Today I am posting a somewhat special text. I lost my grandfather earlier this week. He was a pillar for me so I had to do something to honor him. I hope you’ll like it.
Grandpa died last night. Dad and I drive towards Jørlunde, eyes moist. My father hits the steering wheel every time the traffic slows down, grumbling: “What a jerk! What an idea he had to go up on the roof! Images from my recent vacation come to mind: colorful kites tearing through the gray sky. I wipe my nose again with my soaked sleeve and shout silently: “ Grandpa ! Why ? »
Dad drops me off in front of his childhood home, a tall, five-story building that survived World War II. He asks me if he can leave me, the time to go “ do what is necessary ” for grandfather. I accept, of course, without realizing that for the first time I will be alone in this house where I have spent all my summers, as far back as I can remember.
As soon as I walked through the door, the smell of waxed wood brings a few tears to my eyes – I imagine my next vacation away from this soon to be lifeless place. In the living room, I linger over the photos placed on the sideboard: grandmother; grandfather and her, little piece of woman, hand in hand on the beach; my father on a racing bike; me, very young, all smiles in the middle of a huge sandcastle. I fix these images and engrave them in my memory. Standing in front of the large library, I take the time to recognize the books that I have seen a thousand times near the armchair next to the fireplace. A book with a golden cover, which I had never spotted, caught my eye. I climb on a chair to grab it; the title surprises me: How to age well – not the kind of reading for this house. I open the manual, a feather falls. I pick it up, and notice the wet ink on its end. After a few seconds, I finally sit down in front of the thick wooden table to read these tips that will no longer apply to my grandpa. All pages are blank. Not a single sign, not even a date, nothing. What good advice, congratulations! In rage, I take up the pen and almost engrave my recommendation to myself, on a random sheet: “ Do not walk on a slippery roof ! I slam the book shut and put it back in place before running upstairs to throw myself on my mattress.
Dad comes home a few hours later, dejected. Little talkative, we dine quickly then go up to bed to put an end to this cursed day. From my bed, I hear the wooden floor creak – my father is approaching. The creaks stop – short pause behind the door. He finally comes in, draws the curtains of my room and wishes me good night without looking at me.
The next morning, rays of light stream through the new shutters and wake me up. I hear my mother stirring the kitchen utensils down the hall. Strange sensations, feeling of having braked suddenly, that my memories collided with the walls of my skull. I slept at my house, not at my grandfather’s. I tumble in pajamas in front of my mother, my eyes still glued, and ask her:
— Where is dad ? — In the garden,” she replies. I do not understand. — And grandpa Michel? — Grandpa, I don’t know. At his place, or at the beach, I imagine. Call him if you want. I sit up abruptly, afraid my legs will wobble and let me fall.
At noon, I insist with my father throughout the meal: I want to eat at grandpa’s this evening. He gives in – the privilege of being an only son of an only son. My grandfather, always very happy to receive us, simmered his famous roast for us. After dinner, while my parents are washing the dishes and tidying up the kitchen, I take out the cards to play belote. When I close the drawer of the sideboard where the photos are enthroned, I turn around and ask my grandpa a question, without thinking: — Do you think of grandma sometimes? — day. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. — And are you talking to him? — Nope. Not directly. I talk to myself, and since she is etched in my memory, she may hear me. — What was the disease that took her away again? — A hereditary filth, banal and sad, which left him no chance. — Could we treat her today? — Quite a question! I do not know. I do not believe. Do you have any funny ideas tonight, big boy… Shall we play? My parents arrive at the same time.
Restless nights for two weeks, intense reflections, I think I know what happened, without obviously understanding. I alternate between fear and joy at having brought my grandfather back. I didn’t tell my parents. I often have a headache. Dead, not dead, that’s a lot of emotions.
Rainy Saturday, dark gray early afternoon. I’m trying to solve a puzzle when the phone rings. My mother picks up and wipes her hands on her apron. I see her become livid, she cries to me: — Go get your father, quickly!
Grandfather died this morning in a car accident. Dad and I drive towards Jørlunde, eyes full of water, like the road. My father hits the steering wheel every time the red lights of the vehicles in front of us come on, grumbling: — What a jerk! What an idea to drive in such weather! Images of beaches, kites, roofs and feathers cross my mind. I blow my nose in the crook of my elbow, my head is spinning – want to vomit.
My father stops in front of grandpa’s house. He tells me that he will “do what is necessary” and that he will be back soon. Raining cats and dogs. I walk across the yard, go around the puddles, protected by my yellow raincoat. I slam the door, drop my jacket on the tiled hallway, and rush into the living room. The golden book has not moved. I take it gently this time – I don’t want to damage it and make it unusable. I open it to a page drawn at random, and with the quill already inked, I write diligently: “ Do not drive in torrential rain ! “.
My father arrives a few hours later. I come to meet him in the hallway; we hold each other in our arms. We don’t experience the same emotions and he doesn’t know it. During dinner, I chatter a little more than the circumstances would require, but he notices nothing, haggard.
The next morning, my mother comes to drag me out of bed with the promise of hot pancakes. The sun pushes aside the curtain of clouds with vigor. With my mouth still full, I ask if we can eat at grandpa’s tonight; my mother replies that it is already planned.
In Jørlunde, when I set the table, I hear my father talking low, but with intensity, with my grandpa. I only catch snippets of the discussion: it’s about degeneracy and relentlessness – I don’t understand a thing. The evening ends with a game of cards; my grandfather and I, with a smile on our lips, we beat my parents to the hilt.
Another week passes. I fell back to sleep. I feel like I have a super power. At times, that scares me.
Sunday noon, my father comes into my room with tears in his eyes. I can’t believe him when he tells me that grandpa fell off the roof. ” Still ? I want to say, biting my lip. Three accidents, including two falls from the roof in one month, that’s not possible. I curse all the gods I know, and get in the car towards Jørlunde.
My father drops me in front of the house and I run into the living room. When I take the magic book and open it, a postcard falls on the ground. The photo looks like an advertisement for Lake Filsø: a black and red kite crosses the azure sky. I recognize grandfather’s handwriting. He left me a note, very short: “Big boy, I know it’s difficult, but please let me go. I am very sick and I prefer to leave alive. I put my atoms back into play and I join grandma. I like you. Grandpa. »
Last night grandfather died for the last time.
Jeg savner dig så meget bedstefar. Hvis jeg blev den kvinde, jeg er i dag på trods af mors fravær, er det takket være dig. Du vil altid være i mine tanker. Jeg elsker dig rigtig meget.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones, tell them you love them and see you soon!
Today I just wanna wrote an horror story for changing a bit of what I wrote generaly. (There is no Blood and no Gore if you are triggered by this). It take me more time that I though but I hope it will please you.
The last rays of the day
It all started with an explosion. A flash of light, and a rain of brown dust. They told us not to panic. That these particles were harmless, and that we could go on living as if this extraordinary event had never happened. They were wrong.
I bend down to pick a new wildflower and bring it to my face before adding it to my bouquet. Mom will love it.
At first, no one really noticed the changes. People, stuck in their routine, blinded by their problems, had better things to do than be moved by the amazing growth of shrubs or the flowering of dying plants. Days gradually turned into weeks, and everyone forgot about the explosion, the light and the specks of dust. At least, until the animals start to change too.
The tall grass scratches my calves. The wind whips through my hair and softens the sunburn on my weathered skin. But apart from this breeze which stirs the leaves and shakes the tops of the trees, all is calm. Accustomed to this supernatural silence, I barely remember that there was a time when I liked to listen to the chirping of birds, the barking of dogs, and even the hum of traffic on the main road. Now, only the sound of my breathing remains, and the creak of my footsteps sinking into the thick carpet of wild grass.
Neighborhood animals have become aggressive. Their owners no longer dared approach them. Then the birds started falling from the sky. One second they were flying gracefully through the clouds, the next they were lying crushed on the asphalt. Even my cat was different. He ran away from our company to hide in dark places, refused to eat and sometimes disappeared for days on end.
I plod along on the way home. I have crossed these fields and wandered in this forest so many times over the past few months that I could walk there with my eyes closed. My passages ended up forming a path in the thick vegetation, even if this tends to regain its rights now that my walks are becoming rarer. I find it increasingly difficult to walk, but I wanted to make this bouquet and choose the most beautiful flowers. Although not much else has mattered lately, I won’t give up trying to smile back at Mom. She suffered so much.
My cat is dead. We buried him under the chestnut tree, mum, Theo and me. At that time, Dad continued to go to work every morning, but we all knew that something was wrong. The gardens were fallow. The roots of the trees created wide cracks in the road, as if trying to come up to the surface. A sweetish scent of flowers and humus lingered in the air. The dogs were no longer barking. Scientists could not explain these phenomena. They began to invent outlandish theories that only fueled general terror. One after another, people packed their bags and left, leaving empty houses behind. We decided to stay. Here or elsewhere there was the same anxiety-provoking climate, and Theo was ill.
I have to stop to catch my breath, sitting on a stump in the undergrowth. The pain in my muscles is unbearable. My chest is burning. My tense fingers tremble around my bouquet. More than a few minutes. Only a few hundred yards, and I’ll be home. So I grit my teeth, swallow back the sticky tears that have started rolling down my cheeks, and push myself forward. One step after another.
The neighborhood has taken on the appearance of a ghost town. People hunkered down and locked themselves in their homes, with whatever food supplies they could find. An armed militia has taken to patrolling the streets, on the tree-torn pavement that once lined the road. Freed from their concrete cage, they blossomed to dizzying heights while humans walled themselves in alive, holed up in their basements. I heard gunshots. Dad stopped pretending that the world was round. Theo stopped leaving his bed.
Long cracks crisscross the asphalt. Scraps of cars lie along the rutted sidewalks, some half-swallowed by ravenous nature. In the abandoned alleys, I come across trunks with almost humanoid shapes. Their branches lean over me to greet me, but I can’t stop. Not yet.
They cut the electricity. At night, we gathered in Theo’s room, Mom hugged me while Dad whispered that everything was fine, the flame of our last candles casting shadows on his bloodless face. Nothing had been going well for a long time. Outside, a war has finally broken out. People were hungry. Those who could still move emerged from their burrows, armed with clubs, knives or guns, and began to fight. We had nothing left to eat and mom had caught the disease that was eating away at my brother, so dad resolved to join in the chaos. It was the last time I saw him, through the planks that barred the windows, his slender figure moving away in the darkness.
I absently scratch the scabs that cover my forearm. A thick, syrupy liquid flows from my wounds. My bones crack like twigs as soon as I begin to move. I’m close to home now. I’m going to find mum and Théo soon. They are waiting for me in the garden, as always. As I drag myself to the rusty gate, I repeat these words to myself over and over again, until they form a bulwark against the pain that blocks my breathing.
The streets have regained their calm. An abnormal, implacable calm, cut only by the whistling of the wind. The plants have invaded everything, and the bodies have disappeared, replaced by young shoots. The seasons have passed without my ever encountering any living beings. It didn’t matter, as long as I didn’t lose Theo and Mom. I learned how to manage to find food, and after a while I realized that my body no longer needed to eat to regain its strength. All I had to do was lie in the sun, my bare skin pressed against the earth, to be satiated. I lost track of time.
I collapse at the feet of Mom’s motionless silhouette. When I find the courage to stand up, the sun is already low on the horizon. I brush against his rough hand, slip my bouquet between his frozen fingers, sketch a smile that makes my cheeks crack. Then I sit down, my back glued to his statue-like legs, calm. Already, I feel the climbing weeds clinging to my body and the pain fading. I am ready to join them. Mom, Theo and all the others. I close my eyes, and the last tear coagulates before reaching my chin, a drop of amber with golden reflections under the last rays of the day.
