Friday 23 March 2012

The Artist Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

This post contains some minor elaborations on my views as they are expressed in an letter published in Mythprint [1], but in the main part it is a copy of that letter (here, however, I have the full references, which for some odd reason appears to have been lost in the file that I sent to Jason Fisher – doubtlessly I forgot to save ...).
A Tolkien Tapestry: Pictures to
The Lord of the Rings
by Cor Blok.
Image from the

It was with great interest that I read Ruth Lacon’s reviews of Cor Blok’s artwork in the 2011 Tolkien Calendar both in Amon Hen[2] and on the Tolkien Library[3] website. Her insightful comments allowed me to connect with the artwork in a way that I had not previously been able to, and to appreciate what Blok was trying to achieve. Blok’s illustrations will probably never be my favourite Tolkien illustrations, but I am now capable of enjoying them, for which I am immensely grateful to Ms. Lacon, and I have even gone so far as to purchase my own copy of A Tolkien Tapestry: Pictures to accompany The Lord of the Rings by Cor Blok, edited by Pieter Collier, and I have found many enjoyable pieces there.

It was thus with a great deal of interest that I jumped at the opportunity to read the essay from her hand on illustrating Tolkien, ‘To Illustrate or Not to Illustrate? That is the Question…’[4] published on the Tolkien Library website.

The experience of reading obviously varies from reader to reader – for me one of the most profound moments of reading Tolkien came when I read his description of Secondary Belief in ‘On Fairy-Stories’: this is exactly how I feel when I read a book, and here I finally encountered a text that put this experience into words. Many readers, including, I believe, Tolkien himself, get vivid mental images when reading, but I don’t – the occasional flash, perhaps, of something impressionist, but no more, unless I take my eyes away from the page and through careful and painstaking construction build a scene before my mind’s eye – but that scene would then be bereft of the enchantment: for me the enchantment lies directly in the words themselves, and not in any false sensory impressions they might create. Tolkien was, therefore, absolutely right, for me, when he, later in the essay, said that ‘However good in themselves, illustrations do little good to fairy-stories.’ For me a word more often says more than a thousand pictures than is the case the other way around.

Realizing that my experience of reading is not universal I have no problem accepting that for many readers illustrations may indeed do something good even for a fairy-story, and I certainly agree with Ruth Lacon that the idiosyncrasies of the author need not restrict us today; with illustrations as well as with e.g. source criticism, we should not concern ourselves over-much with what the author might think – what should matter to us is how it actually affects the reader's perception of the work today; whether it helps the reader to appreciate the work better (or, for that matter, worse, by making the reader see certain faults in the work).

I was particularly struck by Ms Lacon’s excellent argument that in the current situation, the imagery of the ten years old New Line Cinema films has created precisely the kind of single defining imagery that Tolkien wanted to avoid (and I think that Ruth Lacon's identification of Tolkien's concerns in this regard is spot-on) – a short time spent on the internet browsing some of the many sites for fan-art will show just how pervasive the most recent films’ imagery has been (though such an exploration may also bring some small hope: it is not all the fan-art that is relying on the imagery of the Peter Jackson films, even though a vast majority is) – and while I suppose that one might choose to merely sit quiet until it goes away (deploring the generation of readers who will be lost), I don’t think that strategy will work in the long run: new films will be made, and new generations will then be influenced as the current one is. For that reason I find myself agreeing with Lacon’s call for a great variation of visions in a hope to free the imagination of the viewers from one single visualisation.

Another line of argument that sits very well with me is to look not just at what Tolkien said about illustrations of his work, but to look also at what he actually did. Ruth Lacon argues that Tolkien did allow illustrations of his work — he even made some of them himself, notably the illustrations for The Hobbit and the only illustrations for The Lord of the Rings which include e.g. the facsimiles of pages from The Book of Mazarbul, dust-jacket designs and several other sketches and illustrations [5]. Even though many of these illustrations were not intended for publication (despite some of them having a quite finished look), and though we may argue that Tolkien needed to do this to retain his own mental image of the scenes, I still think that it shows that illustrations may help a reader — even if that reader is the author — to keep their mental images in focus.

