Great Stories… Within The Great Story

J.R.R.TOLKIEN - 1972

J.R.R.TOLKIEN – 1972 (Photo credit: summonedbyfells)

(For some reason the distance between two paragraphs is quite big in this post, I wasn’t able to correct this and apologize for it to my visitors).

The wonderful video you can see two posts before this one is a great example of why my blog, supposed to be about the spiritual evolution of Humanity, and so, supposed to be full  of those topics only that are supposed to be spiritual and sacred and holy, has some of that in it indeed, but also plenty of stuff that is NOT supposed to be spiritual, such as novels and films… particularly of the so-called “Fantasy” category.

My answer to the awed comment by someone else on this so moving video two posts ago, reads like this:

“This is the kind of real life impact – in this case so extraordinarily beneficial to this viewer who, on top of it, had such a handicap to start with – this is what motivates me again and again to write posts about great novels or films that tell great stories, with great characters in those stories. I think I might need to now write a post about that!…”

So here I am, writing it, for it is time for us human beings to realize why we love stories so much that we keep inventing new ones all the time; why in every possible country or culture anywhere in this world you will find the story-teller(s), why kids love to hear a story at bed time, and why so-called ‘grown ups’ too relish, whether secretly or openly, truly great stories such as, yes, ‘The Lord of the Rings’!… No one can tell me I am being partial here to what I happen personally to like: apparently I am not the only one, for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is the most read book in the world after the Bible. And this other story that Tolkien, an excellent father, started improvising with great zest for his own kids at bedtime just as he had done with so many small stories he invented before, ended up being his first published piece of writing, ‘The Hobbit’, that became instantly a ‘best-seller’, read since then in many languages by entire generations of kids…

But ‘The Hobbit’ turned out unexpectedly to be itself a part of the larger story Tolkien had been secretly writing since 1916 already, in the trenches of World War I in France: ‘The Silmarillion’, that introduced an entire ‘Genesis’ of the world, and the stories of Arda’s First and Second Ages, with Middle-earth as center stage; moreover, when Tolkien, after the tremendous success of ‘The Hobbit’, was asked to write a follow-up story, he found that whatever he wrote, although it now included Bilbo and the younger Hobbits that were among the main characters in the new story, that new story kept irresistibly going back into the larger framework of Middle-earth, in the end becoming the whole  story Tolkien titled ‘The Lord of the Rings’. By then World War II had come, its dreadful events showing an uncanny resemblance with that new story, although most of it had been written before the War started. After the War,  ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was at last published, but in three volumes, from 1955 on. It soon became the best-seller that we know.

It is an encouraging fact that those two extremely well-known and appreciated stories from Tolkien, just like the  extremely popular adventures of ‘Tintin’, or more recently ‘Asterix’, loved by both kids and adults, don’t have any sex scenes in them at all. At a time when our societies’ other media and whole atmosphere are so overwhelmingly saturated with obsessive sex everywhere, to the point that it feels like a new disease in its own right, one breathes a sigh of relief when witnessing on the other hand such a persistent, imperturbable popularity for those totally sex-less stories: something deep, rock-solid  in still quite a vast proportion of humanity, somehow still refuses the perversion and obsession, and in spite of the glaring and blaring sex-scenes surrounding them, obstinately still feeds on beautiful and funny stories instead. Even in other extremely successful stories like the ‘Twilight’ saga, that do include sex, it is only sex between people who genuinely love each other, and simply include sex in their relationship among other expressions of their mutual love.  In ‘Ghost’ too, the older film we have looked at together recently, it is also in the context of a beautiful love-story that a very decent but intensely sensual pre-sex scene takes place between Sam and Molly, an art form in its own way as it is acted out and shown, just as moments before we had been shown the art of Molly the potter in creative action.

When I say that people feed on certain stories or on some others, it is to be taken literally: we usually speak of food only for the physical food we put into our body’s digestive system, the outcome of which provides us with the necessary nutrients and energy for the upkeep of our body plus whatever physical action may have to be done by our body while this outcome lasts – after which another dose of food will again be required. But we need food also for the other levels of our being: the emotional level and the mental level – and the soul level. And Thought and Intent and Expectation have power:

“Thought is not essential to existence nor its cause, but it is an instrument for becoming; I become what I see in myself. All that thought suggests to me I can do; all that thought reveals in me, I can become. This should be man’s unshakable faith in himself, because God dwells in him.

Not to go on for ever repeating what man has already done is our work, but to arrive at new realisations and undreamed of masteries. Time and soul and world are given us for our field, vision and hope and creative imagination stand for our prompters, will and thought and labour are our all-effective instruments.” (Sri Aurobindo, ‘Thoughts and Glimpses’)

We encounter stories constantly, and not just from books or magazines, for what is happening in other people’s lives is to ourselves a mere story too, something we hear about but can imagine only to the extent that we may have lived in our own life a similar experience. What others experience tells us also what may happen to us as well some day, and we may take it either as a warning that we will have to make sure this won’t happen to us too, or on the contrary we may take it as a promise that to us too the same thing can happen if we are open to that possibility and even work actively for it. It all feeds our imagination and the way we write inwardly for ourselves, consciously or not, something like a script for the continuation of our existence in this lifetime – or also for our next lifetime if we are at all aware that we will still live other lifetimes after this one.

Such a script is all-important, for it defines what our expectations will be, whether hopes of what to us would be a positive event, or fears of what we would see as negative for ourselves or those we love. It all depends on our beliefs… and our beliefs, in turn, are based on which stories we have heard, for example, on what happens after death, or on what we will find if we go to Paris, or Timbuktu, or wherever. Not only will our expectation definitely influence the actual outcome, the stronger the emotion – whether hope or fear – accompanying an expectation, the more likely its materialization in ‘real life’.

