On Tolkien and his Work’s Truest Meaning

The following is a response to a blog about a comment describing sub-creation and how Tolkien’s fantasy books were a reflection of the author and his great powers as a fantasists only. I disagreed. My words follow below…..

J. R. R. Tolkien

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Actually, by creating his Mythopoeia, Tolkien is creating a self-referential medium that has no reference or relationship to this world, reality, realism, or anything. It exists completely inside itself, assuming its own life or death, and something that is but an eternal mirror or reflection of its own beauty, purpose, and meaning.

People who try and subjugate spiritually creative works of the past to our current spiritually dead and failed Modern Realism cannot grasp that idea. They cannot quite grasp the true beauty and purpose of Myth in books much less Myth’s connection to history, or Mankind, or its expression in Tolkien’s works. Why?

Because in 2019 we simply don’t value Creation, a Creator, grasp the inner experience of Faith, or see anything valuable in Myths unless it unwinds its nature back to some modern trope we can touch or taste or feel, or a philosophy that soothes us from our own deep fear of the unknown and irrational.

It’s a farce to the Realist today that true Faith lives by is own nature from love of a Creator and his Creation, or through fooling the rational side of ourselves that Myths have no value beyond some purpose they must serve society. In creating his Myths, Tolkien had no secret agenda other than to create an expression of his wonder and love of the world, of history, and of Fairy.

By creating a self-referential cosmology, he was also commenting on his Faith as a Christian and showing us how making beautiful stories could also carry a new connection of our mind’s hidden Myths and connection to one’s Faith. For he saw we have a need for both . We have a need to still believe in the mysteries of life which science might have dismissed so recently yet which still haunts our mind’s inner realms.

Thank goodness his son Christopher left us with his last and greatest of mythological works which will always exist apart from all modern things and all contemporary meaning. For they yet live still in the irrational parts of our minds we cannot ever fully know. Anything in the Silmarillion that discovers itself (like a character telling a tale) serves only to enrich itself and the cosmos it is contained within. And so it is but a mirror bent back in on itself. And yet it is also a mirror of our own minds creative and vast powers, a reflection designed to see our world as but a dead thing as it can and will do, or as a joyous and glorious thing, or a vast and fantastic Fairie Wonder if we choose. For living like art can be a nightmare or a celebration both at once.

Like Tolkien’s fantasy world, our true reality and this Earth;s which we have refashioned in our own mind’s image as we do now, also has no reference to any standard, no sub-creation to it but which is but artifice of the mind conceived. Except it owes its existence to our mind’s imagination, alone. Yet we choose to believe a God or Gods can stand behind reality if we choose.

And that’s what Tolkien helped us to see as writers and artists…..Art does not have to have a framework to support it just the belief and faith in it by the artist. And so can stand alone in books or on hills great castles where once stood mist or void and to which to void they can return with no God or mind to ever remember they ever were. Such is the illusion of the mind, whether reality or fantasy.

That’s why I hope we can rediscover Myth as something important and central to not just culture and art, but to our own psychology. Because all the dissection of Tolkien’s works can never find its heart, no matter how you dig and dig. No world-building exercise, no in-depth linguistic study, no philisophy can ever dissect nor discover its secrets, ever.

It exists for its sake alone, yet appears again magically in the heart of our children and our own child-like wonder if we but believe. Today so few now do.

– the Author

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