François-René Rideau (fare) wrote,
François-René Rideau

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The Power of the Ring

Since I don't escape the current events, but only report them late, here is the inevitable Tolkien entry for my blog.

I recently watched the two last parts of Peter Jackson's film trilogy, and while they are indeed great movies, there is much frustration there, both for what was sacrificed to the technique (avoidance of mixing characters of different size, and the story telling (not only simplified plot to fit the timeframe of a movie, but also exaggerated feats to make for spectacular pictures to the detriment of the atmosphere of desperate heroism in the book; enemies were both overly strong and overly fragile). However, an important part of my disappointment comes at the movies having cut some of my favorite aspects in the books. The Moria lacks that definite H. P. Lovecraft like atmosphere of "horror from the depth of time that you better not wake up". Bill mostly disappeared, the gift session at the Lorién was cut, so was the second confrontation between Saruman and Gandalf, the voice of Sauron, and most importantly, the Scouring of the Shire, an essential piece of the book. Saruman was made just a knave of Sauron, whereas in the book he is a circumstancial ally who'd rather get the Ring for himself if he could. Most importantly, the corrupting nature of the Ring's power wasn't explained, whereas in the book it is most important: the episode of Sam wearing it is most funny, whereas Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Faramir refusing it are most serious, and Boromir or Denethor desiring it is most sad.

What is the nature of the Ring, according to me, will you ask? Well, don't read this summary, it's bogus. You could also find similarities between Frodo's quest and most any quests, including getting a PhD. But really, the meaning of the Ring, is really a libertarian message: in the words of Lord Acton, Power corrupts, and absolute Power corrupts absolutely. There is no way to achieve Good by using Power, because your very using it slowly turns you into the same Evil you wanted to fight. You can withhold Power, and prevent other people from using it; but ultimately, the only solution to the problems it raises is to destroy it. No, I'm not making it up. I first read the idea in 1998 or so, in pages that have disappeared since; but a Google search reveals an interesting site, Doing Freedom (reminds me of Build Freedom; they share this positive paradigm of freedom as construction, not fight), that may well reproduce one of the articles I had read at the time: The (Brass) Ring of Power. OK, will you say, that's just an interpretation of things among others, by libertarians obsessed with the question of Power. Not so. It's more than that. As prove Alberto Mingardi and Carlo Stagnaro in their articles Tolkien v. Power, Tolkien vs Socialism, Tolkien on Power and Market, this is definitely the message intended by Tolkien.

For more comments about Tolkien's work, you may see the Tolkien Archive at LRC. Finally, I am reminded how Tolkien plays a role in an essay I like about a topic I studied a lot: The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights, by Roderick T. Long.

Tags: books, building freedom, en, intellectual property, libertarian, links, memories, movies, panarchy, quotes, recommendation, storytelling, tolkien
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