i Nili o i Ardanole Newsletter:
Your source for Lord of the Rings Updates, Poetry, Art, Parody and Satire.
Issue 2, Volume 1. June 2nd, 2003.
In This Issue: Darkness and Light, the Tools of Tolkien.
A Tale of Darkness and Light by Perian.
"Did Sauron Really Know What he was Doing When He Turned the Lights Out?" by Xara.
Creating Deapth With Shadows by Perian..
In Every Issue:
Quote(s) of the Week.
Letters to the Editor.
A Tale of Darkness and Light:
A Musing Into the Concept, Controversy, and Mythology Surrounding Tolkien’s Imagery
One of the most notable aspects of the writing of Tolkien was his resplendent and particularly detailed natural imagery. In particular the concepts of darkness and light find their way often into his writings in brilliantly eloquent and vibrant scenes:
...‘And in the wall the Dark Door gaped before them like the mouth of night. Signs and figures were carved above its wide arch, too dim to read, and fear flowed from it like a grey vapour’... ~The Return of the King, Book V, Chapter II.
As you can see, not only the scenes, but the titles are filled with the division of light and dark; the Dark Door, the Black Gate, Mordor (Black Land), Moria (Black Pit), the White Tower (of Minas Tirith), the White Downs (of the Michael Delving area of the Shire), the White Tree, the White Rider.
But Tolkien’s style has recently come under a bombardment of criticism from those overly eager to judge without basis. Many have accused him of an undercurrent of prejudice, even blatantly condemned his work as racist. This accusation clearly comes from those who have only had the most surface glimpse of Tolkien’s works, for we can see the elimination of prejudices in friendship between Legolas and Gimli, the corruption of the head of the White Council, the nine pale skinned Numenorian kings whose lust for power brought about their own slow demise. What Tolkien writes of is something far deeper and inherent to us all. Now, please stifle your giggles: Humans are, and have been throughout history, afraid of the dark.
As Tolkien himself drew a vast amount of his inspiration from mythology, including the very relevant concept of the "light elves" and "dark elves" from the Norse, I will use such sources to illustrate. Possibly beginning in our prehistorical days when we were hunted by nocturnal predators, this fear of the dark, and by natural contrast love of light, is prevalent throughout many cultures. In Egypt, for example, night was feared above all else, and it was generally believed that the day would not return if it were not for the nighttime vigilance of their feline guardians. Through many cultures there is the belief that life, the universe and everything (to borrow the title of an ingenious book) is all but a grand dream of a creator deity. This has created the underlying understanding that at any time this deity could wake from its dream, most likely during the ending of the darkest hours, those before dawn, and that all of existence could disappear before our waking.
Even as these varying cultures do, Tolkien also gives us hope for the goodness within the darkness and the night, for even within night there is the comfort and protection of Varda, the light of the stars, beauty of the Evenstar, and the half-heard dreamsong of the elves.
May we ever walk on starlit paths."Did Sauron Really Know What He Was Doing When He Turned the Lights Out?"
The Dark Arts from a Scientific Point of View
Since the dawn of time moods have been associated with the weather, and more specifically with light. Dark stormy nights are supposedly a favorite meeting time for ghosts, demons, witches and other spooky supernatural beings, and hope always comes with the dawn. How many times have you read a book or seen a movie (excluding The Matrix) which has the bad guys dressed in black and the good guys dressed in white, or lighter colours at least? Contrary to some beliefs that this a racist statement, it is merely following the ancient human suspicion that darkness is very, very scary. Even the common phrase 'he/she has gone over to the dark side' is a reflection of this deep-seated fear of the dark. How many times have you heard phrases like "It's raining in my heart" or "I'm walking on sunshine" in the lyrics of popular songs. This is because of the popular belief that light and the weather affects our moods. But could they be right? Sauron certainly seemed to think so.
"Pippin looked up, and it seemed to him that the sky had grown ashen-grey, as if a vast dust and smoke hung above them, and light came dully through it." (The Return of the King, Chapter One: Minas Tirith). For everyone familiar with the final volume of JRR Tolkien's epic Lord of the Rings trilogy you will no doubt remember the darkness that spread forth from Mordor over all the surrounding lands as the final battles began, and the air of despair it created in the city of Minas Tirith. It has always been assumed that this was to aid the servants of the Dark Lord, many of whom cannot abide sunlight, but could this not also have been a form of psychological warfare, and was it effective? These are the questions I asked myself when our science teacher announced that we had three months to conduct a detailed scientific investigation and, not being one particularly interested in science, I decided to make it more interesting for myself.
