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Today in LOTR (Sept. 27, 3018): it's raining, so the hobbits stay at Tom Bombadil's. We learn about the Barrow-downs, which the hobbits will have to pass by to reach Bree, in this lovely little passage:

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Also, interestingly, Tom Bombadil does not turn invisible when he puts the Ring on. He can also see Frodo when he's invisible.

One of Elrond's people later says, "It seems he that he has a power even over the Ring." Gandalf: "Say rather that the Ring has no power over him."

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There's a lot of Theories about Tom Bombadil, who doesn't seem to fit neatly into Tolkien's cosmology. One of the wackiest is that he is Eru Ilúvatar (the "God" of Middle-Earth) himself. For more discussion, see the Encyclopedia of Arda:

glyphweb.com/arda/t/tombombadi

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Today in LOTR (Sept. 28, 3018): the hobbits get lost on the Barrow-downs and are captured by a Barrow-wight, but Tom Bombadil rescues them. They get some sick loot. (This brings us halfway through 1.8, "Fog on the Barrow-downs".)

Meanwhile, Gandalf has reached the Brandywine.

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By the way, I count 13 different songs/poems so far. (Not counting different iterations of "The road goes ever on and on".)

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Today in LOTR (Sept. 29, 3018): the hobbits arrive in Bree and stay at the the Prancing Pony, where they meet the mysterious Strider. The innkeeper gives Frodo a letter from Gandalf, meant to be sent back in June, telling him to leave ASAP. (1.9-1.10)

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Today in LOTR (Sept. 30, 3018): in the wee hours, Nazgûl attack the house at Crickhollow and, in Bree, the rooms the hobbits were supposed to be sleeping in. Strider and the hobbits manage to get a pony and leave Bree. Gandalf learns this when he reaches Bree in the evening.

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Some notes on today's section. This bit is probably a reference to when wolves entered Paris in 1420 over the frozen Seine: johnknifton.com/2016/02/14/the

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This chapter made a big impression on me when I first read it as a child of 11 or so, where a couple of suspicious characters are specifically described as "swarthy", "sallow" and "squinty" or with "sly, slanting eyes".

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So let's briefly talk about colour, race, the Middle Ages, racism, and Tolkien.

As you should already know, the concept of race as we know it has not always existed. As far as I know, it developed in the Modern era with the colonization of the Americas and Atlantic chattel slavery.

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But at the same time it did not appear out of nowhere. The conceptual framework was laid over centuries in medieval Europe. There's a LOT of scholarship on this already, as well as a lot of exciting new work happening under : acmrs.asu.edu/RaceB4Race

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(I don't know much about this, so please forgive and correct me if I get any of it wrong!)

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Equating whiteness & fairness with good, and blackness & darkness with evil, was a Thing in European cultures long before anyone thought of applying those labels to people.

(But it sure made it easier to apply it to people, you know?)

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You know how steampunk is, like, "backporting" futuristic trappings onto Victorian-era technological precursors? LOTR is like that, except with the Modern world of race, colonization, and slavery onto Old English/Norse/Scandinavian mythology.

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So we see hobbits consuming tobacco and potatoes—New World crops that only arrived in Europe post-colonization of the Americas. Bilbo portrays Ëarendil making arrows out of ebony, a tropical wood that likewise only came to Europe in modern times.

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This has been seen as a mere oversight (including by Tolkien), but I think it's essential to understanding Middle-earth, especially alongside his explicit anachronistic racialization of black/white.

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Many people point to Tolkien's repudiation of Nazism as some kind of proof of anti-racism, but, like…

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Like dude wrote a three-volume epic where he constantly talks about how beautiful and good white people are and how ugly and evil non-white people are, in the 20th-ass century. And also—! daily.jstor.org/the-question-o

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I did not know any of this at the time, of course. I was just a kid who wanted to be a beautiful elf-maiden and got harshly slapped down to reality. Sallow, squinty, hairy, with a fat beak of a Jewish nose. No elven frolics for you, little girl.

