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I'm back from a wonderful experience at Texas A&M University-Commerce and the National Endowment for the Humanities' "The Real and Imagined Middle Ages in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings" Institute. The participants - all secondary teachers from across the country - were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and I was very pleased with the questions they raised after my lecture and the discussion session that followed. We delved deeply into "On Fairy-Stories" and managed to cover quite a lot of ground regarding Tolkien's influence on contemporary speculative fiction.

In other news...

* I've accepted an invitation to be a guest speaker in the Fall 2009 Speaker Series at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville. I'll post more details soon; I do know I'll be leading one seminar on Yevgeny Zamyatin's classic dystopia We and another on the rise, decline, and reemergence of libertarian political thought. I'll also be giving a talk that's open to the public on contemporary young adult dystopian novels and what they can tell us about views of the future and concerns of today. It looks like I'll be interviewed on one of Louisville's radio stations, as well.

* Librivox has added a new unabridged reading of The World Set Free by H.G. Wells.

* For your amusement: Stormtrooper Zombie.

I'll leave you with A Lovecraft Dream, a wonderfully atmospheric animated short:

"The notion that motor-cars are more 'alive' than, say, centaurs or dragons is curious; that they are more "real" than, say, horses is pathetically absurd. How real, how startlingly alive is a factory chimney compared with an elm-tree: poor obsolete thing, insubstantial dream of an escapist!"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy-Stories"


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
Augh! I just *hate* how far away from you I live! I would follow you *everywhere* and listen to all your talks and lectures... They always sound so *amazing*!

Welcome back - for how every short a time we have you. ;-)

Edited at 2009-07-30 02:04 pm (UTC)
Jul. 31st, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
I would *love* to be closer to you, too! Thanks so much for the wonderfully kind words. I may be taking advantage of the podcast opportunity again. You know my entire RavenCon talk on Tolkien and Rowling ran on StarShipSofa; SSS may run a recording of my young adult dystopian talk, as well. We'll see. At any rate, I'm thrilled you think the subjects are interesting. Thanks again!

Jul. 30th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
I'll leave you with A Lovecraft Dream, a wonderfully atmospheric animated short:

Creepy! I think my reaction would have been to never sleep again.
Jul. 31st, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
LOL! Good point!
Jul. 30th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
Great animation! A lot more respectful than this video.
Jul. 31st, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
ROFLOL! "But the fishman I really fear is the one who's in the mirror..." Yes, it's firmly stuck in my brain now on continual loop. *insert sarcastic voice* Thanks so much. ;)
Jul. 31st, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
I was sure you'd have seen that one already! Lurking somewhere in the corner of your eye...
Jul. 31st, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
Overall I liked it, but that's not the way R'lyeh looks when I dream about it.

"Johansen encountered R’lyeh on March 23, 1925. Initially, Johansen describes a coastline of mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry. At the pinnacle of the island stood a garganteous monolith that soared into the heavens. The monolith was surrounded by greenish stone blocks of unbelievable size. Though not describing any definite structure, Johansen describes broad impressions of vast angles and surfaces too great to belong to anything on this earth. This description collaborates with that of Henry Wilcox, who described the geometry of the place as wrong—abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions not of our own. Johansen describes the polarizing miasma of the place as mind affecting, creating illusions of insanity in conjunction with the crazily elusive angles of carved rock. He goes on to tell of climbing what he could only imagine to be a staircase made of titan oozing blocks which was meant for no mortal foot. Atop the monolith was an oddly angled door which he accidentally opened, releasing Great Cthulhu from his tomb. Johansen fled along with one other member of his crew, who later died."

Jul. 31st, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
I see what you mean. Then again, I expect it's rather hard to capture something "non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions not of our own" on film! Perhaps the medium isn't quite eldritch enough. *wink*
Jul. 31st, 2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
I shouldn't hate so, drawing is hard!!! I had a very special design in mind for my brother's headstone (subject to the cemetery's rules, nothing Tolkienesque or Lovecraftian! He might have liked an REH-themed stone also...) and I wanted two quasi-rampant lions supporting a Ten Commandments. The monument company did a crap job with two obese waddling monstrosities (the heads were good though). Then I said I would try to sketch what I wanted, and I couldn't do it.

I finally hired a local artist and he has barely managed to get it halfway right after 9 or 10 drafts. And the lower legs still look like a kindergardener's dinosaur drawing right off the refrigerator door. And he complains that I'm some sort of expert on lion anatomy.

Jul. 31st, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
It sounds like you'll be giving several exciting lectures. Louisville isn't that far away either.

The video is terribly cute. I love the animation style.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )