Episode 9
December 16, 2019

This Flash, This Sublime Thing

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Jared’s choice of topic: magic. It may seem strange given that one of Tolkien’s most central and indelible characters, Gandalf, is a wizard, but magic plays a more understated role in Middle-earth than it might seem on first blush. Starting with the famed exchange between Galadriel, Frodo and Sam about whether her mirror is magic—a question Galadriel seems not to understand—we consider magic’s role as an at once strong and yet sublimated element throughout Tolkien’s Middle-earth work. What does it mean that Gandalf often seems reluctant to do anything magical to start with? Is magic something intrinsic to certain characters, things and places, or is it a matter of craft and study? How does Tolkien’s use of magic differ or resemble magic as portrayed in other fantasy authors’ work? Does the off-hand mention of Queen Berúthiel in The Lord of the Rings contain a larger clue to how widespread magic itself might be? And which of us confessed to trying to use Gandalf’s fire-creating spell on the slopes of Caradhras to set sticks on fire in their backyard when they were 12 years old?

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle for the episode.

Jared’s illustrated series of the Valier.

Deadline’s report on the Amazon series’s renewal for a second season and the filming/hiatus plans.

A 2010 piece from the Heterodoxology blog on Renaissance magic and Goetia in particular.

William Morris continues to cast a long shadow in many ways.

Trust me, you know Maxfield Parrish’s work.

The Palantíri are truly mysterious objects...

...and the Istari (aka Gandalf and his compatriots) truly mysterious creations.

Brandon Sanderson has written quite a lot. That’s it, that’s the note.

Amon Hen, the Hill of Seeing, and its counterpart Amon Lhaw are really two of the most unusual locations in all of Tolkien’s work. A Númenorean magical—or technological—achievement? Something already there?

All hail Ursula K. Le Guin and her memory. Click the link and Earthsea is the first thing you see.

The Noldor were indeed initially called Gnomes. No pointy red hats necessarily implied back then; now…

Queen Berúthiel. The ultimate human goth of Middle-earth? (Eöl is probably the ultimate elf goth.)

Geas! Learn about it.

The cookbook mentioned by Ned is Regional Cooking from Middle-earth: Recipes of the Third Age—the listed author is Emerald Took, a pseudonym for Stephanie Simmons, whose story and influences can be found in two 2002 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette stories here and here.

If you’re planning on reading ahead for the next episode, this edition is exhaustive in the best way.

Be like Jared and read Mervyn Peake, you’ll be glad you did.

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