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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:04 am 
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I split this off from the News from Bree thread - VtF

(I can't find any existing thread where this would seem to fit, and I don't feel like starting a new thread, so I am sticking it here.)

I first read Lord of the rings when I was around 10 years old and fell head over heels in love with the books. I reread them every year or two until about the time that the movies came out, which were in my early twenties. For whatever reason, the last time that I had read the books was the year after the first movie came out, before The two towers came out. That would have been 2002, so it had been nearly 20 years. In that time, I have seen the movies dozens of times, and I usually name them as my all time favorite movies.

Increasingly, as time went by, one reason that I was reluctant to read the book is the observation that as time goes by and I get further and further from my 20-year-old self a lot of things that I loved back in those days don't particularly resonate with me anymore. The thought that I might read them as my older self and not love them seemed an unhappy thought about something that seemed so important to me in my youth. So I kept putting it off and putting it off, while feeling like I had to go back to them again someday. And now, a few months after turning 40 years old, I have finished reading Lord of the rings again.

The result? I could say a thousand things about it, but suffice to say that unfortunately, my fears were right. I largely enjoyed the books, much of it is quite wonderful, but I don't think I can truly say I especially loved it. It did not grab me and move me the way it did my younger self. Honestly there are large stretches of the book that I found rather dull. I'm fairly certain that if this had been my first time exposed to this story in any form, it will have just been another nice, enjoyable book amongst many other nice, enjoyable books.

On a more personal note, it is something that saddens me and weighs on me a bit more than a simply finding one's opinion of one thing change over time. For I keep feeling over and over, as I get older, that it gets much, much harder for me to truly feel passionate about something, and easier and easier to find fault in things. It is a sombering thought. I am only 40 now. What will life feel like at 60?

One final, controversial thought: the movies did it better!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:06 am 
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Although there are things that bother me about the films, overall I agree that PJ did an amazing job of taking his task of bringing Middle-Earth to life seriously. I can attest to the attention to detail, especially after visiting some of the sights/sets in New Zealand. What may contribute to your changed experience yov, may not so much be age as it is that you no longer have to use your imagination to fully experience the books. You have the visuals of the films with its costumes, locations, and actors as a frame of reference. Your brain doesn't have to work as hard to imagine and conjure it up. As such, the reading experience may not be as rich and it loses some luster.

I empathize with you yov. Things do change as we get older.. we grow and mature and have new experiences. Times change. It's not always a bad thing but the experiences and feelings we had from a fresh discovery or passion can be hard to recoup. Nostalgia takes it's place and that can be tough to live up to. Depending upon the matter/subject in question we can sometimes rekindle or find new passions. When I was in my 30's I took some art, history, and architecture classes at a local community college which helped snap me out of a mid-life slump. I was recently musing about how much the world has changed even in the last 20 years. I've always enjoyed watching old movie classics, many that are 'before my time'. Recently I've found that what I may have found enjoyable and fun are now incredibly annoying and childish and I don't think it's because I've gotten older, it's because the world has changed. What may have amused me or given me a laugh now make me cringe or even feel anxious. We sometimes have to re-invent ourselves a bit or we get stuck. Of course 2020 and everything going on in the world doesn't help much.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:01 am 
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While the post deserves a thoughtful reply, I am still stuck on "yov is 40?" I thought you were younger than me by more than that.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:13 am 
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What Frelga said.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:19 am 
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BTW, Happy belated 40th birthday yov! :D

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:58 am 
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Frelga wrote:
While the post deserves a thoughtful reply, I am still stuck on "yov is 40?" I thought you were younger than me by more than that.

It's not my fault, I swear!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:03 am 
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yov, would you be terribly upset if I split this off to a separate thread? I know you said you didn't want to start one, but I really think it deserves its own thread.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:40 am 
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If you do, can we title it "Nostalgia ain't like it used to be" :)