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Butterbur: There's suspicious black men about, I won't rent any rooms to them
Me: could you at least clarify that you're referring to eldritch beings merely dressed in bl—
Gandalf: stay away from the swarthy guy, who has a dark complexion
Me: oh come ON

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Okay I promise no more LOTR-posting for the next couple days. Strider & hobbits spend the next couple days in the Midgewater Marshes and being annoyed by crickets. Meanwhile Gandalf rides ahead of them, trying to draw the Nazgûl away.

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 3, 3018): Gandalf is attacked by the Nazgûl on Weathertop, and only barely manages to drive them off. From afar, Frodo & co. think they see lightning.

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 6, 3018): The hobbits and Strider reach the great hill, Weathertop. They find possible signs Gandalf was there. As night falls, they are attacked by Nazgûl. Frodo is stabbed and grievously injured.

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Later, Gandalf will explain: "You were in gravest peril while you wore the Ring, for then you were half in the wraith-world yourself, and they might have seized you. You could see them, and they could see you."

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Verses: Sam recites "Gil-galad was an Elven-king"; Aragorn tells the tale of Beren and Tinúviel. This has great personal significance to him: they are the ancestors of him and his betrothed Arwen. (See tolkiengateway.net/wiki/E%C3%A)

This brings us to chapter 1.12.

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 9, 3018): word reaches Rivendell that Frodo is blundering around in the wilderness, with Gandalf still MIA. Elrond sends out searchers in all directions, including Elf-lord Glorfindel along the east-west Road.

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Meanwhile, the hobbits and Strider are trudging through the "cheerless land" south of Weathertop, about two weeks' walk from Rivendell. Things are tense, but there's no sign of Ringwraiths.

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incidentally, I bought a multi-coloured pack of Post-Its and am really looking forwards to sitting down and adding colour-coded tabs for dates and shit

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 11, 3018): Glorfindel reaches the bridge over the River Hoarwell or Mitheithel and drives off five Ringwraiths. He leaves a small green gem ("a beryl, an elf-stone") there as a sign.

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 13, 3018): Strider, Frodo & co. cross the river Hoarwell or Mitheithel. Strider finds Glorfindel's gem. They pass into a desolate country of ancient ruins of a post-Arnor kingdom. tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Angle_

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Re-reading LOTR, it's striking how *depopulated* the land is. It's basically like the Roman Empire fell and nothing really took its place. (A similar distance in time - 1400-1600 years ago.)

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 18, 3018): the hobbits and Strider come across the stone trolls from The Hobbit, who were so occupied fighting over how to cook Bilbo and the dwarves that they were caught unawares by the dawn and literally petrified!

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Later, Glorfindel the elf finally finds them, and they begin making their way to Rivendell as fast as they can, barely pausing to rest. This is especially rough on Frodo, who as you recall was stabbed by the head Ringwraith a couple weeks ago.

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A little back-story: the head Ringwraith is the old "Witch-King of Angmar", like Sauron Lite, but in the northwest. He was the major reason the Dúnedain got practically wiped out in the North, reducing their once proud kingdom to wandering Rangers. +

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At the final battle, Glorfindel showed up and the Witch-King turned tail and ran like a little bitch. Glorfindel was like, leave him, because "not by the hand of man shall he fall". WOW I WONDER IF THIS PROPHECY WILL COME UP AGAIN LATER.

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 20, 3018): the hobbits, Strider, and Glorfindel reach the Ford of Bruinen. The Ringwraiths confront Frodo, and as he defies them, they are suddenly washed away in a mighty flood. Frodo blacks out. End of Book 1!

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 24, 3018): Frodo wakes up in Rivendell. Gandalf (who arrived several days ago, I forgot to mention) brings him up to speed. Bilbo recites the Song of Ëarendil in the Hall of Fire.

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Today in LOTR (Oct. 25, 3018): the Councli of Elrond. The history of the Ring is told in full. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring to Mordor. The Company, or Fellowship, is assembled.

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Now everyone fucks around in Rivendell for two months. There will be no further updates until Christmas.

💍️💍️💍️ Today in LoTR is back, bitches! 💍️💍️💍️

The Fellowship roster has been finalized, the sword of Elendil has been reforged and renamed Andúril ("flame of the West"); and Bilbo gives Frodo his sword Sting and (secretly) a shirt of mithril chainmail.

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Scouts have found that 8/9 Ringwraiths are temporarily out of commission (leaving, of course, our old pal the Witch-King of Angmar).

