Mark V. Zieg April 26, 1990 Dr. Keller Outline (followed with varying degrees of success throughout the paper) I. Introduction (1) Theme: J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth proved that a valid ethos is defined through its relationship with other ethnics, through its roots, and through its language(s). II. Relationship with other ethnics (2) A. Define concept of ethnic as Boundary vs. Area (3) B. Show how Tolkien used Boundary model (4) C. Show how other authors didn't (5) D. Show how Boundary model proved true in real world III. Roots (6) A. Describe how roots influence ethnic perception (7) B. Show how Tolkien used background (8) C. Show how other authors didn't (9) D. Show importance of background in real world IV. Langauge (10) A. Describe how language controls an ethos (11) B. Show how Tolkien used language (12) C. Show how other authors didn't (13) D. Show how language applies to ethnic in real world V. Conclusion (14) A. Summarize: how Tolkien combined the three factors of a valid ethos to create a best-selling series; how other authors tried and failed, because they ignored or de-emphasized one or more key elements; and how all three elements are concurrent with contemporary definitions of ethnicity. John Ronald Tolkien was a master of The subcreative art; his Middle-Earth Was far more than a simple work of love. It proved to all, ethnicity has worth In presence only of these portions three: A carefully defined relationship With the surrounding base society; A sense of background, which the readership Can use to aid suspended disbelief; And last, not least, a language that can hold The essence of the ethos. Sad the thief Who seeks to cheat the secret Tolkien mold; In literature or reality, These rules define a true ethnicity. Two means exist by which to judge the heart Of any ethos: you can define it As list of traits, each attribute a part Of every soul we do include; admit However, that another way to see Ethnicity is not as area Of aspects shared by all, but boundary Between cultures. Your mental cornea Will find an inner block this thought unbinds; It makes more sense to synthesize a wall That may divide two cultures across lines And disenchant all chance for a cabal. For no true ethnic can exist alone; Through converses are their distinctions shown. Our Tolkien used this second, boundary means When he described his subcreated world. In every case, as he constructs new scenes, His cultures clash, their warring flags unfurled, And each defines its enemy. E.g., The orcs were merely twisted elves, defiled By Melkor's might. Through contrasts readers see That all things loved by elves, the orcs reviled-- Vice-versa holds true, too. This all is found In Robert Foster's Guide to Middle Earth: The reader's knowledge of each race is bound Up in the other. Likewise, Elvish mirth Is used to make human grimmness stand out; Through contrasts his depictions gain their clout. Though many authors have attempted to Create new worlds as popular as his, They failed, for they did not pay proper due To our first rule of ethnic base, which is That cultures can't exist alone. Instead, They frequently presented enemies Who really varied very little. Read, These stories seemed like shallow parodies Of Tolkien's battles grand, where powers fey Warred for the final conquest--whether Light Or Dark prevailed, the fate of all did lay In fragile balance. Not like those who write Of cheap affairs whose armies' difference Is unknown, even to the audience. That boundary philosphy is fact Is clear to see in modern social climes. When asked, a "white" school youth will say that "black" Is made of "dialect" and "songs in rhymes," Or grudgingly, "they dance well." Rarely will You hear, "they follow patriarchal rites," And, "they believe it's wrong for one to kill," Because such rules are followed by the "whites" As well. The "white" perceives "black" influence In just those cases which are different From him. In sooth, an ethos is a fence Containing kindred of convergent bent, And constraining those who won't repent--for in The shadow of the fence fall those who sin. The next important thing to think about When writing ethnic works, is to create A deep-set sense of background, which will rout The reader's feelings to their proper state. Through understanding causes and effects The reader is allowed a surer grasp Of cultural discords. Thus, he connects The present with the past in heart-felt clasp, And feels the living breath of history. If ethos can't exist alone, then nor May one remain bereft of memory, Traditions holding lore from days of yore. An ethos