Thursday, December 26, 2002

Antidotal has some interesting comments on the attempt by some to read a pro-war agenda into the Lord Of The Rings movies:
If, regardless of the disanalogies, we do decide to pursue the risky business of attempting to draw themes from fantasy worlds that can be applicable to ours, I should note that such hermeneutics can cut many ways. It’s just as easy to draw heavily anti-war themes from Tolkien as it is to draw the hawkish themes that Instapundit wants to see: war is only tolerable if it is absolutely and truly inevitable (i.e. when it is carried by the soulless forces of ultimate, unwordly evil); evil is characterized by imperialistic, expansionist aims and the desire for (or current possession of) overwhelming force. Evil also always strikes first. The most dovish symbol of all is perhpas the central trope of the One Ring, a good example of WMD if there ever was one: it can only be handled safely (and even then only temporarily) by an intensely pacifistic, agrarian, inward-regarding, and unambitious people who have no aspirations whatever for shaping the world in their image or for spreading their culture. The only safe way of dealing with the Ring is not to insure that it is in the hands of trustworthy people with good intentions, but rather to destroy it utterly, for its power inevitably corrupts even the purest of heart.
I, like Eric Tam, hold LOTR close to my heart. It was the first book I remember reading from cover to cover. It was probably one of the top five influences on the person I turned out to be. And I, similarly, am offended by those who try to use its message of resistance to evil and the power of the individual to make a difference in the world as justification for the current actions of the Bush administration. LOTR might be a good counter to extreme pacificism, but it is not and never will be a call to pre-emptive aggression against potential enemies. To suggest that the plight of Rohan is akin to that of the United States is as gross a misreading of the story as I can imagine.


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