Howard, Tolkien and Lovecraft Comparative Studies (II)

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GregLynch

Mongoose
Damien said:
Yes, but they were all sort of passive weren't they? Sat around and let evil grow while the fretted about small details, singing and discussing philosphy watching things wind down and fall apart. A little ruthlessness might have come in handy to keep the world in balance.

I don't disagree.

But ruthlessness wasn't part of Tolkien's view of goodness. And in the end, it was that unshakable honour to do only the right thing (as 'the right thing' exists in a world of moral absolutes) that saved Middle-earth (Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, etc).

I will point out the people of Numenor tried that approach. In the Second Age, when Sauron held most of Middle Earth, they sailed in to challenge him, and he surrendered. He then corrupted them from the inside, until the Numenoreans (except for one family/clan) decided to challenge the Valar. This turned out poorly for them, as the descendants of the mighty Numenoreans ended up working for Sauron as doormen with bad teeth. Plus their island got destroyed.

We could argue about whether the Numenoreans should have just killed Sauron instead of taking him prisoner, but that opens up a whole bag of hypothetical cats. Maybe they couldn't kill him. Maybe the act of killing him would have corrupted them, and they knew it (remember the Valar didn't kill Melkor). Maybe Sauron had this planned all along, knowing he could beguile the Numenoreans (his greatest enemy at the time) and turn them against the Valar. Various characters express their opinion on this issue, but since it didn't happen, it's hard to say.

Besides, if they had killed him, we wouldn't have LotR to enjoy, so I'd say things worked out for the best. :)
 
I am not in fact bashing Tolkien- I am normally this sarcastic. 8)

I am not saying that Tolkien shouldn't have written LotR. I am just saying that I think it's a bad example to children. No seriously. It raises the bar of their expectation too high. Hobbtion, Riverdale, the Entwold, Lothlorein these things are too beautiful, too graceful to be real. Trying to attain Frodo, Gandalf's and Aragorn's level of self-sacrifice would in fact be foolish. I know of nothing in this world that needs so desperately to be saved. So all the effort wasted to replicate this beauty even for a moment is wasted when it could accomplish something 'merely possible' as it were. I'll let Stephen King- a man who knows writing ain't that important- to say it for me: The best realized fictional character in the world ain't nothing but a bag of bones compared to the least realized human being.

As for the Ring I just wonder sometimes- as writers are prone to do- what if? What if Galadriel took the Ring and mastered it? What would Middle Earth be like under a Dark Queen? Like Glen Cooke's Black Company series perhaps? ("Serve the Lady!" 8))

And let's not forget- it is not Frodo's nobility that saves the world- it's Gollum's greed in desiring the Ring for himself. What does that say to Tolkien's worldview?

As for killing Sauron as he was a fallen angelous I agree they may not have been able to kill him- on the other hand they should have least tried. Killing evil is not in of itself evil. All of life must kill to survive- if only to eat. Killing Sauron would be like exectuting Osama Bin Laden, Jeffery Dahmer or the Son of Sam. You're just getting rid of something that can only cause you problems down the line.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
It raises the bar of their expectation too high. Hobbtion, Riverdale, the Entwold, Lothlorein these things are too beautiful, too graceful to be real.

Have you checked out our world of today? Redwoods, Grand Canyon, Great Wall of China, Golden Gate Bridge, Great Pyramids at Geza, and on and on.

And America is just a dream too, I suppose?

I think we can never raise our children's expectations too high.

Do the rest of you think I wrong about that? IYHO that is.
 

Castel

Mongoose
Raven Blackwell said:
Killing Sauron would be like exectuting Osama Bin Laden, Jeffery Dahmer or the Son of Sam. You're just getting rid of something that can only cause you problems down the line.

Well in that line all other countries should nuke the US since they interfere with foreign politics.

But that line doesn´t lead any where, killing sauron would have just made you the new Sauron (in JRRT view).

It´s not that easy... it´s more of a point of view, and the problem is that good and evil only exist in our minds...
 
Castel said:
Raven Blackwell said:
Killing Sauron would be like exectuting Osama Bin Laden, Jeffery Dahmer or the Son of Sam. You're just getting rid of something that can only cause you problems down the line.

