Breathing a Lie through Silver Jan08

Breathing a Lie through Silver...

A philosophic argument is one of the best things that can happen to a friendship. Verbose disagreement with a healthy dose of name calling between jolly friends as they enjoy a choice drink: this is an ideal evening, in my opinion. It is in such a setting, at any rate, that I imagine the conflict between Lewis and Tolkien, a debate in which their philosophic understanding of myth stood at polar opposites. It was September of 1931 at Magdalen College in Oxford when Lewis told Tolkien that myth and fairy story were “breathing a lie through silver.” Tolkien strongly disagreed. He believed his “kind and confused friend” committed a grave error in saying this. Tolkien would later capture the essence of this error in his essay, “On Fairy Stories.” Tolkien felt strongly that myth creation, whatever it was, was something more than a lie, even poetically laced with silver. A lie is generally a negative thing. Tolkien maintained that the power to create myth and story was not negative but something positive, and even more. It was not only a human right, but a divine right. In the essay, he argued that humanity creates because our image mirrors the creator. A whole world is created with doors to new vistas that tell me about the world I live in. This perspective of myth making was important to Tolkien as it brought a legitimacy to creating myths in a time when fairies and their tales was left primarily to children. Tolkien’s idea was both important and relevant to the criticisms of that day, and it still applies in this century. I would even apply his principle in broader strokes. When I enter a land of someone else’s creation—whether it’s a book, a movie, a video game—I have a chance at...

A cage of fear Oct30

A cage of fear

Eowyn is no pansy. Tolkien has been accused of putting his female characters on a pedestal, and the lady of Rohan is no exception. From the moment she is introduced in The Lord of the Rings, Eowyn is pining for battle. With good reason. She was orphaned at age seven when her father was murdered by orcs and her mother subsequently died of grief. Eowyn’s origin story is worthy of Batman’s, and as any Eastern Asian martial arts movie will tell you, violent vengeance is the only solution to such problems. Deciding not to follow in Mom’s footsteps, Eowyn trains diligently in sword fighting and is referred to as a shieldmaiden. Step aside, Xena; there’s a new warrior princess in town. What’s more, she claims to be unafraid of death. My curiosity is peaked then, when Eowyn is asked what it is that she does fear. Her response? She is afraid of a cage. In a world ruled by men, Eowyn dreads the drudgery of the duties assigned to her on the basis of her gender, such as tending to her dying brother. For her, these “womanly” tasks are confining.You cannot truly love someone if you are afraid. Her greatest fear is that she will never be able to accomplish her desires because she is being held back by these obligations. The claustrophobia is palpable. She is trapped. The anime Attack on Titan opens on a similar sentiment. Here, the threat is the monstrous Titans, humanoid giants that look like the muscular system diagrams in your anatomy textbook (if the diagrams came alive and grew to six metres in height). Worse still, they eat humans. Yeah. Terrifying. Small wonder that humanity has retreated behind three concentric sets of stone walls to defend themselves. However,...