Friday, July 21, 2006

my true love hath my heart

Only not quite. I haven't been enjoying blogging of late. Work is actually getting a bit hectic and is likely to remain so over the next month, which leaves little energy for the Blog. In a way it was just as well that the government decided to OMGDestr0ihumanrightz!!1!! But I understand things are back on track now and people are able to access blogspot blogs once again. I will be keeping up with wordpress for a while longer, at any rate.

I feel like talking about Tolkien again. I've been re-reading the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion - as is my wont - and the melancholy felt like a tangible weight. Frodo's journey is about hope, of course, and how it must persist even in the face of cycles of despair, but the doom (a word Tolkien uses a lot) of Middle-earth really doesn't strike you until you go back to the Silmarillion and read the litany of destruction, as much a product of Tolkien's own experience of war and death as his love for dead and imaginary languages. I love his ability to find beauty in the darkest of things, but so much of it comes from a deep sadness.

I have a conflicted relationship with the films, but I was watching 'The Two Towers' the other day and found the battle at Helm's Deep illumined by the mellow gravity of Bernard Hill intoning Tolkien's words:

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?


The blasts remain a sort of benchmark for the immediate span of past, present and future. Things were going well until that Tuesday. I had hopes and dreams. And the enthusiasm to make a series of posts on the drama of Italian football. Obviously this was not quite the primary blow the bombers were attempting to deal when leaving their suspicious packets behind in the locals, but that's neither here nor there.

The world seems to be filled with a strange, uneasy sort of silence now. The war in Lebanon feels like something out of 'Dover Beach':

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Like something inevitable, not shocking. And I hate Matthew Arnold. I wonder what it must have been like to live in the age that produced this kind of poetry. And being moved to quote him! Truly we live in dark times.

There's no heart in the exclamation points anymore.


  1. anonymouse12:29 pm

    If you don't enjoy blogging, then take a break. Time will do much to restore a tired mind and heal a wounded heart.

    The dark times are not upon us yet. We are merely seeing the precursor to the darkness. Civilisation is built in blood, sweat and tears and lost in ignorance, luxury and fear.

    And yet, we shall continue to struggle on, past yet another fall plumbing depths unseen and rise again to glories unimagined.We shall continue to reach for the stars, and some day we will grasp them.

    After all, this is just being human.

  2. the only reason i like the LOTR movies is cos i heart Ian McKellan...he is awesome!

    The lebanon crisis is quite terrible and the sad thing is that theres no easy answer to the crisis there. while i do feel Israel over reacted its quite difficult to blame any one party for the mess there....i have family in Tel Aviv and its very very disturbing right now....hope it gets better soon....

  3. I also find LOTR unbearably sad. Even though Frodo maintains hope and the ring is destroyed, the price is that Middle Earth is destroyed. The age of elves and hobbits is over. Frodo's wound will never heal and he resigns himself to the grey havens. So it is in some ways a hollow victory.

  4. @ anonymouse: So far, the only times I don't feel like blogging are when I'm too lazy to type. This is just different - the words aren't sufficient. It takes some coping with.

    @ szerelem: I LOVE Ian McKellen and cannot believe he went on to do the Da Vinci Code. he was the best thing about those films, apart from some of the camerawork, and the music for TTT.

    I hope your family stays safe.

    @ bina: I think Tolkien aimed for the sadness because of his affinity for Norse myth; you won't find the tragic-romantic strain quite as often in any other European literature, I think. What amazes me is that in spite of the density and the reliance on archetype he manages to come through, especially in the parts about Frodo and Sam's journey through Mordor, with stuff that guts you because it could have come out of a truly great modern war novel.

    I think it's a hollow victory because Tolkien doesn't seem to like change, and he always sees it as something that sends history on a downward spiral. I suppose its easy to believe that at certain moments in time, and I definitely feel like I'm in one of those moments right now.

  5. anonymouse3:30 pm

    I was referring to your first paragraph about not having the time and energy to blog.

    As for words not being sufficient, sometimes you need a few thousand of them. Or a few images. And this time, we all know the images and the pain.