Well in that line all other countries should nuke the US since they interfere with foreign politics.

Considering that the elimination of the US would in fact make thing easier for them yes, destroying her would be in their best interests from a practical point of view. History might even show destoying the US would have been the best thing to do. After with the way the US is acting these days if China is becoming Isenguard these days, America is becoming Mordor. Might it be that in a hundreds years to come the American flag could be a symbol of evil as readily indentifiable as the Nazi swastki[sp]?

But that line doesn´t lead any where, killing sauron would have just made you the new Sauron (in JRRT view).

So by his estimation every police officer, soldier and individual with the power to use lethal force in the line of their duties in the world is evil, huh?

It´s not that easy... it´s more of a point of view, and the problem is that good and evil only exist in our minds...

I have a very simple philsophy. It is helps me, I help it. If it hurts me I destroy it. If it leaves me alone I let it live. It is what I call enlightened self-interest
 
dunderm said:
It raises the bar of their expectation too high. Hobbtion, Riverdale, the Entwold, Lothlorein these things are too beautiful, too graceful to be real.

Have you checked out our world of today? Redwoods, Grand Canyon, Great Wall of China, Golden Gate Bridge, Great Pyramids at Geza, and on and on.

Nature is a wonder yes. Everything man builds just despoils Her beauty. Manhad proven again and again that unlike fictional elves and hobbit he can't co-exist and enhance natural beauty- he can only piss on it and think himself a god for doing so.

And America is just a dream too, I suppose?

:nods: Yep- after all is not America's true desire not freedom for all to rule the world and have a tiny ruling elite enriched by beggaring the rest? Come to think of it when you get right down to it isn't that almost everyone's desire?

I think we can never raise our children's expectations too high.

Really? I possessed a 3.2 GPA, came in seond in state's track and swim team finals in two events, tested at 92nd percentile in my state's education tests, read and wrote at the college level when I was in sixth grade and what did my mother say? "Where's the A? Where's the blue ribbon? Where's the 99th percentile?" Let me quote Gattaca here- "How perfect do your children have to be?" Setting the bar too high is why children give up even trying. All I have ever asked from students in magic is that they slowly improve themselves from what they were. I never ask why them why they aren't perfect yet. And yet with such 'diminshed expectations' they continue to slowly improve over time in all things, not just magic but school work and athletic accomplishments. I am hard but I am no tyrant- I never demean anyone in a misguided attempt to 'improve' them into the person I think they should be. That's nto parenting- that's sadism.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Raven Blackwell said:
Really? I possessed a 3.2 GPA, came in seond in state's track and swim team finals in two events, tested at 92nd percentile in my state's education tests, read and wrote at the college level when I was in sixth grade and what did my mother say? "Where's the A? Where's the blue ribbon? Where's the 99th percentile?" Let me quote Gattaca here- "How perfect do your children have to be?" Setting the bar too high is why children give up even trying. All I have ever asked from students in magic is that they slowly improve themselves from what they were. I never ask why them why they aren't perfect yet. And yet with such 'diminshed expectations' they continue to slowly improve over time in all things, not just magic but school work and athletic accomplishments. I am hard but I am no tyrant- I never demean anyone in a misguided attempt to 'improve' them into the person I think they should be. That's nto parenting- that's sadism.
No, this is competition.
Competition already exists in nature among animals which are fighting for their territorial environment.
The human society developped both by its rulers and ruled is so clever that it didn't make any evolution. From the competition for food in the tribal age, it becames a competition for lush and shine (polish) among individual whatever their origin and even if they belong to the same family.
In this society of semblance and appearance, people became vampire behind a mask and take pleasure in it. These are the same that those ghosts who refuse to depart because they think they're not dead and can't even imagine how unsignificant they are.
But as the vampires of legend can't sustain the sun light the vampire of semblance and hypocrisy can't sustain the truth.
 

Damien

Mongoose
I am just saying that I think it's a bad example to children. No seriously. It raises the bar of their expectation too high.

I mean no offense but.. that's absurd. It's a -story-. By your line of logic everything, everything, is a bad example to children. Any parent not smart enough to point out to a child that what he's reading is a story and not a narrative on how he should live his life is not a very good parent.

