Episode 55
October 2, 2023

There Was a Lot to Remember Here and I Don’t Remember Most of It

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Ned’s choice of topic: The Notion Club Papers. Written in 1945 during a creative pause in completing the final third of The Lord of the Rings, The Notion Club Papers found Tolkien on familiar ground, creating a set of purported notes from regular club meetings among a group of Oxford professors much like himself and his fellow members of the famed Inklings. While not advancing beyond a couple of drafts and far from complete, the papers tell first of a professor who, due to a discussion on how spacecraft would work in science fiction, avers he has himself been able to travel in dreams through the reaches of space and meet other minds before returning to earth. One initially skeptical member over time then tells of his own unusual dream experiences, building up to a sudden moment during a massive storm where he invokes the language and imagery of the downfall of Númenor, in much the same fashion as The Lost Road did nearly a decade prior; related manuscripts found Tolkien revisiting the Númenorean story in particular, as well as speaking in detail about his invented language for the society. How does the novel’s complicated structure work creatively, if at all, and is there something there that could have been developed further in later drafts? What does it mean that Tolkien seemed most at ease exploring the possible sources of his own creativity in such a second-hand fashion, even if the means by which he did so ended up being incredibly insular? What were the contemporary sources and inspirations for this effort among his fellow Inklings and beyond, and are there any parallels he acknowledges or, perhaps notably, ignores? And who wouldn’t want to talk over the evident problems of medieval life while getting a haircut from Norman Keeps?

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. This is why it’s important to check the insulation on your windows.

And indeed the WGA strike did end soon after we recorded our episode. SAG strike still ongoing for the moment!

More from the Lord of the Rings musical revival, and who knows where it will go…

Amazon’s plans for ads for Prime Video, great. Lovely. Couldn’t agree with that more. Yup.

News about the Tales Of The Shire game and we are very curious indeed!

Yeah that whole Warren Beatty Dick Tracy thing.

There are indeed skeletons in Stardew Valley. (The upcoming game Ned mentioned is Wytchwood.)

The Notion Club Papers! We recommend at least a little caffeine before reading.

Knowing a little about the Inklings will not hurt at all when it comes to the Notion Club Papers.

Socratic dialogue can indeed be rollicking.

Our episode on “A Secret Vice.”

Thomas Pynchon is out there and is happy not to be recognized.

That Hideous Strength concludes the Space Trilogy by taking a Charles Williams direction (though as Jared notes, not very successfully).

If you haven’t seen Inspector Morse just ask a relative who still watches PBS a lot. (Because they’ve likely been watching Endeavour.)

Interstellar is trippy, man. (In a formal Nolany way, but still.)

The Great Storm of 1987 as reported on UK TV.

The Call of Cthulhu” is probably Lovecraft’s most well known story. And boy does it have problems too!

C. S. Lewis’s “The Dark Tower” is a weirdly fascinating fragment, while An Experiment With Time by J. W. Dunne was a reference point for both Lewis and Tolkien in these works.

Ringu aka The Ring, which of course has nothing to do with a certain other ring. We think.

Monty Python’s Constitutional Peasants, one of their most perfect moments.

David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus Tolkien definitely liked. The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison, rather more mixed. (And relatedly our episode on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.)

The Grink! (RIP Twitter, culturally at least, but Bluesky is starting to gel more.)

Per Ned’s closing comment, Roger Zelazny’s A Night In The Lonesome October has become a seasonal classic of sorts. (And the Gahan Wilson illustrations inside are a delight.)

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