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Old 07-19-2018, 06:35 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
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Pipe Mind is like a Lumber-room

Posting this in Novices & Newcomers because it deals more with the reader's experience of the text than with the text itself, but if the mods deem it misplaced, please move it elsewhere.

Over in Chapter-by-Chapter, I had a thought about the word "mathom": how it is a word for a concept that is otherwise not defined by a single word in English. I compared it there to "weltanshauung" and "schadenfreude" as words borrowed from another language because that language has a word for a concept not expressed in our own.

This got me thinking about how Tolkien has shaped my intellectual landscape--it's a commonplace, really, among anyone who knows my fiction writing to say that it shows his influence (whether this is intended to be flattering or limiting, I shall refrain from speculating), but I think it's true that I owe more intellectually to Tolkien than just certain tastes or habits in fiction.

Obviously, the very idea of a "mathom" is one--and as someone with a few jackdaw tendencies ("hoarder" is such a strong word), it is useful for describing the stuff of those tendencies.

Other words, though perhaps with less daily utility, that Tolkien has given me include "eucatastrophe" and "mythopoeia." I'm sure there are more, but rather than finishing this thread, let this post start it. There are also metaphors or phrases that have helped shape my mind, even if the words are not unique. The thread title is one such example: Gandalf's words about Butterbur: "his mind is like a lumber-room: thing wanted always buried." This is a variation on Murphy's Law, but it's a useful variation. While Murphy's Law is all about the inevitability of the inconvenience of not finding or having the one thing you want (or the one thing going wrong), the emphasis here is on the visual metaphor: and a lumber-room is a product of the owner. In other words, Butterbur's lack of having the one thing he wants is due to his own actions, rather than some inexorable law. It's also a metaphor that focuses on knowledge rather than happenings.

Those are just the things that come first to mind, where my thinking has been shaped by Tolkien. What examples are true of you?
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