This is not about reality and never has been. It's worse than the goddamn Mirror. At least the Mirror aims to give you something that will affect your daily life, in terms of being happy or sad that one of your mythological famous people has done something mythologically report-worthy. Tolkien just sucks you in. And doesn't let you the hell back out.
Somehow people start believing this world is real. And there is a whole hell of a lot of difference between enjoying a work and getting sucked into it. 99% of the Tolkien readers I have run into (no, let me correct that, 99.9%), have gotten lost in it and missed the bell for lunch. Reality exists. You do not live with hobbits.
Tolkien has this way of working with words. I used to think he was pretty cool for a while, until I realized what he was doing to my brain. He is sucking you into a goddamn black hole, guys. You actually get to the point where the minutiae of what orc married what nyad or what the hell ever, and how such languages were translated into human speech, and what great proclamation was made that affected how many gods..come on, the Greek mythologies were never like this. There is a reason the Mirror does not concentrate on facts so much. They know the story is the point. But you are seduced into thinking that every little detail of someone's life is important, some damn talking tree that is so goddamn pretentious it would be slapped by half the oaks and all the elms I have ever had the acquaintance of, when in fact nobody's life is that important. It's an escape into illusion. It's The Diana Phenomenon all over again.
In mythological form.
The man was extremely educated. The man also strikes me as snotty as all living hell. Pretentious as all get-out. Only an Oxford don would make you memorize that much crap, which you reasonably have to do to get through his books, or learn to care about something that is not in the real world. I give an author ten pages to get me interested in their stuff. That gives you time for the slow-developing writers as well as the one-paragraph-and-you're-hooked types. (Yay, Terry Pratchett! Now you want kickass British fantasy....) But Tolkien maneuvers you with his words like a goddamn television commercial until you are too sodden or unthinking to care that you have been sucked into a boring, dry memorization process. Which is about all that book is, except for one big Catholic hit over the head. I'm Anglo-Catholic. The Episcopalian type. The Anglican church reports to the British monarch instead of the Pope. Not a whole hell of a lot of difference, once you count out a little bit of British aw-hell-ism. I can't stand the lectures he gives! (Oh, wait until I get started on C.S. Lewis....) The book is one of those things that I remember from my college years as being too goddamn politically correct for anything. The cool people liked it. You were supposed to be able to sit around and discuss it over the correct kind of beer in the correct pub. And have all the elves' names and what their nanny called them when they were kneehigh to a grasshopper (or was it a cricket? Better know.... there are those Tolkien fans who have gone back and measured....). Sorry. I am adamantly uncool. I refuse to have my brain manipulated.
Even by someone as good as Tolkien.
All right, ladies. Have at it. (I leave my message board alone for one day after mentioning I couldn't stand Tolkien, and the damn thing erupts....)