Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections and the Exhausted Fan

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m nursing a post-election hangover..
Not because I stayed up late to hear the results come in, I didn’t, we went to bed before eight last night actually, though the pigs woke me up at 12:30 (I’ve no idea why, I think they were mad that their water froze) -just in time to feed the stove and hear the election results. I’ve got a hangover because ‘election day’ is so full of emotion for everyone around me. So many people pinning their hopes and dreams on one person. Facebook is full of argument and exultation.

I’d like to keep it light today. Jenna’s post last week was delightful! Reading about Jenna’s Harry Potter fandom always makes me want to go to one of the fan conventions, I know I wouldn’t really belong, but I’d like it if I wasn't alone. Jenna, if there’s ever one on the east coast, you can stay with us, and we can go together. I won’t think or say anything snarky, I’ll just enjoy myself.

Jenna mentioned textual analysis in her post on fandom. Analyzing the texts we love is a big part of loving for many of us..(and not just in literary fandom, my husband and I have talked for hours about various hidden beauties in Firefly!) So when we analyze how often to we critique? Or is it just all affirmation (for me, it is mostly affirmation..I like to defend my favorites, even against my own mind). But occasionally, I’ll be tough. I think. Maybe…hmm..I can’t really think of a time, but I know they exist. I’ve thought that Tolkien should have had longer appendices, that he could have included more of the daily-life of the various races, that he might of added more history..nothing that actually would have increased the popularity of the books, I’m sure, but things I would have preferred. Textual analysis of my favorite books is almost always submissive to The Fan Instinct, but it is a delightful aspect, and the language of Tolkien allows me to analyze as I would myth or hagiography, instead of fiction - dorky, I know, but absolutely delightful. I like grand themes and minutiae, I like character histories, but not too much information. I like mystery too.

How do you analyze your favorites? What aspects do you find most intriguing? How does it develop your relationship to the text?


  1. Ah, I know what you mean about Tolkien's creating a world to be decoded and discovered. Remember the line "the cats of Queen Beruthiel"? That is just one example of how he works in layers, even to the extent of it being out of his control; it's so mystical and cool. He didn't even know who she was when he put that in the book, much the same way he didn't know what a "hobbit" was when he wrote the first line on the back of a student's paper. Talk about mystery!

    I would love to take a course on tLotR someday. For my part, I know that the text got hard for me when Tolkien went into extended description of landscape during the Fellowship's travel. I can see how other people say that they give up going through it or get bored at that point. But I'm pretty open to new experiences, and so I tried to enjoy them for what they were. Come to think of it, reading closely Tolkien's obvious appreciation of the green world, his vast knowledge of plants and familiarity with landscape, prepared me for an appreciation for living in Wales I might not have had otherwise.

  2. For my part the more I love a work the more I tend to critically examine it. Like, whenever I read 'Harry Potter' I'm mentally noting the various flaws I find. I still love the stories, but it's something of a point of pride for me to be able to recognize problems when I see them (I'm not sure if that's good pride or bad pride; I think I'll go with good).

    To me being able to see and accept the flaws in works that I love actually help me to love them more, since it lets me kind of sift through to appreciate the good stuff all the more. It also helps me to recognize the kinds of things I want to avoid in my own writing (Continuity, Jo! Continuity!).

    I think finding flaws is just one of those inevitable (well, usually inevitable *cough* Tolkien) things when you delve into a work of art; it's sometimes painful, but it lets you see and appreciate the work all the more.

  3. I LOVED "the cats of Queen Beruthiel"!!! It was so natural, I almost felt like if I tried, I could remember all sorts of tales about those cats! And I know what you mean about his descriptions of plants and places, it's made me so much more appreciative of my own surroundings, it must have been a fantastic preparation for Wales!! Wales just sounds magical..

    I think you're right that finding flaws is pretty much inevitable if you're delving into a work, and that it can be painful, but it can really teach us to appreciate the whole of the work, not just our original perception of the work (which may have overlooked those flaws).

  4. Masha, that is a GOOD OFFER. :D

    And I like crazy amounts of information mixed with some mystery, too.

    Are the cats of Queen Beruthiel in The Silmarillion? Because if they are, maybe I should get going and finish that book. I've been reading it for about a year now.

    Haha, BTanaka, continuity is definitely one of the real issues with Harry Potter. But I tend to forgive writers that one, as I have edited so many such errors out of my own work as to make me fearful of how many I might have inadvertently left in.