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The Canon Conundrum

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

The Canon Conundrum

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Lately, I've been thinking a lot about canon. Canon and writing and fandom. I've come to believe that canon and I have quite an ambivalent relationship. Because it's likely to be rambly and possibly incoherent, the rest goes behind the cut.

I've been in this wild and wonderful Tolkien fandom for about two years now. Most of those two years, I've been up to my neck in it; it's been a pretty significant part of my life, for better or for worse. I've learned a lot, met many wonderful new friends (and a handful of new enemies), and in general, had a good time. Two years isn't long, true, but given the heavy involvement I've had in those two years, I've come quite a long way.

And one of those ways is canon. Canon used to be much more absolute to me: It was or it wasn't. Then I started to write and build on canon, and canon became a far more nebulous concept. Canon also used to be something I considered a personal weakness. I was rereading some old AMC comments the other day and saw many times when people brought up points, and I said, "Well, I don't really know much about canon ..." I certainly wasn't ready to get up to my elbows in canon debates. Even more amusing is the number of times that people quoted incorrect canon or fanon to me in those days, without me even knowing it ... but I digress.

These days, yes, I consider my canon pretty good, at least in the areas in which I write. And I'm perfectly content to debate whomever wants to take me on.

Part of this, of course, is becoming more comfortable with the canon: knowing, for example, that I have read that bit in The Silmarillion (and where to find it) and becoming increasingly familiar with the HoMe. But another part is becoming more comfortable in defending my choices in my stories versus curling into a ball and apologizing for getting it wrong.

Because there is a lot of wrong "canon" floating around out there. And I've had people hold up their hand and swear that it's true, even in absence of being able to find proof. "I can't find the quote, but I just saw it; I know it's there!"

For example, how many people think that these are true "canon" facts from Tolkien's works?
  • Nerdanel has red hair.
  • Maglor's hand was eternally scarred by the Silmaril.
  • Maglor was the gentlest of the sons of Feanor.
If anyone can find quotes to back up any of those claims, do share! I haven't been able to find them ... but I've seen multiple people swear that all of the above are definitive canon. (And if you find good solid canon for any of them, I'll gladly scratch them off the list and eat my hat ... and be thankful to you for it!)

And then there is the issue of defining canon to begin with. It seems that every Tolkien author defines canon differently, and I've seen a good deal of unnecessary head-knocking based on the fact that Person A takes this source as canon and Person B does not. Ours is not a "normal" fandom in terms of canon (is anyone fandom truly normal, though?): We have works published by the author (LotR), works written by the author but compiled and published by someone else (The Silmarillion), notes and letters by the author published by someone else (the HoMe), notes that aren't yet published but are publicly available, creative works based on the author's works (Jackson's movie trilogy), and secondary sources based off of publicly available but unpublished notes (Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth). And of course, no living author to ask for clarifications on uncertain matters. This differs us from, say, the Harry Potter fandom where there are the books and the movies ... and Rowling still alive to clarify uncertainties or deal with loose threads.

This doesn't even begin to address the fact that Tolkien's works were written as historical accounts, not necessarily as simple stories. True, most stories have a point-of-view character, and the story is then subject to his perceptions and biases. So Harry and Draco tell the same story differently; as it is, we see things through Harry's eyes. But Tolkien's works are unique in that the PoV character isn't always readily clear, and the "author" of these historical accounts did not necessarily experience the events he is recounting (i.e., Bilbo as the ultimate author of The Silmarillion). Imagine Harry's great-great-great-great-grandson compiling his ancestor's stories based on oral histories handed down, books, and artwork from that time. Now we have a completely different (and far less trustworthy) Harry Potter canon. That is what The Silmarillion is.

This complicates things immensely in defining a "canon" for Tolkien's Arda. In my two years of struggling to define the elusive canon, even if just for my own purposes, I've come to the conclusion that attempting to define a universal canon is impossible. On the Henneth-Annun Yahoo! list, there was recently a discussion of defining canon, with some people accepting The Silmarillion (for example) as absolute canon, others (like me) considering it inferior to LotR and The Hobbit but more canonical than the HoMe or UT, and others considering it not canon at all. And so many arguments about what is and is not canon really need to start there: Do you define canon as I do? If not, arguing about canon based on works that we view differently in terms of canon is really a moot point.

(Note that I said arguing and not discussing. I will discuss canon until the cows come home with nearly anyone. But the aggressive, snobbish aptly named "canaticism" [a term coined by satismagic, I believe*] where canon is a matter of being right or wrong and persuading rather than learning ... that I will not do.)