I read Lord of the Rings as a kid. I read about Alexander the Great, Attila, Vlad Tepes, J.F.K. - all the 'great men' of history and fantasy. I was practically raised on King Arthur's more fanciful tales of ultimate goodness. And you know what? I didn't grow up thinking I had to be a perfect Christian knight. As a matter of fact, I turned out to be chalk full of 'enlightened self-interest.'

Stories are stories, and any kid not smart enough to know that when they grow up deserves to live the rest of his life with an inferiority complex.


Not to mention that real people, in real life, can and have far outstripped many fantasy characters in 'moral goodness.' Perhaps we should kill these people as soon as they surface, to keep them from being a 'bad example?'

If fantasy stories of heroism inspire children to be the best of whatever they can be - that's great. But if children take these stories as gospel for how to life live - then these kids are taking the STORIES way too seriously. And that's a fault of stupid children and bad parenting - not a problem with the story itself.


I know of nothing in this world that needs so desperately to be saved.

I can think of a few things. It's all about personal perception. Your personal opinions on the world are immaterial. So are mine. It's a story. Kids no more feel they need to be like Frodo than they feel that they might get attacked by Orcs on the way to Toys R' Us.



What if Galadriel took the Ring and mastered it? What would Middle Earth be like under a Dark Queen? Like Glen Cooke's Black Company series perhaps? ("Serve the Lady!" )

I've thought about that too. I'd never thought about the Black Company parallel, but it's a good one.


And let's not forget- it is not Frodo's nobility that saves the world- it's Gollum's greed in desiring the Ring for himself. What does that say to Tolkien's worldview?

That evil is bound to destroy itself with its own unbridled passions? That's a theme in more than one fantasy world.


As for killing Sauron as he was a fallen angelous I agree they may not have been able to kill him- on the other hand they should have least tried.

I'll point out that Tolkien actually had no problem with killing evil. The theme was that it couldn't always be done.

Note that Fingolfin whole-heartedly attempted to kill Morgoth in battle.

Note that Elendil and Gil-galad died fighting Sauron, and actually managed to temporarily vanquish him.

And note that the entire quest to destroy the Ring was, in fact, a quest to kill Sauron.
 

toothill man

Mongoose
is the bar too high in these fables or can their never be a ceiling is a great question and I think the big three had this between them answered with their differant views lovecraft is we are damned what ever we do as a race and something bigger and stronger will finish us off as we are not at their level.tolkien thinks yes you fight but the past will be lost in a imperfect future.and howard has live for today grabbibg what you can while you can.which is more like you :D
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
something bigger and stronger will finish us off

tolkien thinks yes you fight but the past will be lost in a imperfect future.and howard has live for today grabbibg what you can while you can.

Well, that depends on how big the asteroid is and how soon it gets here.
 
Damien said:
Not to mention that real people, in real life, can and have far outstripped many fantasy characters in 'moral goodness.' Perhaps we should kill these people as soon as they surface, to keep them from being a 'bad example?'

No you misunderstand- I mean that fiction can give us 'unrealistic' examples. If a real person can accomplish it, than obviously it can't be an unrealistic example can it?

It's not Tolkien himself that's the problem- it's the nonsencial idea of "Good" and "Evil" that plagues the simplistic minds of the masses humanity. It allows people to seperate things into 'Us' and 'Them' and then feel no guilt about ocmmitting atrocites against 'Them' in the name of 'Good'. Right now a French(?) cartoonist is 'Evil' in the minds of many turban wearing individuals so it's an act of 'Good' to burn down buildings and attack foreigners. Nothing has done so much damage to the world as the concept of 'Good'.

It's why I like Howard. He doesn't even pretend there's a moral force in the universe. The bad things his characters do has no pretence. These chracters- even Conan- just admit they are self- serving. Thise whoi want more than they can control are destroyed- like America in the near future. Those with more modest designs gain them. A better example I think.

I know of nothing in this world that needs so desperately to be saved.

I can think of a few things. It's all about personal perception. Your personal opinions on the world are immaterial. So are mine.

