Cosmic Appalachia

Cosmic Appalachia

It is one with this gift of freedom that the Children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not.

Right before this paragraph in "Of the Beginning of Days," which describes Iluvatar’s unusual gift of death and free will beyond the Music of the Ainur to the Children of Men, we are told that the Elves often associate Men with Melkor and think of mortals as being closest to Melkor in Manwe’s mind. It’s a bit telling that the narrator does not confirm this suspicion of the Elves, and it’s easy to see why.  

Ironically, Melkor’s situation seems to have much more in common with the Elves than with Men. The Valar and the Elves are bound to Arda for as long as time lasts within it and are unable to leave or deviate from the Music that governs it. They are trapped within the “Little Kingdom,” as the Ainur call it.  However, Men’s ultimate destiny lies beyond Arda, perhaps in the “far heaven” in which the Ainur who are not governing Arda dwell.

Regardless, their fate is separate and offers a freedom that the Valar and the Elves do not share - they are bound to their fates while Men seem to be able to forge their own destiny and legacy, for good or ill. Tolkien’s narrator tells us that this freedom that death affords is envied even by the “Powers” themselves, as they are worn by the march of Time.  Perhaps this mysterious freedom is why Melkor fears Men so much, and why he hates them - they can freely leave the small world he has bound himself to in his hatred and greed.

It is told among the wise that the First War began before Arda was full-shaped, and ere yet there was anything that grew or walked upon the earth; and for long Melkor had the upper hand. But in the midst of the war a spirit of great strength and hardihood came to the aid of the Valar, hearing in the far heaven that there was battle in the Little Kingdom; and Arda was filled with the sound of his laughter.

This passage from the beginning of "Of the Beginning of Days" (heh) describes the coming of the Vala Tulkas into Arda. When I re-read this passage, I was shocked because I noticed a phrase I had missed before that gives a rather surprising sense of perspective to the conflict in Middle-Earth. 

We are told that Tulkas, who was not in Arda but in the “far heaven,” wherever that might be, came to the aid of the Valar warring in the “Little Kingdom.” If we assume, as I do, that Arda includes Varda’s stars, it seems that the entire universe is “The Little Kingdom.” And since Tulkas had to “hear” about the conflict in Arda and did not immediately know of it, that suggests that there’s quite a lot more going on in the far heaven than simply the Music of the Ainur creating Arda; perhaps there are even other, similar projects at work and Tulkas just thought Arda was the most interesting. 

This reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ revelations about Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew, in which we discover that Narnia is only one universe in a vast multiverse mere humans cannot fathom.  If something similar is happening here, and Arda is indeed very “little” in the grand scheme of things, then the desire of Melkor, most powerful of the Ainur, to control Arda becomes almost laughable. While Melkor’s actions aren’t ultimately petty to the people of Arda he torments, it seems that in his greed and self-delusion Melkor hasn’t realized just how thoroughly he has demeaned himself and trapped himself in a tiny fortress in a tiny world in a (comparatively) tiny universe. 

Also: I love the tale of Tulkas as a primordial, classic hero who descends from heaven to save the world from peril and ends up staying out of love (as the other Valar did). I would love to read more about his adventures. 

lieutenantkitty:

I mean, horrible stuff all around, but individual stories like this are just heartbreaking.
lieutenantkitty:

I mean, horrible stuff all around, but individual stories like this are just heartbreaking.

lieutenantkitty:

I mean, horrible stuff all around, but individual stories like this are just heartbreaking.

While I’m sure this has been posted all over the place, I want to draw your attention to the first five minutes of the video, in which Stephen Colbert gives a moving speech about Tolkien’s world that I think applies to all of us fans of Middle-Earth, new and old alike. What beautiful words!

luaen:

Thingol and Melian requested by anon.
Temporarily forgot that colour is a thing that exists.
My Doriath as an ancient Chinese wuxia drama headcanon/AU has gone too far.

In my opinion, Doriath as an ancient Chinese wuxia drama headcanon cannot go far enough. This is gorgeous.

luaen:

Thingol and Melian requested by anon.

Temporarily forgot that colour is a thing that exists.

My Doriath as an ancient Chinese wuxia drama headcanon/AU has gone too far.

