mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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I think about Utopia a lot. Not Dystopia; Dystopia is easy, & I'm not so worried about it. Huxley or Orwell were all well & good to caution, & I'm not saying vigilance isn't needed but frankly I'd rather try to think of a way to side-step all that. I think an (at least somewhat) self-sustaining Utopian society isn't impossible; I mean, you're working against the Ape & against Entropy, but we've got the tools (intellectual, psychological, & biological soon enough) to fight the former & the latter is big enough to post-pone.

This morning the way this was bubbling up in the cauldron of the think-box was Tolkien & Dungeons & Dragons alignment. You know, Tom Bombadil, from my mention the other day, started it. Really the tension in the Lord of the Rings is Lawful Evil versus Lawful Good; tyranny versus monarchy, right? If you phrase it in DnD terminology, you get some fruitful insights into J.R.R. Tolkien's philosophy about the world. Bombadil embodies Chaotic Good; he's a free of control, both having it & being under it. Despite all that, it is clear that, without the hedge of Gondor & the actions of the Fellowship, Tom Bombadil would fall to Sauron & tyranny. The hobbits are Neutral Good, & fall under the same schema; they are content to live & let live, but when the fire of war threatens to engulf the world, Frodo et al have to join the fight. As for evil, well, you've got the Balrog as Chaotic Evil, just a roving menace, full of power but ultimately not an earth-shaker (well, except literally). You've got Sarumen as Neutral Evil, who signs up with Lawful Evil for the benefits but tries to undercut it when he thinks he can get away with it. It is True Neutral that really shows how Tolkien breaks down the ultimate division between Good & Evil. The Ents. They just don't care. Leave them to their trees & they will let the two sides of Law duke it out. Except...well, when push comes to shove, they pick Good, & it is pretty clear that, Old Man Willow aside, they were going to. That I think is Tolkien's sneak, where he says, like St. Cuthbert, that in a pinch Good is better than Evil. I mean, not that he wasn't saying that in grand sweeping movements, but I think it is that subtle choice that speaks most convincingly to his argument. Of course, there aren't any Chaotic Neutral or Lawful Neutral people in this argument-- Tolkien doesn't care about those latter additions-- but if I had to stretch maybe the ghosts of the Paths of the Dead are Lawful Neutral, & I don't know for Chaotic Neutral.
Tags: dnd, ideology
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