I visited a theatrical costume museum recently, unfortunately the guide was a pretty boy but bearded, always from behind and we were in a group so I didn’t dare to mention that I was deaf. I didn’t understand anything but I had a good time staring at his posterior! Seriously, I saw pretty old sewing boxes there. I never had the patience to learn sewing but I am always fascinated by the dexterity and meticulousness of the seamstresses and their attention to the smallest details. In short, these sewing boxes inspired me this little story which I hope you will like.
Naïa’s grandmother was a fortune-teller. She braided the threads of lives that she bound for eternity. She embroidered the frayed beards of the fabrics of fallen heroes. She sewed rosebuds on faded bodices and veiled taboos to patch up couples. His shop was famous. All the pains of the heart that the canton counted thronged there. And then, one fine morning, as spring was approaching, she died.
When she died, Naïa inherited her sewing box, a cherry wood box whose wood, polished by years of handling, was as soft as a castle banister. It must be said that the object was transmitted from grandmother to granddaughter for more than two hundred years. When his mother gave it to him, she also handed him a cloth envelope, closed with an embroidered seal, but she specified: “First take the time to observe what the box contains, Naïa. Your grandmother, by her gesture, designates you as heiress of the gift, but you must do your scales to begin. For that, you have to familiarize yourself with the tools, the materials, that you appropriate them, that you discipline them and when you can sew with your eyes closed an envelope similar to the one I am giving you, then you will be able to look at what ‘it contains. Not before. » The tone was solemn, it called for no questions, no answers either. Naïa took the envelope, put it aside and gently opened the box. This had five compartments: that of wool, cotton, silk and linen threads, that of braid and sequins, that of buttons and staples, that of pieces of fabric and that of pins, needles and hook guarded by a silver thimble. For several weeks, Naïa scrupulously reviewed the contents of the box. She analyzed it, inventoried it, classified it. Finally, when she knew the box by heart, she got down to sewing. She began with small jobs, the first of which was the making of a black, opaque headband, to learn how to sew blind. Gradually, she became more complex. She systematically did everything twice, once while watching, once blindfolded and, in case of error, started again and again. She trained for two months before becoming interested in the envelope. Then, she listened to it patiently and tried to reproduce it by choosing her needle carefully. She copied it, several times, looking, applying herself. Finally, when she had acquired perfect control of her gesture, she adorned herself with her blindfold. She often pricked herself, but insisted. It was the embroidered seal that was the most difficult to achieve, but, at the end of June, the envelope was made, identical to that of her grandmother. So she opened the latter and found an enigmatic letter inside.
“Naiah, The gift does not exist. In reality, none of us have ever actually possessed it. It comes from the thimble. For him to reveal himself, you will have to choose a knight. To do this, follow these instructions: First, go to the cemetery. Find a grave that holds a brave man, one of those who died in battle – no matter what war they were fighting. Do not choose a deserter, this one will never help you. Find out about his past. Choose a man who loved, without being afraid and without counting, as one throws oneself into an abyss, one needs a passionate being. Choose well, Naïa, you can’t go back, you can’t start again. As soon as you have found the grave, dig the earth with your bare hands, collect the one that remains hanging under your fingernails and fill the thimble with it. Press well, nothing should fall out when you flip the dice. Filled flush. Water this soil with orange blossom, every morning, for a week, at a fixed time. Then, slip the die into the envelope you just made. Seal it up, put it in the sewing box and wait to hear it wiggle. At this time, you will open it. »
Naïa went to the cemetery, she noted on a paper the names of the possible pretenders to the title of knight, she searched, in the archives of the city, their feats of arms, their history. She questioned the families, eliminated little by little those who were not suitable, then made up her mind. She followed her grandmother’s instructions step by step and in the month of November, on the third precisely, the envelope was shaken. Thus was born the knight Lord Emeric of the thimble.
It was tiny: two legs of midnight blue wool, two arms of braided yellow cotton thread, black sequins instead of feet, others, gold, instead of hands and, for a helmet, a press stud; all emerging from his thimble armour. Barely out of the envelope, he seized the spear hook and proud of his new gleam, in a surprisingly thin voice, spoke to Naïa:
— Good day, lady, what can I do for you? Naïa was surprised by the tone and the formula which contrasted with the sudden familiarity, but probably that was how a knight spoke. She was not disconcerted: — Hello, Lord! I will call you Lord, it will be easier. In reality, I don’t know yet what you can do since I don’t yet know what you can do. What can you do ?
Lord then declaimed: “I am the anti-heartbreaker The Tailor of Woven Fates The ardor mechanic The healer of wounded loves! »
What lyricism, boastfulness! Naïa told herself that she had not chosen the most humble of knights… “Perfect, Lord, but, in practice, how does it work?”
— I do not know, Naïa. By crowning me a knight of the thimble today, you awaken great powers that I have never before been confronted with. But do not be afraid, my dear, I nobly carry out the tasks, which with honor, they come to entrust to me. — Okay… let me think. — My devotion will be as it always was: flawless. No one can claim that in the past I fled before the slightest obstacle or that I refused to face… — Shut up, Lord, please! I said, “Let me think”! — Certainly, I consent to it, but when Lady Fortune unites, as here… — Lord! — Damn, but if… — Stop! — If it suits you.
Naïa had, until then, followed her grandmother’s instructions, but it was clear that she was coming to the end of her roadmap. Sitting in the workshop that had served as a shop, in front of her sewing box, associated with an elf hungry for archaic words of which the tomb had deprived her, Naïa began to doubt the relevance of her choice. She was proud of the hopes placed in her and wanted to prove herself worthy of them, but it had to be admitted that the situation was funny. She was going to have to discipline Lord whose verve exasperated her, but above all find how to use her “powers” to work for the happiness of all.
Naïa thinks that her knight needed a mission that would serve as a trial run to test his abilities. She knew that the Tellier sisters were angry, she told herself that reconciling them could constitute a first challenge whose consequences, in the event of failure, would be limited. However, she preferred to act in the shadows. So she submitted the idea to Lord and waited for his instructions. This one, perhaps offended by the fact that she had molested him, was, this time, concise: it was necessary, to begin with, that she bring him back a few hairs from each of the Telliers. Naïa therefore waited, hidden in the thickets, in front of their home and as soon as they left, broke in, inquired about their brushes in the bathroom and took her loot there. As soon as she returned to the workshop, she handed her treasure to Lord. He seized it religiously, settled down cross-legged on the table and began to weave. He metamorphosed thus concentrated. Naïa looked at him, fascinated. A ballet was a ballet, there was so much grace in his gestures. He worked in silence, skilfully mixing brown and blond hair with cotton and silk threads. When he was done, he handed Naïa a one-centimeter square that she detailed on the count. She then discovered, in the intertwining of fibers, a complex pattern of great finesse that looked like a cabalistic sign. The next day at the market, the Tellier sisters laughed together in front of the fishmonger’s stall. It was time to reopen the store.
Naïa saw a lot of people marching by as soon as trade resumed. The division of labor between her and Lord was simple. She received customers, served them tea, made them sit down and questioned them. Lord, hidden in the sewing box, was listening. Then they debriefed. Lord then drew up the list of what he needed, then, after Naïa had provided him with the necessary material, sat down on the table – like the very first time –, the open box at his side, and began his work. . On the weekends, when the shop was closed, Lord gave Naïa sewing challenges and Naïa gladly played. Lord was still winning, but Naïa was constantly improving. Years passed like this, many conflicts were settled, one would have thought that the region was a huge game of go where dark designs were followed by the return of white innocence. The reputation of the shop no longer stopped at the borders. So, six years after Lord and Naïa met, Ludmila entered the shop. Naïa, barely arrived, had just opened the box to say hello to the knight when this beautiful sixty-something Russian entered. Dumbfounded by her beauty, Naïa did not have the reflex to close the box in time. The damage was done…
This woman was a doll with white hair and high cheekbones, rosy with the coolness of the air. In his intelligent eyes, of a blue “heart of a glacier illuminated by the sun”, there was a strange mixture of firmness and softness. Her clothes of splendid fabrics, from the dress to the coat, were only shimmering. Naïa, captivated, welcomed him with deference, as one welcomes a princess… And Lord came out of his box declaiming:
— Madam, I have been looking for you for so many years. That’s when it all went wrong… Ludmila pocketed the thimble with everything it contained and ran away. Naïa could not catch up with her.
Despite her efforts to continue to treat pain, restore souls, quench sorrows, without Lord, Naïa could not repair everything. But she didn’t lose hope and bought a thimble…maybe the gift would come back.
Naïa died six months ago. Today, I managed to make, with my eyes closed, an envelope identical to the one she gave me. My mother told me her story. Tomorrow, I will go to the cemetery, I will look for a knight and then, we will see if the gift accepts to manifest itself again.
A personal version of my favorite Andersen tale. I hope you will like it.
I am different. I have always been. For my mother, it’s as if I were an extra-terrestrial. But having no place among those hanging around on a mound of dirt doesn’t seem so bad, when you have the whole sea as your home… If I could properly redefine the terms myself, I would say that they were similar to each other; not that I was different. They were the ones who looked nothing like me; who had neither my ardor nor my boldness.
At the first rays of the sun across the big blue, you had to be up already, doing the healthy breaststrokes of the morning, in order to thank the day for having put an end to one more night; in our beliefs it meant that the end of the world was still far away. In this precise order, you had to let the whales, huge and graceful, pass first. Then came the turn of sea turtles, accompanied by molluscs. Afterwards, in a rainbow torrent, a whole flock of diverse, multicolored fish rained down, some more cheerful than the others. And finally, the parade of mermaids, in well-ordered rows, from our coastal cave to the coral reef, without forgetting to always throw the first fin stroke from left to right. Always ! This, orchestrated with the most perfect harmony in the azure and salty blue of an awakening sea. “Stand up straight on your tail! I heard my mother grumble every morning. “Brows up! All, without exception, gave themselves up with grace and zeal to this abominable morning masquerade. And to close the show, it took hours to harvest enough seaweed for the day’s meals. Aren’t they fed up? As soon as I reached puberty, I withdrew from these activities. My rebellious behavior had ended up driving a wedge first between my mother and me, then between the other mermaids and me. The difference was scary. They didn’t look like me, so they kicked me out.
I liked it better in my corner of the sea, waving my massive tail softly, my beautiful brush set with precious stones in my hands, languidly combing my abundant hair. I had found a secluded, deep space not far from the reef where I could snuggle up in the hold of an old ship that had sunk. He was massive. Wonderful. He bore his name well; “La Santa Ma…” printed on its side. The Santa Madonna? Santa Marianna? Santa Maria…? That was all that was legible; “La Santa Ma”… The rest had been erased, and destroyed. I wonder what hair-raising adventure this boat has had… At its prow stood a magnificent woman’s trunk; she had a haughty bearing, her arm firmly raised, and her hair frozen in the direction of the wind. Sometimes I tried to talk to her, to find out her story, but she kept the secret of her eternity to herself, her gaze lost in the distance. Time crashed heavily like waves as I hid in this haven. I contented myself with swallowing what fell under my fins; small crustaceans, worms, sometimes even shrimp hidden here and there in the hold of the boat. But no algae. I could no longer bear this vegetal taste which marked in bitter letters the dreary and monotonous existence of a siren. There had to be something more than just existing. And one night, I discovered it. The Big Blue had fallen into a deep sleep that night. Inky night on land, and under sea. Only the distant glow of a timid moon glided over the almost motionless surface of the water; grain of light in my salty night.
Not a single small fish in sight. Everything was sleeping. Except those above…. Suddenly I felt a call. From the top. He was powerful. Like a punch to the heart. He was almost overpowering my own will. I perceived moreover, a metallic scent, delicious, new, that I did not know. I soared towards that call, cutting through the sea. I carefully stuck my head out of the water, dazzled by mysterious hymns emitted to the tribal sound of the drum, by a crowd of restless earthlings dressed in white. One of them saw me and exclaimed:
— There it is…the water spirit! She heard us!