Agreeing so strongly with the general views that Ruth Lacon expound in the essay, I find it a pity that she weakens her own arguments in several places with what appears to be attempts to not merely disagree with Tolkien’s views, but to discredit his views on illustrations.
The Passage of the Argonath
by Ruth Lacon
Image from Facebook Page,
The Tolkien Art of Ruth Lacon

Noting Tolkien’s comments to Cor Blok about not wishing a single defining vision of his work in the way that John Tenniel’s vision has defined Lewis Carrol’s Alice, Lacon carefully explains exactly how the situation came about with respect to Alice. Having explained this, however, she fails to recognize that rather than proving Tolkien wrong, she has proven that he was right in saying that it could happen, and that the key appears to have been precisely the author’s wishes — something that she evidently is trying to convince us not to listen too much to with respect to Tolkien. If it is right that Tenniel's illustrations of the Alice books have defined the imagery for later illustrators and readers precisely because Carrol himself approved of them, then what should we do when there is obviously no similar authorial approval in the case of Tolkien?

Later in the essay, Ruth Lacon comes close to accusing Tolkien of iconoclasm, attempting an appeal to authority by citing an unnamed ‘respected Catholic theologian’ known to take Tolkien’s work seriously. The argument, however, seems to me to rely on a failure to recognize the gulf that Tolkien saw between sub-creation and Creation: a gulf as wide as that which he saw between God and Man. I will not say that the argument Ms Lacon attempts cannot be made, for Tolkien is not always explicitly making the distinction, but I think the argument is nonetheless specious for ignoring this distinction. In every situation where Tolkien speaks of illustration, he is speaking of illustration of fantasy, fairy-story and sub-creative literature, and while he also calls the Gospel a fairy-story, this is, to Tolkien, clearly not sub-creative, and is thus not encompassed by his comments on illustrations.

Though I cannot know the underlying motivations, this failure to acknowledge the important distinction between the refracted light and the single white appears, to me, in context to be part of an unnecessary attempt to discredit Tolkien’s views on illustrations as stated in ‘On Fairy-Stories’ and to Cor Blok. Ultimately I believe it is mostly a question of Tolkien describing and basing his arguments on his personal reading experience – for me it works, but his experiences clearly cannot be generalised to also encompass Ruth Lacon’s – at least not in this respect, and I think it would have been a far more valid approach to criticize Tolkien's arguments for being based on his own experience of reading rather than allowing for the vast differences between how people experience reading.

The suggestion in the final part of the essay of an open-competition calendar with Tolkien-inspired art to complement the well-known single-artist official calendar is one that I would dearly like to see put in place. Other calendars do exist, but few of them are by multiple artists (there is the Beyond Bree calendar, but any others?) and none of them are anywhere near as well-known as the official calendar.

I also fully support Lacon's suggestion to supplement the standard (unillustrated) editions of Tolkien's work with editions that contain illustrations — preferably, in my opinion, illustrations of the kind that do not, as Lacon aptly puts it, ‘over-define’ characters and scenes, but which serves as decorations, a way to honour the book, more than a means of defining the scenes and the characters.

Lacon ends her essay by quoting Tolkien's famous remark to Milton Waldman in the long letter from (probably) late 1951 that
I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd.
I would certainly agree that this remark sanctions illustrations (which I think is also Ruth Lacon's implied opinion here), but I would also take this opportunity to point out that the pen is conspiciously absent from the list of tools for “other hands and minds” to wield — there is no sanction here for filling the gaps with narrative (though I stand by what I say above about the important concern not being the opinions of the author, but rather how it affects the reader today).

