31 August 2015

It was a few years before the first Tolkien-based film trilogy hit the theatres when I was avidly reading the Kalevala. As I was insanely passionate about the old Nordic cultures, anything that would delight me with a taste of it was welcome. As expected, I became enraptured with Tolkien's world once I could see how deep its roots grew into the Nordic myths. The Professor was a fan of it, as much as I was myself.

It happened that the Kalevala bit that impressed me the most was the story of Kullervo.

The news hit me like thunder. It was glorious seeing that book finally come to life, yet it was bittersweet somehow This was because, in spite of it being published 100 years later, it was a bit early for me. I've always wanted to point out J.R.R. Tolkien's involvement with the Finnish epic, Kalevala, which The Story of Kullervo is a part of.  I don't have the time to write the book I would've liked to write on this topic, sadly. I wish I had continued my research, but now I'm expecting others to do that, with this newly released book.

I was a teenager and a true fan of Northern epics when I got my hands on the Kalevala, the Finnish collection of myths and lore, and read it several times. Very soon after that, it was J.R.R. Tolkien to influence my existence for good. The two - Tolkien and Finland (I cannot just say Lonnrot here) then became intertwined in a magical way. I loved Kalevala. Tolkien loved it, too. More than 10 years later, I finally read The Children of Hurin - the masterpiece in the shadow of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, the book that draws its fascinating and tragic substance out of the ancient Finnish story of Kullervo.

Tolkien the Story of Kullervo

 The Story of Kullervo is what it is: the life of the slave Kullervo retold by J.R.R. Tolkien, much better developed than in its original form to be found in Kalevala. It is a 100% Finnish story of old times and is in no way connected to Middle-earth. The names of the characters also belong to the Finnish tradition and are no inventions.

Many are wondering where does this book stand among all the other works of the professor. Hence it's got no real connexions to his Arda, we can place it on a different shelf. Yes, it contains the substance the author used later to create The Children of Hurin, but only the latter was set in Middle-earth. It may be confusing, but the average Tolkien fan needs to know that this late publishing comes from the writer;s youth and is not included in his fictional universe. It is, however, the book that later made him give birth to his darkest work.

Kullervo Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Kullervo, by Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela

 The Story of Kullervo will hit the shelves in October 2015. It makes for a precious addition to a fan's collection, but it won't add to the beloved fictional world. However, it will reveal a wonderful source of all that - one of Tolkien's best appreciated sources of inspiration.

30 August 2015

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under : , , , , ,
I had thought all the possible thoughts about reincarnation and past and future lives. At some point I could believe in them - I had unexplained strong connexions with places and people, certain affinities that were truly strange occurrences in my life.

Do I really need past and future lives though or is one just enough? Are we not trying to justify present weaknesses, coincidences, strange things through this belief of previous lives? Are we not trying to find an excuse for our shortcomings? Are we not postponing our growth for a next life because we're too lazy to do something NOW?

Here is why a so-called past life regression will never help you out.

There may be parts in your personality and your life that you want to explore and find an explanation to. There could be some flaws that bother you. You will still have to face those things and deal with them. You may be having a million lives ahead or none. At some point, you will still have to do it. To take action and force your growth. Then why do you keep postponing it? It's not going to help.

You want an explanation for your encounters, passions, obsessions, weaknesses, anxieties, affinities etc.? Your "subconscious mind" will tell you the "Stories" from your past lives. How will that help you though? Will that deliver you the means to change and grow?

Elite psychologists of the world have agreed: past life regressions are only a trick of the brain, a brain which desperately wants to have some aspects explained and sorted out, so it fabricates these believable memories. It's not that we have to believe automatically something because scientists tell us so. However, this is a most logical, plausible explanation to what certain individuals experience.

I do not think we need these past life regressions to heal ourselves and to understand. After all, all that we have is here and now. This should be all that matters. It doesn't matter that, let's say, you were robbed in a past life and now you have anxieties about your money and possessions. You have to face these anxieties NOW if you want to change anything. Otherwise it all stays the same.

Therefore, past lives are completely useless. Whether you believe in those or not, it will not make any difference, your life is still the same. Therapists allow past life regressions to happen because they say the experience truly helps the patient. It's something that provides them with an explanation they've been seeking for and can calm them down. Regression is most often used to treat trauma and fear.

15 August 2015

You may be a good writer on your own merit, I'm not going to discuss that. Still, everything was said and done in the high fantasy world. We are only recycling. You wrote something that gathered many fans, good for you. However, keep in mind that Tolkien was not only the one to start it all, but also the one who did everything. He stands the test of time, always and forever. This is because he relies on timeless ideas and principles, not on the trends of our times. You are the man of your time, he is the man of all eras, gone and future.

Tolkien, by the way, doesn't need sex in his books to make them interesting. He's fascinating millions of people without using that trick. I get the feeling that you, by using sex, are trying to hook up people and to fill in some empty spaces. I guess it would be a little boring without all that, wouldn't it? Well, Master Tolkien succeeded without. He's got class, as someone put it.

Let's face it - you have a bit of arrogance because you believe you're offering more than the Professor did. After all, you write some kinky action into all that high fantasy. Well, it's easy to spice it up with sex and get the modern crowd to read something like this. However, I say this trend will fade... People will soon have enough of it. It won't be so special anymore. This is only a moment in time and the history of our species has seen many such moments. These are the eternal eons we are meant to go through.

Is there any interview in which you don't mention Tolkien? You keep on crediting him and expressing how much he's inspired you, but I feel it's more than that. It's an unhealthy obsession. Perhaps it's bait for his fans. You want to drag the ringers to your side. Or it could be that you just like seeing your name along his, believing you belong to the same league. I'll stop that here, because all this attention I'm giving you now could make you believe you're actually worthy.