But the experiment was easier said than done. Now that I'd decided my subject, how would I go about the investigation? After much head scratching, researching past experiments on similar topics and many, many scrap pieces of paper with discarded ideas later, I had my experiment. The next day I went to my science teacher and requested the use of the science departments light meter, at first he was very happy to lend it, until he asked how long I wanted it for. When I said I needed to use it for 28 days continuously he was less than impressed, and after much debate (friendly debate) we decided that I could use it on the condition I brought it to school with me every day in case the science department needed to use it for anything, in which case they would relieve me of it. This opened up an entire new field of physic for me which I did not have time to explore, regarding light meters and their inexplicable ability to increase dramatically in weight over time.
Now that I had my light meter, I needed ten willing test subjects to fill out my mood survey for 28 days. With the help of some school friends and parent's work friends I managed to make the number, and the experiment began. This is the point at which I tell you how completely and disappointingly (from a journalist's point of view) uneventful. Well, that's not entirely true, there were some noteworthy events but I didn't find out about them until afterwards so I won't recount them here.
28 days after the experiment began the surveys came back and I began to process the results. At first I was rather excited as the light measurements I took and the reported moods of each test subject seemed to show a very similar pattern of increasing and decreasing, indicating that on the gloomier days light-wise people actually felt gloomier too, but when I received the rest of the surveys disaster struck. I discovered that many of my reliable test subjects had for some unfathomable reason misunderstood the survey questions and filled every single day out wrong, which meant that I didn't have a sufficient enough amount of reliable results to draw conclusion from. What I did have however was a lifetimes supply of scrap paper which I have as yet only used a mere fraction of a fraction of. But that is irrelevant. The experiment was a failure, I returned the now ten tonne light meter to a very disgruntled science teacher who had not once (much to my agony and frustration) required the use of the precious and physic-laws-defying object. In my report I wrote "inconclusive results" under the Conclusion heading and handed it in downcast. Although I did get an A+ for sheer effort and determination, we will never know whether Sauron really had it right, or if he was a mere victim of ancient superstition like everyone else.
Creating Deapth With Shadowsby Perian.As in life, darkness is essential in art to bring out light, and vica versa. And so for our random artistically instructional section this week, I have chosen black and white sketching. To make everything simpler, or at least a bit more interesting, I have given it the form of the quest in TLotR.Step 1: The Finding of the Ring: Choosing Your Subject. Now, generally I am not fond of using models, as it tends to restrict personal creativity, but for someone who is still not comfortable with drawing the human form or for examples, photographic models are ideal. When choosing a photograph to use as a model, try to find one with a good lighting situation. Half the face in shadow and half in light is particularly good, because you are able to capture the shape of the brows, dark definition on one side of the nose, and so on. You will also want background elements which add to the picture, not create distraction, if you are doing portraiture. I have chosen a picture of Arwen which fulfills all of these criterion.Step 2: A Conspiracy Unmasked: Discovering Your Allies (in the form of drawing tools.) A few musts: Non-acidic paper, as it will not grow brittle and discolour; a good pencil (graphite, charcoal, ink, or carbon, I used the latter); a soft paintbrush, or a clean cosmetics brush if you do not have a paintbrush to clean off "dust" and eraser bits: do NOT use your hand. Your finger will press the medium deep into the paper, impossible to lift with an eraser, as well as leaving acidic oils which will turn a finger-paintish smudge of your paper a nasty grey-yellow. Experiment a bit to discover which media you most like.Step 3: Flight to the Ford: Overcoming the Doubt. Big step here. Almost everyone has worries in the beginning. "Where do I start? What if it doesn't turn out well? I don't want to waste the first sheet of my sketchbook..." To be blunt, it doesn't matter what happens. Even if the drawing is horrible, know that it will improve your future works. And simply knowing that it will be good will help you do a better drawing. Let go. Cross the ford. You'll be all right.Step 4: Rivendell: Defining Your Source of Light. Look at the picture you have chosen. The