The Ethics of Elfland

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By chance I am reading through Orthodoxy by G.K Chesterton at the same time that we are watching the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings  (Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work). Reflecting the one work into the other leads to interesting insights and observations.

What is it about the scale and scenery of The Fellowship of the Ring that engenders such a sense of magic? It isn’t the scale itself. There are both large and small things. The fact of elves?

I think Chesterton has the sense of it when he talks of the Ethics of Elfland, and how our wonder of the world is at odds with what the modern sciences blithely assure us are the laws of the universe. But there is no real sense of magic and wonder in the scientific patterns of coincidence.

Yet there is in the possibilities of Elfland. One and two will always be three, but the tree might be a dryad, awake or asleep; the river might flood with waves shaped like horses. It is magical when the same thing happens over and over, dawn to dawn or dusk to dusk, because at any moment it might be different. The sense of wonder is there, unobscured by “laws” of science.

So into wonder … and Moria … we go.

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