Saying this, he grabbed an empty conch shell and began to blow with all his might. A bewitching sound made me shiver and prompted me to reveal myself then in full to them, erect on my large shimmering emerald tail, garlands of pearls at my belt. They were much smaller than in my memories, these earthlings. Dead silence. They all knelt down. Except one, waist deep in water, who seemed to implore me with a whimper. He was restrained by heavy chains. Looking at him I understood that he had been beaten. The metallic smell became stronger, more insistent, so I approached him, looking for the source of this intoxicating aroma that had pulled me out of my hole. Staring at his dripping wrist, I then discovered that red, throbbing elixir tickling my gills from the depths.
— What is your name, spirit?! I was shouted — I am Simbi, I answered. — Accept our sacrifice, mistress of the waters, and give us back the rain!
How? ‘Or’ What ? I was just a simple mermaid. What power did I have over nature to the point of extracting the rain from it alone? I had never touched a hair of an earthling; but by the time I came to my senses, there was nothing left but chains reddened by the feast I had just enjoyed. I had crunched many times, while an explosion of new flavors made me vibrate from my claws to the tip of my cock. I cheerfully licked my fingers, my arms, my lips. I wanted more, I wanted more…I approached the shore, beckoning the other earthlings to join me in the scarlet water… A flash of lightning streaked across the sky. And the clouds began to cry, the birth of a sea monster…
I found old fantasy books at a flea market and I had a strong desire to write some. I started a notebook with lots of little ideas that I think could make a good story, if one day I take the time to develop it all. In the meantime, here is something to give you a glimpse of a very small part of the universe in question.
Of Ice and Swords
Lyra put down her cold beer, sighing in relief. This truce in the fighting was a real happiness. Legs stretched under the small table ravaged by generations of drunks, she leaned on the back of the chair and savored the ambiance of the tavern. She always missed that warm hubbub when she went on a mission.
— Hey babe, would you like a…
The young woman suddenly raised her head and stared at the giant who had dared to disturb her tasting. He swallowed, cut short in his bluster. Behind him, his comrades were exchanging hearty laughs. Deceived by the slenderness of the leather-clad figure, they did not know what was hidden under the loose hood of the warmage, and had thought they could have fun at her expense. A common mistake. Lyra tilted her head and raised her eyebrows, daring her troublemaker to add a single word. His icy eye sparkled, and the man stepped back, muttering:
— Sorry, I don’t… sorry.
He turned around, his neck stiff and his shoulders tense, then rejoined his comrades with a jerky step, containing his desire to flee as fast as he could to avoid losing face. He was greeted with a string of surprised questions, which he waved aside, before grabbing a glass and downing it. Lyra allowed herself a small smirk, and went back to tasting her beer. She pouted when she noticed that the liquid had cooled in the meantime. She reached out with her right index finger, brushed the rim of the mug and watched the frost delicately settle there, then tasted again. It was much better. A new shadow invades his bubble of tranquility. She smelled of rancid sweat.
— I’m sorry, my Lady, but I… A thousand pardons, but we’d be more comfortable if you avoided using magic here. — I only chilled that donkey piss you sell like beer.
Lyra’s voice, low and steady, made the innkeeper sweat even more. His bald head began to glow.
— I don’t…yes, of course, but you make my customers nervous, and they… — Good. I am leaving.
The spell was broken anyway. The forty-year-old nearly fainted with relief. He stepped back hastily when the young woman got up, and returned to the relative shelter of her counter to resume polishing her glasses. Lyra took a few steps toward the door, then spun around sharply, her hand on the hilt of her shortsword, feeling someone tug on her cloak.
A little girl was staring at her, her brown braids all tangled, her nose encrusted with snot. She must have been what, five years old? Six, no more.
— Ma’am, can I come with you?
Lyra smiled, slipped her gun back into its sheath, and looked around for the mother. His gaze only caught terrified faces, which annoyed him to no end. Why, she was not going to eat the kid!
— Say, can I come? I too want to become a war mage! — Really, baby? Do you want to live in the cold and the mud, be constantly hungry and thirsty, see all your friends die?
The girl’s eyes widened; this description must not match the stories she had heard. Lyra suddenly wanted to please him, perhaps because she was determined to enjoy her few days off. She reached out and molded a tiny fragment of her power. An ice unicorn appeared on his palm. The mage offered it to the kid, whose face lit up, and took the opportunity to remove her cape from the sticky little hands. Her tranquility regained, she crossed the door of the tavern with a light step, and joined her horse tied to the terrace. The animal, immaculately white, snorts when he sees her come out, tinkling all the buckles of his pale blue harness. She freed him and straddled him lightly, immediately galloping him into the night. Now that she had betrayed her identity, she wanted to get away from this town before the rumor of her passing spread. So close to the border, the village must have been home to a veritable nest of spies.
The moon found Lyra still on horseback, and flashed armor in front of Raven’s Bridge. The mage tugged at the reins cursingly, stopping her mount in its tracks. She spun around in the saddle, and saw more soldiers spring up behind her. Trapped! They had been damn quick on that one. She muttered a few bits of ancient language and a shell of ice covered her like a breastplate. Just in time. An arrow bounces off his left shoulder. The men fanned out to surround him. One of them stood in front of her, and held out a skeletal hand, which clothed itself in flames. Lyra grimaced. War Mage versus War Mage. A nice part of pleasure in perspective.
The wizard’s fire coalesced into an incendiary projectile. When he came face to face, Lyra countered the attack with a wave of ice, but could not dodge the simultaneous charge of the soldiers, who threw her to the ground, causing her steed to flee. She fell heavily on the stones of the path, biting her tongue at the same time, and distributed a whole series of spears of ice around her to buy time to get up. She jumped to her feet, and ducked immediately to avoid another incendiary projectile. He crashed into an enemy soldier and turned him into a human torch. Without worrying about the unpleasant smell of tallow, Lyra charged again: she froze the ground under the feet of the foot soldiers, and drew her short sword. She had time to pierce two unbalanced men, before having to dodge a bluish flame, which grilled an additional assailant and warmed the earth. The others took off.
After several passes, Lyra frowned. The incessant attacks prevented him from concentrating, and therefore from casting powerful spells. Even though they got in each other’s way, the alliance of wizard and soldiers was formidable; she couldn’t do both at the same time. She countered several sword thrusts with an ice shield, which the fire mage immediately melted. A blade slashed the sorceress’ forearm, another brushed her cheek. Good ! It was time to step up a gear.
In a few words, Lyra locked herself in a gangue of thick ice, which her enemies immediately began to break up. One second, two, three… the little iceberg exploded, but it had done its job: the young woman had been able to concentrate enough to shape a spell of greater amplitude. An arrow of ice left his palms and shot up into the clear sky. Its bell trajectory avoided the surprised infantrymen, who did not bother to eliminate it. They charged again, forcing Lyra to protect herself with a new shield, which the fire mage began to pound mercilessly. Lyra’s sword danced and bit into flesh, but it wouldn’t last long. There were still far too many of them.
Feeling his prey weaken, the enemy mage redoubled his efforts. With both hands outstretched, he showered Lyra with heavy projectile fire, forcing her to defend, defend again. He smiled and wiped his sleeve on his forehead. He opened his mouth to fashion a new spell… and collapsed face down, eyes bulging. A huge snow tiger, bursting out of the forest like a cataclysm of violence, left his back and finished him off with a well-placed claw. Lyra, taking advantage of the soldiers’ surprise, straightened up and modeled a volley of ice javelins. Now that they were no longer protected, the men were dropping like flies. One of them tried to run away, but in two leaps the beast was on top of him.
The young woman staggered and fell, kneeling in the earth soaked with vital fluids, dropping her sword. Covered in blood, exhausted, she forced her breath back to normal and felt her heart slow down, calm down. She lifted the spell that drained her remaining energy; the snow tiger once again became Yo’lbars, his placid steed, which immediately put its nose in the grass, indifferent to the surrounding scene of carnage. Lyra surveyed the modest battlefield, and smiled. Eighteen to one. Not so bad for a first day off.
A few miles away, a tiny girl was dreaming of a magical battle and her lips, rustling in her sleep, practiced pronouncing the ancient spells. A tiny unicorn of ice adorned her frost-covered bedside table…
Today I post a text I wrote for an old project, making a short movie or a play with my sis and friends a few years ago. It never happened but one day maybe… Who knows?
Not being Spielberg and not having an unlimited budget, I wrote this story with several constraints. It needed a unity of location to avoid having to multiply decors and then a contemporary setting to avoid having too many costumes. Good despite all that I hope that the story will be pleasant!
“Welcome, people of Sidh, to the supernatural site of the mirage boghandel bookshop, run by Christiana Spandemager* , licensed witch. Here you will find all types of rare, exotic, forbidden, bewitched and other original books, available on demand or on order. Proof of your belonging to the People of Below will be required for any purchase of an item of category 3 or higher. If you wish to meet us, physically or esoterically, the contact tab will allow you to find our address in Copenhagen, as well as the signature of our psychic presence. The bookstore and all its staff thank you for your visit. »
Well, that should do the trick. Anyway, it’s not like I got paid for this job. And then my mother can’t tell the difference between a bookstore’s website and a Facebook page, so good… That’s also why I was chosen.
Christiana, my mother, has run this bookstore since she was eighteen and she is very proud of it. The apple of his eye. Not like me. You should also know that, in the family, we have been witches from mother to daughter for more than thirty generations. In other words, a lot of time. And then there was me. A failure in the family tree, no doubt. For me, Eleanore, sixteen years old and all my teeth, witch’s daughter, witch’s granddaughter, etc. I inherited absolutely none of the family gifts. But really none, not the slightest talent for sorcery. I am unable to cast even a minor incantation or craft an itch charm. Not even a small potion of nothing at all. Still, any fool with a recipe and the right ingredients should be able to make a decent potion, but not me, no. Nothing.
I chuckle now, but it wasn’t easy at first. When it was realized that I did not have the slightest magic power, the disappointment was great. And if I got used to it fairly quickly, my mother did not. She just couldn’t accept that the daughter of the most powerful witch in Copenhagen, and probably this half of Denmark, could be an ordinary human without the slightest supernatural ability. She lived in denial for quite a while, trying more and more exotic incantations in an attempt to reveal my magical abilities. Of course, it didn’t work.
When she finally came to terms, she just decided that the rest of the world didn’t need to know who I was. Out of the question that the other inhabitants of Sidh learn that his daughter was a “disabled person”. This means that almost all of the People Below know nothing of my existence, with a few exceptions, such as Fatima or Alibert, whom I have known for a very long time.
Speaking of Fatima, here she comes to check that I’m not sabotaging the work out of resentment towards my mother. She walks through the door gracefully, tall, thin and imperious, her long hair flowing behind her. She smiles at me, sits down next to me, and casts a doubtful glance at my computer screen.
— The design isn’t too bad, but you should enlarge the font. What is the password to access the esoteric part of the site? — Abracadabra. “You’ve always had a deplorable sense of humor. Keep the presentation page, but change the background color, it’s too dull. What do you have to click on to get to the part reserved for Sidh? — On the “m” of Mirage. It opens a page that asks you for the password, and if you give the right one, you get there. Besides, you and mom will have to distribute the flyers at the next black moon meeting, and tell the others to spread the word. Then, once on the site, you just have to choose from the items offered by my mother. I have classified them by subject and by dangerousness.
— Cool. So if I’m looking for the new “Handbook of Magical Deep Sea Plants”, I go first to “Botany” then to “Aquatic” and finally to “Level 2”, right?
