January 25th, 2020

(no subject)

It's been just over a decade since I wrote my "Eating Stones" series.

The basic premise is that Aragorn, fleeing Gondor after his time as Thorongil and making his way through the deserts "where the stars are strange," he rescues a woman meant to be sacrificed to Morgoth. It's thematically darkish, certainly for what I was doing at the time, and was a sort of meditation on the way religion and faith, even centered on a twisted theology, can be sublimated into perseverance in the face of a really strained existence with not enough of all the things that sustain life (water, and food, and coin, but also something to hope in).

So it was always meant to be faith full-stop more than faith in, if that distinction makes any sense. At the time I was kind of coming out of at least the first level of some really deep, life-defining grief in my offline life, where I wasn't so dazed by it all that I could ask more philosophical questions. And because I was a lot more religious than I am now and in grad school in philosophy of religion at the time, the most pressing question was: given the basic logic of theodicy and also the idiocy I'd seen done in the name of religion, why the !@#$ wasn't I an atheist by that point. I wasn't (and I'm not), so this thought of what religion and faith would look like for people on the margins of a by definition corrupted worldview and power structure was... alluring, to put it mildly. Though really I've only written the tip of the iceberg.

I've been thinking about those stories this weekend. It's nothing profound or tragic! More, the Kid's just gotten back from a month away and she's Muslim and because this story was set in Harad there was always a Middle-Eastern flair to it in my mind. Though the Kid's not properly Arabic, the mind will draw its own half-stereotypical/racist associations at times. Also a lot of what I put into that story was drawn from a course on Arabic literature, mainly post-colonial poetry and short stories, and an essay I wrote on the different forms perseverance and a drive toward what my rabbi mentor would have described as tikkun olam (very broadly: the struggle to repair the world and continue/complete the act of creation).

I do wish I still had that essay somewhere! But the basic idea is still buried deep in my head, at least.

On top of which the song I listened to on repeat as I wrote "Turtles All the Way Down" (the story in the series that really does the most worldbuilding) popped up on Youtube last week, and I've been listening to it a lot this weekend. On top of which one of the Tolkien drabble comms has its weekly theme as frost, which has me thinking of course thinking of that line in "All that is gold does not glitter," but also about the reference in the Ainulindale (yes I am enough of a geek to have a favorite line from the Ainulindale):

He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea.


So I am imagining a brother and a sister from that family driven out of their village away from their family by the events of Eating Stones (perhaps siblings of the OC who fled her slated sacrifice), and getting caught up in Sauron's mechanization and militarization in the years leading up to the War of the Ring, and eventually getting sent north for some reason and seeing frost for the first time. I'm not entirely sure of how to structure it or focus it into a manageable length, but hoo boy, the desire is there.

... And because I've blathered on this long, I am now almost contractually obligated to share the song. The song is "Shtiklakh," from King Django's "Roots & Culture" project. It's an oddly haunting but beautiful mix of klezmer and reggae and... something I can't quite identify, but it's good, no doubt. YouTube video and my own rough effort at a translation of the lyrics below the cut.

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