Disagree with you there. You personal perceptions affect how you interact with the world. From my POV things don't need to be saved- what everyone clings to these days pervents them from making any intellectual or evolutionary progress. We're in deseperate need of a massive destruction phase to wake us out of this waking dream of passivity. And it seems Creation will help us with that. It's such a kindly parent.....Thus with this POV I am not someone to look for anything but harsh truth and my actions and opinions may seem insane to peoplw who's greatest ambitions is to be fat, lazy, rich and have a big TV, own multiple game platforms and never leave their apartment. Our perception create reality, should the will be strong enough.

It's a story. Kids no more feel they need to be like Frodo than they feel that they might get attacked by Orcs on the way to Toys R' Us.

Sane children yes. Sanity levels are a might low these day though. Just peruse the news for a while to find examples. Or a gaming convention. People retreat into internal fantasies to escape life. That's why I have players and this forum has people. That's also why save for a small on-line game that's more of an experiment involving the use of Raven's Rules than a serious commitiment I don't play games for the most part and almost never read fantasy any more. I feel no need to create a false sanctuary since I am strong enough to take the pain in this world others flee from.

Looking back at this in game terms I think I have the view point of a sorcerer with 3-4 Points of Corruption....8)
 

Damien

Mongoose
No you misunderstand- I mean that fiction can give us 'unrealistic' examples. If a real person can accomplish it, than obviously it can't be an unrealistic example can it?

I understood perfectly. I'm saying it makes no sense. It's like saying that the number 10 is too high, but 12 is just fine. That because a character is fictional - anything he accomplishes is too great a standard, but if a real person accomplishes something even greater - then that's a perfectly acceptable standard.

So I shouldn't be expected to uphold a code of personal honour simply because Sturm Brightblade did it, but I should be expected to conquer most of the known world - because Alexander the Great did it.


But again, I'll point out, fictional characters are part of stories. Stories are meant to be enjoyed. I've yet to see any author, any literary professor, or even any person, claim that fictional stories are narratives on how to live our lives. They're just stories meant to be enjoyed.


It's not Tolkien himself that's the problem- it's the nonsencial idea of "Good" and "Evil" that plagues the simplistic minds of the masses humanity.

Again - stories. Stories are not real life. If the 'masses of humanity' are plagued by a simplistic view of morality it isn't because they got it from stories. Indeed, those stories are a reflection of the 'masses of humanity's' belief (or desire for belief) in moral absolutes.

In The Devil's Notebook Anton LaVey discusses this - the good guy badge. Moral absolutism is a way for people to define themselves as good, and for them to be good there must be something that is evil. So moral absolutes in fiction are a reflection of that desire - to have something that simply is good. That's one of the reasons it's fantasy. We all know that true 'good' doesn't really exist, at least in the sense that it exists in Tolkien's works (or any other fantasy world, for that matter).

If you're turned off by that particular outlook, that's fine. But to gripe about it is silly. It's fiction. Stories. That's all. Just stories meant to be enjoyed. If some people enjoy stories with moral absolutes, or cosmic truth to good and evil - great. More power to them. I don't believe in moral absolutes, but I can still enjoy a story about a pious knight killing an evil dragon. It's just a story.




Nothing has done so much damage to the world as the concept of 'Good'.

I would disagree. The concept of 'good' is just a concept. An idea. It is -how it is used- that makes it hard to swallow. And how it is used in real life has no relevance to how it is used in fiction - in stories that exist only to entertain. I would agree with you whole-heartedly if we were talking about a non-fiction philosophy book written to tell people how they should live and act. But we're not talking about a manual on how to be a good person - we're talking about fictional stories that are written to entertain.

I don't believe in God - but I still think Christopher Walken was great in The Prophecy. You must learn to separate real life from fiction.




Thise whoi want more than they can control are destroyed- like America in the near future.

Perhaps America will be destroyed in the near future. Or perhaps the government will be overthrown and 'fixed' so that it is once again designed to protect the people rather than police the planet. Who knows. It has no bearing on Howard. Howard's works are ultimately about civilization continuously collapsing under its own weight, and it's quite possible that such a pretense is no more 'realistic' than moral absolutes. In order for Howard to be any more 'correct' than Tolkien, we would have to live to see civilization collapse entirely and man devolve. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. Until it -does- happen (or until someone proves that it already happened way back before recorded history) then Howard's works are just as much fantasy as Tolkien's.

