Who is Tom Bombadil really, you my ask?
I had a close friend of mine ask me that question recently, apparently the email the question was encoded in became buried under two or three months of Facebook notifications – Facebook is going to be the end of us all I’m sure – at that time my friend was listening to the Lord of the Rings with his school age son. Listening to??? I had thoroughly parsed the Silmarillion in print by age 12, mom’s Book of the Month Club selection for September 1977 – mine!
I suppose that was why my friend asked me the question, because he thought I probably knew the answer. So, in case you haven’t managed to find the unabridged and authoritative answer to the question yourself – here it is.
The Meme Merchant Culture Society went out the other night to a house hoot, for the first time in many ages, as a possible encouragement to use our French with people who actually speak French for a living, even if they are from the tail end of the Francophone world and tend to get a lot of grief from the Parisian epicenter of the Francophone world about their pronunciation and grammar. C’est la vie. This particular evening’s experience was a musical encounter with Québécois folk music trio Le Bruit Court Dans La Ville, “The buzz around town” more or less, le bruit court [literally ‘the noise short’] may also be rendered as “rumor has it,” though we are not sure if there is a Québécois vs Parisien distinction here – possible.
This is not another music blog, this is a blog mostly about odd ideas; in the course of the evening we encountered enough unusual ideas to be worthy of promotion of the evening’s experience to a blog post. The first odd idea was not that three Québécoises should be trying to make a living reviving a declining folk music tradition by giving concerts in people’s living rooms aux Etats Unis – a worthy idea – but not that odd. The first odd idea was that in the Québécois folk music scene, les pieds [the feet] are an instrument you are likely to find credited in an album’s liner notes – extraordinaire. The second odd idea is that in addition to the usual stories of marital infidelity by wife, or husband you may also find reference a theme of the now largely defunct Social Credit movement.
God is a function, God experienced is a function of your manner of experience. The elementary idea of God is transcendent of all forms, of all names, the tongue has never soiled it, it never got there. So, any idea of God is historically conditioned, it’s a local idea no matter how much noise people make about it, it’s just a local notion. And so, as man transforms, so are the laws of God transformed. The laws of God are functions of the human psyche in its historic expression and development. That’s what we get here, and this if Wolfram.
~Joseph Campbell, Grail Legends at the Ojai Foundation
The following is a verbatim transcription of the Q&A portion of a talk entitled Grail Legends, given by Joseph Campbell at the Ojai Foundation before his death in 1987. We Meme Merchants quote this material frequently, so I thought I would present it to the public since this material is otherwise hard to obtain in digital form since it was originally on audio tape. So far as I know, no one has ever produced a complete transcript of the presentation.
Attention: This is not necessarily an article about Intelligent Design; this is an article about how we think, how we think about scientific propositions, how we think about our own and other people’s thinking and more particularly how the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance can be part of the dynamic.
All of what follows was wrapped around a conversation that was organized around a discussion of Intelligent Design hosted by the Watermark Community Church in Dallas on April 19, 2009 at a forum called The Creation Conversation. Ok, the building, the host, and the audience were some brand of evangelical Christian, and their ulterior motives were whatever they were, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the rest of us to learn from what transpired there, that is if you can be open minded enough to set aside for the moment the place and intentions of that particular conference and learn something from what was said there.
Therefore, we will all be expected to proceed, for the sake of the discussion, as of the subject matter is worth of being treated as a legitimate hypothesis, to be falsified or passed forward to the next round of discussion because it attempts, in good faith, to answer a question that other hypotheses have failed so far to answer: How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence?
Why Good? Why Evil?
Why Man? Why God?
The problem of Good and Evil, it’s really not that complicated, it’s a matter of frames of reference. It is simply that men are not fitly placed to be scrutineer to the workings of God, nor Man the only thing on God’s mind.
Tolling through the AsiaTimesOnLine archives I came across a highly provocative item by Henry C. K. Liu, a writer the Meme Merchants have followed for a number of years. What came up today was the first installment of a series he wrote back in July 2003: The Abduction of Modernity, The Race towards Barbarism. I say provocative in two senses: being thought-provoking in Lui’s inimitable way, and also provoking some very strong disagreement.
Before I was halfway through the article I found myself doing a kind of point by point rebuttal, the genesis of this piece, which I had to eventually push mentally aside in order to finish the article. The article was so thought-provoking that I feel I have to give myself a kind of ‘intellectual time out’, before I proceed with a more serious analysis or criticism of the article. Mr. Liu is a very smart and thoughtful writer, one has to at least try to meet him at his own level.
This morning in way of introducing the topic I will anticipate that much of the further discussion on the subject will revolve around two rather different world views, one the so-called ‘modern’ Western world view and the other the traditional Eastern Confucian world view. To be fair to Mr. Liu, the point of at least the first article of this series is precisely the nature of that ‘modernity’ and its relationship to Western civilization.
A strong dichotomy it appears.
Of the many possible dichotomies of civilizations you can draw, one is the dichotomy of a civilization that sees what is noble and valuable in the individual as what is in conformance with the cultural model, and another civilization who’s culture sees what is rare and valuable in the individual as everything that is different from the cultural model.
One of those world views, I propose, is ‘modern’, the other is not.