* satismagic informs me that the term was actually made up by rous3, so far as she knows. Now can we call that canon? ;)

A few weeks ago, I was feeling somewhat frustrated with fandom in general. I don't even remember why. My focus on fandom is slowly shifting from writing almost obsessively to acting like a responsible moderator on SWG by, like, actually doing things for the group. It's working for me, at the moment. But anyway, I was frustrated a few weeks ago, and all that I remember was that it had canon at its core. I said to Bobby that if I ever stopped writing stories based on The Silmarillion, it would be because of canon.

(For the record, I am not planning to stop writing Silmarillion stories. So there is no need to beg, plead, cajole, and *hugs* me into writing Silmfic. But what writer doesn't occasionally question her work and its value to the world at large? These things usually pass, and quickly.)

But if I was to stop writing Silmfic, it would be because of canon. Hence my ambivalence: on the one hand, I absolutely love studying Tolkien's works. I collect notes on his works, write essays, and spend a good amount of time putting pieces together into what is (to me) a coherent whole. In many ways, I am a canatic, at least in terms of obsessive behavior when it comes to reading and studying canon. But adherence to canon is not why I write. Yes, most of my stories stick to canon; I rarely write AU. Personally, I've felt that to stray into the realm of AU, I might as well write original fiction. Even the most "out there" details in my stories have some sort of basis in canon, even if they involve a good deal of invention on my part as well. But I don't think I've ever taken one of Tolkien's canon details and intentionally defied it or turned it on its head.

I write to tell a story. I write to increase my personal understanding of something--a character, an event, an idea--and to entertain and maybe enlighten an audience. I don't write with the expectation that another Tolkien fan come into my story with a scorecard, keeping track of how many "canon" mistakes I make. I write with the expectation that my audience will probably have a very different view of canon than I do, but that they will judge the story on the story and how well I can transport them to my own version of Tolkien's world. I want to bring that world to life in a new and unexpected way for every person to read my story. I don't simply want to retell the same story for the hundredth time, exactly as it has been told one hundred times before. After all, isn't that one of an author's roles? To take the reader to her world? It is beyond presumptuous of a reader to assume that an author will necessarily write to the reader's interpretation of things and that the author has erred if she does not.

But this is not the expectation in many corners of this fandom where a story that is written well enough to win a Nebula Award would still be despised by many for not meeting their personal standards of "canon." I find this interesting on good days (like today) and dismaying on bad days (like the day when I told Bobby that canon would be the chief reason that I would quit writing Silmfic). As much as I find the line between "fan fiction" and "real fiction" growing increasingly blurred for me, this particular behavior sets the Tolkien fan fiction community far apart from the speculative fiction community at large because criticisms of Tolkien-based stories are largely not even based on how the story is written. They are based on what is written. And this is ridiculous.

If I am reading an original fantasy story about red dragons, a criticism that everyone knows that dragons are green, not red, would not be well received. And rightly so. It is ridiculous to expect an author to write about green dragons simply because I--a stranger she has never met before--like green dragons better than red. Likewise, the vast majority of "canon" criticism that I see made against stories has nothing to do with canon but with personal interpretation. Like saying, "You wrote Celegorm as black-haired and that's against canon." Well ... no it's not. It depends on how that particular author considers different sources--and different pieces of information within those sources--as canon. But you don't see many reviewers of fan fiction stories asking authors why they made a particular choice or how they define canon. No, you see them presenting canon as a single right-or-wrong interpretation and expecting authors to write to that interpretation. And like expecting all authors to write about green dragons simply because I like green dragons, this is an absurd expectation and, therefore, not a legitimate criticism.

Now, I'll agree that there are instances where something is clearly outside of canon. If I write Feanor as a blond, I think that's a mistake. Nonetheless, the way that canon mistakes are approached in this community is sometimes baffling. It is very rare when I get a canon criticism on one of my stories that comes with a quote or a source to back up the reviewer's point. The reviewer clearly believes that I am not aware of that particular detail ... yet she doesn't see the need to provide that detail for me? How else am I to learn? And am I to believe that she really has my "education" in mind when she makes such criticisms, or is she simply attempting to create an aura of superiority because she knows more about canon than I do?

Why do we tolerate this sort of absurdity? No, I'm not talking about hunting down and flogging ridiculous canatics, but a good number of reasonable fans see nothing wrong with someone snarking about canon without first establishing if we even define that canon in the same way. Most of the gripes that I've heard from authors about the old HASA review system, for example, pertained to reviewers rejecting stories because they didn't like the way that the author interpreted the canon. And I've gotten criticisms from well-meaning reviewers who did not intend to be offensive, certainly, but still addressed points as "canon" that were in fact interpretation. Not to start a discussion, mind you, but to have me change my view to match theirs. How can we expect this?

