Heaven: I feel I ought to like this but I DON'T

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  • The Silmarillion is Wagner's Ring cycle of literature. Same tone, same sturm und drang same interplay of gods and monsters, same high tragedy and inescapable doom.

    Perhaps it is best consumed on the first go like one should first experience The Ring: In four parts, spaced a year apart. Not over a four day weekend at Bayreuth.

    AFF

    But the amazing, addictive, euphoric thing about Wagner's Ring is the music. I haven't read The Silmarillion (I have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings*), but without Wagner's score it can't be comparable.

    I also disagree about seeing The Ring over four years. It definitely should be seen within a week (four days in a row is too much for the singers, conductor, and instrumentalists).

    *I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings twice while in college and again when I was in my 30s, but have no desire to read it again, or to see any movie version.

  • The movies just added to the Meh!

    Or is it merde?

    I don't ever remember LoTR fans hiding in the catacombs. It was always unaccountably popular. Particularly with nerds.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited August 2018
    But I am a nerd. Always have been. Always will be. You know I play D&D as well, I trust? And have spent months of my life on RPG design?

    Now football, that's truly inexplicable. Dullness distilled and delivered with dull dullness.
  • Sure. I had you down as a nerd, Karl. Not that I'm pointing the finger. I'm one too, only in a different way.

    Way back in a 1970s 6th form in a bog-standard comprehensive, the kids who were into LoTR were generally into concept albums, Pink Floyd, Genesnores and Wishbone Ash.

    They were mostly doing physics and chemistry.

    The art teacher was big on LoTR, Gormenghast and Jethro Tull and that rubbed off on some of us arty crowd.

    Meanwhile, bubbling up from below, it was Anarchy in the UK and the onset of Punk ...

    And not before time. Although the whole thing has been exaggerated out of all proportion by London journalists. Very few of us were cool, truth be told and both things coexisted at the same time.

    On LoTR, I'm not sure why it didn't float my boat. I was into Gormenghast and that's pretty turgid and crepuscular. I can sort of get it. My daughter introduced me to Skyrim and I could see the point of that, only I either ended up running away from the baddies or shooting innocent bystanders by mistake.

    I really dunno why I never took to Tolkein.

    On the Dickens thing, I mainly find him a big yawn too, although Great Expectations is a good un.

    Austen? I like Emma but can take or leave the others.

    I have to say, though, that it puzzles me when people say they find the prose of classical literature and worthy novels impenetrable when Tolkein's prose is the literary equivalent of treacle mixed with egg custard and a dollop of cowpat mixed in with added lumpy bits to make it even more indigestible.

    If you're talking sparkling prose then Hemingway's too sparse whereas Scott Fitzgerald nails it every time.
  • Good football is brilliant! Learn some of the rules and watch the beauty of the game. It's less boring than cricket at Lords - (ouch!) don't throw thongs at me please.

    As to fantasy and SF: I grew out of in my late teens after reading everything published then (books were my way out of a difficult family life). Now I'm bored with then all.

    Yes, the word is "merde." French for ********. Very useful. Actually said as a good luck charm before dancers do on stage(!!!!!!)

    As to Wagner.................................................I remember when Scottish Opera did the whole Ring Cycle many years ago. We took flasks of tea. The sound of snoring throughout the King''s Theatre was better than the music.

    We are told by other Christians that we should love Tolkin and CS Lewis. Well I don't!
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    I know the rules of football. They made me play it at school. It's still boring. There just isn't anything interesting about a man kicking a ball, no matter how he does it.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Regarding Tolkien's prose - I find it straightforward. The "Classic" novels seem to have prose which goes round and round the point without ever getting to it. A coach can't seem to go down a lane without a thousand adjectives describing the exact shade of the paintwork and the angle of the broken nose of someone it overtakes.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    WildHaggis wrote: »
    We are told by other Christians that we should love Tolkin and CS Lewis. Well I don't!

    I have never been told this, but I found that the stories reflected the stories I knew - the Bible stories. The stories of Good and Evil. The stories of quests.

