Thursday, February 16, 2023

Jonathan of "The One Ring" answers Mr. Sean Migalla without verifying his name

10 Ways The Lord of the Rings has aged POORLY?! (and apparently not because of the Rings of Power)
The One Ring, 14 Feb. 2023

Which links to:

CBR : 10 Ways Lord Of The Rings Has Aged Poorly

Despite being a significant benchmark in fantasy epics, The Lord of the Rings hasn't entirely stood the test of time.

Which links to:

CBR, author : Sean Migalla

188 articles published since July 12, 2022

Sean (he/him) is a writer and enjoyer of all things nerdy. Apart from comics, he enjoys table top games and occasionally making video content.

The following is subdivided. I follow the timestamps in the video for where I divide the comments on different issues. The titles are somewhat different than Sean Migalla's - and also somewhat shorter. For "intro" I think that's a fair way of naming it ...


2:09 There is sth I would adress before going into the supposed ten ways ...

"However, some parts of the book have aged poorly because they are problematic and offensive in ways that went uncorrected at the time."

May I underline?

"that went uncorrected at the time."

The supposition is, an editor, facing Tolkien's Manuscript ought to have corrected (sic) things like these, and if he didn't, he wasn't quite competent for a modern audience!!!

Editor = grading English teacher "de luxe" ...

[10 : Plot Cul-DeSacs]

3:40 Totally agree on the "modern audiences" point.

One more. Since fan fictions on the internet began to be a thing, writing advice is one thing that has flooded the internet too.

I more often see advice about writing than I get time to write my fan fiction novel Chronicle of Susan Pevensie, even.

Now, if we go back to the sources, Aristotle made the distinction between epic and drama, that epic is full of episodes, while in drama each part is there to make the main plot progress.

If we recall that Attic drama is c. 1000 verses long (iambic trimeter for dialogue and other meters for chorus interventions, socalled stasima) and that this is c. 1/24 (actually a bit more than 1/24) of either epic by Homer, this makes sense. A drama is basically what we would call a short story, an epic what we would call a full length novel.

B u t - the thing is, Aristotle after this gave no specific advice on how to do the episodes well - he mainly wrote in Poetics of drama, more specifically tragedy.

There is obviously one point of his advice that "modern critics" or "modern audiences consultants" entirely fail to follow him : he recommended a language that was not entirely colloquial or day to day.

But English teachers over in your country and Swedish teachers in the one I left are very used to giving writing advice for short stories. That's the kind of story-telling they grade as exercises. No English teacher or "national language" teacher anywhere in the Western World of the last 150 years (barring a very radical exception, I cannot totally exclude) gave the exercise series : "write a novel over the term - each school week you write or correct one chapter of a novel" - though that could be a very fruitful project. The Swedish school year is 40 weeks, so that would mean 20 chapters and writing and correcting a chapter is two separate exercises. Note, it would be necessary to tell them they did not need to write the chapters in order. And, while swapping chapters for correction, each was free to take or not take the suggestions of the other guy.

So, writing novels is not an exercise in public schools, writing short stories is. This is reflected in the writing advice that floats around. And this in turn is recycled as adverse criticism of long novels (if you call LotR a "short story" you are arguably an Ent).

That's obviously just one of the objections against the public school system and making it compulsory.

4:40 Let's take a look at who the guy is:

Sean (he/him) is a writer and enjoyer of all things nerdy. Apart from comics, he enjoys table top games and occasionally making video content.

Mr. Migalla pretty much recycles the advice given to game masters, that being not to try to give interesting detail.

I enjoy what Living Anachronism has to say about medieval clothing, but in this respect, he has perhaps a point when some of the larpers are not great readers, and it would be a pity to lose one or two of them to hockey or cheerleading instead of Live Roleplaying, but as to advice "if they ask what rum it is, just say it is 'ordinary rum' " - for a novel writer or even short story writer, that's atrocious advice!

"Game masters" = dungeon masters for D & D for example

4:59 There is an objective standards for how world building is done in Live Roleplaying, also known as Larp, and Mr. Migalla is misapplying that standard to novel writing

[9 : Random Characters]

[no comment]

[8 : Invicible Heroes]

8:52 Tell me more on how invincible Boromir, Merry and Pippin are ...

Sean Migalla obviously ... I venture to reconstruct, I'll not have him sue me for stating it as actual fact ... got a task to make a somewhat dissing piece on LotR, and he divided it up between himself and fellow larpers (or table gamers, rather, in his case).

[7 : No Agency]

13:00 If "contemporary readers" and "modern audiences" are euphemisms, what are the rough and straight descriptions?

The supposedly euphemistic terminology "makes me uncomfortable," reminds me of the guys who were allergic to a Mass with Latin and kneeling - and projected that personal problem onto the general public in the pew. They proceded to call their projection "modern man" ...

13:30 So, one of Mr Migalla's fellow gamers (to stay with my obvious reconstruction) says Merry and Pippin are invincible, and the other that they lack agency - which is it?