And so, on my "bad days" when I doubt my place as an author in this fandom, I wonder if my expectations as a reader and an author are simply mismatched to the majority of people in this community.

I realize that this is largely fruitless griping. But really, I find this rather interesting that so many fans and readers possess such unreasonable expectations of the stories that are usually written with the same goal in mind as any other story: to entertain. But we are not entertained: We are too busy worrying about Celegorm's hair color to even notice the story, which might otherwise delight and inspire us.
  • *points to icon*
  • *drudges up old "insult"* Obviously, the problem here is that you are SMUG. ;P

    I've been thinking about "canon" too. The term itself has certainly become something of a pet peeve for me. I think my major problem with canon is also that, while interesting at first, canon debates have the tendency to go in circles and be repetitive. And after awhile, I just can't bring myself to read anymore points on the discussion, no matter how polite. And then, as you said, there's the difference (or non-difference) of Canon, canon, "canon", semi-canon, quasi-canon, and non-canon. "This is canon." Huh? "It's in HoME 274" Oh...

    I know I've shared my feelings on teh dreaded HoME before, but I, in a way, "don't believe in" HoME. So saying to me, "HoME says ____" means about as much to me as "The Bible says ____" to someone who is not a Christian. Sure, it might be interesting, it might even be something I incorporate into my personal canon; then again, it might be something I pass off, saying "You're welcome to believe that, but I don't share your belief."

    I also thought, amidst my random thoughts, that writing an in-character AU is probably one of the most difficult forms of fanfic (imho). Not so much perhaps in the Sil fandom, since we aren't given much character development for anyone; but for LotR and Harry Potter, for example, where we're given fairly fleshed out characters, to take them out of their tiimeline and put them in new situations while maintaining their given personalities - well, it's kind of the bridge between fanfic and o-fic. So really, I don't see what the big deal is about AU. But that is a different rant, and I'd be preaching to the choir, as they say. ;) Hopefully something in the last two paragraphs made sense, and that I didn't anything too stupid.

    And obviously we can infer from Canon, "canon", and canon that Celegorm, in fact, had bright purple hair after a rash act involving indigo dye. ;)

    *waves piddly ass Penguins flag*
    • I am very SMUG indeed! Thinking that I have a to tell my own stories and not write to my readers' tastes ... the nerve of me!

      I actually really love canon discussions, on say, an email list. But I don't get dizzy easily, even after going around in circles a dozen times. :^P My frustration lies more with canon being brought into story critiques: These "discussions" feel less on equal footing; rarely can the author reply in a visible fashion to the criticisms. And a story is embarked upon with a "canon" defined, which isn't necessarily the case in discussions. For example, I'll debate minutia in HoMe during a discussion, but I won't consider such criticisms on my stories. It's a different animal.

      Still, I understand where you're coming from. I'm just weird in liking that particular sort of pastime, I guess! :^D

      And I love your remark about Celegorm. I sort of borrowed it for an email that I'm sending out to the SWG reference readers tomorrow. Hee!

      Oh, and *has no Capitals flag to wave since they didn't even make the playoffs* :(
  • Nannerl would like to jump in and say that she is perplexed that something as piddling as hair color gets so many panties in so many wads.
  • Why do we tolerate the absurdity of the canon wars? Because this is the internet, and there's no way to shut people up, not even those folks who have a less-than-sophisticated view of the whole concept of canonicity.

    Ah well, production of great art is supposed to require great suffering. So even the canon-floggers serve a purpose in the greater Song of Arda. ;-)
    • But it's not necessarily even the extremists, the "canatics." There seems to be a general belief that going into a Silmarillion story (for example) and saying that "page 354 of HoMe VII says that ..." without ever considering if the author even takes HoMe as canon. It all seems silly to me and not legitimate criticism, given the complexity of our "canon."

      Btw, I got a great laugh out of your justification for canatics. The same could be said for many people in this world. ;)
  • Holy crap. I was just about to begin the re-read of AMC (Gah! I held out for almost 8 months or something but I couldn't help myself now...) after going through a baffling comment on on of the ff.net Silm forums.

    Quote from: http://www.fanfiction.net/fr/597938/8681/111846/1/

    Since: Mar 16 '07
    Canon is Tolkien's latest opinion on any contentious subject. There is no other way to interpret the word.