must include some roots, the songs Still sung of ancient sufferings and wrongs. Besides unprecidented popular Success, then rare in fantasy genre, The Rings series was quite irregular In this respect: it held an aurora Of myths and legends from antiquity, Which Tolkien built through many scattered clues, In fragments of old songs and poetry, Of ancient Gods at work. One now argues If Tolkien did not inadvertantly Invoke a paradox, by giving full Disclosure to explain clairvoyantly Whatever might transpire; thus to fool The common pitfall of "contrivedness"-- The bain of those whose plots oft hinge on guess. Where other authors often fail to match The genius of his legacy is in Providing depth of detail--readers catch When they are being duped; no harlequin Will sate them now! New writers try to fill Criterion that Tolkien set when he First told of F‰anor's bright Silmaril, But find they lack the time or energy To do more than produce a brief prologue. They ask the reader to accept their fresh Creation, minus a temporal log Of any sort. An ethnic world should mesh Historical allusions to retain respect, and from mere happenstance abstain. And so, it must be said, the past reflects On our contemporary views of what Comprises valid ethos. Architects Of worlds of fantasy, stuck in a rut, Should note that understanding "black" concerns Cannot be done without reminder of The years when slavery left collar burns On every neck. O scribe, let no kid glove Constrain the fire of your flowing pen! Are women seen as their own ethnic throng Because of gender? No! Instead, 'twas men, Through centuries of thinking en mass‚ wrong, That brought them social insecurity, few legal rights, et hoc genus omne. The final element we should discuss Is language; whether bridge of barrier, Melodious or harsh and ponderous, It is yet, nonetheless, the carrier Of all the author finally imparts. As such, the sound and tone of every word Is blazoned deep into the readers' hearts. Thus, great care should be taken, that when heard No thoughtless word or phrase will bring surprise To startled readers' eyes. In lieu, pursue A constant theme, and in that steady guise Achieve the final prize: that is, a new Scenario which readers take in hand, to be transported to your faerie-land. In Tolkien's case, the language was much more Than means to tell a story; it came first, Before the books, 'till Tolkien's high rapport With languages, from lectures much rehearsed At Oxford, ordered him to next conceive A people who would speak his tongue. These elves, For such they were, soon led him to believe A homeland need be built, if dusty shelves Were not to be his Quenya's fate. So, knowing well The rules of ethos, next he made the rough And ugly dwarves, that he could through them tell About his fairer elves. Not yet enough, He then wrote down the myths that gave each race Its language, background, and historic place. Though up-and-coming authors recognize The vast significance that language plays In ethos, each one generally shies From writing down his own--the long delays Involved amaze the most prolific bards. But just as bad as making no new words Is using textbook English, with regards To sentence composition. Afterwards, Discerning readers feel a bit deprived If all the writer did was recombine Old bits of common knowledge. Books contrived In such a way don't long survive; to shine As Tolkien did, assume some dialect: archaic, technopunk, or Christian sect. The world today is full of people taught That words should dictate ethnic scorn or praise: The citizens of Georgia say madlodt For "thank-you," not spaceeba, Russia's phrase Expressing gratitude. Returning to The "black" example, Betsy Winsboro And Irvin Solomon wrote this review About ebonics not too long ago: The "black" vernacular serves to obstruct Its users from advancing to a caste Commensurate with "whites;" "blacks" must instruct Their youth to shed their culture and lambast Their heritage if they wish to succeed; They might as well still harvest cottonseed! We now have seen three elements that will, When carefully applied with heart and sense, Give publishers an ethos wrought with skill, Bring readers joy, and prove your diligence. When Tolkien wrote his masterpiece he sought To make sure every element was there: Contrasting cultures, deeply rooted plot, And languages to give his ethos flair. However, other authors often fail When seeking to create an ethnic yarn; Ignoring vital parts, they write a pale miscarriage, quickly swept beneath a cairn. These fallen authors should have paid a look At real-world situations for their book.