Ainulindalë: New Film Short

Prepare to be amazed at the artistry and creativity of the Tolkien community (again). Willow Productions has released a beautiful short film of Tolkien’s creation narrative, the Ainulindalë, which means “The Music of the Ainur.” Saith Ilúvatar, “Behold! Your music!”

Some observations:

  • The score by Far West Method Music is fitting and evocative, which is important since it is music that is the creative force of the universe.
  • Ilúvatar’s theme is not itself imagined as a melody or theme; instead, it is announced with a chime, or what sounds to me like a glass armonica.
  • The entirety of Tolkien’s Ainulindalë is not narrated; the spoken voiceover (which is well done) is a very abbreviated script of the original.
  • Back to the music: I liked the brief, but clever quote of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini as a musical association with Melkor.
  • Thus, from Ainur to Valar. Tolkien’s framework of doom as established by the choice of free beings is brought out very effectively.

Verdict: a delightful rendering of this important narrative in the legendarium. h/t The Silmarillion / Children of Hurin / The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings group.

Arda Maps: A New Tolkien Interactive Project

Prepare to be amazed. Graduate student Curtis Mosters has developed a wonderful new resource for Tolkien studies. Behold:

Arda Maps Project - Tolkien

Check out the maps of the three ages of Arda. Looks like he’s still developing the family trees, timelines and maps for the journeys and regions of Arda. We here at Hogwarts Prep hope that his team is able to raise the funds needed to complete the project.

Dumbledore is Death

Dumbledore, by Mary GrandpréA theory that…wait for it…this is the Holy Graal…J. K. Rowling herself has said, “It’s a beautiful theory and it fits.”

Mugglenet captures JKR’s tweets. Read about it at Time, Hypable, and The Daily Dot.

Consider:

  • He had possessed all three Hallows.
  • At King’s Cross he welcomes Harry with open arms.
  • He is the only wizard Voldemort fears. What does the name Voldemort mean again?

Well done, Harry Potter readers (do you doubt that it was a reader who noodled this out?). Go canon.

Time to explore the implications of this identity and write a few lines of parchment…

Le Guin and Torah

We’ve had more than a bit of Ursula K. Le Guin enthusiasm at the school recently, and our read-through of the Earthsea books is halfway done. (We also watched Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea (Gedo senki) recently; a review will be forthcoming (trailer).)

This post is a placeholder for what may become a conference paper or journal essay. So I’m just going to put this here for us to ponder and invite all students and faculty to discuss, challenge, question, evaluate, and so on, in the comments.

Le Guin’s world of Earthsea has a strikingly Hebraic (Jewish) theme at its core: the importance of names and the creative, sustaining power of speech. First, the relevant features of Earthsea:Ursula K. Le Guin photo by Kolisch

  • Wizards distinguish between the conventional and true names of people and all beings (Sparrowhawk/Ged, Arha/Tenar, Arren/Lebannen, et al).
  • Nature is under the command of “the Old Speech, the language of the Making” (e.g., The Farthest Shore, 39).
  • Evil is namelessness; hence, evil personified and deified is The Nameless Ones (The Tombs of Atuan).

Now the relevant features of the Hebraic tradition:

    • God changes some humanly given (conventional) names to new (true) names: Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sarah, Jacob/Israel.
    • Others change given names in light of great deeds: Gideon/Jerub-Baal, Joseph/Zaphenath-Paneah, Daniel/Belteshazzar, et al.
    • Nature, “all things visible and invisible,” is made, created, by the divine logos, or power of the speech of God (on this feature the Torah is not unique to other, especially Egyptian, creation narratives).

michelangelo-god

  • The name of God “himself,” the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, “I am that I am,” is revealed to the “Archmage” Moses, to authenticate Moses’ mission to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt.
  • An ambivalence about the name of God occurs if the Hebrew God is considered as one among the pantheon of the Ancient Near East civilizations (Thales, ca 600 BCE, said that the world was full of such gods in his time). But the being revealed to Moses is unlike these other gods in that “he,” through his own name, is self-revealed to transcend the physical, space-time universe. YHWH is not a supreme being among other beings, a god of preeminent status, as one first among equals, but Being Itself, whose being is grounded in “his” aseity and is therefore self-existent. Because the divine aseity is unreachable by the human logos, or the discursive intellect, YHWH has been regarded as “the Nameless One” by some thinkers in contrast to those deities which are named.

There is much that needs to take shape here and further expound, so I welcome your comments!

New Tolkien Scholarship

The Tolkien faculty here at Hogwarts Prep are keen to let you know about two new and exciting forthcoming contributions to Tolkien scholarship.

First we have the news, care of The Tolkien Society, that a very early work, The Story of Kullervo, hits the bookshelves on August 27. Kullervo is a tragic figure from the Finnish Kalevala mythos and Tolkien scholars believe that Kullervo informs the eminent figure of Túrin Turambar.

turin-gurthang-john-howeSecond, we look forward to obtaining for the Hogwarts Prep shelves a new volume by Walking Tree Publications, a nonprofit and volunteer association: Representations of Nature in Middle-Earth. There are nine essays in the collection around the theme of the title. The publisher’s blurb should whet your appetite for this important contribution to scholarship on the theme that lies so close to the heart of Tolkien’s saga:representations-nature

[N]ature in Middle-earth plays a crucial role not only in the creation of atmospheres and settings that enhance the realism as well as the emotional appeal of the secondary world; it also acts as an active agent of change within the setting and the story.

If you can’t wait for the HPA Library to stock its copy, you can get your own copy from The Tolkien Shop or your favorite bookseller.

 

 

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Joel B. Hunter