Welcome to part four of this series or articles, which is a deep, though hopefully not exhausting, exploration of Austrian director/writer Jessica Hausner’s excellent 2009 film Lourdes. Part One of the series: Prologue to a Posy, lays out in some detail the genesis of the project and outlines its basic method, which is an attempt at a one-man version of film critic Roger Ebert,’s Cinema Interruptus. Part Two of this series: Day One: The Wheelchair is No Barrier to Desire, takes us through approximately the first twenty five minutes of the film, to the end of the first full day in in-movie time. Part Three of this series: Day Two, The Nigredo – Eating an Elephant, or Too Big a Rat, takes us though to the end of the difficult second day or their pilgrimage for our characters, and several important developments in: plot, character, and theme.
If you haven’t done so I suggest that you back track and start this series from the beginning – or – just plunge ahead and pick up our story mid stream.
Welcome to Part Three of this series, which is a certain kind of critical analysis of Austrian director/writer Jessica Hausner’s 2009 film Lourdes. Part one of the series Prologue to a Posy, lays out in some detail the genesis of the project and outlines its basic method, which is a kind of one-man version of film critic Roger Ebert,’s Cinema Interruptus. Part Two of this series Day One: The Wheelchair is No Barrier to Desire, takes us through approximately the first twenty five minutes of the film, to the end of the first full day in in-movie time. If you haven’t done so I suggest that you back track and start this series from the beginning.
What you will be seeing, reading, will be something that looks a bit like the full screenplay of the movie, transcribed from the screen by me, with commentary, informal micro-essays, and observations interspersed between the dialogue and description. The biggest problem I foresee with this format is a breakdown in the narrative flow of the movie, or a basic incoherence, which seems hard to get around, especially when working within the constraints of this blogging platform. I’ll do my best to make improvements if readers are having difficulty in the comprehension department. For typos and other grammar specific errors we at the Meme Merchants Consortium prefer you to use the Comment Form on our Contact Page, this prevents the Comments section from getting cluttered up.
So far, I’ve logged one comment and it is worthy of repeating. From WondersInTheDark:
This is really audacious, wow! I will need to look at this and get back with a better response. But I certainly do like what you are doing here, ww. This as my favorite film of 2010:
I appreciate the compliment. Audacious is of course a word that can cut in two directions. This project, because of the unique and demanding nature of the process, has a high potential for failure, for many reasons, mental exhaustion being one of them.
Eating an Elephant
This project is becoming a sort of elephant. An old boss of mine once said of large projects, “There’s only one way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time.” True maybe, but at the same time, if you know snakes, or have ever kept one as a pet you will also know that for a snake the act of eating is a race between digestion and putrefaction. If you are a snake and eat too large of a rat you die from sepsis [coincidentally, or ironically, according to Chinese astrology I am a snake]. We’ll have to see how much of the pressure to complete the project in its entirety I can stand – or if anyone really cares enough to read it all.
In the prologue to this series: Lourdes – Prologue to a Posy, I laid out the premise that I was going to be conducting a detailed, though maybe not microscopic, analysis of Austrian director/writer Jessica Hausner’s 2009 film Lourdes as a kind of didactic exercise to see if what a relative nobody like me, if he applied himself to the subject, could come up with. The particular didactic method I have chosen to use is a kind of one-man version of the Cinema Interruptus format developed by film critic Roger Ebert, which I elaborated upon in the previous article.
So, what you are going to be seeing is something resembling a screenplay of the movie, which I am currently transcribing in stages from the screen word by word, scene by scene, with my comments and observations interlaced between. I really don’t know how well this is going to work, I’ve never tried anything like it. As I said in the Prologue, this may very well turn into a mad, mad quest. Nothing, hazarded nothing gained. At the very least its good practice for me. Let’s hope you are able to gain something from it as well.
The WordPress blogging platform and this particular theme, impose some very strict limits on what it is possible to do in terms of formatting a structure this complex, but I’ve devised something out that seems to work reasonably well. My aim is is first readability and comprehensibility, only then ‘correctness’ in terms of format. So, if neither aim is satisfied to your satisfaction, my apologies in advance.
Now we begin the task in earnest.
Every once in a while I come across a movie review where I wonder if the reviewer and I have actually watched the same movie. I know that there are often substantially different ‘cuts’ of a movie presented to different audiences floating around out there. One of the classic examples of this is the 142 minute nominally nihilistic Euro-centric theatrical cut of director Terry Gilliam’s classic 1985 film Brazil, and the ofttimes disparaged 95 minute American, ‘love conquerors all’,cut of the film. Even so, sometimes it seems there exists out there a tin-pot doppelganger to a movie I really enjoyed, which I find perplexing – or maybe it’s just that I’m odd in some way.
But, I digress.
I actually don’t actually watch a whole lot of movies; however, since the coming of Netflix to Middle Earth I have been watching many more than I used to, but I think I could hardly match the performance of most serious film buffs. In exception to the general trend, in the last week or two I have seen several very worth while ones that have been turning into fodder for the Meme Merchants Consortium think tank.
This week it has been Austrian director/writer Jessica Hausner’s 2009 film Lourdes that has got the groups attention at the Meme Merchant’s Film Society. On the whole we really liked the film, we each tend to find some fault with certain aspects, but the discussion has been whether we should give it four or five Netflix stars.