#18 in the series, "J.R.R. Tolkien--Smut Peddler!"
As of this writing I've completed 17 blogs on the subject of sex in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I've had a blast writing them, and from what I'm hearing on the cyber-street at least a few people have been having fun reading them. But now I'm stuck. Try as I might, I can't get a handle on what to write next about everyone's fun couple, Galadriel and Gimli. And I don't think it's writer's block. It's something more . . . sinister.
Part of the joy of writing is that you're constantly discovering things. Your readers, your material, your own subconscious: they're all a strange far country seen in the distance, and you really want to get there. And to get there you have to stretch yourself, poke at the boundaries hemming your life in, crawl under the fence and run around in MacGregor's garden chomping carrots. To write today, you have to be someone slightly different from who you were yesterday--someone more. The "more" is hard to categorize, but it's there. Maybe it's more intelligent, more obser- vant, more creative . . . it doesn't matter. What matters is the far country. But it's hard to get to.
Which is why it's come to this. Simply stated, I'm out of my league. I suppose I know as much about sex as most mammals, and I also know (approximately) how to write about it in ways that respect its power without letting that power overwhelm reason and turn W2WW into just another porn-site. No, the naughty bits don't trouble me, and I hope they don't trouble you. What troubles me is the stuff that H. sapiens does that no other species can even imagine. Stuff I'm not sure I can imagine myself. Stuff I don't think I can write about. Stuff I don't think I want to. It's . .. ugh . . . dare I say it? . . . It's . . . romance.
I HATE ROMANCE! I can't stand the Valentine's Day bilge, the hearts and flowers, the soulful gazes and sundry symbolic gropings, the bridal registries and soft- focus photos and crappy poetry. And don't get me started on kissing! Whenever Aragorn and Arwen start pitching woo in Jackson's movies I just close my eyes, turn my head, and concentrate on parsing the Elvish. (David Salo's got 'em using too many datives for my taste. Liv Tyler does a fine job on the fricatives, though. But I digress.) Just thinking about the mushy stuff sets off a powerful knee-jerk reaction in my brain, a distaste bordering on revulsion.
I'm not quite sure why this is. I've got a long-standing debate about it going with an old buddy of mine. I say I have some kind of autism, some form of brain damage that prevents me from comprehending the subtleties of romantic expression. He says I just have an extremely low tolerance for bullshit. Maybe it's both. At any rate I have never married, never will, and don't understand why anyone bothers.
And how DARE anyone call all that romantic balderdash "love"?! I spent 33 years of my life watching my mother patiently slaughter herself taking care of my pro- foundly handicapped little sister. I saw her sacrifice friends, career, marriage, and finally her life for the sake of someone who couldn't so much as speak her name or say thank you. And mom though herself the luckiest human being on the planet for having such a person in her life. And she was. And so am I. THAT is what I dare to call "love." My little sis taught me everything I need to know or ever will on the subject. Lesser mortals have nothing to tell me.
Remember Wood Allen's Play It Again, Sam ? Lovelorn Woody-the-nebbish says to the ghost of Humphrey Bogart, "But all I want is a meaningful relationship!" To which Bogie replies--in words that should be carved on a mountain somewhere-- "Relationship?! What kinda woid is that? Sounds like something from one of your Madison Avenue shrinks." My sentiment exactly.
Hanta i Valar Galadriel and Gimli don't ever have a "relationship"! Yet they do have something. So what is it? What do I call it? How do I explain what I think Tolkien is trying to do? What IS the Master of Middle-earth spending so much time and effort trying to tell us? For it seems to me something is peeking out from behind the thicket of stately diction and sly innuendo, something that is more than sex, more than romance, but isn't "love" in either the hearts-and-flowers sense or the sense I'm used to. To me, love is a kind of work. Joyous work, yes, but still work. Yet to Tolkien it's almost as if "love" was a kind of poetry--an artform. Love as an artform? I'm truly out of my league here.
Because just seeking the far country is scary business, neighbors. I feel like a not-too-bright little kid walking down a dark alley and it's way past my bedtime. Any flashlights tossed my way will be more than welcome. And in the meantime I'll be trying to make sense of maps like this one:
Vivian (Lauren Bacall): Well, speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them work out a little first, see if they're front-runners or come from behind, find out what their hole card is. What makes them run.
Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart): Find out mine?
to be continued