The first thing to come into my mind after thinking over King's essay may seem unlikely, but it made sense to me.I thought of J.R.R. Tolkien because of a book I'd read called "Tolkien and the Great War," by John Garth. Between Garth's book, one by T.A. Shippey and another by Colin Duriez along with a book concerned solely with T.S. Eliot, my view of Tolkien was cemented and it was a mind opener in ways. The basic idea I have of Tolkien is of a guy who enters the First World War a young Turk full of beans and vinniger who gets taken by the lapels and is given a rude shaking wake up call. One passage in Garth's book details how Tolkien actually took a regiment of German soldiers prisoner. The implication that Garth hints at is that seeing those prisoners was the incident that made Tolkien grow up in some way. What I'm convinced is it was that experience which in a large, though not total, part made him right LOTR. It all comes from the implication that Tolkien was at least in part trying to distill his experiences of war into that book in the possible hope that somehow readers would get the message and do their best to have to avoid situations like the one that happened to Tolkien and his generation. This isn't to say Tolkien was pacifist, he was sorely disappointed WWII broke out but he knew a just war when he saw it, even going so far as to denounce his German publishers for anti-semitic practices.What's all this have to do with the King essay?To be continued.ChrisC
Continued from last post.The point is this.What struck me about Tolkien's response to war was it's clear-headed attention to the cultural circumstances that lead to such a conflagration, combined with a amazing sort of humane charity.That last part is hardest to convey except to say it's amazing for his almost total lack of ill will. What little there is is reserved for the kind of zeitgeist or "Spirit of the Age" he felt was responsible for such events. It was this same spirit Eliot would mock in his poem "The Wasteland", making an interesting tie-in to King's work.When I read King's essay I thought back on Tolkien's response to the "Spirit of the Age" and how it's possible for people to change it, hopefully for the better.If I had to sum what I got from Garth's book on Tolkien and Russell Kirk's "Eliot and his Age" is if people are willing to better the thinking that makes up the culture they live in, the result most likely won't be "THE ANSWER", however, if done right, it could be a step in the direction.ChrisC
P.S. That's what I thought when I read King's essay, and it still sounds as commonsensical than a lot of other solutions I've heard.Another way to think of it might be this:Two towns next to each other, one a decent enough sort, the other a "WasteLand". The irony is while the decent sort of town wants nothing to do with the "Wasteland", yet it still exerts it's influence on an otherwise okay enough existence. The problem isn't one of coexistence so much as learning how do the best you can when confronted with the problems a "Wasteland" mentality sends your way.Er, sorry if that wasn't as clear as it could be.ChrisC
P.S.SAnnnnd now for the punchline, I meant this all to go on the Quigly post and got turned around.SFX Sarcastic "Wha-Wha-Whaaa"trumpet sound.ChrisC
I'm always more interested in the people than I am in the monsters.--Stephen King
I'm always more interested in the people than I am in the monsters.