Tag Archives: tolkien

On Fairytales, Romantic Fantasy and the Bourgeois

When in my twenties I belatedly came into real contact with the Punk movement and related underground anti bourgeois drug-taking communities and thought worlds, I immediately knew I wanted very little to do with this possible way of being, this psychic underbelly as I saw it… I aspired to the upper realms, in philosophy a Platonist, in imagination a Romantic, a High Fantasy lover (well, for good or ill almost exclusively Tolkien and C.S.Lewis).

So for 20 years or so I’ve been, with elder brother John, writing and now drawing the story of a quest in that higher level – volume one of which, The Girl and the Guardian, is a hero and heroine’s quest for the restoration of the Grail – which in this story is the Lost Heartstone of the Tree of Life. There is a lot in it about learning the traditions of the Old Ways of the Eutopian Order of the Makers, and a Restoration of the Balance in a new Age which is similar to the old Golden age. If that is bourgeois- then ironically I, the sociophobe, shy rebel, and Eutopian dreamer, AM  bourgeois – conservative, where compatible with reason.

It is to me the main, and sufficient, justification for Conservatism that we must at all costs avoid throwing the baby of nobility and truth and the social support structures thereof, out with the bourgeois bathwater.

We touch here on matters of faith… I am sorry if I hurt friends of old by the vehemence of my rejection of any tendencies to glorification of the antihero, of degenerate ways, of anti-platonism and relativism; or, in the last four years since Trump, my approval of much that he stands for, and disapproval of what he (mostly) stands against. I accept that early experiences can make a person feel a need to dwell on the ‘lower’ levels to sort out their victimhood and alienation, and that there they may also find consolations and fellowship. And to (vehemently) champion any and all ‘underdogs’, alligning with the so-called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ and ‘Social Marxists’.

But I would always wish to lead – indeed seduce – through stories if not arguments – these disadvantaged and victimised, and all who will listen, towards the higher ground from which they can see the stars. My parents had a poster on the wall (before they took us to live on a Papuan mission school settlement after they watched a movie The Sky above and the Mud Below) with this poem:

Two men looked through prison bars

One saw mud, the other, stars.

I always knew which man I wanted to be. This aesthetic and later ethical allegiance was a big ingredient of the fuel for this long and winding journey of my brother and I to create our own truly romantic epic fantasy – we believe it’s ‘true’ in the end – more true than the allegiance to the ‘mud’. We believe that the metaphysical stars are wo/man’s destiny, while loving the earth, and yes even the mud in its place as the nurturing place of the lotus roots… hence the major theme in our Apples of Aeden of the Restoration of the Balance – Earth and Sky, Feminine and Masculine, Yin and Yang, Anima and Animus. The lost soul is the separated half-human, alienated from its Other Half  (the male from the female especially – females can more easily compensate I think). That is partly why our epic is an advance (metaphysically, not necessarily in any other way!) on our acknowledged master of High Fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien; and also, thinking about it, C. S. Lewis. Apples of Aeden strives for a portrayal of a time before the great Schism of the genders, and what its healing would look like. It is an attempt to rediscover the Goddess, and reunite Her with the God. It also avoids the hateful heresy against morality and logic of portraying any sentient thinking life form, be he orc or monster, as created to be evil, without moral or ethical conscience or ability to become better than their biological heritage would tend to make them. Our human biological heritage after all has many ghastly tendencies!

So, I labour on, this part of the journey being to illustrate a shortened version of volume one, with a projected 80 or so pen and ink drawings. I’m up to about 42 now… If anyone wants to see these or to read the epic in short or long form, follow this blog! There will be news here of any location for updates, new illustrations, and announcements of the new illustrated edition of volume one, a shortened The Girl and the Guardian.
For the long version, free or cheap, see Smashwords or Amazon or Apple – see the links in the menu of this blog. Also, for $3.99 each, volumes two, three and four. From some of their high points, I hope you can see the stars.

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Homemaking, the Last Homely House, and the meaning of Life

Raewyn had a home day yesterday – we both had colds. It was sunny so we went outside and pruned the big appletree. It was good… Raewyn looked so nice up in the appletree I wanted to share this photo…

raewyn pruning the Appletree apple tree 26 8 15

I have been thinking about modern art, the agreement (seemingly) reflected in it that beauty is ‘only skin-deep’; and how much I hate this view, which is so unthankful and based on some kind of dumb reductionist demand that anything that is good or beautiful must be good in essence, the same through and through, instead of the process kaleidoscope that all physical things are. And I started to think a Homely House is a good and beautiful place where the vision of ideal Beauty and Truth and Goodness is forever being aimed at, never fully achieved, but it’s all right, there is enough there to keep us happy – if we don’t dwell on the gaps but on what is actually there – including the good intentions of the home-makers who are holding that kaleidescope of meaning for themselves and others to enjoy. I thought how all those alienated souls in our culture who lack a sense of home (and we all have a home of some sort) therefore lack the experience of it, and hence lack a sense of meaning in life. The meaning comes in the practice of good things. The practice of the Homely… But I am of course just a ‘romantic’ and don’t speak the ‘language of Art’ as one smug Ponsonby art dealer once informed me. As they informed Tolkien… Well I am with Tolkien, Middle Earth, and the Last Homely House.