    So, for me, it was a natural progression.
  • Interesting Karl, but I have the opposite reaction to Tolkein's prose. His characters take 500 years to reach the top of a mountain and bugger all happens when they get there.

    I can understand why people might not like Jane Austen, for instance but I defy anyone to take issue with the succinctness of her prose. Emma Woodhouse, 'handsome, clever and rich.'

    There. You've got her in a short phrase, a masterpiece of concision.

    I'll grant that Melville's torturous and Dickens can be flatulent but I'm struggling to think of many of the classics where the prose is as convoluted as you claim. Hardy can be hard going at times. HG Wells is pretty mixed. D H Lawrence can be purple and somewhat ...well, overblown.

    I suppose it depends on what era we're talking about. Most 19th century prose can be flowery. Get into the 20th century and things becoming sharper, for all the experimentation.

    I've mentioned Scott Fitzgerald. There are passages of The Great Gatsby that are breathtaking.

    We've mentioned poetry yet. Any takers?

  • Even some of Tolkein's kindest critics note that up to 50% of his novels consist of landscape descriptions. There are only so many ways you can describe a bunch of dwarves and Hobbits climbing a bloody steep hill.

    If it's clarity of prose we're after then it's got to be Orwell or Graham Green.
  • On LoTR, I'm not sure why it didn't float my boat. I was into Gormenghast and that's pretty turgid and crepuscular.
    I'm not sure that word means what you think it means.
  • Even some of Tolkein's kindest critics note that up to 50% of his novels consist of landscape descriptions. There are only so many ways you can describe a bunch of dwarves and Hobbits climbing a bloody steep hill.

    This is hardly surprising for a man who invented four languages and their alphabets and then decided he needed to create a universe they were spoken in.

    Tolkien's work for me was never really about the narrative arc. For me it has always been about his Creation. In fact, great swaths of his work leave so much of the action to the imagination. Whole eras of character interaction and activity are left completely to the imagination, and that suits me just fine.

    But on the other side of things, it does leave the door open for people like Peter Jackson to fill in the blanks with his particular vision (like The Hobbit becomes the story of a disgruntled Dwarf prince instead of the story of Bilbo Baggins) and force us to entertain the notion of Wood Elf princesses falling in love with dwarves.

    Some things are just better left unembellished by fan fiction.

    AFF

  • I know exactly what it means, thank you very much and it's one I used deliberately as it's one Peake used a fair bit.

    What did you think I meant by it?

    I wasn't using it as a synonym to 'turgid' if that's what you thought.

    I can understand why you might think that given the way I introduced it in that sentence but I can assure you I know exactly what I mean.
  • Don't get me wrong, I don't think Tolkein is shite.

    Just because LoTR doesn't appeal to me doesn't mean it shouldn't do so to anyone else.

  • Since you ask, I'm irresistibly moved to say that I thought you meant "craptacular." "Of the twilight" just seems an odd way to describe writing.
  • I know exactly what it means, thank you very much and it's one I used deliberately as it's one Peake used a fair bit.

    What did you think I meant by it?

    I wasn't using it as a synonym to 'turgid' if that's what you thought.

    I can understand why you might think that given the way I introduced it in that sentence but I can assure you I know exactly what I mean.
    Ghormengast only takes place at sunrise and sunset?
  • WildHaggis wrote: »
    As to Wagner.................................................I remember when Scottish Opera did the whole Ring Cycle many years ago. We took flasks of tea. The sound of snoring throughout the King''s Theatre was better than the music.

    That says more about the audience than it does about Wagner's music.

    When I saw the full Ring Cycle a couple of months ago, I was not aware of any snoring, nor was there any when I saw Das Rheingold locally this spring. Even the dress rehearsal for Das Rheingold -- the hall was packed with teenagers and I was concerned that there would be talking and distracting lights from them texting. I did not hear a sound (except appropriate responses to what was happening on stage), I did not see the light from a single screen, and the minute the final note ended I heard more applause and cheering than I've ever heard at any other performance.
  • Peake uses the word 'crepuscular' every 15 seconds.

