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From: James Jordan <jbjordan4@home.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: The Best Introduction To The Mountains
Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2002 17:16:52 -0600

         Politics and Religions are supposed to be off-limits in polite 
conversation, but when discussing Wolfe they are inescapable. So, without 
wishing to open a can of worms, I'd like to try to shed a tad (only a tad) 
of light on how Wolfe almost certainly thinks about the following 
observations from Adam.
         A couple of selected quotations from Adam:

>I haven't looked at MEDITATIONS ON MIDDLE-EARTH, but possibly Wolfe's 
>essay was rejected because the image of Tolkien as propagandist for a 
>society in which the lower orders cheerfully obey and serve their betters 
>was not one the editor wanted to project.


>Wolfe's illustrations of Tolkien's "discovery," which he allegedly wrote
>LOTR to propagandize for, both center on the willingness of people to serve
>and be led by their "betters."
>And if he is really talking about libertarianism, it's curious he should
>pick the "Dark Ages" as his exemplar, a time not particularly known for
>security of property.

         The "Christian model" of societal hierarchy, to which Wolfe surely 
subscribes, and which people on this list are free to reject, affirms the 
following matters, among others:
         1. The poor you will always have with you. Some people just won't 
be able to "make it."
         1a. Corollary: Some people need to be taken care of, by others.
         2. Some people have a gift for leadership, and others (most) are 
gifted in other areas of life.
         2a. Corollary: Pure democracy is nonsense, though a relative 
democracy such as the American Constitution envisioned is a good thing. To 
wit: a variety of ways of selecting leaders, checks and balances in a 
diversified government, and rulers at various levels (county, state, 
federal) -- all of which is a Protestantized feudal order.
         3. People usually but not always grow into their callings as a 
result of their upbringing.
         3a. Corollary: Some kind of political aristocracy, with sons (and 
daughters nowadays) reared for rule, in inescapable: Kennedys, Bushes, etc. 
The "skull & bones" elite." The Eastern Establishment. Etc.
         4. The way differently gifted people relate to one another should 
be through mutual service and joy in being who they are and in doing what 
they do best. The artisan enjoys his work, and does it to produce things 
for others to buy. Same with the auto mechanic. Same with the ruler, who is 
to serve his people with wisdom. This is not a matter of "lessers" serving 
"betters," but of mutual service of various sorts. Jesus said, "He who 
would be great among you must be slave of all." One example: Entrepreneurs 
become rich by seeing what other people need and/or want, and by serving 
them by providing it. Monopolists, on the other hand, become rich by 
"lording it over" other people, and preventing competition.
         4a. Thus, Samwise (wise) enjoys being Sam. He would not enjoy 
being Aragorn. Neither would I, and I would not be any good at being Sam 
either -- my automobile is worked on by others; they serve me by fixing it, 
and I serve them by paying them.
         In short, some kind of societal hierarchy is inescapable. The 
questions are whether those who rule do so by "lording it over" others, or 
by serving them; and whether those who are ruled delight in being freed 
from the burdens of rule so that they can happily pursue their callings, or 
desire to usurp functions for which they are not gifted and not prepared; 
and whether the ruled are perhaps provoked to consider such a usurpation by 
the evil behavior of the rulers.
         Thus, I did not read Wolfe's article as saying that Tolkein had 
"discovered" a society where the lessers delight to serve their betters -- 
though Adam may be right that those who rejected his essay thought he was 
saying this -- but as saying Tolkein was reflecting on the nature of 
societal hierarchy as delineated above. The society of Tolkein's and 
Wolfe's vision is not "equality" (i.e., identity, everyone the same), but 
"mutuality" (everyone serving everyone else with his/her particular gifts).
         Finally, "dark ages" is just sarcasm. What most of us were taught 
in high school about this period is mostly rubbish, and Wolfe knows it (or 
believes it, anyway).
         Nobody has to agree with Wolfe (or me) about any of this. I just 
offer it as a way of understanding where he is coming from. FWIW. Feel free 
to push "delete," but read the next paragraph first:
         On another topic: Wolfe's statement that he read only one chapter 
per day or LOTR is surely a clue as to how he has written his own epic 
works, and how they might be profitably read, such as carefully taking into 
account what things are put together in each chapter.

Patera Nutria

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