— Exactly. There are also the dates and the authors, when they are known. And I’m almost done setting up the keyword search.
Fatima gives me a few more suggestions, before we abandon digital in favor of gossip. She always has an impressive number of juicy news under her belt, I sometimes wonder how she does it and if she isn’t using a little magic to collect all this information.
Fatima is my best friend and also the only one who belongs to the People of Sidh. She also descends from a very long line of wizards, dating back to a priest of the 9th dynasty of ancient Egypt, but her talents are the pride of her parents. She was the one who had the idea for this website. In less than two days, she had managed to convince my mother that it would be excellent for business, she who until then had considered the internet an extension of Satan (not such a bad bugger, according to Mom, but very badly raised). The next day, I found myself mandated to create the bookstore’s website, with its hidden pages reserved for the People Below. My mother had made me understand that I had to do it well, and above all manage without her since technology and all its derivatives are a form of magic that remains completely hermetic.
A muffled scrape above our heads suddenly interrupts our conversation, followed by another. Fatima looks at me questioningly. I shrug, running a hand through my hair.
— It’s Alibert. Don’t worry, he moves furniture when he’s pissed off, and he’s had a really bad night.
Alibert is the vampire who lives in the attic. About four hundred years old, dainty, misanthropic, and completely outdated by the current century, it’s usually not a cumbersome roommate. “Alibert?” Fatima asks with interest. What happens to him?
“He and my mom spent most of the night arguing loudly over one of Mom’s latest acquisitions. He ended up going to sulk, slamming the door to his room. It happens to him from time to time. I understand my mistake when I see a glint light up in my friend’s eyes. “A book by Christiana?” What kind of book?
— No idea, I say in a voice as neutral as possible.
But Fatima has already jumped out of her chair and is heading for the door.
— I want to see that ! Your mother isn’t coming home right away, is she? Come on, come on!
I personally think that this is a potential lot of problems, but I know from experience that when Fatima has an idea in her head, nothing can get her out of it, especially since my mother always has some pretty interesting stuff in store. So I get up with a sigh of resignation to follow her slowly down the stairs. The bookstore takes up the entire ground floor of the house we live in, filled with old, dusty books. Fatima doesn’t even glance at it. The real treasures are in the back room, where Mom keeps the goods for the Underpeople. Fatima starts rummaging everywhere.
— No chance that it is already referenced on the site? — No, I haven’t had time to register this week’s arrivals yet. Leaning against the door frame, I watch her move in all directions. — Ah! she exclaims suddenly, straightening up, a big book with a cracked leather binding in her hands. That must be it.
She gently puts down the old grimoire, which must weigh a dead donkey given its size, then dusts it gently with her sleeve. “So let’s see what we have here… The cover is faded black, with a huge moonstone embedded in it and no visible title. Fatima tries to open it, without success despite her best efforts. She frowns, pouts, then whispers an incantation close to the crevices of the old leather. Nothing to do, the book remains stubbornly closed.
— Very well, sir is difficult. So we have to get down to business.
She spreads her arms to either side of her body, and begins to whisper words of power. Her beautiful black eyes turn milky white, her hair stands on end, forming a dark halo around her, her feet rise a few centimeters off the ground. It would be very impressive if I hadn’t already seen it done a thousand times. So I just shove my hands in my pockets, munching gum with a scowl. Suddenly, the book begins to emit a slight hiss, which intensifies little by little. Then, with a hiss of rusty hinge and a vaguely eerie glow, it slowly opens, its pages scrolling by one after another. Then, in a cloud of dust, a flash of red light escapes from the book and flies towards the door of the shop, overturning all the books that are in its path.
For quite a long time, we said nothing, Fatima’s surprised eyes fixed on the grimoire, and my eyes scanning the mess in my mother’s bookshelves with a bored air.
— Well, decides to say my friend, what was that?
— No idea, you’re the witch. And I also want to tell you that it’s also you who will put away this mess before mom comes back.
Fatima gives me an annoyed look before leaning over the book. She mumbles, then winces.
— I can not read this thing, come here!
I approach cautiously and lay my eyes on the cryptic texts spread out before us.
— Don’t know. I speak ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek, and Sumerian, but it’s not one of those languages. And you ? — I did Latin and Aramaic, my mother insisted, but that’s not it either.
It was then that, coming from the depths of the earth, a dull rumble was heard, immediately followed by what sounded like an earthquake. The floor begins to vibrate, the walls to shake, the furniture to move and the books to tumble. I find myself with my buttocks on the ground, my coccyx in pain, Fatima’s knee in my ribs. Then everything stops. I get up, help my friend to do the same, then we look at each other for a moment with the same thought: what the fuck?
— Uh, Fatima? — Yes I know. You think that… — “Does that have anything to do with the lightning bolt earlier?” Yes. — Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Alright, so what do we do?
Our eyes are at the same time on the old book.
— The question is knowing what exactly we released. — But we understand nothing of what is marked. — Yes, it is a problem.
Our eyes meet again, then we smile at the same time.
Fatima grabs the collection, slips it under her arm, then follows me down the narrow, dark stairwell toward the attic. I climb the stairs four by four, grab the ladder that goes under the eaves and drum at the hatch. It opens abruptly, revealing the aristocratic and upset face of Alibert.
— What, what is it? You don’t wake people up at such an hour! First that tremor out of nowhere, and now this. It is still daylight. — I’m sorry Alibert, but it’s an emergency. We need a linguist.
I see a glint of interest light up in his tawny eyes. The vampire has used his immortality to learn every language, living or dead, he knows of.
After a period of reflection almost long enough to be vexing, he ends up stepping aside slowly to let us enter his lair, then stretches out his hands to greedily grab the book Fatima presents to him.
—Ah! he exclaims triumphantly, laying his eyes on it. I knew that one would be a problem, I said so. A magic lock of such power after all this time…
He places it on an antique lectern and opens it reverently, gently stroking the cover with his long, slender fingers.
— Yes, he mutters, an old book, very old, a lot of power locked in there… He continues his merry-go-round for a moment, then begins to decipher. — “So, reiker, no, erek… utar, hmm, that word, maybe alum?” Hmmm…
Fatima and I are not moving, waiting for his verdict.
— It’s a Bad Norse translation of a very old and almost forgotten dialect. A little gem. Wait, I’m trying to understand. Memory…bad…jail?
Suddenly, he throws his head back with a small cry of a wounded animal, before turning to us, his eyes wide with terror.
— When…when you opened this book, did anything unusual happen?
My friend and I exchange an embarrassed look.
— “It’s possible,” I said cautiously.
The vampire starts shaking all over, which normally only happens when he discovers a stain on one of his Armani shirts.
— My God, he says in a low voice (which is the equivalent of an apocalyptic swearword with him), ‘the earthquake, I didn’t imagine it, was it? I believe that you have just condemned Copenhagen. —Sorry ?
Fatima doesn’t seem to find it funny, her lips pursed in a thin line, her fingers clenched as if she were about to strangle Alibert. I place a soothing hand on his arm before glaring at the vampire.
— Would you care to explain to us what exactly it is all about?
He drops into a Louis XIV armchair with a dramatic expression and puts a tearful wrist to his forehead, like the diva he is. His attitude is starting to piss me off, so I plant my hands on my hips, stand my full height above him, and put on my sternest face.
— Alibert, you’re going to tell us what you know, or I’ll tell Mama that it was you who encouraged us to open the book.
His shocked look is comical. My mother scares the crap out of him.
— You wouldn’t do that! — Are you sure ?
Silence. I raise an eyebrow.
— Very well very well ! I was going to tell you about it, anyway. You know, of course, about the monster that sleeps under the foundations of the city?
Fatima nods knowingly as I open my mouth in disbelief. Eh ? But I am absolutely not aware of such a thing! What is this story ? They explain to me. Apparently everyone in Sidh (apart from me) knows that the bases in Copenhagen were built to imprison a sleeping monster, which my mother obviously didn’t see fit to tell me. What kind of monster? No idea. Why is he imprisoned? No idea either. How was he asleep? Always nothing. It has been there for more than two thousand years, without moving, so long in fact that no one cares about it anymore, as if it were just part of folklore. In short, we are no further ahead. “What has to do with the flash that escaped from the book?” Alibert clears his throat, which does not conform to the character. “Well, it seems that this book served as a container for a wake-up spell designed specifically for the monster in question.
— It’s annoying. — Yes indeed. — So the earthquake just now? — Probably the monster that was starting to wake up. — So it’s not over? — I do not think so. From what is written here, we have about twenty-four hours to put him back to sleep before he breaks free from his prison and destroys Copenhagen. — Okay, it’s doable. How do we put him back to sleep? — I don’t know, there’s nothing marked about it. It just says “see the Sayings of the mage Hreidmar” or something like that. — Oh.
New silence. We all look each other in the eye, not really knowing what to do. Then suddenly, enlightenment. I rush to the hatch to reach my room on the floor below, and come back with my laptop. Alibert doesn’t have one, he doesn’t even have a telephone, since he pretends not to know of the existence of any technology dating from after the 17th century. Note, however, that this aversion to the modern does not extend to clothing. My two companions throw me looks of incomprehension.
—The catalog !
Fatima understands where I’m coming from, but Alibert continues to stare at me in bewilderment. I explain:
— I’ve almost finished cataloging Mom’s books on the site. If the solution exists, it must be somewhere in there.
I log on and start browsing the bookstore’s website, encouraged by Fatima’s suggestions.
— Look at “monsters”. No ? “Copenhagen” perhaps? “Spell Release”?
Minutes pass, our search is still fruitless and Alibert begins to question my genius idea with mocking remarks.
And then, he’s not laughing at all when the ground starts shaking again, not very hard, without violence, a bit like one of those sports machines supposed to help you lose weight. But it vibrates, undeniably. We exchange worried looks. “Is that what I think it is?” “The monster’s awakening?” Probably.
— Well, says Fatima, let’s try to deal with the problem in a logical way. Where are we most likely to find a spell capable of putting back to sleep a gigantic monster that has been imprisoned for millennia beneath Copenhagen? — “The mage thingie perhaps?” — “Hreidmar?” It’s not stupid. We should even have started there. Start the search! — I Have Something: A Guide to Ancient Treatises on Magic, Section M.
Fatima and I rush downstairs, leaving Alibert in his attic, which he can’t leave as long as it’s light. We rush into the shelves of my mother’s shop, jostling the books that have already fallen to gain access to the M section. Each of us tackles one end of the section.
— I got it ! shouts Fatima after a few minutes.
She pulls a rather shabby book from the shelves and immediately opens it to find the passage she is looking for. She flips through the pages excitedly. Suddenly, I see her turn pale.
— What ? Fatima, what’s going on?
She hands me the gaping work. I read, after extrapolating the meaning of the text in Old Norse:
— The parchments of the Tales of the mage Hreidmar, containing in particular the runic sleep spell used to put to sleep in the entrails of købmandshavn** the very last argelot of the known world, were lost during the 13th century. No copy has ever been found. »
I look up at Fatima, who is looking at me with a look of despair.
— What shall we do now ? A silver buck is… This is very bad news.
I don’t answer, lost in thought, frowning, pursed lips. Indeed, the argelot, a kind of gigantic psychopathic vulture endowed with magical powers, is not really the kind of animal that we want to release in Copenhagen. For a long time, I think hard, in silence, facing the anxious expectation of my best friend.
— Fatima, your magic, how powerful is it? — Very powerful, the most powerful in my family for ten generations. Almost as much as your mother, I would say. — Well, then I think we can try something. — What ? — We’re going to do exactly like Hreidmar: we’re going to put the monster to sleep. — But we do not have the spell! — We don’t need it. I told you, we’re not going to put him back to sleep, we’re just going to put him to sleep. Now that we know what it is as a species, we can make one ourselves, a spell, we don’t need the mage’s.