    #10 Apr 05th 2007, 12:58PM"

    My expression was basically ?~? Since when did we have a definitive...er...definition of canon? I mean, come on, Tolkien's latest word on an issue? That's dealing with technicalities here...(and just because it's nagging me, I have to say it: If Tolkien's ideas were constantly changing, and if his final word was canon, then how do we know what his final word was to be if he died before he said it? (If that makes sense.) Because if his ideas were constantly changing then he just might have changed his mind before ever writing it down. *is not making sense* x_X Too many damn ifs...

    Mirefinwe also has a rather interesting what ought to be canon "POINTS ON WHICH THE PUBLISHED SILM DOES NOT REFLECT TOLKIEN'S LATEST IDEAS" list in her profile. It caused more bafflement to my sleep-deprived mind.

    So anyway, it was quite a shock for my eyes to come here and see this post! xD But it's food for thought. I personally also wanted to write (*coughs*) canon-to-the-dot fillers (until I realized there was no canon-to-the-dot, per se) but still never minded anything not being canon. Maybe it's because I kind of migrated from HP fandom and anime fandoms to Silm, but I don't very much care if something isn't canon so long as I like to read it. :S Especially itty bitty things. Really, writing canonically is kind of a moot point. I don't want to read Tolkien when I read fanfiction.

    *stumbles off blearily to bed*

    • Deleted and reposted...

      Anyone who knows enough about English and language and the human mind knows there's always another way to interpret something. ;)

      You're making sense. (And that's pretty much my personal interpretation of What Is Canon, too--I'd say that what an author said on a subject (such as in letters and interviews) outside of its publication (latest edition) is less canon that what is said in the publication itself, if it's even canon at all, because it's nice to have that final line to draw between a finished story and an author's ever-changing mind about it. Of course, I'm not claiming everyone has to agree with that, just that it's what makes sense to me. ;))

      (Don't even get me started on what I think of people making claims like "Tolkien believed X, so something similar to X must be true in his fiction!" There is NO way that is canon unless you're writing a nonfiction biography, sorry!)

      Okay, I'm rambling...
    • (no subject) - rhapsody11 - Expand
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • Pre-caffeine reply so excuse em if I don't make sense.

    I have said before that I personally set HoMe and Silmarillion on equal footing in the canon debate if not even HoMe slightly above on the point that Silmarillion was not only edited/written in a readable story by Christopher Tolkien but that he also enlisted Guy Gavriel Kay (who is a brilliant writer) to help him. Add to that the C.Tolkien has 'admitted to mistakes' in the Silmarillion, using ideas he later discovered had been discarded.

    However, the point of doing research, for me, is to find out as much as possible about the timeperiod you are researching. Does HoMe and Silmarillion always agre on timeframes and events and other details? No, of course not. It varies, years in particular is fluid as is, sometimes, the descriptions of characters, motivations and other things. In one of the earliest stories where Luthein meats Curufin and Celegorm for example it seems that the one who instantly fell in love was Curufin and NOT Celegorm. But then, could it not have been both?

    I approach the research of Tolkien writings in much the same way as I approach historical research. The famour qoute 'History is written by the victors' says a lot about how reliable or unreliable historical sources can be. A quick example is the historical Danish King Christian the great in Denmark who is counted as a great king there, in Sweden he is called Christian the Tyrant and is held to have been a dreadful person.

    To me research is not searching of an absolute truth. It is finding backgrounds and details from as many reliable sources as possible and then choosing the use the ones that hold most in common or which suits me in the particular story I am writing.

    Basically whatever you research outside Tolkien will be, if you take the time to search for good sources, at least as confusing and contradictory. It is part of the fun.

    :) I will step of the soap box and leave you all to eat your cereal in peace now ;)
  • (no subject) - satismagic
    • I edited to attribute "canatic" to Rous. :)

      I don't know if it's tenacity so much as spoiling for a fight sometimes ... I must admit that after a bad day, a little snarking at inconsiderate people can feel sorta good. >:^)

      But you bring up so many good points (as always). Particularly, the notion of entitlement and the lack of respect everywhere (not just online, even) had me nodding. Everyone's an expert these days, it seems. Instead of assuming that someone with a divergent viewpoint has spent as much time as I have thinking about that viewpoint, I assume that the person is an idiot and in need of "schooling" by yours truly. (It amuses me, for example, the number of people who assume that AMC's deliberate canon deviations are caused by my idiocy and not a very thoughtful process. Of course, I'm then in need of education ... or a thorough telling off.)

