Our shared love
by, 01/Jun/2013 at 02:30 PM (1207 Views)
In 2001, one man in the small country of the Netherlands had looked at his Tolkien book collection, and at all the movie promotionals for the Fellowship of the Ring, and thought, "I can't be the only one." So to he created a place where like-minded people could come and share their thoughts, and the plaza was born. It was a small place at first; it only had three kingdoms, for starters, and one lore forum. It was chatty, and foo, and silly, and a wonderful place for every new Tolkien fan that found it.
That Eru had not been the only one was born out by the plaza's popularity. Within 9 months of its opening, over 10.000 members had joined. Not all stuck around, but enough to make it a vibrant place where threads moved so fast it was an adrenaline rush just to try and keep up sometimes. New content was added, more kingdoms, new icons, the Fan Fiction forum, Legolas Love Letters, etc. etc. And every single member had found in the plaza a home to share their love for Tolkien's works.
Tolkien's works. That which we all have in common in one way or another. Whether you came here because of the movies or because of the books, whether you only read LotR or know your way around the fine print of the Histories of Middle earth, it is the basis of what we have here. A vibrant community where you can learn something new every day.
Last week I realized that though I love Tolkien's works and the plaza, I hadn't actually read the Lord of the Rings in six years or so, and I wondered why. I thought about it often enough, told myself, "I should re-read it". Often I did start, usually with The Hobbit\, but I never progressed from there. I found this odd, since I have re-read other favourite novels and series in that time. Harry Potter some three times. A Song of Ice and Fire twice. What was it that made me skip the Lord of the Rings every time I was thinking of reading a book from my collection?
It's not that I don't know the story. I have a rather good memory on story details, if I may say so myself and easily aced all Tolkien fan quizzes that were put before me on Facebook or the fantasy festivals I attended. I even won The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún with one of those quizzes and at some point stopped handing them in because it didn't seem fair to the other contestants that I always took the prize, even if I already had it. (I also won The Children of Húrin, for example, but having received it for my birthday already, gave it to the runner-up.) In the past six years I have leafed through the books often enough for Drill, finding that one answer or looking for a good question if I was modding. But I never went back and read the whole thing for so long.
I think I know why, though. Fear. It's like remembering this awesome cartoon you used to love as a child, but upon seeing it again you realize that it was clumsy, badly written, overly moralistic... you lost the childhood goggles and it all seemed less colourful than you remembered. I think this is what I fear in re-reading the novel that made me love the fantasy genre, that gave me this plaza, that inspired my choice of education at university, that basically influenced my life in such a way that I would have been a completely different person without it.
I can still clearly remember my first time reading the Lord of the Rings. I was fourteen and lying on my brother's bed, because he had the stereo so I could listen to my then favourite cd, Mother Earth by Within Temptation. I remember how I thought the music fitted the story I was reading so perfectly. I still have a perfect memory of the moment the Nazgûl were first described, and the song Dark Wings came up. Dark wings they are descending, see shadows gathering around. Just sitting there, listening to the song, imagining the terror of the Nazgûl as they chased Frodo.
I can never get that feeling back. It is Nostalgia, eleven years ago, a glorified memory of something I have loved so deeply that I am afraid to lose it by re-reading it through my 25-year old eyes. The world is different, I am different, and though I am sure I will love it just as much this time as I did the first time, it will not be the same. And it is something I fear. I never read Tolkien since I started studying English lit. Because I will be reading it with critical eyes, and I fear the flaws I will find in my dream novel. Perhaps I should face my fear. But not yet, not yet.
How long has it been since you last read it?