The pillars of Menegroth were hewn in the likeness of the beeches of Orome, stock, bough, and leaf, and they were lit with lanterns of gold. The nightingales sung there as in the gardens of Lorien; and there were fountains of silver, and basins of marble, and floors of many-coloured stones. Carven figures of beasts and birds there ran upon the walls, or climbed upon the pillars, or peered among the branches entwined with many flowers. And as the years passed Melian and her maidens filled the halls with woven hangings wherein could be read the deeds of the Valar … That was the fairest dwelling of any king that has ever been east of the Sea.
Tolkien’s description of Menegroth’s beauty is one of the most detailed and breathtaking of the entire Silmarillion, in my opinion. It also seems to be the most traditionally “elvish” or “faerie-like” dwelling we hear about in the novel, what with the seemingly enchanted carvings of animals (I like to think they actually moved or appeared to move), the magical sounds of nightingales, and the predictive tapestries of Melian and her maids. It’s a maze to become entangled in, a whole underground world to be enchanted by. Furthermore, it’s occupied by all manner of people - the Sindar, the Nandor, the Naugrim. It’s a place of unity, created by a union. Absolutely lovely.
Very true. The other day, my 12 year old had to wait, like, three seconds for a page to load and started whining, and I said, “Give it a minute, it has to bounce off a satellite.” She just stared! lolz
I KNOW, RIGHT? How cool is that! And it already goes under-appreciated. LOL!
Occasionally I wish that just one truly magical thing were real: flying carpets or wishing rings or alchemy or fairy dust. But then I realize that if that were the case these things would also become ordinary, because that’s what humans do: we take extraordinary things and make them commonplace and boring.
I mean, we have chemiluminescent plankton, wild horses running unaffected through Chernobyl, hunks of wood somehow fashioned into complicated stringed instruments, not to mention the complex sequence of biochemical and electrical processes that allow me to enjoy these things, express them in a language you can understand, and then type my thoughts onto a palm-sized tablet, which will then broadcast them through a wireless, invisible network of harnessed photons. All this in addition to auroras, motion pictures, water falling from the sky, the germ-killing mold that can make a sick person well again in a matter of days. These things are ordinary and unmagical because we’ve said that they are. But to quote the great Terry Pratchett, knowing how something is done doesn’t make it not magic.
I mean, seriously people. I just waved a “Magic Wand” (it is called that) over a 70-year-old letter from Italy, and it created an image of that letter made up of 1s and 0s on a disc the size of my pinky nail, which I could then upload and share instantly via that stream of harnessed photons. How is that not magic?
Also, consider the photo above: One of my friends couldn’t be at a party because she was literally 2,000 miles away. She was still able to attend via a screen carrying her voice and image nearly instantly across that distance in a cloud of data that somehow didn’t get lost in the upper atmosphere. How is that not a crystal ball, or a scrying pool? I don’t care what you say: that’s magic; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
So?” said Childermass, stung. “That is not so very trifling, is it? Norrell is a clever man - and Strange another. They have their faults, as other men do, but their achievements are still remarkable. Make no mistake; I am John Uskglass’s man. Or would be, if he were here. But you must admit that the restoration of English magic is their work, not his.”
“Their work!” scoffed Vinculus. “Theirs? Do you still not understand? They are the spell John Uskglass is doing. That is all they have ever been. And he is doing it now!
- Chapter 67: The hawthorn tree, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (via ashfair)
This is one of my favorite parts of this novel. When you realize how utterly insignificant the two title characters are in the wider universe, despite their achievements. This scene and the one with the giant raven’s eye.