Saturday, January 3, 2009
Today happens to be the birthday of a very remarkable man. I have had J.R.R. Tolkien much on the brain, of late, after giving in to temptation a couple of months back and buying a copy of Verlyn Flieger's Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World. I had read it once before, and am slowly getting through it again. It is fairly heavy going, but worth the try. The heavy going is not Flieger's fault--she uses an almost textbook-perfect style of laying out a chapter, and never puts in more than needs to be there--but there are several big ideas being presented in that book. My recurring favorite is the notion of subcreation. Tolkien held that man, made in the image and likeness of the Creator, God, has a predilection for his own admirable, though humanly imperfect, form of creation--art. As he put it in a poem: ". . .we make still by the law in which we're made." To borrow from Flieger's explanations, this creativity results in "splintered light"; the original, created light of reality is refracted through the prism of human imagination and set out in new colors.