— I’m not very good at writing spells… — Me, yes. You can’t imagine how many my mother made me invent hoping that it would awaken my gifts for magic. Sure, it didn’t work, but at least now I’ve got the concept under control. — But it won’t work! I don’t mean to upset you, Eleanore, but your spells never work. — They don’t work when I throw them. But if it’s you… Little by little, I see Fatima’s eyes light up. — It can work…
No more is needed. I immediately get to work, paper and pencil in hand, and half an hour later, I’m satisfied enough with my work to hand it to Fatima. Fortunately, moreover, because the vibrations of the ground have noticeably increased. My friend gives me a dubious look.
— Are you sure of yourself? — Reasonably. Anyway, we have nothing else on hand.
Fatima nods, then begins, her voice full of power:
— That deep in the city of Copenhagen The immortal argelot rests And that on the forehead of the sleeping monster Oblivion forever arises.
We wait a moment, anxious, but nothing happens. The ground continues to vibrate and the walls to shake. Fatima clears her throat.
— Well, maybe it’s time to call your mother.
I look at her in disbelief, my eyes wide like saucers.
— Are you crazy ? Do you realize she’s going to murder us? — Eli, I don’t have too many solutions left. — But I have not said my last word.
I recover my computer to continue my excavations on the site, more and more desperate. Finally, I breathe a sigh of relief. Searching for the word “sleepiness” came up with something. Occult lullabies, section F. A few minutes later, we have the book. The ground vibrates so much that you have to hold on to the walls to avoid falling. Another long moment of laborious translation from Aramaic, then Fatima and I exchange a skeptical look.
— “To increase the power of a sleeping spell, link the power of words to that of music using the tune and lyrics of a children’s lullaby. Watches love it. »
Good, and bah since it is necessary. I set to work and ended up handing Fatima the piece of paper that, with a bit of luck, will save us all.
— So you’re going to have to sing it to the tune of “Twinkle little star”, that’s all I found in a hurry.
She lets out a sigh.
— Very well.
Again, she lets the power invade her, begins to levitate, rolls back her eyes, her hair stands on end. Then, in a sepulchral voice, she begins to hum Fatima begins to shimmer with magic, as the invisible filaments that bind her to the world appear. Her voice rings out, as if the universe responds with a deep echo to the power of her words. The song seems to glide through the air, sink to the ground, then get absorbed and disappear. Then, the continuous shaking of the floor and the walls abruptly ceases. The witch lands on her feet, looking exhausted. She turns to me, a slight smile on her lips.
— “I believe we succeeded. Your spell worked, Eleanore.
I smile at her too, then burst out laughing, before looking around the room and grimacing. The worst is not yet over.
— “We make a good team, you and I, after all. But now that we’ve saved the town, and possibly the world, the hardest part remains: cleaning up the shop before Mom gets home, and finding a really good lie to tell her to justify…well, everything. Ah, and I hope you have a Nostalgia potion or two on hand, because you’re going to have to bribe Alibert so that the truth about what happened today never comes out of the attic. We have to be able to establish with certainty that these earthquakes have nothing to do with us and that we know nothing about them. Because otherwise, I don’t think all the powers in the world will stop my mother from killing us.
* Spandemager: Spandemager is the name of the first woman burned for witchcraft in Denmark in 1543. ** Købmandshavn: Former name of Copenhagen which means “the port of traders”.
On November 19, a series on Prime Video is released adapting a book series that I love: The Wheel of Time and I am both impatient and at the same time afraid of the result. On the other hand, I found The Witcher cheap on the trailers and I expected the worst but even if the series is mega cheap actually I liked it so hopefully the Wheel of Time will be cool it too. In short, I love his books and this universe and I wanted to take this outing to tell you a little bit about it. Do not see any sponsor on this article even if I didn’t say no, if Amazon wants to contact me … ^^ ’
Well in summary, The Wheel of Time what is it all about?
So The Wheel of Time by Jordan and Brandon Sanderson consists of 14 books, a prequel and an encyclopedia, not to mention the derivative products. So inevitably with more than 10,000 pages to read I cannot be exhaustive in a summary and then to avoid spoilers I will only give a hook to the story.
So begins this adventure:
Moiraine who is an Aes Sedai (a magician) and her champion Al’lan Mandragoran arrive in a small village in the province of the two rivers. The following night, the village is attacked by Trolllocs (monsters). The monsters appear to be targeting 3 young villagers Rand, Mar and Perrin. The 3 young people, accompanied by Moiraine, Al’lan and the minstrel Thom Merrilin try to escape the creatures of Dark One.
A beginning that looks terribly like a certain book by our dear Tolkien, it is normal and it is a homage totally assumed. The rest gets complicated and this is clearly the moment when the story gets exciting.
In bulk, we find:
A prophecy about the Reincarnated Dragon, a man who would be responsible for the downfall or rehabilitation of the world.
A catastrophe that took place 3000 years ago and ravaged half the world has made the practice of magic very frowned upon or even feared.
A world where men who practice magic gradually lose their sanity. Only women from Aes Sedai are allowed to practice. Part of this order is responsible for hunting down and killing men practicing magic.
Of course the characters evolve over the volumes and show themselves more and more worked and as in the work of JRR Martin, the politics and the interactions between the different characters take a considerable importance (while being less dark and can be read easily by a younger audience).
The wheel of time is also a journey. We discover lots of exotic places and cultures very different from each other, while being very rich.
On the other hand, the story is long, it is true, but it knows very well how to renew itself and at no time are you bored, you always want to know more and for my part I never let go of my reading than when I was exhausted.
If you liked mythology, it’s a nice puzzle to find from which one or another element of the story is taken, so many references have inspired the author, whether it is the Bible, Buddhism, the ‘Islam, Nordic or Asian myths …
I wanted to tell you about this saga because for me and I don’t think I’m the only one, The Wheel of Time is one of the greatest literary sagas of all time and I weigh my words. I have never seen such a level of detail in the creation of a fictional world. And the story is just as good as a Lord of the Rings. The only little flaw is that there are one or two annoying characters, but the story is fantastic. So Amazon’s prime video series is super cool but please try to dig up the books, you won’t regret it.
I’ve been talking about films for a while now, but I’ve never written an article about genres as such, because I wasn’t really paying attention until then. I was told that such and such a film was part of such and such a genre and I said “Okey”! I don’t like to put artistic works in cases, but we must recognize that certain films or books respect codes which are specific to their genre, and we will see why.
Why classify films by genre?
There are two ways to approach the question of gender:
Either we have the film and then we have the genre:
The director thinks he wants to make a film and then it’s up to the theaters, the producers, see the spectators to give it a genre.
George Mélies, in directing “Voyage dans la Lune”, didn’t think he was going to make a sci-fi movie, for good reason the genre didn’t exist yet.
Either we have the genre first and then we have the movie:
The director will say to himself, I am going to make an action film (for example) and create his film based on the genre
But which came first the chicken or the egg? What is the relationship between the egg, the chicken and science fiction?
I am deeply convinced that in the first place there were films and the more they were, the more we could see similarities appear, first borrowed from other art forms, until the appearance of similarities which were specific to them.
In 1903, “The great train robbery” was released, a film where cowboys steal a train in the American West. In 1914, “Squaw Man” was released, a film about an English officer who was to marry an Indian in the American West. In 1916, “Hell’s Hinges” tells the story of a cowboy who falls in love with an outlaw in the American West
From there, the audience thought, “It would still be handy if we had a name for all of our films with cowboys and Indians in the American West!” “ As for the producers, they say to themselves: “I would like to make a film with cowboys and Indians in the American West, but I would like to bring something else to it” And you get the need to name: The Western. The label is for the public to say, “I’ll be fine watching a Western.” “, So that the cinema can say:” We offer you a Western. “, But above all so that the directors can say to themselves” I want to do a Western. “ Genre cinema was born.
The genre film is a film in which the genre is creative. It is a film that will take into account the codes of a genre, to exploit them, to divert them, to satisfy or deceive the expectations of the viewer. Because when we talk about gender in the cinema, we are talking about the spectator’s expectations.
But how are genres defined? Well, it’s something very vague and often the same movie can have several genres. To make this article I used several criteria.
How to define a genre?
For me there are 4 elements that define the genre of a film:
The tone of the film
The themes of the film
The scenario (by its structure or concerning certain elements only)
The target of the film
Some people use the format of the film, but for me, it’s a mistake.
When you see the animated film category on certain sites, it makes as much sense to me as black and white films or silent films or even cinema scope films. It doesn’t ring a bell about the movie you’re going to watch. A genre that brings together under the same label:
“The Emoji Movie”, “Akira”, “Persepolis” and “The Lord of the Ring” (1978) It’s a label that is useless.
Among its four elements, some will have practically binding conditions, established rules that cannot be broken, but these are often very broad rules. In the family genre, the only essential element is related to the tone, it must be accessible and viewable to children without bothering parents. Yes, it is fuzzy and arbitrary!
Why are “Maleficent” from 2014 and “Night at the Museum” Home movies and not “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” from 2014 are not?
In the Crime genre we have an imperative that falls within the scenario. There has to be one or more crimes, or criminality, and this crime, these crimes, this criminality has to be a big issue in the scenario.
The viewer, when going to see a family or crime genre film, has other expectations, but these are optional. It reveals codes of the genre.
Watching a crime film, I think police, charismatic villain, dark film that happens mostly at night, where the characters are lonely and a little disillusioned.
When people talk to me about family films, I think colorful film, light tone and happy ending, creepy antagonist but just right, brave protagonists.
But when you watch “Home Alone” or “The Mask” you realize that his films fall under the Crime genre and do not have at all that atmosphere that I imagine.
Much like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One” or “Coraline” doesn’t tick all the boxes I imagine when I am told a family movie, especially when it comes to the creepy antagonists but not too many!
But the four of them have in common that they respect The indispensable condition which allows them to belong to the family gender.
Finally last detail, the genres are obviously not waterproof. Nothing prevents a film from having a crime theme while including children in its audience:
Indeed a film can belong to several genres: (Image coco de pixar) (genres: Fantasy, family, adventure, musical)
Ten of my favorite genres (not necessarily in order):
Small methodology point:
I use IMDB to provide me with a list of keywords to add them to a table to sort which appear the most and those that appear the least according to each genre.
Finally, I use Letterbox which organizes the films by genre while prioritizing the genres. Thus “Back to the Future” is classified first as a family film, then as an adventure film, then a comedy and finally as a science fiction film. So Back to the future will fit perfectly into the family genre but a little less than “Interstelllar” for science fiction or “The Big Lebowski” for comedy but still partly corresponds to it. Finally not only will I tell you about 10 genres but in addition I will tell you about 5 subgenres for each of them.
I/ Historical Movies:
Tone: Serious Theme: A historic event Scenario: Depends on the event Target: Rather adults
Most common keywords:
Based on true story
What happened in Epilogue
Based on real person
Husband Wife relationship
Based on book
Father Son relationship
World War II
Less common keywords:
Good versus Evil
Falling from height
This is one of the easiest genres to catalog. The facts told must be based on real historical facts. The key word that comes up most often is “based on true history”, but the prerequisite is that it must be based on real historical facts.
In Robbert Eggers’s “The Witch,” is a historical film about colonists who were excommunicated in New England in the 1630s, to whom a whole lot of funny adventures happen. (A whole family dies in misery, resentment, fear and guilt.) But this story is totally fictional, these people never existed.
“Troy” is a historical film when we are not even sure that the Trojan War actually took place.
But his films take place in a context which is based on real historical facts. Conversely, being based on real events is not enough to make a film historic.
“The Social Network” is based on a true story, but is not a historical film. A historical film depicts a state of the world that is no longer today.
“A Beautiful Man”, is a biography of John Forbes Nash, is not tagged as a historical film as it is set between 1947 and 1994.
Whereas “Zero Dark Thirty” which tells the story of the hunt for Bin Laden is a historical film set between 2001 and 2011. The difference is in the subject. “A Beautiful Man” might as well be set in another era. It is not the indirect portrait of a society, but only the story of a man.
The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.
The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.
A sub-genre that is close to documentary, while remaining a work of fiction.
War movies may not have the historical aspects of the conflicts in question, like Disney’s “Mulan” is a war movie without being a historical movie. Often war films are categorized as a genre in their own right.
Genre responding to strict rules, his films must take place in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, in which a courageous character, almost always male (pity) rebels, sword in hand often against authority. There is often a damsel in distress to save, seduce and / or protect.
II/ Adventure Movies:
Tone: light Theme: Travel, danger, friendship … Scenario: good guys, bad guys, happy ending Target: all public
Most common keywords:
Good Versus Evil
Falling From Height
Less common keywords:
Husband Wife Relationship
Based On True Story
When we talk about adventure films we immediately think of Indiana Jones or Indiana Jones or … But what is an adventure film that is not Indiana Jones? The adventure film shares a great deal of reference with action cinema. If we look at the keywords that come up most often in both cases, we find:
Good versus evil
But if we look at the key words that separate them, we have on the action side elements of violence while on the adventure side, we have elements related to interpersonal relationships and especially “exotic” elements, disorienting. Either things that do not exist like magic or monsters, or places like, a forest, a castle, cave … I deduce that the essential element in the adventure film, is a certain level of disorientation of the viewer but to a lesser extent, the viewer will expect a lighter film, more all public than for any other genre. Some key words that are relatively less present to qualify this kind of film bear witness to this:
Adventure films are generally more consensual, and many recent superhero films are labeled adventure before sci-fi and action. It’s very hard to find a movie that just has the adventure label, but here are a few subgenres that almost always have it.
A protagonist who wields a sword and has a big mouth! You cannot conceive of a Swashbuckler with a pistol or who would face it. We find “Pirates of the Caribbean” or even films of an Asian genre: the Chambara.
These are samurai films, one of his most famous examples of which is “Seven Samurai” by the great Kurosawa.
These are films in which, or more often, the protagonists are on the road. Very American kind, the highways are a metaphor for freedom.
Treasure hunting movies:
Film characterized by fairly obvious elements of the scenario, finding or rediscovering one or more things …
What could be more exotic than imagining the world falling apart?
As long as it’s about pirates, it’s a pirate movie.
III/ Action Movies:
Tone: from very light to very serious Theme: revenge, conflict, violence, gun … Scenario: Good guys, bad guys, bad guys. Target: mostly men.
Most common keywords:
Shot in the chest
Hand to hand combat
Less common keyword:
Mother son relationship
Based on true story
Mother daughter relationship
It is less about action than violence, but violence is not enough to define action cinema. Many horror films are violent without necessarily being action films. The main characteristic of an action film is a fast pace. The spectator must be kept in suspense by the chain of events embodied by a confrontation between two entities.
Super hero movies:
Superhero films that are not action films are extremely rare. Indeed, who says super hero says super villains and super clashes. In these films, the main protagonist possesses extraordinary abilities and uses them to do good.
Martial Art Movies:
The genre includes all karate and kung fu films …
Very Asian genre if there is one, these are fantastic films where a character will suffer a tragic loss and begin an initiatory journey during which he will become a powerful warrior following the path of Xia (the path of the warrior / hero / vigilante) ), with a sword.
Adaptation of video games into film:
You have to believe that the studios believe that gamers can only enjoy action movies. Detective Pikachu: Puzzle Games = Action Movie Final fantasy IIV: Japanese role-playing games = action movie Resident Evil: Survival horror = action movie I’m exaggerating a bit but not by much.
Indispensable condition, it has to be about spies, but the public will more or less expect a James Bond clone with his gadgets, big, very nasty corporations and a nice spy who plays it, over equipped and over trained. that infiltrates their headquarters.
Tone: Serious, heavy
Theme: Murder, mystery, threat, investigation …
Scenario: The outcome is very important
Most common keywords:
Shot to death
Shot in the chest
Less common keywords:
Where action movies hold viewers’ attention with adrenaline, thrillers do so with suspense. Overall you need a heavy atmosphere, the thriller goes with almost all genres but not with comedy, and suspense. But what makes thrillers different from horror movies? In the horror film, the protagonists are overwhelmed by the events there or in the thrillers, the protagonists are more active in overcoming their adventures.
The Psychological Thriller:
In the psychological thriller, the danger is not so much to lose your life as to lose your sanity.
Genre taken from literature, includes all films whose plot is detective. You can group together gangster films and black films.
The movies where the hero finds out that the truth is not as he thinks it is and that anyone could know about it and try to silence him.
Close to science fiction, the plot of these thrillers is based on scientific advances in military or spy circles.
A genre that could also be classified as horror cinema, since it is the precursor of the slasher. Gialli (plural of Giallo) are films where usually several women are murdered by a killer whose identity is unknown to the viewer. It was a very popular genre in the 1970s, and the undisputed master of which was Dario Argento.
V/ Horror Movies:
Tone: dark Theme: Death, anguish, torture, paranormal … Scenario: unhappy end, only one stake: survival Target: Adolescent, adult.
Most common keywords:
Less common keywords:
Hand to hand combat
Based on true story
I often hear people say: “I don’t like horror movies, they don’t scare me. “ Well that’s okay, horror movies aren’t primarily intended to be scary! Otherwise, you wouldn’t classify horror comedies like “Shawn of the dead.” A horror film centers on something that arouses repulsion or anguish.
One person kills there one by one, a group of individuals, until the final confrontation.
These are films that show physical mutilations and often theatrics to make them more impressive.
Sub-genre which relates to the format, these are films that are not presented as productions, but as the event montage actually shot by the protagonists.
The New French Extremism:
These films have sexual assault and extreme violence in common, but they also deal with mental disorders that can go as far as delirium.
Movies about gigantic creatures that attack the city. They are rarely horror movies because humans are often insignificant in them.
A sci-fi movie takes place in another reality and where things are not happening in ours. Science fiction differs from fantasy by providing more or less scientific explanations. In Star Wars, ships, lightsabers and robots are science fiction, but strength is totally related to fantasy.
Epic tales highlighting the relationships between the characters in relatively detailed political universes against a backdrop of space travel.
Nothing to do with the music that smells of beer! They are futuristic or retro-futuristic films (which has to do with a way of imagining the future in the past). Cyber punk a genre where computers and robotics are highlighted, as in “Matrix” or “Ghost in the Shell”, steam punk is a genre where machines and industry are showcased: “Metropolis”, “The city of Lost Children” … Biopunk, the living becomes an omnipresent technology: “eXistenz”, “Gattaca” …
It is a genre of science fiction that only allows itself to extrapolate a future on the basis of solid science. The only fanciful elements are the elements that are new or that we do not know in our reality.
When the explanations given contradict the laws of physics. A lazer saber is impossible because the light is neither solid nor finite (so the sabers could not collide and the blade would have no end.)
In 1980 Michael Weldon published a magazine “Psychotronic Video” in which he spoke about cinema, then in 1983 he released “The Psychotronic Encyvlopedia of Film”. He gives a definition and a list of 3000 films, much of which does not correspond to the definition, but an IMDB user had the delicacy of writing a definition that was both sufficiently vague and precise enough to consider it valid. .
Psychotronic movies can be sci-fi, horror, or fantasy. These are films that think outside the box, that try to break free from conventions. Films that dare to be different: “Videodrome”, “Delicatessen”, “Solaris”.
Tone: Epic, rather light Theme: Magic, courage, nobility, good guys against bad guys … Screenplay: Screenplay in three classic acts Target: everyone
Most common keywords:
Good versus Evil
Lifting someone into the air
Less common keywords:
Shot to death
Based on true story
Shot in the head
Hold at gunpoint
A film that takes place in another reality and where things are happening that are impossible in ours, without justification. Not to be confused with the fantastic, a genre or the supernatural, the strange comes into the real world Also not to be confused with the wonderful, kind or impossible things in the real world is quite normal there, like talking animals, without anyone asking questions. Fantastic or Marvelous are part of Fantasy.
These are books or films that take place in a modern, contemporary world, in an urban setting, in which there are things that shouldn’t be: “Monsters & Cie”, “Detective Pikachu”…
A genre where animals behave like humans.
Swords & Sorcery Movies:
A genre where the hero will face evil sword in hand in violent adventures generally involving magic: “Never ending story”, “Sleeping beauty”, “krull” …
A genre that tells about past events by adding events from the past by adding a supernatural twist: “300”, “Pirates of the Carribean”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” …
Stories that take place in space and have elements approaching fantasy.
A catch-all genre if there is one, the drama genre includes all films that do not fall into any other box, but there is still a definition: “These are films where interpersonal relationships are treated with gravity. “
Alternation of moments of immense happiness and immense moments of distress. “Titanic”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Gone with the Wind” …
A big problematic event happens to the protagonist and he must survive: “The martian”, “The Revenant”, “127 hours”.
A genre that has disappeared a bit today. We talk about Epic when the film is grandiose, the symphonic soundtrack, the wide shots, the immense and magnificent sets… Yes today that describes all the American blockbusters.
A specific sport must be at the center of history. Young characters are lost until they take up sport. Draws at first, they end up facing stronger than them and bringing the cup home.
Coming of age Movies:
It’s about becoming an adult and leaving your childhood behind either: “Spider-man Far From Home”, “Four Hundred Blows”, “Carrie” …
The only genre that to my knowledge does not call for the tone, the theme, the scenario or its target to define itself, but calls for its intention to define itself: to make people laugh.
It exaggerates certain features of an already established work in order to make people laugh.
Fictions that take on the appearance of documentaries to tell anything. “Spinal Tap”, “I’m still here” …
A special category because the intention to make people laugh is not there, but we only look at them for fun. These are films produced alongside the blockbusters but with a derisory budget: “Atlantic Rim”, “Triassic World”, “Transmorphers” …
Two very different characters must come to terms with each other and discover that they can learn a lot from each other and even become friends.
X/ Romantic Movies:
Tone: Variable, often light Theme: Love, marriage, family, couple … Scenario: Misunderstandings and happy ending Target: More women
Most common keywords:
Male female relationship
Less common keywords:
Shot to death
Shot in the chest
Romantic movies are movies where love or romantic relationship is central to the storyline.
Film about love while trying to make people laugh.
Chik Flick Movies:
Romantic film aimed at teenage girls.
Romance with a supernatural creature. “Dracula”, “Ghost”, “Warm Bodies” …
Film which speaks of romance while dealing with death, life after death, ghost with a very heavy atmosphere.
A romance in an epic setting: “Moulin rouge”, “Australia”, “Titanic” …
Well, the real reason why I wrote this article was mainly to talk about as many films as possible that generally made me feel good, sometimes bad, but which I think are in most cases , interesting to see at least once in his life for his film culture. Don’t hesitate to draw from the list, if you don’t know what to watch. 😉
We are our elsewhere. We create universes because we don’t like the world as it is and sometimes scares us.
No one can face “The Lord of The Rings”. We can love, we can hate, but nothing beats “The Lord of The Rings”. Calling Tolkien the father of fantasy is questionable (or even false), but he remains a luminary. It’s hard to escape its influence, whether in literature, cinema, role-playing, video games … in short, the collective imagination.
Suddenly we’d be wondering, seeing as his stories are so important in the end, what are they really telling? These stories of legendary magicians, ancestral forces and their countless humanoid characters with the names of medicines, what can they mean? Is it just cool? It’s epic, it’s dreamy and it’s beautiful like anything… So there you go? Isn’t it possible that this other world is actually ours?