[1] Forchhammer, Troels, ‘The artist doth protest too much, methinks’, in Mythprint Vol.49 no. 2, whole no. 355, p.3—4, February 2012. Back

[2] Lacon, Ruth, ‘The 2011 Tolkien Calendar: a review by Ruth Lacon’ in Amon Hen no. 228, p.20—22, March 2011 Back

[3] Lacon, Ruth, ‘Image and Glance - Some Thoughts on Tolkien-inspired Art and Illustration’ at Back

[4] Lacon, Ruth, ‘To Illustrate or Not to Illustrate? That is the Question...’ at Back

[5] See e.g. Hammond, Wayne G., and Scull, Christina, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, pictures no. 145 through 182. Back

Saturday 10 March 2012

Scouting and Tolkien

I am a scout.

Scouting has been an integral part of my life since I was seven, and it is an inseparable part of my personality. This will of course not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, just as the facts that I am a Tolkien enthusiast, family father, and physicist (by education) doesn't come as a surprise to any of my scouting friends.

So why bring it up?

One of the things that struck me when I was reading Janet Brennan Croft's contribution, ‘The Hen that Laid the Eggs: Tolkien and the Officers Training Corps’, in Tolkien Studies 8 was the sense of preparedness that went through not only the British politics, but also is present in Middle-earth.

The motto of the scout movement is of course ‘Be Prepared’ and reading Janet Brennan Croft's paper, I also got a better understanding of the context from which arose that motto. (Thank you, Janet!)

This has got me to thinking a bit about Tolkien and Scouting; about shared values, about similarities and differences (apart from the very obvious that one was a philologist professor at Oxford and author of fantastic fiction and the other is a youth movement . . .).

Another obvious difference is that while John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a career scholar and devoted to the written word, Robert Stevenson Smyth Baden-Powell was a career officer and born actor. Baden-Powell was a staunch believer in and defender of the British Empire, whereas Tolkien's patriotism was far more local: ‘I love England (not Great Britain and certainly not the British Commonwealth (grr!))’ (Letters #53) and ‘I know nothing about British or American imperialism in the Far East that does not fill me with regret and disgust.’ (Letters #100)  Baden-Powell did, however, change the scout movement from aiming at educating good soldiers for the British Empire into an international peace movement promoting friendship across differences of gender, nationality, religion, ethnicity etc. based on a firm loyalty to your own home (understood not just geographically, but also e.g. spiritually).

In my daily work as a scouter, I am a leader in the Danish Guide and Scout Association, and we are not affiliated with any church, nor with any religion. Our association is sometimes so secularised that we are pushing the otherwise great tolerance of the scout movement, and one of the reasons for this is that many adult Danes are very uncomfortable speaking about spiritual matters, and in particular about offering any kind of spiritual guidance to young people (that are not their own children).

Enter Tolkien.

The universality of the people who love Tolkien's work shows that you do not have to be a Roman Catholic to appreciate Tolkien's work — and while it is indeed a useful part of the framework for understanding what Tolkien himself meant, it is not even necessary to think of the writings in a Roman Catholic context for you to appreciate the spiritual contents in ways that can be applied quite ecumenically. I am sure that many Danish scout leaders might find that reading The Hobbit to their scouts could be a really good way to introduce the value of spirituality (in the World Organisation of the Scout Movement put in into words as ‘adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom.’)

Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master's, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo's side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.  
- The Lord of the Rings, book VI, ch. 2 ‘The Land of Shadow’ 
This kind of recognition of higher spiritual principles can be applied regardless of the specifics of the religion (or indeed if no organised religion applies), as long as one of the offers of these principles is hope, and as such it could be worthwhile to invite the scouts to reflect on what Sam is experiencing here.

This is just one practical example, and I can quickly see other examples — values such as loyalty, friendship and courage are excellently exemplified in Tolkien's books, and despite the role of grace and providence, I also think they show each character as being mainly responsible for their own development as a person.  There are of course also differences — scouting is strictly a non-formal educational organisation that uses learning-by-doing as one of our basic didactic principles, and this doesn't necessarily fit so well with Tolkien's emphasis on the value of lore, but even then, the foundational book, Scouting for Boys, was organised in a series of ‘camp fire yarns’ as the means of passing on experience and knowledge.

