Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Monster to Boss

The Heroic Visons of J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard by James LaFond

Most people are nothing more than propaganda clay.
-Gina C.

The drive to extinguish heroism from what remains of human culture, in its washed-out mongrelized form is an actual obsession with the media and academia, the two mind control strands which serve the power elite. As a counter to this we might consider the strands of heroism and which strand is most unacceptable to the Leviathan Polity and which strand is relatively abundant, in order to deduce the fear of the collective beast that dines upon our scattered souls.

Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien were the two greatest fantasy writers of the 20th century, Edgar Rice Boroughs being the third. I place Boroughs third, despite his superior output, due to his relative reluctance to paint human superstructures as evil. He was a nationalist, who did what he could to place the villain as an aberrant or even alien force. Tolkien painted the picture of power itself as a morally corruptible force. Howard, likewise, depicts virtually every ruler, prince, lord and priest as a monster in the making, with civilization itself sketched as the very womb of evil. So, despite their very different approaches to heroism Howard and Tolkien paint political power with a black brush.

The Hero King

The quintessential Tolkien hero is Aragorn, the scion of the returning blood line, a hero who spends all of his time slaughtering the nameless minions of his evil counterpart, a hero never able to lay hold of the Dark Lord, unassailable in Mordor, a man who is nothing but a piece on the chessboard of strife, not the player. It is significant that Aragorn never even has a showdown with the Lord of the Nazgul, rather he is slain by a girl, and that the Dark Lord himself may only be defeated by a hairy-footed child. In medieval terms, Aragorn is a knight who never slays his evil equal—he is a living symbol of a restoration, a moral beacon, not a direct actionist in the fight against his evil opposite.

Today, the Lord of the Rings franchise in print, video and gaming outsells the combined works of Howard by billions of dollars. Furthermore, the chief pastime of young men, video gaming, is dominated by the convention of the “Boss,” the idea that many levels of the combat ladder [a frustrated effigy for the social ladder, so inaccessible to the honorable actionist] must be ascended until finally a showdown with the boss villain is the reward for learning the game. A video game is essentially a restorative Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn finally gets to fight the Dark Lord.

The Usurper

Of all of the Howard characters, Conan is the quintessential king, a more brutally crafted figure than his literary predecessor Kull, also a barbarian hero king come to the throne of a preeminent state via the violence of his own bloody hands. Most of the Conan adventures are set before his kingship, with only three treating with the barbarian monarch’s trouble holding his heroically gotten throne. Where Aragorn is the benighted heir of a right upheld by the hands of others, Conan is a pure heroic force who has carved his own place in life and must hold on in like fashion, with nothing but the loyalty to him imbued by his own heroism and good deeds to buoy his continued claim. This is well illustrated in The Hour of the Dragon, the only Conan novel.

Rather than a collectively toxic right, Conan has might. The other striking aspect of the Conan series in terms of heroism, is it is a return to ancient epic poetry, hero sagas of figures such as Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Achilles, Odysseus, Herakles and Beowulf who all go directly for the throat of evil by accessing the chief villain and puppet master directly. This is only reflected in modern and postmodern media by the Lone Wolf hero, such as Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name and the various very popular adventure films starring his more muscular heirs to the movie throne.

For the above reasons I prefer man against machine stories and movies for boys, and am against video games and suggest that table top gaming follow the direct actionist in the Howard tradition, rather than the compromised heroes of Tolkien. I prefer the Tolkien mythos in many ways, but in terms of media for modeling the inner mind of men, Howard’s hero—which is to say the traditional Aryan hero—who confronts evil directly rater than through its proxy minions, is an entire level above the slavish king of Tolkien’s mind’s eye.

Note from Lynn:  James asked for a picture of a CEO and an evil wizard to illustrate this piece, but this was the best I could come up with, an evil CEO and President Frothy Latte:

(c) 2018 James LaFond

1 comment:

  1. Lynn, you hit the nail on the head. Soros + Cankles would have been on point, as well.