    I could have used the term Gothick to refer to his writing. I was applying the term more to Peake's themes than his writing style, grotesque characters creeping around unfeasibly Gothick corridors at dusk ...

    But I can see how I gave the impression I was referring to his prose style.

    My bad, as the Americans say.

    Would I enjoy Peake if I read him now as a grumpy old git rather than a teenager? I doubt it.

    Would I enjoy Tolkein more if I read him now rather than as a callow yoof?

    Not sure.
  • Poetry: what about John Donne, Shamus Henney, Douglas Dunn, D H Lawrence (think is poetry is better than his prose). You can dip in and out of poetry.

    Just read Zadie Smith's "Swing Time" fab.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    Tolkien's work for me was never really about the narrative arc. For me it has always been about his Creation. In fact, great swaths of his work leave so much of the action to the imagination. Whole eras of character interaction and activity are left completely to the imagination, and that suits me just fine.

    Hello like mind! Yes.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Tolkien's work for me was never really about the narrative arc. For me it has always been about his Creation. In fact, great swaths of his work leave so much of the action to the imagination. Whole eras of character interaction and activity are left completely to the imagination, and that suits me just fine.

    Hello like mind! Yes.

    Up to a point, but I'd also love ten minutes with a reliable medium (i.e. this is entirely fantasy because there ain't no such thing) to resolve a few issues, such as whether the Dark Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits survived into our time, what the actual origin of the Orcs was, and whether the early chapters of the Silmarillion were actually a historical record by the Elves or a mannish legend of later times containing entirely mythological elements.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Peake uses the word 'crepuscular' every 15 seconds.

    I could have used the term Gothick to refer to his writing. I was applying the term more to Peake's themes than his writing style, grotesque characters creeping around unfeasibly Gothick corridors at dusk ...

    Actually, I have a bit of a problem, an unscratchable itch if you like, with Gormenghast. Its place in a wider history and geography. Where was it meant to be? When? Who made the First Earl an Earl? Where is the rather more modern country in Titus Alone?

    I know most people would wonder why that's such an issue. It just is; it's in my wiring.

  • Marlon Brando, any film with him in it. Worst of the lot Mutiny on the Bounty which he ruined.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Marlon Brando, any film with him in it. Worst of the lot Mutiny on the Bounty which he ruined.

    You've probably not read Dr & Quinch's Guide to Life, but one of the stories therein is set on a planet that makes movies, which by a totally, like, mindboggling coincidence, is also named Hollywood. A lead actor there is called Marlon. He's completely unable to read so can't learn the script, but this has gone completely unnoticed in his career because no-one can understand a word he says anyway.
  • Well, I can't re-wire you, Karl ...

    On the poetry thing I can't tell whether WH is promoting those poets or saying that we 'ought' to like them but don't.

    Which is rather the poiny of this thread.

    'I know I'm supposed to like X but it does nothing for me ...' sort of thing.

    Rather than, 'I like Y. It's great.'

    Where would be the fun in that?

    Meanwhile, yes, it bothered me mildly as to where the modern part of the world was in Titus Alone, but didn't stop it getting in the way.

    I suspect I'm wired very differently to Karl. It takes all sorts ...
  • Things I feel I ought to like but just don't?

    Cake.

    I love the idea of it, and the visual presentation, but I can barely get through the second bite before wishing I hadn't bothered.
  • Marlon Brando, any film with him in it. Worst of the lot Mutiny on the Bounty which he ruined.

    I will NOT see any of his movies.

    When we were studying Julius Caesar in school, the film with Brando as Mark Antony was probably the only version available, so we watched it. That is probably one of the reasons I never liked Julius Caesar until I saw a live version. (I'm looking forward to another live performance of it later this month!)


  • Things I feel I ought to like but just don't?

    Cake.

    I love the idea of it, and the visual presentation, but I can barely get through the second bite before wishing I hadn't bothered.

