The Hobbit

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AuthorTopic: The Hobbit
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #100
This discussion seems to me to be circling around an unarticulated paradox about influence and compulsion.

I can see no sharp distinction between influence and compulsion, but only an issue of degree. If someone ties me to a tree they constrain my whole body; if they say 'Hello!' they compel a small amount of my attention. Perhaps only a few synapses are involved, and for a brief span, but while I'm reacting to the greeting, some of my synapses are jumping to the command of another mind. As an intrusion, that's pretty extreme in degree; but it's also very tiny in scale.

A sufficiently great degree and scale of compulsion is obviously horrible. But to be protected entirely from even the smallest external compulsions would be a fate worse than death, because it would mean being isolated from all external stimuli whatever. Somewhere between is a line, however fuzzy, between good stimulus and bad compulsion. But where is it, and why?

What makes a sound track fall on one side of the line, and a punchline fall on the other? The answer is surely not just a neuron count. But what is it?

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #101
Clavicle: Lord of the Rings was not written as an allegory for WW2. The passage Kelandon quoted is in fact, IIRC, Tolkien's frustrated rebuttal of just that assumption.

quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Tolkien himself wrote that he wanted it to serve the purposes that mythology served in the past... I imagine that glamorizing and emotionalizing all of the movie scenes made the movies rather more glorious in overall effect, which makes them resemble old-fashioned mythology more.
Old-fashioned mythology served many purposes, and most of them are not served by glorious Hollywood movies. I would argue the two most significant were (1) helping to stitch together a meaningful understanding of life, and (2) serving as a sort of cultural backbone. It was the second that Tolkien was clearly most interested in, particularly for the UK, and it was the first that he wrote about in his essays.

However, Tolkien told us explicitly what he thought of gloriously effected fairy-stories:

"Drama is naturally hostile to Fantasy. Fantasy, even of the simplest kind, hardly ever succeeds in Drama, when that is presented as it should be, visibly and audibly acted. Fantastic forms are not to be counterfeited. Men dressed up as talking animals may achieve buffoonery or mimicry, but they do not achieve Fantasy." (From "On Fairy-Stories"; my italics)

There is a big difference between "men dressed up as talking animals" and the presentation of the Ents or Orcs in PJ's LOTR. But it isn't the imperfection of costuming that Tolkien is maligning here; it's "counterfeited" forms. What does it mean to be counterfeited?

The answer elsewhere in Tolkien's essays, and also, I believe, the answer to SoT's waystation point, is that it depends on the presence of imagination. Stories told in words allow a lot of room for the audience to imagine things. They allow for a silent but dynamic exchange, a dialectic if you will, between what is said in the story, and what is thought in the mind of the audience. It is an enriching process for the audience. The best stories, and typically the most popular, are the ones that resonate most richly with their audience, and which allow for the richest and most intricate relationships between the story and the imagination.

Stories "visibly and audibly acted" allow less room for imagination. It's not that they limit imagination, which is boundless, but that they occupy more space themselves, so there is less room left in the mind of the audience for imagining.

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Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
"Slartucker is going to have a cow when he hears about this," Synergy said.
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #102
quote:
Originally written by Evnissyen:

It surprises me that Tolkien should've said that he "distrusted allegory in all its forms", since my understanding has been that the trilogy was largely an allegorical response to WW2? I could be mistaken. No scholar, I am!
As Slarty notes, Tolkien specifically says that this is not true in the introduction to the books. Also, he began writing the LotR in the 1930's, before the war ever occurred.

If I may quote a bit: "The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion. If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the Ring would have been seized and used against Sauron; he would not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-dûr would not have been destroyed but occupied. Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-Earth. In that conflict both sides would have held hobbits in hatred and contempt: they would not long have survived even as slaves."

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
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Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Warrior
Member # 6934
Profile #103
quote:
Originally written by Evnissyen:

So, I want to watch a film that gives me room to feel and think. Why is that wrong?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

quote:
Originally written by Evnissyen:

Perhaps with all this resentment aimed at me for daring to suggest that soundtracks should be treated with respect: I should ask why so many people think that I should fall into line and accept (and like) what Hollywood, or anybody here who disagrees with me, tells me to? Isn't that intolerance? So, you're attacking me for not sharing the vision you share... wow. What wickedness! (To use Locmaar's word.)

Au contraire, mon ami. Your opinion is absolutely valid and sound. What bugged me was the elitist notion that people who (sometimes) like music in films are culturally underinformed cretins.

As I said before: we can agree to disagree but I don't think it's fair to accuse people who don't share your vision of being dishonest. D'accord?

[ Tuesday, May 13, 2008 08:31: Message edited by: Locmaar ]

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Always try to be true to yourself - unless you suck
Posts: 183 | Registered: Sunday, March 19 2006 08:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #104
quote:
Originally written by Evnissyen:

Oh, for the love of humanity.

Salmon:
If I'm not mistaken, Jaws was supposed to feed on people's fear of sharks. The "Danger! Danger!" score undercut this basic fear. But... if Spielberg's intention, in making Jaws, was to manipulate people into feeling more fearful of sharks than they already are... then that proves my point. In that sense: Perhaps the score was essential . . . to complete the brainwashing process, right?

Do you even remember the point at this point? If you have the capacity, watch Jaws without the music. See if you feel the upsurge in tension as the movie, and especially the hunt-scene, plays. Because remember, this movie is essentially a ghost story, told around a campfire. It really helps to have off-camera sound effects like twigs snapping and owls hooting in order to create the ambiance that is sought by the director. It's a package, and that tha-thump is part of it. It doesn't pander, it complements and accentuates what exists in the film.

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Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Argon - "I'm at a loss for words..."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #105
Yeah. Salmon is right, and I think this makes a good point: not every movie is the same type of work. It is hard to argue that manipulation of emotions and expectations is bad in a horror movie when that's the whole point of the genre. (Jaws is close enough to horror, really.) Movies are not created equal.

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Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
"Slartucker is going to have a cow when he hears about this," Synergy said.
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00

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