Elrond's two large adult sons were off in "a strange country" down the Silverlode, i.e. Lothlórien, doing Secret Stuff.

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It's a very special day today! That's right, this day in LoTR (Dec. 25, 3018) the Fellowship of the Ring sets out from Rivendell. Happy holidays to all marking this fateful anniversary.

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T̶o̶d̶a̶y̶ Yesterday in LoTR: the Fellowship, having left Rivendell a few weeks ago, arrives in the desolate country of Hollin. Next they will attempt to cross the Misty Mountains.

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Today in LoTR: the Fellowship heads for the Redhorn Gate, the pass of Caradhras. They anticipate they will be watched, and maybe snowed out. Frodo overhears Gandalf mentioning a backup plan to Aragorn, "a dark and secret way", that they can take as a last resort.

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On the mountain, a massive snowstorm forces the Fellowship to retreat, and an avalanche blocks the pass behind them.

"A cold wind flowed down behind them, as they turned their backs on the Redhorn Gate, and stumbled wearily down the slope. Caradhras had defeated them."

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Today in LoTR: the Fellowship enters the Mines of Moria after Gandalf remembers the password is h̶u̶n̶t̶e̶r̶2̶ "mellon". The Watcher in the Water tries to seize Frodo and then hurls rocks against the door, sealing them in. Pippin throws a rock. Frodo thinks they're being followed.

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Side note: the Tale of Years refers to them as "the Company of the Ring". I've used "Fellowship" because I think it's more familiar. But, like, consider

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Today in LoTR: the Fellowship makes their way through Moria. In the Chamber of Mazarbul they learn the grim fate of the colony led by Balin—shortly before being ambushed by Orcs.

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On the bridge between the First and Second Hall, Gandalf confronts the Balrog. "The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn…you cannot pass." He breaks the bridge and the Balrog falls into the abyss, but takes Gandalf with him. "Fly, you fools!"

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The Fellowship flees through the east gate of Moria. It is daytime. They make their way down the river called the Silverlode. In the night, they meet Elves from Lothlórien, who share their treetop camp with them.

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Side note: I got The Fellowship of the Ring as a gift to read at summer camp. But I could not resist reading it early. When Gandalf died (one of my favourite characters!), I immediately knew it was karmic punishment for my lack of self-control

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The worst thing was that The Two Towers was to be next year's summer camp book, of course, so I had to endure a WHOLE-ASS YEAR thinking Gandalf was DEAD FOREVER. (This was before I had widespread Internet access, or friends who had also read the books!)

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Son of a BITCH, the Bridge of Khazad-dum was supposed to be TODAY. This is what happens when you are a freelancer with no idea what day it is.

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Today (for reals): Elves guide the Fellowship to Lothlórien. The Elves insist on Gimli being blindfolded (security theatre, if you ask me), so in solidarity all the Fellowship gets blindfolded.

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Another great line.

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."

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Side note: the Naith is a wedge-shaped area of Lothlórien between the rivers Celebrant & Anduin. "Naith" in Sindarin means "gore", Tolkien tells us. This sense of "gore" means "pointed/triangular patch" (of fabric, land, etc.). en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gore#Et +

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This sense is closely related to "gore" as in "to pierce with a horn/spear", like "gored by an ox". Both are related to Old English "gar", meaning "spear"—a frequent element of Germanic names, e.g. Hrothgar, Edgar, & even Gerald.

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Curiously, "gore" as in "blood & guts" comes from a totally different root word meaning mud/filth, originally derived from a root meaning "heat". One gets a mental image of steaming entrails, no?

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That same root also gives us Greek "-therm-" (heat, as in "thermal").

I just think it's funny that getting gored (like by an ox) results in gore, but the terms are unrelated.

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@nev I did not think about how cold they must have been

@nev
Well dang I never knew. maybe I can start watching fellowship as a Christmas movie

@mimlitttlewood @nev ugh what an incredible idea, petition to make fellowship an official Christmas movie

@nev I read them when I was a kid over like three days when I had a fever, it has never been quite so vivid

@nev

Gimli had a clockwork inertial tracker in his pack: cutting edge Dwarven kit.

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