    Same.
  • A lot of music. I do not like background music when I am out, I never listen to music when I am in the car, and very seldom at home. Do not care for musicals, live or movies. I like hymns in church, and some classical music in concert but do not include much music in my life. One or two pieces at a time does it for me. In other words I might enjoy a song or two but do not want to listen to a whole CD. at once. Never download anything, do not have a play list. Not sure why.
  • KarlLB wrote: »

    Up to a point, but I'd also love ten minutes with a reliable medium (i.e. this is entirely fantasy because there ain't no such thing) to resolve a few issues, such as whether the Dark Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits survived into our time, what the actual origin of the Orcs was, and whether the early chapters of the Silmarillion were actually a historical record by the Elves or a mannish legend of later times containing entirely mythological elements.

    Ah yes it is to dream that Tolkien himself would be as immortal as the work that survives him, so that he could flesh out these scenarios ad infinitum for our entertainment and edification.

    I personally would love to see the Lay of Beren and Luthien set to music and presented as an opera.

    AFF

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited August 2018
    Okay, maybe someone can help me figure this one out, because it's always kid of puzzled me.

    I don't like Vincent van Gogh.

    But it's not because I dislike Post-Impressionism, since I like some stuff by Gauguin and Matisse, for example.

    And it's not because I dislike his subject matter, since I don't mind paintings of night skies(eg. Whistler) or the interiors of rooms(eg. Edward Hopper) etc.

    But something about Van Gogh's style just doesn't hit my brain at the right angle.

    Apologies to Don McLean.
  • LeoLeo Shipmate
    Anything by C. S. Lewis
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited August 2018
    Leo wrote: »
    Anything by C. S. Lewis

    And on the other side of the theological aisle, I've just been re-browsing through Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not A Christian.

    The titular essay was apparently given as a lecture to the National Secular Society, but I would find it laughable if Russell was telling them anything they had never heard before(given the name of their organization). The arguments are in the vicinity of "If the universe needed God to create it, who created God?"

  • Urrrm ... Karl, you are aware that LoTR is fiction aren't you?

    ;)

    Meanwhile AFF has just ruined my day. I won't sleep tonight at the thought of LoTR being 'immortal' and inspiring and entertaining geeks for generations to come ...

    No! nooo-ohhh! Please, no! no!
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited August 2018
    Urrrm ... Karl, you are aware that LoTR is fiction aren't you?

    ;)

    Meanwhile AFF has just ruined my day. I won't sleep tonight at the thought of LoTR being 'immortal' and inspiring and entertaining geeks for generations to come ...

    No! nooo-ohhh! Please, no! no!

    It's fiction, but set in a world which is a creation of its own. These are questions Tolkien himself actually wrestled with. Having done some world-creation myself I've found that in a weird way it's more like discovery than invention. That can be the difference between good and bad fantasy - in good fantasy you feel like the world exists beyond the times and places you can see; in bad fantasy it feels like the author is making it up as he goes along. In good fantasy, therefore, questions like "how do Trolls reproduce?" feel like they have meaning.

    And as long as professional sports exist, no-one is in a position to complain about what geeks perpetuate to entertain themselves.
  • Ha ha. If I had a shield that would be its motto...probably in Latin.
  • MMMMMM Shipmate
    Stetson, I don't like Van Gogh either.

    Or Turner.

    MMM
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Back to the OP - any environment described as "vibrant". Everyone uses it positively but as far as I can gather it means crowded, noisy and with a slight constant menace of being robbed, or at least conned. As in London.
  • mt--
    mousethief wrote: »
    Golden Key wrote: »
    I started reading it on my own in grade school. I think I could probably handle the story. But I kept tripping over the anononyms: "Count Z--", etc. So I quit.
    The wot?

    LOL. I couldn't figure out a word for anonomyzing names the way "War & Peace" did. Then "anononyms" popped into my head. (Like pseudonym, etc.)

    I just now did a search. Found that the singular form is someone's user ID.

  • Karl--
    KarlLB wrote: »

    You've probably not read Dr & Quinch's Guide to Life, but one of the stories therein is set on a planet that makes movies, which by a totally, like, mindboggling coincidence, is also named Hollywood. A lead actor there is called Marlon. He's completely unable to read so can't learn the script, but this has gone completely unnoticed in his career because no-one can understand a word he says anyway.