There are, of course, also differences. For instance, scouting today is a democratic project that seeks to involve our young people in decisions both locally and at national and international levels. In scouting we emphasise the need of not only understanding the young people, but also actually listening to them and involving them in the making of decisions — not exactly the same model of decision-making that Tolkien propounds.

In various contexts, I have seen teachers presenting, or writing, about how they use Tolkien in class: both how they teach classes on Tolkien specifically, but also how they use Tolkien in more general classes. I am curious to know if any scouters have used Tolkien in their scouting in order to teach their scouts some of the values of scouting?

And right now I really feel like creating a weekend for our scouts based on Tolkien's works . . . (alas, I don't have the time right now, so I had better try and resist that urge, but keep in mind for when I have the time).

The scout movement is international, and while I firmly believe in and identify with the values of the Danish Guide and Scout Association as well as the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and the World Organisation of the Scout Movement, I also find that there are some national scout and/or guide associations that promote policies with which I disagree. Such is the nature of an international movement. I therefore cannot, and will not, answer for the policies of other scout organisations than those of which I am a member.

Friday 9 March 2012

Tolkien Transactions XXII

February 2012

Just for the fun of it, I tried to estimate how many items that were in my ‘Tolkien’ folder in February 2012 in my RSS reader — just short of 400. Of course I haven't read all of that in detail, and I suppose that this hasn't even been a particulary busy month in that respect, but in a month that has been filled with other tasks, getting through even the few of all these items that I had marked for reading has been daunting. Still, here it is, such as it is.

As usual I claim absolutely nothing about newness, completeness and relevance (and I certainly reject any other implication of responsibility) :-)

= = = = News = = = =

‘ShadowCa7’, Wednesday, 4 January 2012, ‘The Hobbit Misty Mountains — 27 Verse FULL Length COVER with Lyrics’
A young woman has recorded all 27 verses that Tolkien wrote to the ‘Far over misty mountains cold’ song (the Dwarves sing some new verses to cheer up Thorin after Smaug's death) to the tune used in the trailer for The Hobbit film set for release this coming December. Personally I think the hauntingly ethereal tune is more appropriate for Elves than for Dwarves (in the story it is used as a kind of battle song), but with that in mind I think her voice is very appropriate for the tune.

Duncan Hall, Digital Journal, Wednesday, 1 February 2012, ‘Tolkien letter discovered in book sold for over £1,500’
This is about the holiday letter that was discussed in the January issue, and which has now been sold for £1700. If ever I win a million or two, I think I'll start collecting :-)
See also
Ethan Gilsdorf,, Wednesday, 1 February 2012, ‘Unknown Tolkien Letter Falls Out of Book’

Eric Rezsnyak, City Newspaper, Thursday, 16 February 2012, "THEATER REVIEW: Rochester Children's Theatre's ‘The Hobbit"’
The reviewer is quite happy with the ‘stage magic’ employed to bring Tolkien's children's story to the stage in Rochester, though there are a few comments that I, based on ‘On Fairy-stories’ think that Tolkien would have found issue with — not least the comment that ‘kids love stories featuring dragons and swords and all that good stuff’ — for my own part I think that kids far more love the thrilling fright of the on-rushing goblins that the reviewer warns against (he doesn't report children crying which would, of course, change things).

Ilya Kozlovskiy, Monday, 20 February 2012, ‘Tolkien theme park will be built in Poland’
A live-action role-playing theme park based on Tolkien's books is being planned in Poland . . .

Tessa Hoffman, Wednesday, 22 February 2012, ‘Sculpture a towering creation in Coburg’
A miniature of Howe's vision of Barad-dûr as it appeared in the New Line Cinema films (once more proving that Ruth Lacon is entirely right in her assessment of the pervasiveness of the New Line Cinema films' visual conception). This is made in balsa wood and plaster and stands about 2 m (still a miniature compared to the mile-high tower envisioned in the films).

