Episode 17
August 10, 2020

A Bad Thing That Bad People Do

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Oriana’s choice of topic: imperialism. As a literal citizen of the British Empire at birth in a colonial holding of what would eventually become South Africa, Tolkien’s life was directly shaped by both the seeming omnipresence of empire and its simultaneous retreat and reshaping over the course of his life. But while his creative work shows many strains of considering what an empire is and how imperialism could be seen in it, his own personal unease with empire shows in views that are complicated in many ways. What does his legendarium show as examples of empire, and are they uniform in nature? How does Tolkien conceive of a political polity like Gondor in terms of both its history and functioning as an heir to empire? What are the exact contrasts between human empires and inhuman ones such as Sauron’s, and how does Tolkien use fantasy to heighten the contrasts? What forms of empire exist through the history of Middle-earth, from linguistic to political to economic? And in a time in the real world when statues have been falling, why did Gondor love that monument in Umbar of Númenor’s simultaneous greatest triumph and spark of its absolute destruction?

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. “Sailing, sailing, over the ocean main…”

Take Your Pick! Check out our collective appearance on an episode last month where we did the ultimate Lord of the Rings fancast. 

TheOneRing.net’s Twitter summary of the Amazon series news from SDCC. Also, enjoy an article featuring one of the cast members that says literally nothing about what’s going on.

Beyoncé’s Black is King is very much on Disney+—speaking of empires. 

The 2000s Battlestar Galactica wasn’t perfect, maybe leaned a little too much into recentish American history in general for beats and imagery, but absolutely aimed for a still too rare depiction of a refugee society where instead of ‘good triumphs over evil’ everything slowly but surely falls apart over time.

Episode 7 on Ghân-buri-Ghân, with some discussion of empire’s impact and colonialism.

Merriam-Webster on imperialism. There you go.

The British Empire’s afterechoes continue to reverberate.

David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” speech.

Totalitarianism—it’s not imperialism but you can see where one can be a subset of the other.

Esperanto. The speakers are out there.

Episode 4 on Aldarion and Erendis, plus the initial origins of the Númenorean empire.

Umbar! We did misremember the details in our chat, but the monument there of Sauron’s submission to Ar-Pharazôn was first put up not by the remnant of evil Númenoreans but by Gondor itself. Making the monument’s existence even more complicated!

Faramir’s full thoughts on Minas Tirith and empire: “‘For myself,’ said Faramir, ‘I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.‘“

Imrahil and Dol Amroth—we’d still would love to know more about all that.

The Byzantine Empire had military themes. Quite a few of them.

The Athenian Empire aka the Delian League.

The British Raj, also the reason why the British Empire can be called that in the first place. (As Oriana mentions later, she’s currently reading The Anarchy, a book about the East India Company and the ultimate origins of the Raj.)

The Kin-strife is another one of those things that we know a little about, but clearly there was a lot more there.

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