An allegory of world war II?
That seems to bother a lot of people for quite a while. And it must be said that when digging, there is plenty to ask questions. No, but it’s true! A book that came out in 1954, which talks about a great war involving almost all of all nations, in a world that more or less resembles medieval Europe.
A threat already defeated in the past comes to us from the east, which is about to relentlessly invade the western kingdoms. A comeback that many refused to see return, allowing it to gain strength before becoming inevitable.! Some take the ocean to find a country further west. Some former allies give in to the influence of the unstoppable enemy and collaborate with it, to assert their own authority. The peoples must unite to fight the AXIS of evil. And in the midst of all this a fight for an immeasurable object of power, which must not fall into the wrong hands at all costs … A power so absolute and so terrifying that many people refuse to use it even if it would guarantee them victory.
We have to admit that with all its coincidences, the parallel with World War II works surprisingly well. So that would be the meaning of the Lord of the Rings? Oh, if only it was that simple! But we haven’t released The Prancing Pony yet.
So indeed we can see the Lord of the Rings as a sort of Second World War, redrawn on tracing paper of heroic fantasy. But as much as we can marvel where it overlaps quite well, but we must question the overall design.
The real war does not resemble to the legendary war in its process or in its conclusion. If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, and certainly the ring would have been sees and used again Sauron. It wouldn’t be annihilated but enslaved. And Barad-dûr would not to be destroyed but occupied. In that conflict, both side would have held Hobbit in hate-hood an contempt. They would not long survive even enslaves.
But would there be a metaphor or a symbol?
I must quite frankly express my profound but polite negation of your clever and neverless somewhat false assumption my dear. And if you excuse me I’m now going to Brexit this conversation.
Answer which I think is the way the British say ‘nope’. And don’t bother looking for another metaphor if it’s not World War II, as he adds:
I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence
The end ?
No, but what does that mean: “I don’t like allegories …”? We’re here to analyze stuff when in fact it would just be a story? A headless story that has nothing to do with us and our world? Would he have cut all ties with reality, precisely to allow us to escape to an elsewhere, another world? Well yeah, because life is a bitch, God is dead and we’re gonna be soon, and then nothing makes sense and Henry Cavill already has a girlfriend and I forgot to buy Nutella. From the cost, our need for consolation is impossible to satisfy and that sucks.
From this perspective, we would say that the less it reminds us of our world, the more this quest is accomplished. So when we want to forget our daily worries, it is not so that we are reminded of the fucking World War II, especially when your daily worry was the fucking WWII, no later than ‘yesterday! Tolkien assumed escape as a function of fairy tales, for example. On the other hand, think again, he also said:
Escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter.
If you trade your worries for a road-trip in Middle-earth, I’m not sure you won the day. Even admitting that the anxieties that haunt you are more existential than your bills or your boss overwhelming you with unstable overtime, is The Lord of the Rings really the best plan to help you avoid thinking about death. , suffering or your responsibilities? In short, Tolkien’s tales, indeed, offers you an unexpected journey into a distant horizon, but it is no picnic. If what you’re looking for is anesthetizing yourself with his books, you’ll get the better of hitting yourself with them.
Tolkien did not conceive his stories to cocoon us and on the contrary to immerse us in tragic events whose protagonists never seem to be able to triumph before an unexpected salvation. A resolution he called “eucatastrophe”, a good catastrophe of which he took as a “real” example, the incarnation of Jesus. It’s a bit like Don Bluth’s cartoons, who instead of sparing toddlers, tormented them as much as possible so that the resolve was only more powerful. The idea shared by both men is that a ray of hope shines even more as one has walked through the darkest darkness. Surely an idea rooted in their religious faith.
In the same way these critics, to make confusion worse, and so to bring into contempt their opponents, stick their label of scorn not only on to Desertion, but on to real Escape, and what are often its companions, Disgust, Anger, Condemnation, and Revolt.
Tolkien does claim an escape process, not thought of as an escape but as a fervent desire for something else.
And, does “The Lord of The Rings” have anything to do with WWI?
It should also be noted that Tolkien may not have fought in WWII, but he did go through hell in the first. Sleeping in the trenches for a year is enough to cause some nightmares. The influence of this experience in Tolkien’s writings is quite evident and documented. His first text located in the Middle Lands, “Fall of gondolin” was written during his convalescence after having contracted a “trench fever”. He recounts in particular, the destruction of an ancient elven civilization by an enemy, described as relentless machines.
So in looking for our allegory we would have been wrong opus? These were all WWI metaphors? But is Tolkien saying that allegory is not his cup of tea?
Maybe we’re just asking ourselves the wrong questions. Again even though “the Fall of Gondolin” was written during his recovery from what he experienced in the trenches, that doesn’t make it an allegory. . But that does not mean that one cannot deny the influence of his experience in the Somme. Trauma like this changes you a man on a fundamental level, even though an author might not realize it, or even deny it. Tolkien does not say otherwise.
The first world war had a broad and specific impact on Tolkien’s writing. One you look the Tolkien’s writing in the first world war in detail, you can be struck by all kinds of really curious comparisons. One Interesting I found is between, the ring’s wraiths, the Nazguls and artillery shells, sound of artillery shells.
John Garth Autor of « Tolkien and the Great War »
So i think these terrors are connected completely to a mythological and Gothic I think Tolkien wanted to use in the Lord Of The Rings.
An author, can not of course remain holy unaffected by his experience but the ways in witch the story germ use the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidences that is inadequate and ambiguous.
In fact this is something that we often get confused about, you know, like in college when we laughed when the teacher said: “The chair is blue, it represents melancholy” … And that we all thought (yes even you over there who pretend you weren’t): “Yes, if that’s right, the author just meant that the chair is blue! “…
Allegory or not allegory?
Well, we must already understand that writing is not a 100% conscious process. It’s not like coding a message in HTML. Even being in control of what we are doing, there is not an exact science of evocative power and we do not copy / paste meaning into people’s heads.
in an interview for the release of “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”, Steven Spielberg realized this:
– It is one of your famous scene in all of your movies I’m sure. Now look, I don’t mean to make to much of this but I’ll ask you a question.
– Your father was a computer scientist, your mother was a musician, when this spaceship was landing, How do they communicate ?
– That is a very good question, I like that. The answer is on the question.
-They make music on their computers and they are able to speak to each other.
– You see I’d love to say you, I intended that but you know, I realize that was my mother and my father was not until this moment !
Just as it is no wonder that Frodo’s feverish scenes came to the mind of someone who suffered the fever in the trenches. The same Frodo that he will see come out of such events with something akin to post traumatic stress disorder.
Moreover, some of the parallels that we had drawn with the Second World War also work with the first, because there is no need to look for more or less hidden metaphors to say that an author English of this period will have imagined a more “Europeanizing” imitation Middle Ages where the protagonists tend to start from the West, while the threat will instinctively be more represented in the East.
Even at more abstract levels, the context experienced by the same author will no doubt have facilitated his vision of men as corruptible and the leaders of their nations as having fallen into the camp of evil, especially from those who write:
Gentleman are not existent among our superiors. And even the human beings are rare indeed
There is no need to see it as a metaphor, and just because it isn’t one doesn’t mean it hasn’t to do with it. We write where we are from. What we do with a metaphor is take an image to represent something else.
An allegory is a bit the same but on the scale of a whole story. A bit like a system of coherent metaphors.
Something that is used in painting for example. Very convenient process for graphically representing abstract ideas that have no shapes.
Example, how to paint justice? in general it is represented:
A blindfolded woman, because justice is blind, impartial;
She has a scale in her left hand to weigh the acts;
She has a sword to punish.
So, on the other hand, it implies having decryption keys to understand the work, but once everyone has them, this representation becomes universal. This is the basis of press cartoon.
Allegory applied to a story is called a fable. The ant is the hardworking person and the grasshopper a hippie who does not give a fuck. And you have to understand the symbols in a fable to understand its moral. In other cases, religious parables serve the same purpose. This is why some scholars spend their time studying the same book for years to make exegesis according to a doctrine etc.
I much prefer history – true or fiend – with it varied applicability to the thought and experiences of readers. I think there is many confuse « applicability » with « allegory ». But the one resides in the freedom of the reader and the other in the purpose domination of the author.
This is where Tolkien puts his finger on something when it comes to applicability or relevance. Stories, good stories have a relevance to themes, emotions, values etc. They operate in a secondary world, which must have its own coherence, which cannot be copied as is on our own.
Take Robert Zemeckis’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. The “Toons” are second-class citizens there, who are used in entertainment, especially cinema and who must live apart. Here the club is based on the Cotton Club, where African Americans came to do service or show numbers, but entry was reserved for whites. In the film, the “Toons” do the show for an exclusively human clientele. In this case the “Toons” are an allegory of black people?
Yes, but the film is also inspired by the period when homosexuals worked in show biz and in Hollywood, where they were sidelined but more or less covered.
So, is this an allegory of blacks people or of homosexuals?
Well both and both neither, and other stuff … Being in a secondary world doesn’t stop the stories from hitting the mark, on a level that doesn’t depend on the very contextual stuff of our reality. For what we call “imaginary literature”, science fiction and fantasy, we also speak of speculative literature. It is precisely this speculative aspect which makes it possible to evoke more fundamental things since it explores possible “other” than our history, our society, our current events … etc, including when it is not intentional, contrary to Roger Rabbit where it is very clear.
Often Winnie the Pooh is presented as an allegory of mental disorders:
Piglet is anxiety,
Tiger, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
Winnie, he’s having addiction issues and eating disorders.
You can imagine it but it is not at all the perspective of the author, and it would even be anachronistic to imagine that, but for all that it works very well, so much so that we find this allegory in scientific publications. The author characterized his characters in a certain way and he typed it right. They conjure up pretty relevant stuff without needing to voluntarily adapt a list of shrink categories, which weren’t even theorized yet.
In this case, unlike pure allegory, there is no need for interpretation keys to understand the meaning. Especially since, as Tolkien said, with his freedom of the reader in the face of author’s dominance, it’s going to make sense, including person-to-person or period-to-period making the story more accessible and timeless.
A story for “Hippie”?
To come back to “Lord of The Rings”, for example, this story has turned a lot in the hippie generation, people in all points dissimilar to the author and who yet is reflected in his work. Because at some point, once he lets go of the result of his work, however manic he is, in nature, he no longer has control over who it is going to touch.
Magic, an ethereal story, even if it was written by a conservative Catholic, it evokes a kind of “neo-pagan-mytholo-ancestral” mysticism and that speaks to them. And this counter culture, has contributed to perpetuate the success of books and to pass the torch. If this generation is found in the works of an easy British father born at the end of the 19th century, it is not just because of the drugs!
A tale for “Aristocrat”?
It could not be clearer, in many ways that Tolkien can easily be described as a conservative, with omnipresence of his religious sensibility, his “epically” Wagnerian tone, his call to an imaginary of glorious kings and his categories with rather racialist springs, it is expected that this will touch the fiber of some people nostalgic for an old fantasy time. Especially since his middle age doesn’t pretend to be fantasized. The distinctly reactionary and dated aspects of his prose have been rightly noted by other more “socialist” fantasy authors.
The stories are structured by moralist and abstract logic rather than being grounded and organic. Tolkien wrote the seminal text for fantasy where morality is absolute, and political complexity is conveniently evaporate.
• Battles are glorious and death is noble. The good looks superb and the evil are ugly. Elves are natural aristos • Hobbits are good people • And in a fairyland version of genetic determinism, Orcs are shit by birth.
This is a conservator hymn to order and reason, to the status quo.
How can both a “Hippie” and an “Aristocrat” be drawn to Tolkien’s work? Did either of them get it wrong? But come to think of it, is it really so surprising that activists have been touched by “The Lord of The Rings” even though its author would have been foreign to modern environmentalist categories?