Different kinds of fantasy. Different kinds of fiction entirely. But still fiction.


Disagree with you there. You personal perceptions affect how you interact with the world.

But we're not talking about interacting with the real world. We're talking about how one enjoys or views a fantasy setting with a fantasy cosmology and fictional characters. Whether or not you can enjoy stories about something is not (or should not be) affected by your personal perceptions of the real world. That's why it's fiction - it doesn't require you to agree. I know a LOT of Satanists that adore The Lord of the Rings as a great story, but would fervently disagree with virtually every moral situation and pretense in the book. Because they are able to separate their real-life views from the situations in a fictional world.




From my POV things don't need to be saved- what everyone clings to these days pervents them from making any intellectual or evolutionary progress.

So maybe it is the concepts of intellectual and evolutionary progress that need to be saved?

Who knows. But believing nothing is worth saving, in my opinion, is a scapegoat to excuse doing nothing and serving no purpose.



Thus with this POV I am not someone to look for anything but harsh truth and my actions and opinions may seem insane to peoplw who's greatest ambitions is to be fat, lazy, rich and have a big TV, own multiple game platforms and never leave their apartment.

Perhaps. Or perhaps your point of view allows you to sit idly by, content to say that nothing is worth fighting for. So you're allowing the world, by your own passivity, to continue to be a cesspool of big TVs and fat white businessmen. You have to look at it from all angles. Oftentimes people use their personal views, whatever those views are, as an excuse to do absolutely nothing.

To me, "these people are all wrong and the world will right itself" sounds a lot like "I'm just going to sit here and not try to change anything myself, content that something else will come along and do it for me."


Sane children yes. Sanity levels are a might low these day though.

Yep. And it's called Natural Selection. Little Timmy reads stories about knights, grows up, keeps reading stories, and goes about his life in whatever way suits him best. Little Johnny reads stories about knights, grows up and starts killing people that he thinks are evil. Timmy lives to breed, Johnny gets the Death Penalty in Texas and doesn't get to breed.

It's Darwinian.


People retreat into internal fantasies to escape life. That's why I have players and this forum has people.

I take affrond to those types of mindless accusations. On the most negative end - people read fantasy or play RPGs to retreat from real life. On the most negative end people smoke and drink because they're addicted and alcoholics.

On the positive side - people read fantasy because they enjoy being entertained by a good story, smoke and drink because they like the taste.

To assign a single motive or rationale to a hugely diverse group of people is borderlien criminally stupid. For my part - I read fantasy and play the Conan Roleplaying Game for the same reason that I watched The Wedding Crashers yesterday; I enjoy a good story. My life is full and complete. I'm engaged to a wonderful woman, my house will be finished at the end of this month (I take possession February 24th!), have a car that I like, etc. And you know what? I still like a good story. It has nothing to do with escape.

And to claim otherwise is to insult the time-honoured tradition of story-telling. Anglo-Saxons didn't sit around listening to tales of war to escape reality (because, in fact, what they were hearing about was their reality) but rather because they enjoyed the heroics - the stories. Stories are exactly that - stories. How and why someone enjoys a story is entirely up to their personality and situation.

If someone only reads fantasy novels to escape real life - that's unfortunate. I pity such people for having less-than-satisfactory lives (while at the same time having contempt for them, as they clearly are not making an effort to have a better life). But to assign their motive to every person that reads, writes, or 'plays' fantasy is ludicrous.




That's also why save for a small on-line game that's more of an experiment involving the use of Raven's Rules than a serious commitiment I don't play games for the most part and almost never read fantasy any more.


That's your choice. I find it sad that you weren't able to separate 'escape' from 'enjoyment.' I think your life would be much fuller if you could tell the difference. But it's your decision to make. Do what you will. In my opinion the gaming community really doesn't need people who are rather intent on denigrating the hobby. But that's just my .. point of view.



I feel no need to create a false sanctuary since I am strong enough to take the pain in this world others flee from.

Possibly. But from what I've garnered from your posts you create a false sanctuary right here. Maybe you don't see it - but verbally assaulting people while engaging in a form of self-aggrandizement over the internet is a form of escapism. Usually such personality 'quirks' come from a feeling of helplessness and insecurity in real life.


