Tolkien Hated Cars: A Rant about the Stories we Ought to Tell

Started by Hydra009, February 21, 2024, 12:23:51 AM

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Stuff like this makes my blood boil because as much I love the works and admire the sheer effort and brilliance that went into writing Lord of the Rings, it's pretty depressing to see technological progress and globalism to be treated with such disdain.

And spoiler alert for Tolkien, but feminism didn't really take off in the Middle East and by and large, the world is definitely not homogenized - if anything, there are various regions with vastly different norms - Western countries, semi-free countries where things aren't great but aren't dictatorships, and actual hell-on-earth dictatorships.  I suppose it is true that there are less differences between societies now than in the past, but why would I want one society to have running water and microwaves and the next to have cholera and famine?  Of what value is diversity alone?  And is it even possible or desirable to prevent one culture from bleeding into the next?  (Think of how different English would be if that were the case)

And it's not just Tolkien, of course.  Plenty of famous and brilliant writers have had absolutely horrible hot takes.  H.P. Lovecraft comes readily to mind for obvious reasons that I won't go into.  Frank Herbert's overall vision on his Dune series has a rather antagonistic stance towards technology to put it mildly and a positive portrayal of mysticism that I likewise find utterly mystifying.  Orson Scott Card.  Full stop.

And I can't tell you how many scifi stories I've read that are just so dreadfully pessimistic about humanity and dystopian in nature.  Less like a warning about technological advances unbound by wisdom or ethics and more like a luddite's call to action.

This sums it up pretty succinctly:

If you're going to make a living writing about all sorts of cool gadgets and gizmos and spaceships and other stuff that people love so much they're willing to pay actual money to literally just fantasize about it, shouldn't you want our world to become more like that world?  Wouldn't you want to write a story that's uplifting, not depressing, about that stuff?  I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here.

Or are people just addicted to fear and pessimism and that's all that'll sell now?  I would actually love to try to tackle Solarpunk (I didn't know the name until recently, but essentially it's a positive vision of the future where urban and green spaces coexist, renewable energy is the main source of power, hopeful if not utopian, etc (in sharp contrast with cyberpunk, which features high-tech lowlifes and is inherently dystopian)

What's the point of writing fiction?  Cash?  Idle entertainment?  For me, on some level, fiction is meant to impart good values to the next generation.  Values that can stand the test of time.  "I saw some trees getting chopped down near Oxford and got so upset that I literally vilified the people copping them down" in Tolkien's case.  SMH.  Granted, he's not entirely wrong in wanting to preserve and protect nature, but jeez, I gotta disagree with how he went about getting that message out.  Full fuddy duddy.  I'm tempted to have a bit character get apoplectic about one such logging event only to be duly informed that the trees were a danger to nearby houses and electrical lines, the lumber will be donated to Habitat For Humanity to build homes for the needy, and the saplings and seeds will be planted at a new arboretum barely even a mile away, where they'll be allowed to grow taller and more numerous than they ever would have before.  So why the fuss!

What values should be communicated to the next generation?  How about compassion.  Open-mindedness.  Trying to understand different people instead of fearing and fighting them.  Valuing intellect and the quest for knowledge.  Embracing change and reform instead of mindlessly clinging to "tradition" (peer pressure from dead people).  Those are the kinds of things I want to write about and the kinds of things I want to be known for espousing!

Hijiri Byakuren

With older works, it's easy to separate the art from the artist. Dead authors don't feel validated when you read their books.
Speak when you have something to say, not when you have to say something.

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