3 thoughts on “Words From A Master Storyteller

  1. Those are a couple of good points, although I tend toward the Alexander view, because it supports the point I made in the other post. Tolkien’s equation of fantasy with escapism rests on a rather spurious rhetorical metaphor: “If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?” Well, no, not necessarily. A soldier could perhaps better serve his cause by sticking around and subverting from within. Look at Hogan’s Heroes. My grandfather was a POW in WWI for three years, and I seriously doubt that he ever tried to escape; it would have been foolhardy, as there were thousands of miles of Siberian tundra separating him from home. So he had to find creative means to deal with the situation. I once read a letter from another former inmate reminiscing about the time my grandfather got a huge laugh during a game of charades, when he inverted a couple of empty buckets and then peed a stream between them. Everybody immediately got the answer — “Castles on the Rhine”! — but unfortunately he was disqualified for using props.

    Another POW in Siberia was Ferenc Molnar, later principal viola of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. He took scraps of wood and wire from his bunk and fashioned a perfectly functional violin from them, which he played for the entertainment of his fellow prisoners. Then of course Olivier Messiaen composed his Quartet for the End of Time while interned in Stalag VIIIA. Creativity and imagination enable us, not to escape our situation, whatever it is, but to transcend it. Fantasy is not escapist, it is transcendent. Which proves Alexander’s point, and mine. I love it when that happens


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