But between them, there is a problem with the ethos, not just the story-telling aesthetics.

A Christian is in a certain sense invincible, as long as he stays with the Lord (even Lucy Westenra is invincible as long as she has the window shut and a crucifix with garlic ready). But it's not as if he was the main agency.

Jeremias (Jeremiah) 10:23
I know, O Lord, that the way of a man is not his: neither is it in a man to walk, and to direct his steps.

So many Christian stories are about "if I hadn't been blocked there, I would not have met my ..." (insert "wife" for a man or "husband" for a woman) "... or I would not be a believer, or I would not have made that contract I'm living off"

But the neo-pagan ideal is a person full of proper agency (he needs to be his own god) and even so pretty prone to be tragic.

[6 : Slow to Start]

16:18 This one, I'd nearly agree on.

I am not any longer a huge fan of Karl May. When in "Und Friede auf Erden" the main character makes a prayer along with Buddhists, while the missionary who wanted to erase pagan temples gets a brain surgery as a cure, I was queezy about the theology back then, and am disgusted by it now.

But I owe him for Winnetou I - it took even more time to get started than LotR.

It begins with an essay explaining what a greenhorn is. It then involves the admission the "I narrator" once was that greenhorn ... and then takes us to that greenhorn called "Karl" or "Charley" (who wants to be the teacher of his readers) taking job as surveyor for the rail road leading West from St. Louis ... I found the essay enjoyable, but this stuff about the surveyor incredibly boring ...

I tried again. And hey, that rail road leads through Indian territories that haven't personally made a deal with the US about permitting that rail road ...

Thanks to that, I also got through "A long expected party" when I picked up the book again.

I never had a problem with the Council of Elrond.

18:13 No, Robert Jordan was not Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever ...

That was Stephen R. Donaldson.

Must admit, I never read Robert Jordan.

Actually, my fantasy reading revolved around four authors, mainly, and partly a fifth.

CSL and JRRT, obviously and then Lloyd Alexander and Ursula K. LeGuin, partly also Piers Anthony.

19:34 "they don't have the patience any more"

Hmmm ... think the problem is somewhat different.

When senior high school teachers say "modern students don't want to study Latin" - it's not a specific category of people who have changed. It's just that taking senior high school is not any more about that specific category of people, they have been flooded by other high school students who 100 years ago wouldn't have been taking senior high school in the first place.

If you ask me, I'm all for unqualified jobs being available and not too ill paid, so boys who can take no more school can walk out the day the puberty gets them and hope to make a life without school.

The function category of "novel reader" has similarily expanded way beyond the kind of meldahón (one word in djudezmo I did learn) I was ... Looking at the portrait of Sean Migalla, I get the feeling he's more of a businessman than a meldahón.

[5 : Diversity!]

20:09 In the film the hobbits are too white.

Whether black, mulatto or just latino, "nut brown" and "curly hair" doesn't suggest North European. Or North West European. I think Jenna Ortega might have been an option for Rosie Cotton ...

The hobbits are based on old-fashioned rural English people, you mean they can't have tans or variable degrees of skin tone, and curly hair?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@skyintatters When you say "are based on" that sounds as if they were a calque. And of one specific thing. Basically as it is.

That's idiotic, when you know anything about Tolkien.

Read the actual text in LotR. Including prefaces and forewords and prologues and including appendices.

20:28 "the history of Europe being very non-diverse"

Like Cheddar man? Like the Neanderthals of El Sidrón, like the Denisovan probably identic people in Atapuerca?

Like a man in Romania carbon dated to 45 000 years ago being half caste Cro Magnon and Neanderthal?

20:34 Gipsies and Saracen converts actually were more welcome in Medieval Europe than after the Renaissance.

But let's not forget that to Tolkien as to C. S. Lewis, the Middle Ages, as they differ from modern times, would represent a larger continuum ranging from Neolithic Revolution to Industrial Revolution.

Laketown is pretty certainly based on prehistoric towns in SE France, Switzerland, N Italy, full of houses on stilts ...

The setting is specifically a few millennia after Atlantis sank, and one letter has Fall of Barad Dûr set in 4004 BC - a reference to Ussher and a reminder Tolkien was, great as he was otherwise, unfortunately no YEC ...

[4 : Evil Races]

24:13 Tolkien actually agreed with the critic.

In a letter, he said, in the real world, there are nothing like a race of Orcs.

It's a bit like the critic seems unable to divorce fiction from real life present concerns.

24:54 Demons, nazgul, vampires are a different thing.

Orcs are clearly incarnate beings in a life that is mortal ... if they wouldn't die from old age (remember, they are elves corrupted, not men corrupted), they can still be killed.

A demon can be cast back to Hell, but was already dwelling there, even if roaming above his rightful habitation.

25:23 Actually, no, Dan.