light source should be evident. If you're not used to spotting light sources, look into the person's eyes. The white spot amid the dark of the eye will tell you about where it is coming from. This is an important thing to keep in the back of your mind as you work.Step 5: The Mountains of Caradhras, and Caverns of Moria: Thinking in 3D. While you're picturing your image, think as if it is not the two dimensional image in front of you. Try to think of it in three dimensions, as you did when you watched the movie. Think of the cheeks slanting back, the brows leaping out, the nose needing a shadow, the whole lot.Step 6: Lothlorien: Quick Break. I'm serious! Already. Lol. Give your mind a break. Drink a glass of water. Stretch your fingers. Relax. Let your mind wander. Then plunge in.Step 7: Amon Hen: Deciding Where To Go. Start in the middle somewhere. Give yourself room to work in your subject, and if you have to cut out the scenery, so be it. Slowly go along with a light layer of shading wherever it is needed, keeping an idea in your mind of where you are going. "Aha! This eyebrow lines up with the top of the ear... That cheek promontory is halfway between the eye and the nostril"... and so on. This will help you keep everything in proper proportion.Step 8: Gondor: Defining the Boundaries of Darkness. When working with something very dark, such as black hair, give a rough boundary of where you can't go with the darkness; then you can fill in the black areas quickly.Step 9: Into Mordor: Plunging into Darkness. Now leap into those black areas! (Even blondes and white-haired people have shadows which will appear black around the neck or under the ear.) Fill in the darkness, and work out from there, gradually getting lighter.Step 10: The Waiting at Helm's Deep: The Art of Doing Nothing (or Negativing). Now, stretch your field into the hair, further into the face, and so on, but be very cautious about where you do not draw! Remember, if light is hitting hair, it is hitting the top hairs. That means that you will not be drawing the hair, but the area between hairs. This goes for other areas of light as well. You can draw black, but not white, so be cautious!Step 11: The Ithilin Gathering: Celebration! Step back from your picture for a moment. Give yourself a pat on the back. You've made it this far! This will give you the positive outlook to go onward.Step 12: The Scouring of the Shire: Time to finish up! Now you have the method down, do those unfinished areas, touchup where it needs it, and make your subject as perfect as you can.Step 13: The Grey Havens: To the Horizons. Now do your background. The further back it gets, the less you know about it due to dust, moisture or light particles in the air, so don't make it as clear as your subject. Go as far as you wish... then you're done!Congratulations! Simply by adding shadows to pure whiteness, you have created the depth of a new picture! Darkness does have its virtues, you see.
Quotes of the Week.Dom: "There'd be times when someone would get tired and lose their temper, but we became such good friends that we got to know when someone was at the breaking point, and whether they needed a night out or just a good night's sleep, whether they needed to be left alone or given a hug-"Billy: "I need a hug."Dom: "Not now!""Though here at journey's end I lie
In darkness buried deep
Beyond all towers strong and high
Beyond all mountains steep
Above all darkness rides the Sun
And stars forever dwellI will not say the Day is done
Nor bid the Stars farewell."
Tolkienish.This Week: Dwimmers!
Dwimmer or Dwimmor: (adjective) Rohirric for something haunted, foul, or ghostly. For example: Dwimmerlaik: Foul spectre or ghost, a term used by Eowyn; Dwimmorberg: The Haunted Mountain of Ered Nimrais behind Dunharrow; and Dwimmordene, the name of the Rohirrim for Lothlorien, or as their term coins it "The Haunted Valley".
Letters to the Editor.Dear Editor,
I was very impressed by your attempt at lembas bread making, even to the point of trying to make it myself, an impressive feat on your part as I am not known for enthusiasm in cooking, my greatest cooking accomplishment to date being microwave chocolate pudding. Unfortunately as I was about to begin, I discovered that I probably should have checked what ingredients I needed for it before going shopping earlier today, so sadly I have not yet been able to master lembas, but I live in hope, especially since my waffling iron is not as temperamental as yours clearly is!
PS Will this newsletter be a weekly or fortnightly thing?
It always delights me when the more understated of tasks creates an impact in the enthusiastic mind. I shall endeavour, after healing up a few bruises and scalds, to make another attempt in order to perfect the art of non-elves making lembas. Remember, those waffling irons aren't so innocent as they look.And we will be presenting the newsletter weekly, assuming that with the chaos of lembas I can remember what day of the week it is.Best wishes,The Editor.