. You never know when life might become epic, fantasy or not.