Was Tolkien that conservative?
It should be noted that tackling Tolkien as a caricatured straw man of conservatism does not shed a very useful light on the themes he addresses, just like the 1970s counterculture with which he resonated is not a monolith. Indeed, it goes from the radical environmental activist anti Vietnam war to the “neo-payan” new age of a random sect whose heritage will be found as much in the libertarian billionaires of the silicone valley fan of Ayn Rand as in the serial killer to swastika tattooed on the forehead, or in geek culture itself. Even Greenpeace has been able to invoke “The Lord of The Rings” for anti-nuclear campaigns.
Fantasy has always carried a critique of industrial modernity, organic to its recourse to a legendary past. In the same vein, one of the forerunners of the genre, and other medieval enthusiasts, who influenced Tolkien is William Morris, a libertarian socialist writer who defends the environment. Although expressed from different angles, they have this distrust in common.
In “The Lord of The Rings” the protagonists are, I’m not spoiling you anything, the Hobbits. And by far the characters to whom Tolkien sympathizes.
Their entire civilization resembles a shorter legged version of the traditional English countryside, where they spend their time living their best life, namely smoking their pipe filled with ‘pipe-weed’ whose effects resemble cannabis, eating well, without working too much and without worrying about many things except the family who steal the silverware.
Then like Tolkien at the time of his departure for the war, there they are catapulted, from their island of peace, into a vast world with stakes beyond them. Here they are confronted with a universe of which they are a part whatever their efforts to ignore it. War, evil, corruption, and the forces involved, as diverse as they are difficult to reconcile. The heavy toll to pay for trading his quiet life for adventure.
In contrast, to the peaceful way of life which is admittedly a little naive but very sympathetic to the “brave country folks” of The Shire, horror arises from modernity:
Saruman: Together, my lord Sauron, we shall rule this Middle-earth. The old world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise. We will drive the machine of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the orc.
Tolkien deeply hates this industrial world which he discovered with dread in the First Industrialized War, but also in the toiling towns which tore him from his countryside to pursue his studies. This industrial modernity dirties nature and alienates men. Its armadas of orcs are in fact elves who have been tortured and enslaved. To the working masses stupefied by labor, he prefers the fantasy of “good common English folks” to ambitions and simple values.
Because if the hobbits are a recourse in this globalized world, it is precisely because they are not tempted by it. For Tolkien, they carry with them, naturally superior virtues to yet much more powerful magicians and other hundred-year-old elves, precisely too powerful to use the ring without putting all things at great risk.
A fascination with supposedly intrinsic values of the real simple people of the real simple life, which could be invoked as much by dictatorships, the France of Vichy, Franco, Mussolini … as in a diametrically opposed way a socialist like Orwell , which postulated the “common decency”, a kind of common sense inherent in the popular classes, that their way of life would make naturally good, simple, united and immune to the misappropriation of the powerful.
Because if the hobbits are a recourse in this globalized world, it is precisely because they are not tempted by it. For Tolkien, they carry with them, naturally superior virtues to yet much more powerful magicians and other hundred-year-old elves, precisely too powerful to use the ring without putting all things at great risk. A fascination with supposedly intrinsic values of the real simple people of the real simple life, which could be invoked as much by dictatorships, the France of Vichy, Franco, Mussolini … as in a diametrically opposed way a socialist like Orwell , which postulated the “common decency”, a kind of common sense inherent in the popular classes, that their way of life would make naturally good, simple, united and immune to the misappropriation of the powerful.
This ordinary decency is not only innate, it is due to social conditions which are degraded, metamorphosed by the age of technology, triumphant capitalism and totalitarianism. And indeed, people can no longer cultivate this ordinary decency in this world.
Ultimately and in the final analysis, if Tolkien had no sympathy for the socializing or progressive ideologies of his time either, it is also in the name of his distrust of modernity, industry and progress, precisely, which there were associated. Moreover, if Tolkien relies on an epic register inherited from legends, to high moments of bravery he adds the darkness and the tragic of conflicts. As we recall, his visions come out of the mind of a survivor of a dirty war, which has confirmed him in the idea of the benefits of a quieter way of life.
So yes, if the evocation of great heroes with pure blood can make vibrate nostalgic for the crusades, a force capable of attracting anti-militarists emerges just as much from “The Lord of The Rings”. So from “Aristocrat” to “Hippie”, the two find their account, only it is not the same.
Tolkien and his vision of Power
Even in a subject like power, “The Lord of The Rings” brings many other themes to which would not be limited to the sole recourse to a monarchist imagination full of dynasties of wise aristocrats and blood rights which naturally makes enlightened despots even 15 generations later.
My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people.
This is sort of the central theme, the ring, of power. Because in “The Lord of The RINGS”, power is a bit of a shit. A power in the very general sense embodied in a shining charm, with the thematic density similar to inspiring a totalitarian regime, the wealth of a PRECIOUS treasure or the power to do good, in short any form of power imaginable. The ring, on the other hand, seems obvious from its name alone to be a pure metaphor for power, but even it is insignificant, hollow, since it symbolizes all powers and none in particular. With Tolkien, there is no virtuous pursuit of power. Power must be destroyed.
There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power stations. I hope that, encouraged now as patriotism, may remain a habit. But it wont do any good if it is not universal.
The fundamental evil in “The Lord of The Rings”, despite its use of racial notions and its “legitimist” discourses, is not a person or a group of people! It is a disembodied notion. For Tolkien, it’s not so much the ring that matters, but what it brings out in people. The ring is a Rorschach test, everyone finds what they want in it and it is one of Tolkien’s great strengths. Although his tale takes place in an imaginary Middle Earth populated by elves, orcs, and other unlikely creatures, he tells us about us, us, men, all of which we run after. The ring can be money, love, fame … And in the end Sauron has no body because deep down, Sauron is all we want.
So no wonder that beyond his imagination of old school kingdoms, Tolkien’s apology for small communities to diffuse governance coupled with a passionate love, solidarity, camaraderie and brotherhood, which may come to him. powerful links forged in his student club, can also seduce a public not fond of his royalist icons. They were reactionary icons whose approach he had in fact quite consistent with his vision of power.
Not one in a million is fit for it and least of all of those who seek the opportunity. Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses; and who has the power to sack his Vizier (or whatever you care to call him) if he does not like the cut of his trousers. And so on down the line. But, of course, the fatal weakness of all that – after all only the fatal weakness of all good natural things in a bad corrupt unnatural world – is that it works and has worked only when all the world is messing along in the same good old inefficient human way.
Postulating for nothing except tranquility, and sovereignty yet capable of rising against the yoke of Sarouman with his companions whom Tolkien attributed to escape, disgust, anger, condemnation and revolt.
“The Lord of The Rings” is not an allegory of World War II, not even the first that its author experienced. Neither is it an allegory of the good times of monarchies, nor of libertarian communism or reactionary conservatism, or of radical ecologism, of racialist hierarchies or of international solidarity, which does not prevent that he carries all of that inside him.
Like any work that has a lot of meaning, it doesn’t have just one, it is polysemous. Entire generations have seized upon it with a wide variety of issues and problems. You also got hold of it when you read it, discussed it and brought it to life. And this is the case even if you’ve never read it because it is so present in our common imaginations. When Peter Jackson took on the titanic task of fitting it to the screen, so did he, in his own way. By making choices that you liked or that you did not like that necessarily went one way or another, a meaning he wanted to give to it all. Like that old man at a dinner in Rotterdam in 1958 who used this imaginary world to describe in his own words the world he did live in.
I look East, West, North, South, and I do not see Sauron; but I see that Saruman has many descendants. We Hobbits have against them no magic weapons. Yet, my gentle hobbits, I give you this toast: To the Hobbits. May they outlast the Sarumans and see spring again in the trees.
This man was the same Tolkien who refused to see his work as an allegory, which did not prevent him from making parallels when it struck him, when it seemed to apply, to be relevant. It may even be precisely this lack of allegory that allows it. So why go without?
Remember China Mieville cited above dunking on “The Lord of The Rings” as a clean evil? Well he also said this:
The literary establishment’s incoherent critique combines snobbish disdain for popular culture with an historical philistinism. And there is a left variant of this dismissal, seeing the fantastic as decadent or socially irresponsible. Tolkien refuses that the notion that a work of fiction is, in some reductive way primary, or solely or really, about something else, knowly and precisely, that the work of the reader is one of code breaking. Only if we find the right key we can perform an hermeneutic algorithm and solve the book. This is not a plea for naivety, for evading ramification or analysis, for some impossible and pointless return to « just a story »
Because like any story, “The Lord of The Rings” does not mean nothing, does not talk about nothing … I don’t know the “Meaning” of “The Lord of The Rings”, and neither do you, but I hope you find this story meaningful too.
Sources (not exhaustive):
“Winter is coming – Une brève histoire politique de la fantasy” William Blanc (I dont know if there is an english version)
M. Night Shyamalan is a funny director. First, there were the hit hits “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”. Then more mixed films with in 2002 “Signs”, then “The Village” two years later. Critics were quick to label it as the new Steven Spielberg (one of his references), even his natural successor (which seems a little disproportionate to me). How is this “Lady in The Water” positioned?
I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy. When you spend a certain amount of time in hospitals, it’s a literary and filmic genre perfect for changing your mind. One thing I love all the more about fantasy is when it steps into the “normal” world and what is more normal than a stuttering janitor by the name of Cleveland in an apartment complex ?
The normal man :
Paul Giamatti ideally sticks to this ordinary guy, rather withdrawn, without particular intelligence. His daily life is just a string of uninteresting odd jobs: repairing a washing machine, exterminating a pest in a kitchen, changing defective bulbs … these mini-scenes camp, often with a lot of humor, the profile of the hero who still ignores himself and reveals a gallery of rather colorful tenants.
What I like most about this film are the themes it addresses:
Who are we beyond appearances?
Who are we, once the mask of social conventions has been removed?
What unexpected forces are sleeping in us?
What do we know about ourselves?
And his characters of a great banality at first glance but who will know their importance:
A little boy who reads the cereal boxes,
a group of friends who remade the world around a beer,
an old lady who attracts butterflies …
the sketched portraits seem to go away, before delivering an almost cosmic meaning to the film.
The disturbing strangeness :
That a red-haired nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard <3) is frolicking in the complex’s swimming pool, looking for a human with whom she must communicate before she can return to her blue world, does not seem to surprise our discreet concierge . Or how a Chinese legend for children is anchored in the reality of a world of adults who buried his childhood. The nymph must be saved from the clutches of a dark creature, half warthog half wolf with long spiky hairs and ferocious rumbles. Yes, it is disturbing. Yes, it is scary. As were the aliens in “Signs”, the ghosts in “The Sixth Sense”. Make no mistake, evil lurks everywhere, every moment. Let us remain vigilant, let us wake up, let us unite.
Obviously, the cocktail works only if one implicitly accepts the postulate of the legend which takes life and body, which one lets oneself carry by the irrational. The tilting is done very smoothly, almost imperceptibly. We feel irresistibly drawn. In turn poetic, fantastic, nightmarish, “The Lady in The Water” proves, if need be, that Mr. Night Shyamalan is a truly original filmmaker, endowed with a certain talent for narration and an intriguing vision of world. Qualities all the more appreciable as they are hardly legion in the Hollywood microcosm.
It may be because I saw this film as a child but I like it a lot. It is a lovely tale that makes our imagination work, in search of the smallest element that can make us think that our reality may contain a hint of magic.
In doing my research, I realized that the reviews were really bad. However, seeing the film recently I do not have the impression that it is justified. If you have a different opinion I will be happy that you share it in the comments. As for the people who would have passed by, I can only advise you to see it, especially if you have kept a child’s soul.