Let's face it: like some readers put it, you're hating it that you're not Tolkien himself. You wish you were - terribly, terribly much. You're probably enjoying that some of his fans seem upset because your books are largely inspired by his. I say, enjoy your popularity for the time being. Stephanie Meyers and E.L. James are also popular. Today, however, we all know that popularity is no fair measure, it no longer speaks about the literary quality of a book.

In fact, I don't think I have an issue with you, George Martin (oh really, you even have the double R?!), but with some of your fans. Especially those who claim that you're original through the characters you create and their fate. That's ignorance!

J.R.R. Tolkien created characters that were no black or white. They could be grey or turn from white to black, for example. In the Good vs. Evil fight, the good ones also died, usually. If they didn't, they were at loss for sure, one way or another. Anyone claiming that Tolkien wrote only black or white characters and these always vanquished Evil has probably only watched the LOTR films. Superficially. Anyone who has actually read Tolkien knows that this is false. Many of his heroes died too early; some died along with their enemies; some could never enjoy some peace or happiness; others turned from good to bad. Also, the women in his books were as fierce as their men, often coming along in battle. They had the power to turn tides. The level of ignorance of some fans is truly horrifying.

You made many awfully wrong comments that made Tolkien fans say: "Has he even read those books?!" That alone makes me wonder: do you really admire that author or are you just trying to cash in through his name?

Anyway, I don't expect real understanding from those who see Tolkien's works through such distorted lenses. In the end, dear George, I really hope you can live without saying Tolkien's name with every breath you take. That's not going to get you closer to him. Just saying.
While some welcome it, others loathe this "unexpected" R-rating for The Battle of the Five Armies. their main issue seems to be something that has to do with the childish nature of the book. The Hobbit was, after all, a children's tale and it was expected to keep its innocence and magic intact on screen.

However, when you have brutal deaths, war and tragedy, it's pretty much impossible to translate it on screen without qualifying for a different "rating". There is no point in being scandalised by what The Hobbit has become. It's always been like that. Only that, as a book, you don't see the violence, you just read about it.

I will argue in defense of this R rating for the Extended Edition.

You can't see The Hobbit through pink lenses. It's as gruesome as the next fairytale. The Little Red Riding Hood anyone? There's a little girl who gets eaten by a wolf, then the huntsman cleaves the animal's belly to free her, along with her grandmother. There's all sorts of horrible, violent things happening in so-called fairytales. There are bloodthirsty monsters, horrible death, evil characters, mutilations, torture etc. You read that stuff to your children, but if you were to watch a screen rendition, you'd be hesitant to show it to your kids.

Therefore, there is nothing surprising, nor outrageous about this R rating. It's perfectly fine. Besides, it's not like this film can't be watched by the younger ones. If they're with an adult, as far as I know, it should be alright. It's hard to understand the complaints that the rating limits the views. I'm not worries about how violent this extended edition is. We've already had the best loved (and quite innocent) characters die in such terrible ways. How far can it get, can it be worse than that? It seems that they will add some more "imaginative ways to kill orcs" that that would worry me. That would be the only thing that feels more like Hollywood than Tolkien.

6 August 2015

Ridiculous but true: some "Tolkien fans" actually complained on the Internet because an article dared to present J.R.R. Tolkien as a devoted Christian (!). The reaction was simply terrifying: a number of so-called fans, not numerous but very aggressive, attacked the article author for spitting out that horrible label, claiming that they should "leave Tolkien untouched by Christianity" or something like that.

It doesn't take a brilliant intellect to simply know that Tolkien was a Christian. It's been stated a billion times and from highly reliable sources. He simply adhered to that faith and, by all means, it seems he actually practiced it. There is plenty to prove that, whether his fans like it or not. Now, to claim that he should never be mixed with his declared faith is beyond ridiculous. It's incomprehensible. Firstly, one cannot be seen as a Tolkien fan if they are not aware of whom this author was and what he was about. Information like this has never been hidden. It doesn't matter what his work was like. It could be 100% pagan. The man was a Christian, as everyone around him knew and all scholars and real, educated fans know to this day.

It's no isolated case. Many anti-theists and fanatic atheists often happen to be in denial. Their intolerance to Christianity reaches aberrant levels. One excellent example is the infamous C. Carrie, of whom we shall only mention very little. this is a person who normally wouldn't deserve a mention, but I believe it's necessary to point some things out for those who have not had the chance to find out.

This man's hatred for Christianity wouldn't allow him to accept that a Christian writer could become so famous and inspire millions. You may look it up, the case is well explained online. It looks like this Carrie hated it so much that he started a fake pedophilia scandal in an attempt to defame the author's son, Fr. John Tolkien (Hating a Catholic priest? You know what to do! Just accuse him of pedophilia!). He wouldn't stop, but actually drag other members of the Tolkien family to the court. If you find his comments, you realise what he's all about - just pure hatred for Christians. Thankfully, he lost big time.

Even if Tolkien didn't write his works as Christian allegory, you cannot separate his faith from his art. It can never be done, because a faith - any faith - or lack thereof, is deeply embedded into a man's being. It is the sum of all that they believe about the world, about life, about how people must behave. If you know what Christianity really is about, you will find it in Tolkien's work. It's in the message, attitudes, in the choices made by characters, in the final developments, the moral layer and much more. The work itself doesn't have to be in any way Christian, but the essence will always shine though, simply because artists don't just adopt different views than the ones they've got. And why would they? After all, each artist is trying to promote something. Naturally, it is in tune with what they believe.

To those saying that "you can be food without Christianity", a little more education would do good. in Christianity, there are many more aspects that go beyond the common rules of 'being good'. It's a wholly different paradigm.