    Terry Pratchett did a Disc World book called "Moving Pictures", wherein someone in Ankh-Morpork figures out how to make them, and their form of Hollywood unfolds. It's both hilarious and thoughtful. And the Librarian is a major character.
    (grin) (cool)
  • Fair points, Karl and I'd agree that fantasy writers like Tolkein and Pratchett do successfully create worlds which the reader can inhabit and not just visit, as it were. I can certainly see that.

    It's a bit like the difference between a Patrick O'Brian naval action novel and a Sharpe novel by the formulaically successful Cornwell.

    O'Brian's work isn't to everyone's taste but the characters have depth, the naval detail is convincing and there aren't set-piece action sequences every 5 minutes incase the reader gets bored.

    On the sport thing - I'm not at all sporty but I can understand the attraction. I got quite into the World Cup this year. I can certainly understand how it appeals to people and draws them in.

    I can also understand how Tolkein and Pratchett and so on appeal to people even though they don't particularly appeal to me.

    I tease. Tiresomely.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    KarlLB wrote: »
    any environment described as "vibrant"
    Or any congregation described as "small but vibrant and growing", which means (as has been pointed out before) three old ladies and an incontinent cat.
  • This is no doubt a tangent but LOTR is probably best viewed as Tolkien's way of exorcising the memory of the Great War, in which, as he remarked 'All my friends died before I was 21.' It would be an interesting study to compare and contrast Robert Graves' 'Goodbye to all That' and David Jones' 'In Parenthesis' as ways of achieving the same object - in Jones' case the attempt actually precipitated a breakdown.
  • Interesting parallels, Eirenist. The David Jones one in particular, how he delves into the 'myth-kitty' to makes sense of it all.

    'Tell us about Methusalem, Taffy ...'

    It's a good while since I've read Graves but I read Wilfred Owen and 'In Parenthesis' almost liturgically each November ...

    'And each slow dusk, a drawing down of blinds.'

    'But sweet Sister Death has gone debauched today and stalks on this high ground with strumpet confidence, makes no coy veiling of her appetite but leers from you to me with all her parts discovered.'

    Bloo-dy hell fire ...

    I have to say, I find The Anathemata pretty incomprehensible but Auden reckoned you'd need to read it at least 8 times to get the gist. I've managed it 3 times. Just 5 to go ...

    Graves is due a come back I think ...
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    MMM wrote: »
    Stetson, I don't like Van Gogh either.

    Or Turner.

    MMM

    Interesting. I actually don't mind Turner, at least as far as fling-a-pot-of-paint-in your-face impressionists go.

  • Beer. I just can't work out what people get out of it.

    In a way, coffee. I will drink the occasional cup and enjoy it, but other people seem to have an almost religious experience from it. I don't get what people mean by good coffee as opposed to bad coffee, like there is something objectively good or bad in it. Isn't it just subjective personal preference? Or maybe I am just missing the Coffee Receptor in my brain.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited August 2018
    Beer. I just can't work out what people get out of it.

    In a way, coffee. I will drink the occasional cup and enjoy it, but other people seem to have an almost religious experience from it. I don't get what people mean by good coffee as opposed to bad coffee, like there is something objectively good or bad in it. Isn't it just subjective personal preference? Or maybe I am just missing the Coffee Receptor in my brain.

    I think you don't like bitter tastes. 75% cocoa dark or milk chocolate?

    Good coffee will always be real, ground as recently as possible. Bad coffee is exemplified by instant. So there's something objective there. If you can't distinguish Mellow Birds from, well, actual coffee, then something odd is going on.

    Beer - proper beer, not canned horse widdle - is life, well, it and cheese.
  • I've had dark chocolate (e.g. Lindt) that I really love, but I had some the other day that was painfully dark. I think you're right, maybe it's the bitterness thing.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    If it makes you feel better you may be a supertaster - how are you on brassicas, especially sprouts?
  • Tolkein. Any of it.

    I'm with the assistant at his publisher who, on hearing that the Great Man had just delivered his latest manuscript, was heard to mutter not more f**king elves.
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