Hello and good morning. It’s Thursday morning, and this is not a pre-written post; this is one that I am writing now, on Thursday morning.
It’s September 22nd, 2022, and it’s the first day of Autumn. It’s presumably the equinox, and—more importantly—it’s Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday. This is the first time since I’ve been writing this blog that September 22nd has fallen on a Thursday, which isn’t too surprising. After all, on average that should happen only once every seven years, and leap years might, depending on the year, increase that gap, though they could also decrease it.
By the way, when I speak of the importance to me of those works, I mean the books. If anyone out there has only seen the movies, you cannot know what I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I think Peter Jackson did an awe-inspiring job on The Lord of the Rings movies. And The Hobbit movies were tolerably okay. But they were nothing like as good as the books. I haven’t even watched any of the new Amazon series yet. I’m not sure if I will.
My first exposure to Tolkien’s work was in the form of a record (vinyl, that is) with excerpted audio from the Rankin-Bass cartoon of The Hobbit (which was in many ways superior to Peter Jackson’s bloated trilogy* of movies made from that one book). My brother and I used to listen to such records sometimes when we were going to bed for the night—we shared a room—and I can still remember the beginning of the theme song written for that cartoon:
“The greatest adventure is what lies ahead
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said
The chances, the changes, are all yours to make
The mold of your life is in your hands to break.”
I feel that’s rather appropriate to me right now, frankly, but it was evocative even for a little kid. We also had a big, illustrated version of The Hobbit, filled with stills from the animation and pre-production artwork and concept artwork from the development of the cartoon, though I didn’t really know what they were at the time. I just knew they were beautiful to me, and I enjoyed them before I ever actually read the story.
Of course, once I had read The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings, I was hooked. By the time I was twenty, I had read The Lord of the Rings at least 21 times, and The Hobbit more than that. I had also read The Silmarillion at least seven times. These were not the books I had read most often, mind you. That record goes to The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, which I had read, I think, 29 times by the time I was halfway through college. I had meant to write a segment of my short-lived “series” My Heroes Have Always Been Villains on the antagonist from those books, Lord Foul, who is, I think, the purest villain in all the literature I’ve read in my entire life, at least among those who are actually characters with personalities. If there were enough demand, I might write a post in MHHABV about him.
But Tolkien’s work is dearer to my heart, and so the fact that this day is the 22nd of September, and a Thursday, feels portentous to me. It’s the sort of day one might sell or give away all one’s former worldly good and heads off on an epic journey, from which he may never return, and if he does, which will leave him profoundly changed. I want to do that. I want to escape. At the very least, today I am going to begin working toward that escape, to begin to prepare the way home from Mordor.
I’m two years older than Bilbo and Frodo Baggins were at the start of their journeys, but then again, I’ve already been on my own horrible “adventure” for a long time now. The sliver of the Witch King’s blade has been working its way toward my heart for ages, and it may already have pierced it. I think I’ve mentioned before that I often—maybe most of the time—feel as though I’m a wraith like a Nazgul, like a mortal who keeps a great ring: not dying, but not growing or obtaining new life, either, just continuing, though every minute is a weariness, untouched by the world of light except as a source of pain.
Anyway, I can’t continue like that, or rather, I don’t want to. I suppose I could, if there were any good reason. I’ve continued this far, and apart from the date and my own associations, there’s nothing actually different about today compared to any other day. It’s just another rotation of a little, rocky planet orbiting a run-of-the-mill star in an outer spiral arm of a mid-sized galaxy, in what may be, for all we know for certain, just one of an infinite number of “universes”.
But for me, the date is significant, and so is the day, and maybe I can use that as an impetus to try to do something epic, at least from my own point of view. I hope so. Because I can’t stand things as they are, not much longer, no matter what. I don’t want to stand them. I don’t see any good reason to do so other than inertia. Mind you, inertia is a strong thing, but entropy is stronger. Entropy is inevitable, at least as far as anyone can tell, and we have good physical and mathematical reasons for coming to that conclusion.
In the meantime, though, I’ll end this blog post not with my usual Thursday sign-off, but with Bilbo’s words in Lake Town, when he didn’t even realize it was his birthday, combined with his jokey comment from a much later birthday, but switched in order.
“I don’t know half of you half as well as I would like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
Thag you very buch.”
*I also much preferred the Rankin-Bass tune for the dwarves’ song in Bilbo’s house to the one in the Peter Jackson version, and partly because of their tune I can always remember pretty much that entire song/poem. My favorite verse is:
“The bells were ringing in the Dale
And Men looked up with faces pale.
The dragon’s ire, more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.”