Looking back at this in game terms I think I have the view point of a sorcerer with 3-4 Points of Corruption....

I would tend to think, rather, that you just have a bad attitude and instead of admitting it (or realizing it) you cower behind the pretense of enlightened self-interest and a realistic view of the world.

Just my point of view. And I don't mean to put your own character on trial, but in all fairness, you are the one that continually brings up your character in discussions rather than keeping on the subject matter.


And those were just some of my point of view.
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
Damien, I just couldn't read all of that long missive of yours, sorry. But what's wrong with bringing up your character stats? Far as I can remenber, we are discussing RPGs here and how they compare to Howard, Tolkein, and Lovecraft. Given this, I think talking about your character is right on target.
 

Damien

Mongoose
Damien, I just couldn't read all of that long missive of yours, sorry. But what's wrong with bringing up your character stats? Far as I can remenber, we are discussing RPGs here and how they compare to Howard, Tolkein, and Lovecraft. Given this, I think talking about your character is right on target.

What the hell are you talking about?

When I referred to Raven's character, I was referring to her personality - character - the combination of qualities that identifies a person. Sheesh. If you can't be bothered to even read the post - it's best not to comment. If you'd read the post, you'd of known what was meant by the word 'character.'
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
Don't cuss at me puddin, I don't think you've read your extremely long winded tirade, if you had, perhaps you would have just not sent it.

Besides your wrong, fiction reflects our own perceptions of reality, and we react to what we read exactly as we would in real life.

Much of what a writer puts on paper has many underlying truths about who we are, that is why we enjoy reading these stories. We can relate.

If you want to throw away the value of fiction, by a simple expressions, "it's only fiction" then you have a lot to learn.
 

Damien

Mongoose
Don't cuss at me puddin

First of all, kiddo, 'Hell' hasn't been a swear-word since the 50's. Get with the times.

I don't think you've read your extremely long winded tirade, if you had, perhaps you would have just not sent it.

What on earth...? How exactly would I go about writing something without seeing what I said? Do you think that I tied a blindfold around my eyes and typed with my feet? C'mon.


Besides your wrong, fiction reflects our own perceptions of reality, and we react to what we read exactly as we would in real life.

It most certainly does not reflect our perceptions of reality. It's fantasy. The point of it is to not reflect reality too closely. I've created fantasy worlds for RPGs that had moral absolutism as a concept - and I don't believe in moral absolutes in any way, shape, or form.

Likewise, if you're reacting to a fantasy setting's underlying concepts then you're not reacting as you would in real life - you're reacting to something that's entirely behind the scenes. In this case, for example, Raven is reacting to how the world is designed, not how the characters act in that world (suffice to say). Forming an opinion about a FANTASY WORLD based on how you believe the REAL WORLD functions is not reacting to what you read - it's judging the material on merits it was not designed to be measured against.


Much of what a writer puts on paper has many underlying truths about who we are, that is why we enjoy reading these stories. We can relate.

Of course it has underlying truths (in some instances - it's not always the case) and of course we can relate (in some instances). But it is still just fiction and not social commentary. Writing about a world of moral absolutes does not mean you believe that the real world functions under moral absolutes, in the same way that writing about dragons does not mean you actually believe in dragons.




If you want to throw away the value of fiction, by a simple expressions, "it's only fiction" then you have a lot to learn.

Throw away the value of fiction? I'm -defending- the value of fiction as entertainment.


Here's a tip for you, kiddo - if you're going to critique someone's thoughts and responses, try actually reading and understanding them first. Your comments make it crystal clear that you didn't even bother to grasp the conversation that was going on, and decided to respond to something completely out of the context of the discussion. I suggest either -READING- the discussion or not commenting on that which you have no grasp of.

No offense meant, but honestly now!
 

Mark Dunder

Mongoose
Ok, you're the boss. I'm sure lots of people out there are not too interested in what you or I have to say about fiction or fantasy, or fiction-fantasy, or fantasy that is not fiction, and "hell" is a cuss word around my house, depending on the context. And you puddin, cussed.
 
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