In my opinion, Doriath as an ancient Chinese wuxia drama headcanon cannot go far enough. This is gorgeous.

dakkun39:

Gondolin,Turgon
シルマリルの物語だけではゴンドリンやトゥアゴンが見えてこなかったので中つ国歴史地図とThe History of MIDDLE-EARTH(2)を買ってしまいました。

Love these designs. 
dakkun39:

Gondolin,Turgon
シルマリルの物語だけではゴンドリンやトゥアゴンが見えてこなかったので中つ国歴史地図とThe History of MIDDLE-EARTH(2)を買ってしまいました。

Love these designs. 
dakkun39:

Gondolin,Turgon
シルマリルの物語だけではゴンドリンやトゥアゴンが見えてこなかったので中つ国歴史地図とThe History of MIDDLE-EARTH(2)を買ってしまいました。

Love these designs. 
dakkun39:

Gondolin,Turgon
シルマリルの物語だけではゴンドリンやトゥアゴンが見えてこなかったので中つ国歴史地図とThe History of MIDDLE-EARTH(2)を買ってしまいました。

Love these designs. 

dakkun39:

Gondolin,Turgon

シルマリルの物語だけではゴンドリンやトゥアゴンが見えてこなかったので中つ国歴史地図とThe History of MIDDLE-EARTH(2)を買ってしまいました。

Love these designs. 

(via hereff)

Every Time I See the New Thranduil Image I Have the Following Thought Process:

No wonder Gandalf is so concerned. Thranduil, what are you thinking?

Silmarillion Read-Along: The Music of the Ainur, Harmony, and Why Menegroth and Ulmo Rock

I started to write an analysis of the Ainulindale for for the Silmarillion Read-Along and I appear to have written an essay.

… Sorry.  

Most of it is under the cut to due to length, but if you click through, please enjoy and don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with me! I’d love to hear from you!

Read More

samcannon:

Fireflies in the meadow. 

samcannon:

Fireflies in the meadow. 

(via thoughtsupnorth)

Hello, I’m featherloom, and I’m really excited to be participating in Tumblr’s Silmarillion Read-Along as part of Team Doriath! I’ve been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien for a while now but I didn’t really get into the Silmarillion until I got a new job that required a 40-minute commute. I was looking for interesting podcasts to listen to and discovered the Tolkien Professor’s Silmarillion Seminar episodes. What followed was, for me, a fascinating, challenging, and sometimes hilarious few months of listening as I read along with Professor Corey Olsen and his students. I’m excited to repeat the adventure again on Tumblr with new friends and new challenges! 
I’m also thrilled to be on Team Doriath, since Doriath was clearly the greatest kingdom in Middle-Earth, and Sindar elves are the best elves. :)
Also, I can’t recommend the Silmarillion Seminar highly enough! Here’s a link to the podcast on iTunes.

Hello, I’m featherloom, and I’m really excited to be participating in Tumblr’s Silmarillion Read-Along as part of Team Doriath! I’ve been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien for a while now but I didn’t really get into the Silmarillion until I got a new job that required a 40-minute commute. I was looking for interesting podcasts to listen to and discovered the Tolkien Professor’s Silmarillion Seminar episodes. What followed was, for me, a fascinating, challenging, and sometimes hilarious few months of listening as I read along with Professor Corey Olsen and his students. I’m excited to repeat the adventure again on Tumblr with new friends and new challenges! 

I’m also thrilled to be on Team Doriath, since Doriath was clearly the greatest kingdom in Middle-Earth, and Sindar elves are the best elves. :)

Also, I can’t recommend the Silmarillion Seminar highly enough! Here’s a link to the podcast on iTunes.

I find this interesting because of John Green’s commentary on so-called “hill people.” It’s difficult, as Green says, to talk about “civilzations” in any sort of detailed analysis because the term is very loaded, comes equipped with societal judgments, and is not entirely based in reality.  

However, I was intrigued by the theory that “hill people,” as they are called by historian James Scott, were not attracted to or abandoned by civilizations but rather formed as alternatives to agricultural states and their many downsides, including taxes, subjugation, and conscription. Additionally, fleeing for the hills tends to be a safe, sustainable, and more or less successful response to the droughts and wars and plagues that hound what we think of as traditional states.

It’s quite glamorous to think of hill cultures as the last sentinels of true liberty, championing freedom on the fringes of civilizations, but I think the fact that it sounds glamorous is a warning sign. We tend to try to tell stories when we look at history; that’s only natural, as we are a species driven and shaped by stories. We live in narratives of our own making. But we make a mistake when we try applying narratives to history. We assign good guys and bad guys, and we make judgment calls on who was in the right and who was in the wrong, and whether one people group’s culture is more or less valuable than another’s. It’s just an inevitable side effect of storytelling, no matter how the story is turned on its head.

