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Old 09-07-2022, 06:09 PM   #1
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Sting The Perils of Pedantry

Three threads are about to go live at once--assuming, of course, that I am not triggering some anti-spam software in attempting it. All three of these threads are responses, in different ways, to an attitude that I see nibbling about--here, of course, since this is where I am most active, but anywhere that Tolkien fans gather.

That attitude, if the title did not give it away, is pedantry.

Now, the Tolkien fandom has a long and noble tradition of pedantry. I was quite a vociferous pedant myself, back in the First Age, and there is something good that it bespeaks: a kinship of sorts between the readers and Tolkien himself: we match his devotion to all the details in his creation by treating each of those details with the same love and care that he did.


It can also be really toxic.

Not necessarily for the pedant themself, all the time (though I do think that acting ignobly does corrupt the soul, even if that might be over-stating the case ever so slightly), but I don't think it's possible to argue that pedantry is, at best, tolerably amusing to those not doing it and, at worst, the mortar shells of violent gate-keeping in which the trueness of one's fandom is determined by the breadth and length of one's knowledge of the footnotes in the HoME.

And, despite being a former pedant, that's starting to [expletive-self-censored] me off.

My son, a 4 year old, is turning into a fact-hound about dinosaurs. He can correct your identification of a Parasaurolyphus when you meant a Pachycephalosaurus, knows that an Argentinosaurus is the heaviest and Brachiosaurus is the tallest. And he's not exactly shy about correcting you. But there's a difference between what he's doing and what I see growing in the fandom--yea, even here sometimes on the 'Downs!--apart from that fact that he's 4 and thus cute, is that he's not mad if you got it wrong: he'll tell you what it should be, but it's done with joy.

I don't see much joy, or much that is child-like in the pedantry of the Tolkien fandom, but I do see a lot of childishness. It's been particularly bubbling up and bubbling over with regards to The Rings of Power, and so I am taking advantage of the welling of Tolkien-related discussion and DOING something about this, hence these Threads Three.

First, having been a scornheeper once myself, I thought nothing would be more delightful than an old school, masterful trolling: I would post a thread in the Movies forum JUST to push buttons. But, being a rule-abider more than a rebel and thinking it was the better part not to fight fire with fire, I decided this was more appropriate as a Parody Middle-earth Mirth Thread.

Second, because this really didn't scratch the itch, and because I realised that there actually is ample room for pure delight: some people--myself included!--are finding some things they actually like in this show, so I've also started a thread that is just for happy enjoyment: what did you LIKE about RoP?

But those two threads are incomplete without this thread: two groping hands in the dark that need some light to help them find what they're looking for. Or perhaps its the soul of the fandom that needs some light shone upon it: our love of particularity, of complexity, of faithfulness to the enormous labour of one man has its dark side. It's something we can--and should--talk about it: why do we do it, HOW do we do it, what is the aim in doing it, and why is it so often done as if the poster doing it is Tom Shippey descended from Valinor with the editorial authority of Christopher Tolkien?

NOTE TO THE ADMINS: I put this in Movies, because it's been occasioned by the Rings of Power, but it might really be more of a Book discussion. Please move, especially if the conversation veers thither.
I prefer history, true or feigned.
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