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:38 am 
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If you really want to split it go ahead. I don't see much point to it though as I doubt there'll be much more discussion about it.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:18 pm 
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I had an experience a year or so ago which caught me off-guard. Pre-COVID I regularly swam at the Y. After a swim I would use the sauna. It was a time for me to relax and breathe and meditate. My mind would go to a place which to me was very real and vivid. I used the same imagery for several years and found it comforting. One day I had the urge to write it down as a poem. The words flowed quick and easy as it was right there before me, it was A Place I Go. I took great pleasure in writing the poem but I found that after I'd put it into words, the vivid mental experience was no longer the same which surprised (and saddened) me. Yes, I could still 'see' the place in detail in my mind's eye, and I'm glad I wrote it down, but .. it's just not the same experience. It's kinda weird.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:00 pm 
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My experience is similar, yov. I still enjoy the books, but they don't draw me in as completely as they used to. For me, it feels less like a loss of passion than a loss of imagination. I got another reminder of that the other week when I tried to play World of Warcraft Classic. It was still fun in a casual way, but it also kind of felt like solving a math problem--no comparison to the utterly immersive and consuming experience it was in 2007. C'est la vie, I suppose.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:48 pm 
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My experience is very much the opposite. I enjoyed the films when they were made, I think they are good entertainment, and at their best moments capture a tiny glimpse of the power of the books. But its unlikely that I will ever watch them again, as each time I try I find them to be more an embarrassment than a joy. Yet I find more profundity in Tolkien's work now than I ever have before, particularly as I more deeply immerse myself in traditions very far from those from which he came out of, and find resonance between his work and those traditions that are truly universal in nature.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:56 pm 
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One thing I will say is that with all the traumas of this year, I find much more to emphasize with in his characters' moments of despair. And I'm much more conscious of how his experiences in WWI must have informed this.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:19 pm 
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Well then you may appreciate the new paper that I have working on addressing that very subject, entitled "Tolkien and the Sanctification of Suffering." (Assuming that I ever finish and publish it.)

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:40 pm 
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Dave_LF wrote:
One thing I will say is that with all the traumas of this year, I find much more to emphasize with in his characters' moments of despair. And I'm much more conscious of how his experiences in WWI must have informed this.
I certainly agree with this.

Voronwë wrote:
Yet I find more profundity in Tolkien's work now than I ever have before, particularly as I more deeply immerse myself in traditions very far from those from which he came out of, and find resonance between his work and those traditions that are truly universal in nature.
Voronwë, would you mind expounding on this, in particular the part I italicized? I think I know what you mean, but I'm not entirely sure.

edited to add: X-posted with your last post V. I would presume this paper might have something to do with Tolkien's Catholicism and his experiences in the war? Boromir's death at Parth Galen comes to mind. The dead marshes. The despair on Mount Doom.

In my earlier post I didn't intend to imply that a film would always spoil a book, or vise-versa, but I definitely feel it often changes ones experience, for better or worse and that it's not necessarily an age thing. I find The Hobbit to be cringe-worthy and I've never seen it except in the theater but I have re-read and enjoyed the book. I feel the same way about a few places in LotR, but not quite as much. My issues with the films are generally more with the script/choices. As an artist however, I greatly appreciate the attention to detail and the seriousness with which Middle-Earth (at least for me) was brought to life. I often dreamed of working at WETA.

I need to re-read the Sil.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:25 pm 
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One thing about the movie vs book thing, Tolkien spends an extraordinary amount of time describing in enormous detail the landscapes that the characters are traveling through. Putting asides that I now found this tendency pretty damn tedious, it is hard to argue that if one wants to describe in detail a landscape, pictures are a far superior medium to do that then prose. One beautiful image of a landscape can accomplish more than five paragraphs worth of describing the land. And there is so very, very much describing of the land.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:46 am 
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Once again, I completely disagree with that. The pictures presented by a filmmaker, even one as visually adept as Peter Jackson, can never equal the pictures painted in my mind by Tolkien's extraordinary prose.

(Rose, I will respond to you later.)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 1:00 am 
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I think it can go either way depending upon how a person takes in information. Each of us take in and process information differently. Some of us are more visual, some tactile, some auditory, and some cerebral. I also think our past experiences color the way we process new experiences. SO.. although it's not age related per se it changes the experience, because as we age we tend to have more experiences to draw from.

I would compare it to watching a movie that takes place in New York City, or Miami, or in a National Park (or wherever) but somewhere you have never been. Later, you visit that place. The next time you see the movie, your perspective has likely changed based on your experience. Not necessarily for good or bad.. just different.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 9:27 am 
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Funnily enough I'm experiencing that now with movies set in New York. It's not like it was ever "not a real place" but after spending a week last year walking round it, smelling it, eating the food, avoiding the bums, taking the subway, it's now "a real place". :)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 6:03 pm 
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Alatar wrote:
Funnily enough I'm experiencing that now with movies set in New York. It's not like it was ever "not a real place" but after spending a week last year walking round it, smelling it, eating the food, avoiding the bums, taking the subway, it's now "a real place". :)
Exactly!!! Traveling somewhere can really change your experience of other things (TV shows, movies, books, food) in unexpected ways.

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