I have been mulling over this idea of hill people making a conscious choice to avoid civilization. However, I am repeatedly reminded of the sheer lack of infrastructure in Southeastern Kentucky’s Appalachia region that denies people the much-needed, state-provided amenities of hospitals, highways, and information routes. Many of these people didn’t necessarily flee to the hills as much as flock there for jobs, and they were abandoned when those jobs were exhausted. As Green says, even history’s exceptions have exceptions, just as some in Appalachia do take pride in their isolation from the outside world. It’s impossible to make one story, one interpretation, work for every person in even the smallest Appalachian community. I am sure the same could be said of “hill people” from around the world. 

I think Appalachia is beautiful. I love its hills, its music, its stunning art, the people I loved and grew up alongside, and its vibrant written and oral culture. However, I also think that it’s just as dangerous to romanticize hill people as it is to judge them. In the end, they still become objects instead of complex people who may or may not have the agency to change their circumstances.  So while I find this video intriguing, I cannot stand by it entirely. Thoughts?

Dolphins not only have names but choose their own in their early youth.

:)

jrcpictures:

Appalachian Supermoon 

It was gorgeous tonight. 

jrcpictures:

Appalachian Supermoon 

It was gorgeous tonight. 

mermaidskey:

hemipelagicdredger:

mermaidskey:

mermaidskey:

oxidoreductase:

Lavoisier is having none of your shit.

Heeeey so fun fact: the woman in that painting is Lavoisier’s wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, who not only acted as Lavoisier’s lab assistant but also translated English and Latin texts into French so he could read them. But she didn’t just translate, she pointed out errors in the chemistry in some of the texts. Her observations of these errors convinced Lavoisier to study combustion, which led to his discovery of oxygen. She was also critical to the publication of Lavoisier’s Elementary Treatise on Chemistry in 1789. She kept strict records of every experiment they conducted together and drew detailed diagrams of all their equipment. She also threw amazing parties and invited all the brightest minds in science so her husband could pick their brains. After Lavoisier was guillotined she secured all of his notebooks and equipment for posterity.
In short: NOBODY KICKS MADAME LAVOISIER OUT OF THE LAB.

Also, a side note: My historian husband-to-be pointed some things out to me about this painting. Notice that Madame Lavoisier is looking at the viewer, and all the light is on her, while Lavoisier himself is physically smaller than her, in shadow, and looking up to her in reverence. This isn’t a candid photograph- all of these choices are deliberate. The painting isn’t of Lavoisier- Madame Lavoisier is meant to be the central subject. 
I can just imagine Lavoisier telling all his colleagues that his wife is really the one with all the clever ideas, and them patting him on the back and telling him he’s sweet for saying so.

more like


I LOVE IT

Madame Lavoisier rocks. And the second interpretation looks far more accurate to me …

mermaidskey:

hemipelagicdredger:

mermaidskey:

mermaidskey:

oxidoreductase:

Lavoisier is having none of your shit.

Heeeey so fun fact: the woman in that painting is Lavoisier’s wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, who not only acted as Lavoisier’s lab assistant but also translated English and Latin texts into French so he could read them. But she didn’t just translate, she pointed out errors in the chemistry in some of the texts. Her observations of these errors convinced Lavoisier to study combustion, which led to his discovery of oxygen. She was also critical to the publication of Lavoisier’s Elementary Treatise on Chemistry in 1789. She kept strict records of every experiment they conducted together and drew detailed diagrams of all their equipment. She also threw amazing parties and invited all the brightest minds in science so her husband could pick their brains. After Lavoisier was guillotined she secured all of his notebooks and equipment for posterity.

In short: NOBODY KICKS MADAME LAVOISIER OUT OF THE LAB.

Also, a side note: My historian husband-to-be pointed some things out to me about this painting. Notice that Madame Lavoisier is looking at the viewer, and all the light is on her, while Lavoisier himself is physically smaller than her, in shadow, and looking up to her in reverence. This isn’t a candid photograph- all of these choices are deliberate. The painting isn’t of Lavoisier- Madame Lavoisier is meant to be the central subject. 

I can just imagine Lavoisier telling all his colleagues that his wife is really the one with all the clever ideas, and them patting him on the back and telling him he’s sweet for saying so.

more like

image

I LOVE IT

Madame Lavoisier rocks. And the second interpretation looks far more accurate to me …

(via iconuk01)

yahoosports:

yahoosoccer:

Watch all of Tim Howard’s World Cup record 16 saves AT THE SAME TIME

All the saves!

I feel patriotic. Props to whoever edited this!

yahoosports:

yahoosoccer:

Watch all of Tim Howard’s World Cup record 16 saves AT THE SAME TIME

All the saves!

I feel patriotic. Props to whoever edited this!