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A Bio page as personal manifesto

Today I was lured back into the realm of writing if only to add an ‘author profile’ to the Amazon UK site, after an unprecedented overnight spike in sales there (well, 6 actual paid sales at 99c each), spurred me out of my deep resignation at the jadedness of the web book consumers of the world. Here’s what I wrote. It was fun! Almost I inspire myself to finish the last 100 pages of the edits of the Apples of Aeden, Volume IV… How much difference a little positive feedback via sales or reviews or even LIKES or ratings can have on us! So many free downloaders, so few reviewers! I mean, like at least 5000 of my free ebooks so far this year and maybe one or two rating/reviews if I’m lucky… Am I really that ho-hum? Don’t answer that – or do: anything is better than the yawning faceless silence of the free downloaders.

pic of peter 15kb

 

Although I am an ‘Antipodean’ from New Zealand, my deepest sympathies lie with Tolkien and the True West, and therefore with England, or to be accurate what C.S.Lewis calls ‘Logres’, the true heart of England. So I have been gratified to see my sales on the UK Amazon site increasing to rival those of the US site. Wonderful! Hence this author profile (the US one doesn’t feed through to the UK site).

I write fantasy, or rather, I have a World into which I disappear from time to time in order to discover more of it by writing, just as I still often disappear into Middle Earth for my bedtime reading. I hope my World of Aeden will inspire ‘secondary belief’ for others just as Tolkien’s world (and C.S.Lewis’s) did for me. And a yearning for something that is beyond all Worlds.

Now, I need to confess to not being (not for many years) a Christian like my two greatest fantasy-writing heroes, but I am a Platonist, a Pagan, and a Romantic, and I hope I have done no violence to the real values of either of those wonderful wizards of the imagination. Also in sometimes styling myself the ‘Wizard of Eutopia’, I hope I do not put off any Christians of open mind. Gandalf rather than Merlin is my greatest wizardly inspiration. And I do not cast spells on people – well, not by hocus pocus. But I do believe in Magic, in that, as I say in ‘How to be a Wizard’, Life is magical and we are too.

So, I am a ‘Eutopian’, believing that a ‘Good Place’ or piece of true civilisation, can and should be created wherever we live, and in whatever age we find ourselves. Especially important in an ‘Age of Jade’ such as the one we seem to be slipping into, where everything has been seen on TV or You Tube and the sense of wonder at lovingly created artefacts and ideals seems to be at an all-time low, and all future fictions are Dystopias…

If what I’ve said resonates with you I think you will like all my books, fiction and non-fiction. If not, you will probably think them hopelessly idealistic, romantic and optimistic. I suppose you could read ‘Fantastic Ferrocement’ and be a Dystopian DIY, or even get something out of ‘Happiness – It’s Now or Never’ if you believe in ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’. I think there is much, much more to happiness than that, though, and I hope ‘The Apples of Aeden’ will help remind you what it once was, and can be again.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B007SZAGA4

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Tolkien, the Ring of Power, and Benzene

Well I don’t like to admit it, but I have a body too!

moe 4295 CROPPED

Subject to the usual ills, but also, like many sufferers, the  ills of this chemically saturated age. I’ve some nasty bouts I describe as ‘chemical hangovers‘, often from small exposures to solvents. A friend told me that her frequent migraines turned out to be related most of all to chemicals containing benzene. She said there was also an unspecified ‘spiritual dimension’ to this.

This got me thinking. My first thought was that it’s striking the structure of the benzene molecule is a ring. This was discovered, or dreamed, by the chemist Kekule one night in the symbolic form of a circle of snakes biting onto each other’s tails.

Ball-and-stick model of the hexahydroxybenzene...

Perhaps the Middle Earth ‘ONE RING’ or ‘Ring of Power’ of our time is the benzene molecule (part of the pertol mix I gather) and its nine ring-wraiths are the ‘infernal combustion engine’.  Tolkien always hated the motorcar… Did he know of the benzene ring?
So perhaps your bodily rejection of benzene is my friend’s deep knowing that modernism is making us all sick. And that so-called escapism of fantasy is pointing us to the only way out of the American– no that’s not fair – WESTERN – dream/ nightmare of endless expansion and unlimited rapid travel.

This rings true for me anyway- even though I love invention and enterprise. Perhaps I am more like saruman than I realized,  and that’s why I’ve been so conflicted  in my eutopianism and fantasy. And so attacked by chemical poisoning, like my friend who also writes fantasy. (There’s a reason why most fantasies are set in a pre-industrial age: that is the most romantic, and whatever evils it contains, they are somehow part of the fabric of life, not mechanical and alien to our natural evolved organic being. Science fiction is the principal instrument for wrestling with the impact of the machine on our being; fantasy is the vehicle for exploration of a oneness with nature and natural beauty and yes of course magic, we are in danger of losing touch with altogether.)

I too was part of the Benzene Dream, working like a maniac in a ‘dark satanic mill’ of my own construction, for the purpose of unlimited production of photoframes for the masses, delivered worldwide by the infernal combustion machine. Now I mostly write fantasy, and hope the benzene ring doesn’t destroy us all before we come to our senses…

Strangely, my own fantasy, Apples of Aeden, (free volume one ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/243499  has an enemy, the Aghmaath, whose ‘logo’ is a hexagonal ring of scythes and a snake biting its tail:

BLACK simple spinning scythes 290408 copy

This was not intentional. But it fits. The Aghmaath quest is to put an end to life and the ‘wheel of striving’, the negative side of which the benzene ring in its toxicity symbolises so well. I trust there is a middle way between the mad pursuit of the benzene-fueled good life, and the pessimism of the misanthropic philosopher Schopenhauer.  If there is, its outlines are at least glimpsed  in the invented realms of (serious) fantasy. So, everybody should read fantasy! It’s not escapism, as Tolkien would say there are different types of escape. The ‘escapism’ of high fantasy  could just show us the way out of the 21st Century lunatic asylum.

 

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