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

PC, ‘Original photograph of J.R.R. Tolkien signed and dedicated to Patrick Hunt, plus signed letter’
I am not entirely sure when exactly Pieter put this item on-line, but do take a look — the story of Tolkien writing to a man in prison, who has found some consolation in reading Tolkien's books adds something to this letter.

JW, Wednesday, 1 February 2012, ‘Tolkien's incarnate angels’
The first of many highly interesting posts that Jonathan McIntosh has made during February. I shan't be able to comment upon them all, so get yourself to this one, read it, and start hitting ‘Next’ until you've come through them all. In this post McIntosh looks at Tolkien's Ainur as, in some respects, a response, or reaction, to St. Thomas. This line of inquiry into the self-incarnation of the Ainur compared to the angelology of St. Thomas Aquinas as well as other aspects of the Ainur (and, in particular the Maiar of these mostly the Istari) is followed up in some of the following posts e.g. on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th.

H&S, Wednesday, 8 February 2012, ‘Lord of the Rings Comparison’
A comparison of some of the many post-2005 printings of The Lord of the Rings to see which of the known addenda and corrigenda that have been taken up in these. It is, I suppose, no surprise that no edition has incorporated all of them, and though a bit frustrating, I suppose that one shouldn't be surprised either that different editions / printings incorporate different corrections. Still, warm expressions of gratitude for the meticulous work (and the final summary) are in order for Christina and Wayne: Thank you!

JW, Saturday, 18 February 2012, ‘Gandalf, O.S.A.’
In his discussions of the Wizards in particular, and the Ainur in general, Jonathan McIntosh has come to Gandalf's admonition to Frodo not to ‘deal out death in judgement’ which he compares to a text by St. Augustine.

H&S, Saturday, 18 February 2012, ‘Foreword to _The Hobbit_’
On Christopher Tolkien's foreword to The Hobbit and its evolution from its first appearance in 1987.

JW, Monday, 20 February 2012, ‘Creation: choosing the possible, or choosing from the possible?’
While not directly connected to Tolkien, I think the discussion of the nature of the divine free will (that only truly free will, according to Tolkien, as he considered the freedom of willing for any creatures to be derivative) is not only interesting, but also pertains to our understanding of Tolkien's writings, in particular the Ainulindalë.

JW, Tuesday, 21 February 2012, ‘Grendel and the 'un-theologizing'of Ungoliant’
There is something incredibly reassuring about an author that is willing to reconsider an opinion based on new evidence — of course it happens all the time in the sciences, but still ;) In this case, however, I am not convinced that Jonathan McIntosh needs to revise his earlier position — a tiny bit of softening up, perhaps, but I don't think that there is reason for a complete rejection. The topic is the nature of Wirilóme / Ungoliant and how it changes from The Book of Lost Tales to the ‘Later Silmarillion’ (see Morgoth's Ring) and how this exemplifies some of the general changes that Tolkien's legendarium underwent.

JW, Thursday, 23 February 2012, ‘Homer vs. Beowulf: Tolkien and Nietzsche on the necessity of Monsters’
This is the first of a couple of posts that focus on some of Tolkien's response to Beowulf and the Northern spirit — in this case the ideal of ‘martial heroism’. No such discussion would be complete without quoting Faramir, which Jonathan McIntosh brings in in the follow-up post posted on the 24th.

JW, Saturday, 25 February 2012, ‘Théoden and Denethor compared and contrasted’
Comparing and contrasting Théoden and Denethor is not a new game, but there are some ideas here that I haven't seen elaborated before, but which seems quite interesting. In particular the way these two use the people around them, with Théoden relying on family, riders, servants, counsellors etc. Denethor is far more self-reliant (and thus, presumably, lonesome). The discussion is followed up upon on the 26th, where the way these two rulers relate to, and use, their Hobbit retainers is discussed.

