Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mythcon, days 3-4

(a long-delayed report conclusion)

Paper by French scholar attempting to trace the reputations of Dunsany and Lovecraft.  It looks kind of different from the French perspective.

Professional study of Tolkien's work by a psychoanalyst.  Begins by saying that this is the first time he's presented to a Tolkien audience instead of a psychoanalytic one, so he'll skip over the justifications for studying Tolkien.  Refreshingly free of what lay folk like me tend to consider psychoanalytic blither.  Raises a chuckle when, after noting the established observation that hobbits are essentially Tolkien's idealized English country folk, he says of LOTR, "The action begins when these Englishmen, disguised as hobbits ..."

Panel outlining the Inklings' expression of their religious views in their fantasy.  Fortunately, the panel contains a well-briefed Williams scholar, a relief as there's essentially nothing else about Williams at this year's conference.

My paper, and my first attempt at using installed AV, raising pictures on someone else's laptop and throwing them up onto the room's big screen.  This is C.S. Lewis's Dark Tower: . This is what it should have looked like, with the stinger on top:

What's weird is that the second tower was actually built, in Oxford, some 15 years after the date usually assigned for Lewis having written the story, and just after he left Oxford for Cambridge, where the first tower is located. That in itself is evidence that the story isn't a later-date forgery, as the putative forgers could hardly have resisted this, same as the forgery-claim advocates postulate that the forgers were unable to resist borrowing from the plot of A Wrinkle in Time, not published until several years later even than the tower.

Manically funny GoH speech from Ursula Vernon on her childhood experience with Narnia, and the horribly crushed feeling she had on finishing the last book and discovering that Aslan was Jesus. "I couldn't have been more surprised if he was Keyser Söze" (or words of that order). Lewis intended his zinger to lead children who loved Aslan to welcome Jesus, but on some, including young Ursula, it had the opposite effect. Later I catch her and recommend The Magician's Book by Laura Miller, who had the same experience.

Paper ruthlessly analyzing a book whose title is displayed on the screen as This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things by J.R.R. Tolkien - better known as The Silmarillion. The analysis is in terms of contemporary feminist theory on sexual consent. Skirts close to the fallacy of using a hammer for a pipe wrench job, but keeps on the comprehensible side. Discussion arises as to whether Galadriel takes the Fëanorian viewpoint on the story's conflicts. Co-author Megan Abrahamson exclaims, "Galadriel hates Fëanor! She unfriended him!"

Next year in Colorado Springs. Mem Morman chairs, thereby becoming the eighth person to lead more than one of these things. It's possible to survive; I'm one of her predecessors.

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