The problem adressed, and one Tolkien agreed with, is, a spirit that has living flesh that is its own and hasn't died yet is supposed to be "boni et mali capax" ... even if the Nazgûl are no longer boni capax, they started out as such. But orcs?

[3 : Biased Geography]

31:03 [Jonathan had mentioned Western Civilisation as "the one that brought more freedom and prosperity" ...]

The one that first brought more freedom, and then more prosperity into the world than quite a lot of other things.

Prosperity has from time to time a tendency to kill freedom.

Let's recall, the cholera disease was no problem in Europe prior to English establishing trade routes and a trade centred empire in India. The first epidemic reaching Christian lands started 1817 in Bombay ...

31:44 Sean Migalla certainly is a man. It's Sean, not Seanaid ... (John, not Jeannette).

May I give some advice for future episodes like this one? Click on the author. Find out who's writing.

33:20 The Edain coming from the East were arguably fleeing from Morgoths rule.

Perhaps there is a certain point that the recently established Communist tyranny was East of countries like England or Germany?

It seems the author, Mr. Migalla, seems to be saying "is this Cold War propaganda? I was born after the Cold War, I don't like it ...!"

The tragedy here, if this is so, is, Communism seemed to die in 1990. I was so happy after my military service was over to hear news of the Soviet Union disintegrating the year after the Berlin Wall. It seems now to be getting a kind of revenge, by people like Mr. Migalla and their sensibilities. Many of them.

It's like Dol Guldur fell in 1990 ... if you see my hint.

[2 : Rrrrrrrracism!]

35:44 Probably Sean Migalla is the kind of guy who prefers reading game leader manuals in Warhammer, because feudalism in Warhammer is politically consciously depicted as highly oppressive.

Which in human terms, often it was not, and in economic terms, it had no real need to be. If farming people, irrespective of status, are 95 % of the overall population, and what they grow is food, there is no way that the remaining 5 % will take away most of what the actual farm dwellers and workers grow.

36:24 There certainly is a message of love and cooperation somewhere in the book.

Perhaps because the quibbles between Legolas and Gimli, prior and posterior to meeting Galadriel, are a - looking up Migalla's actual words - "plot cul-de-sac" which the author allowed himself and which the editors did not "correct" at the time.

Since then, that particular one has gotten a life of its own. There was a cold war film where a black-raced man and a Nazi had to collaborate, and came to be comrades.

But the comment by Migalla assumes that Tolkien had an overall message with the book as a whole. And then identifies it as that one ... I think Tolkien wrote sth about authors or story-tellers who "sell their birthright for a pot of message" ...

39:10 To latch on to my suspicion Mr. Migalla was told to do the job ... what if he took this one intending you to tear it down as soundly as you do?

39:10 Tolkien was on an occasion speaking of how the English department in Oxford was divided between Lit and Lang.

On that occasion, he was stating he was "against Apartheid" and given
a) he was actually born in Zuid-Afrika
b) he was a Catholic and the Boer supporters of Apartheid were often Calvinists
I think one can pretty safely conclude that he was in fact against the Apartheid régime.

He was also so apolitical, that his main known allusion to this is when he's preaching against another type of Apartheid within the Academic world of Oxford.

So, he was probably anti-racist, much like Chesterton, but he was a far cry from a very politicised and leftist version of anti-racism.

[1 : Not Enough Genders]

40:10 Take a look at the portrait of Sean Migalla.

I get a feeling, if every surviving main character had married, and if every man who married had been in bed with (or at least mildly involved with) at least one other woman than his upcoming wife, ideally more than one, Mr. Migalla would have found that more reassuring. And obviously, especially especially if one of the women a man was involved with had taught him a moral lesson while rejecting him.

Tolkien was from a world where a man married once and knew few women apart from his wife. Not that he necessarily didn't value the few he did know, but he didn't seek out lots of female company other than his wife.

To some people that's "sexist" ... admittedly, it is not calculated to give women on the average an equal number of pension points, so they wouldn't have to rely on the hubby to provide, so that fidelity was at least one of the options and not an economic necessity.

If we recall how Tolkien and C. S. Lewis felt about the debate when no-fault divorce (less expensive divorce) was being introduced, I am very confident that Tolkien would not have minded that at all. Neither do I.

Before Mr. Migalla becomes a CSL fan, let's just remind him that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe features a very clear echo of the central Christian story and that apart from children's books, CSL also wrote Christian apologetics, and on occasion some right-wing stuff ... like how academics shouldn't be about guaranteeing everyone a very decent job, so no one has to sweep the streets.

Obviously, if everyone actually has a PhD, that means streets are likely to be swept by people who have a PhD. They are not likely to be unswept.

40:37 Multiple?

Does old man willow count as a third sex because "he's" a tree?

46:02 I think some at CBR might live in a bubble, and have taken advantage of Sean Migalla's willingness to write a piece without much thinking.

46:43 If Tolkien had written sth with 50% + women, he'd have been Jane Austen - and it would be around today. Or, Emily Brontë, especially Beren and Luthien ...

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