That our thoughts, if charged with strong enough emotion, have such a power to actually bring about the desired or  dreaded event we expected, is a fact known now by more and more human beings – which is fortunate, given the important results and consequences.our expectations can have.

What is less known is that our individual as well as collective ‘scripts’ themselves are part of a still larger script, the script according to which the progress of terrestrial Evolution unfolds, just like the seed develops into a plant and then a tree, that will bear flower, and then fruit, as the seasons and the necessary weather conditions follow one another.

Tolkien, the inspired writer of those beautiful small and big stories that all together did form the whole great Mythology for England that he had longed to create, was very aware of that still Bigger Story encompassing our lives; to the point that he has given to one of his favorite characters, Sam, that same awareness, which Sam then spells out sometimes quite clearly in his simple language; and Frodo himself does so too, towards the end when, still at Bag End, ready to ride to the Grey Havens along with Bilbo, he explains to Sam why he can come too, but won’t yet embark with him and Bilbo aboard the Elven Ship and go to the West with them, the Ring-bearers, although he too had been a Ring-bearer, if only for a little while:

“You are my heir: all that I had and might have had I leave to you. And also you have Rose, and Elanor; and Frodo-lad will come, and Rosie-lass, and Merry, and Goldilocks, and Pippin; and perhaps more that I cannot see.Your hands and your wits will be needed everywhere. You will be the Mayor, of course, as long as you want to be, and the most famous gardener in history; and you will read things out from the Red Book, and keep alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more. And that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your part of the Story goes on.

‘Come now, ride with me!”

I hesitate to quote from ‘The Lord of the Rings’, for most of the time I end up crying: it’s just so utterly beautiful!… But in this case it was absolutely needed that I quoted, as I wanted to point out the fact that to be part of the Story doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a warrior saving your dear country or the whole of Middle-earth or whatever: the simple, useful, happy life that Sam will now go on living as described by Frodo is as worthy as those high deeds to be part of Eru’s Story. and we are all in It, with or without high deeds…

The impact of those Tolkien books is still going as strong as ever, but on top of it there are also nowadays all the films by Peter Jackson, extremely successful too: first, a decade ago, the trilogy about ‘The Lord of the Rings”, and now the second trilogy he is doing on “The Hobbit” as well, using not only the slim book in itself, but also all the other pieces of writing by Tolkien himself that complete his overall description of ‘The Quest for Erebor’, including the background history of Dwarves and Elves, and the events Gandalf went away for, such as the White Council and the war against Sauron who was trying to return discretely as the mysterious ‘Necromancer’ in Dol Guldur. Of course Peter Jackson feels free to add here and there the extra scenes that can be validly added in all logic, deduced from all the written material available, plus all that we know of the characters involved and of those who were likely to have been there too at the time.

This still quite funny, but grander version of ‘The Hobbit’ may shock and disappoint those used to the animated version they had seen and cherished as youngsters, but Tolkien did want later to revamp his original little book with all the additional material he had written since then; he was much older by that time, and just like for his completing ‘The Silmarillion’, he never managed to get on with actually doing it. It can be argued then that Peter Jackson did in film form his own version of what JRRT intended to do – which makes of course for a version still great for children, but also much more interesting for the adults too, and more realistic, treating the story as history and the characters as real people like had been done for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy, which I personally love deeply, even if I don’t always agree with the changes Peter Jackson chose to introduce here or there, with his own talent as story-teller through that different medium.

Films, especially with the very effective musical score that usually goes with them, are in many respects an even more powerful medium of expression than books for telling stories. Extremely aware as the painter and musician she had been, of the potential inner impact on Humans of images and sounds, the Mother could foresee the enormous importance that movies would acquire in our human world; she wished this medium would be used also for attempting visual representations of the Inner World and the Divine Reality behind everything, so that it could become to some extent visible, sensible, and so, more real for the millions of human beings presently cut from that other dimension of Reality by Science’s utterly materialistic dogmas, received by most people automatically as an absolute Truth, alas.

More and more new books, though, are again daring to include the other dimensions our senses usually cannot see – although some Human Beings, for various reasons, do have to one extent or the other the capacity to perceive them, and/or even the ability to consciously move through them and explore them… and, let’s not forget, the Story continues, and will unfold more and more of the Ancient Promise to the Earth and to us that It contains!

So let’s happily read or watch whatever book or film we feel are feeding our Inner Being with the healthiest and most beneficial food for our Inner Growth! That is definitely a part of our overall process of Conscious Evolution…

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dykewriter
    Nov 22, 2013 @ 17:05:09

    I relate to Frodo in the quest

    but I didn;t succeed in mine

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  2. Bhaga
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 08:03:36

    To Dykewriter:
    Frodo didn’t… This is precisely why I asked you pointedly about that.
    He actually failed. The Ring’s malevolent influence grew steadily upon him, until in the end, when he was holding it above the lava-filled Mount Doom, Frodo was totally unable to let go of the Ring, to let it fall and disappear for ever from his life. Possessed by it, he claimed in a changed voice and with defiant eyes, “The Ring is MINE”, and putting it on, disappeared to Sam’s eyes.
    The one who actually does destroy the Ring moments later isn’t Frodo at all, it is Gollum, who struggles wildly with him and finally bites Frodo’s finger away, snatching the Ring from him in that way, only to accidentally drop it while dancing with the mad joy of having it again… and then, coming too close to the edge and toppling over, he follows it to his own death while it falls and disappears,
    If it hadn’t been for the providential presence of Gollum and his involuntary destruction of the Ring, Frodo would have ended up probably like one of the Nine Kings of old who had become the Nazgul: mere ghosts of themselves entirely at the service of Sauron through the power of the Ring.

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