Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Magic Words

The Forge of Tolkien Episode 16, MAGIC WORDS, is now live on #UATV

Enter Faerie, and you expect enchantment—the power of words, spoken or sung, to transform the world. But how can (or should) a Christian author invoke such spells without falling into the very temptations that the Ring or other magical devices like mirrors and palantiri would warn us about? In this episode, Professor Rachel Fulton Brown questions the role of magic words in fantasy literature generally and Tolkien specifically. Tolkien's understanding of the power of the adjective is contrasted with the power of naming (Ursula LeGuin) and “root hunting” (Robert Graves), both of which are read in the context of one famous medieval book of word spells, The Sworn Book of Honorius (“Liber Iuratus Honorii”). Is there such a thing as “good” magic? How do spells differ from prayer? What role ought naming play in the Christian response to creation? 

In memoriam JOY, the best dog ever (November 8, 2019-October 28, 2020) Recorded as she lay at my feet. Her name was her truth, my joy. RIP.



Blogger Gregory the Tall November 18, 2020 8:56 AM  

So sorry to hear about the death of Joy. May she rest in peace.

Blogger ÆtherCzar November 18, 2020 9:17 AM  

Condolences on the loss of your beloved dog. What an appropriate name, for they do bring joy to our hearts, and they live on in fond remembrance.

Blogger Bibliotheca Servare November 18, 2020 11:04 AM  

Condolences on your loss. They truly are vessels of joy in our lives. Perfect, uncompromising love and devotion.

She's with the one who (I'm convinced) sent her, now. Gamboling about in the fields of heaven, to the joy of the saints.

Blogger B November 18, 2020 11:09 AM  

I am so sorry that you lost your beloved Joy. May you one day be reunited with Joy, and with all your lost fur friends.

Blogger PJW Gent November 18, 2020 11:19 AM  

There is nothing quite like the relationship between a beloved dog and the person that dog has chosen to give its whole self to. This is one of great gifts God has given mankind. God's best blessings to you as you both mourn and celebrate your Joy.

Blogger Fencing Bear November 18, 2020 11:20 AM  

Thank you—she was the best dog ever.

Blogger Fencing Bear November 18, 2020 11:21 AM  

I named her after the moment in LotR when the hobbits hear the song of their journey: “Joy like swords, poignant as grief.” Always with us!

Blogger tuberman November 18, 2020 11:38 AM  

Word magic is interesting, especially in it's many divisions.

I remember reading G. Vico (an English translation) "The New Science of History," in my late teens. He employed a lot of following words back to their roots, but for insight, not specifically to control nature or people. Ursula K. Le Guin's views of word magic strikes me as similar to Jewish Mysticism. Finding the "true name" of anything suggest an inherent spirit force within, especially in nature or natural presences, but even more in finding spirits unseen to have some control over. This is very witchy, of course.

All metaphors are somewhat magical, at least until they get stale. Some idiots in the first half of the 20th century tried to write without metaphors, and that just became silly.

Going back to Vico, a Latin, and ancient Greek poet. He mentioned that the Romans wouldn't allow any poets inside the Roman city walls, unless they were sanctioned. A step to keep in mind for future use.

Joy had such a short life, sad for your loss.

Blogger Silent Draco November 18, 2020 12:01 PM  

One day we'll see them again, and they'll be waiting with tails wagging furiously and a ball held lightly in their teeth, waiting to play with us on The Best Field Ever!

Blogger Jack Morrow November 18, 2020 12:02 PM  

Condolences on the loss of such a great friend at such a young age. The God who created her will take care of her.

Blogger Grooveware November 18, 2020 12:45 PM  

My condolences, losing a dog at any age is extremely hard, we lost Harris 18 months ago and we still miss him. The best remedy is get another dog..

Blogger Thomas James Foster December 23, 2020 10:09 PM  

The Elves in Tolkien think 'magic' is a quaint word and concept, and are offended because 'the deceits of the enemy' are called by the same word. They are 'magical' to others, but to them it is more like art, craft or song or merely being. The hobbits have a kind of 'magic' to men, but they would be insulted if you called them 'magical.' Magic in Tolkien is therefore the very real, but only strange and marvelous until you experience it, and then it is even more 'magical' for that reason.

Blogger Thomas James Foster December 23, 2020 10:33 PM  

Sauron would not call himself 'magical.' He does not do 'magic' in the quaint sense of men and hobbits. He exerts will. As does Gandalf.

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