JW, Wednesday, 29 February 2012, ‘Boethius and Tolkien on providence vs. fate’
A comparison between the distinction Boethius makes between providence and fate and then the distinctions inherent in Tolkien's Ainulindalë. I am very pleased the Jonathan McIntosh notes the differences between Boethius' description and Tolkien's set-up. While there is much in Boethius that can be used as a very valuable starting point when wanting to understand the providential set-up of Tolkien's sub-creation, it is also, I think, important to note that there are some significant deviations in what Tolkien did. Notably Boethius' set-up (obviously) doesn't allow for Elves, and thus not for the different models of relating to ‘fate’ (the Music) that apply to Men and Elves.

Steuard Jensen, February 2012, ‘Tom Bombadil is not Aule (and Goldberry is not Yavanna)’
The idea that Tom Bombadil is Aulë in some kind of diguise has, unfortunately, been quite persistent on the internet, and so it is to be hoped that Steuard's detailed response in which the idea is thoroughly refuted (with an admirable grasp of the strength of the evidence) can help weed out this attractive, but fatally flawed, theory.

= = = = Book News = = = =

JF, Sunday, 5 February 2012, ‘Is this a review? You tell me.’
The review of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources that appeared in the January 2012 issue of Amon Hen (#233) is, very justifiably, criticised for not being a real review. The review is reproduced here in its entirety, but the most worthwhile thing is to simply skip it and move to the comments . . .

JF, Thursday, 9 February 2012, ‘My book reviewed in Beyond Bree’
Jason Fisher has received permission also to reproduce Nancy Martsch's review of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources from Beyond Bree October 2011, and at the same time he seizes the opportunity to add a few comments, both in general on the reception of the book, and at a couple of places on things in the Beyond Bree review. Martsch is very positive about the book (I agree with the overall positive note, though I also think that there are some two or three contributions that fall significantly below the quality level set by the other contributions), calling it ‘an excellent book which can serve as a ‘how-to’ guide for both research and writing.’

Janet Brennan Croft, Mythlore, Friday, 10 February 2012, ‘Various Scholarly Journals’
‘[This review originally appeared in Mythlore 115/116.]’
Janet Brennan Croft here reviews issues of four scholarly journals of Tolkien & Inkling interest. The journals are Fastitocalon: Studies in Fantasticism Ancient to Modern issue 1.2 (2010), Journal of Inklings Studies issue 1.1 (March 2011), VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review issue 27 (2010) and Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review issue 7 (2010). Croft's review is of course focused on a specific issue of each journal, but she includes some more general comments on the scholarly aspirations of the journal — what are the interests of the editors etc.

David Larsen, New Zealand Listener, Sunday, 18 February 2012, ‘The Art of the Hobbit by JRR Tolkien by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull review’
A review of The Art of the Hobbit.

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

JH, Wednesday, 15 February 2012, ‘Images Were Magic Once’
John Howe has written a very nice piece about the power of images, though I think he forgets that letters became even more magic than the pictures — but that may be just my own preferences shining through again :)

JDR, Friday, 24 February 2012, ‘Rewatching Peter Jackson’
An interested account of John Rateliff's recent reviewing of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring — overall I find that I agree with most of what he says, and I certainly agree with the comment that ‘even those who don't like them as adaptations of Tolkien's work’ may find it ‘pretty clear that they are excellent films’ (or at least that The Fellowship of the Ring is that).

Brendon Connelly, Friday, 24 February 2012, ‘Does This Lord Of The Rings Family Tree Teach Us Anything About Gender Representation In Middle Earth?’
Having played around with the much advertised family tree project (see last month's transactions), Brendon Connelly has noticed the gender discrepancy, but apparently without realising that the majority of the entries in the trees aren't characters in the books, but mere names of rulers in the (mostly) patrilinear ruling families of Middle-earth. The surprise should possibly be that Tolkien does include cases where the right to rule is inherited through a mother rather than a father (without ever coming out and saying it, I think that Tolkien implies that the Lords of Andúnië, and thus the Line of Elendil, were the more true heirs to the Line of Elros).

AW, Tuesday, 28 February 2012, ‘Tolkien's favourite tree’
A nice picture of Tolkien's favourite tree in the Oxford Botanical Garden from February 2012.

= = = = Rewarding Discussions = = = =

February has seen me finish my last tasks for Nokia. I am still employed by them, but my tasks are now all aiming at my future outside Nokia. It is, I think, a very generous severance package that Nokia has offered us, and so I feel no bitterness towards Nokia for closing down a site that I have been very happy to work at.
However, I have been keeping so busy all month that I have not had time to follow any discussions (barely time to be present in the newsgroups and web-sites that I usually frequent), and so I can't really emphasise any of this month's discussions as particularly interesting. Sorry.

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

The Flame Imperishable
Once in a while you are lucky enough to find a blog that has been going on for a while and and feel (apart from the exhileration of finding a nugget) chagrined that you hadn't found it before (and even more so at the thought of the vast back-list of interesting-looking posts that you would like to read). This is how I felt when I discovered Jonathan McIntosh's ‘The Flame Imperishable’ blog. McIntosh is a Ph.D. in philosophy and teaches at New Saint Andrews College in Idaho, and in his blog he writes about ‘Tolkien, St. Thomas, and other purveyors of the Philosophia Perennis’. This philosophical approach to Tolkien's writings is not very common in English-language blogs, and so my desire for this has certainly not yet been sated :-)

Nuviel's Middle-earth
A fan-page including a couple of interesting bits such as a list of women of Middle-earth and an index to The Hobbit.

Joe Gilronan (Tolkien inspired art)
There's some rather nice pictures here by Joe Gilronan. I like the way that he leaves details just slightly unclear — enough that you would not, for instance, be able to recognize any of the characters that he depicts on the street. This way the pictures still leave something for the viewer to fill in, which I think is a good thing (and probably something that Tolkien would also have approved of).

J.R.R. Tolkien - Fantasy Literature - Research Guides at Pima Community Col
A listing of some of the most interesting Tolkien-related scholarly contents on the internet, including free e-books and sample chapters, articles and other good stuff. There is a lot of good things to mine in this (though it is a bit sad that it lists Gene Hargrove's Bombadil essay without the later refutations of his, logically unsustainable, idea about the nature of Tom B.).

= = = = Sources = = = =

John D. Rateliff (JDR) — ‘Sacnoth's Scriptorium’

Jason Fisher (JF) — ‘Lingwë — Musings of a Fish’

Michael Drout (MD) — ‘Wormtalk and Slugspeak’

Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (H&S) — ‘Too Many Books and Never Enough’

Pieter Collier (PC) — ‘The Tolkien Library’

Douglas A. Anderson (DAA) et Al. — ‘Wormwoodiana’

Corey Olsen (CO), ‘The Tolkien Professor’

David Bratman (DB), ‘Kalimac’
and the old home:

Larry Swain (LS), ‘The Ruminate’

Andrew Wells (AW), ‘Musings of an Aging Fan’

Various, ‘The Northeast Tolkien Society’ (NETS), ‘Heren Istarion’

Bruce Charlton (BC), ‘Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers’

Andrew Higgins (AH), ‘Wotan's Musings’

Various, The Mythopoeic Society

Henry Gee (HG) ‘cromercrox’, ‘The End of the Pier Show’

Jonathan S. McIntosh (JM), ‘The Flame Imperishable’

John Howe (JH)

David Simmons (DS), ‘Aiya Ilúvatar’

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Tolkien Studies Blog’

Michael Martinez (MM), ‘Middle-earth’

Troels Forchhammer (TF), ‘Parmar-kenta’

Mythprint — ‘The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society’

Amon Hen — the Bulletin of the Tolkien Society

- and others

Troels Forchhammer

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they
are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not
refer to reality.
- Albert Einstein