      Likewise, the appalling lack of respect these days ... people willing to address a stranger the way that some of my reviewers on the Pit, for example, have addressed me. And I get it easy; some of the other authors get abused even worse! That's completely unnecessary and halts any chance of discussion or understanding or even enlightenment. And it creates an environment where communication no longer seems possible, and everyone's in a pissing war with everyone else to see who knows the most minutia about the HoMe.
  • I am sorry Dawn, I know I said that I read somewhere that Maglor was scarred by the jewel, but it slipped with all the stuff going on right now. I haven't accessed my file on Maglor (for a long time actually), I just try to squeeze it in, I promise, I will try.

    As for the whole canon debate, it's just, I dunno, it sometimes feels that you can't win. Someone once adressed me in an affectionate way that I was a canatic, but I looked at my material and went like... eum... not really. Hehehe. I think I stray more away from canon as others see it.

    I know we talked about this before, but it's all about interpretation or semantics. Canon debates will always remain like: did Balrog have wings or not (no, I am not having a standpoint on that), I'd think, well I am not sure if I let you know when I come across one because I'd be running for my life. What I do know is that lots of hurt come from it, it's uncanny and not only since we started to write, but even years back.

    When I write, I do a character or event study. I get every book published by the professor or his son and gather every detail what I can fnd. I read read read read and most often compile a file with all quotations. From there I either lift out a fact and write a story around it, but with the same character I can lift out a contradicting detail and write a story about it. Both are canon (if you consider HOME to be canon). With longer stories I look at how an idea came to be, BoTL has a lot of details about the Valar what later on was omitted, yet I used it in my story Requiem: it enriched my story. The way how I approach canon is that I look at it in an overview: how did a writer get from a to b to c. This mixed with how I learnt english (the word fair comes to mind), yes there might be issues on how another reader sees it. But that's ok as long if you both want to see the side of another. Sometimes in a discussion that can be overlooked, it might come across as people taking in a standpoint, but you know, all I want is to learn from the other. Understand and comprehend where the other is coming from. Sometimes people dig in their heels already, but I like to approach it from all angles.

    Elros & Elrond, twins or not, if they are born in the same year, does that mean that they are twins? Is it possible that Elrond was born later? Both takes are fascinating and I can just muse about that for hours.

    On top of it all, I read a lot of fanfic. I love AU, well I just love everything, because basically: a writer has a story to tell and I want to listen. And at the end of the day, no matter which fandom or original fic: that is what matters.

    And yes, I will burn my notes of my novel!
    • I'm burning my notes too! :^D I can always tell the Tolkien fans that have never tried to create their own original universe. They're the ones who are taking some obscure note scratched out ten times and claiming it canon. It leaves me thinking of some of the crazy-ass crap I've written down while brainstorming and imagining my legions of fans (haha) one day screaming like a bunch of fiends and waving it about as proof of "canon."

      As for the whole canon debate, it's just, I dunno, it sometimes feels that you can't win. Someone once adressed me in an affectionate way that I was a canatic, but I looked at my material and went like... eum... not really.

      I agree that there's no winning ... and I don't think there should be. But I do think that readers/reviewers/authors all need to acknowledge that canon isn't a cut and dry issue in the Tolkien fandom and approach criticisms in that manner.

      As for you as a canatic ... I see you in that way somewhat how I see myself. :) We both read Tolkien exhaustively and collect notes and details, but our stories don't reflect the rigid "canaticism" people expect. I think that because of the depth and detail we research, we have moved beyond seeing canon as a simple thing. For example, for me, any of Tolkien's stories is automatically confounded by historical bias. From another PoV, that story might be told very differently.

      I'll admit to being a canatic in some ways, in that I love Tolkien's works and researching them, but I'm very much a liberal in terms of interpretation, and if you can make a good argument for something, I'll go for it. :)

      a writer has a story to tell and I want to listen. And at the end of the day, no matter which fandom or original fic: that is what matters.

      YES! :^D And that the joy of discovering a new world could be lost in the debate of the correctness of that world ... it's silly. It takes so much of the joy out of this fandom.
  • I usually avoid public disputes about what we should or shouldn't consider "canon". Why? Firstly, because I'm not very talkative in general ;) Then, many of said disputes seem mindlessly violent arguments (the "right or wrong" wars waged only to prove the superiority of some people IMO, and to spoil the fun of being a part of fandom) about the color of Celegorm's hair, or the color of Finwe's eyes, that bring nothing good. Sometimes I think people just have nothing more to criticize so they pull out a detail and fuss over it.

    But we are not entertained: We are too busy worrying about Celegorm's hair color to even notice the story, which might otherwise delight and inspire us.

    Ditto. I wish people rather got back to reading and enjoying stories, sharing opinions, and stopped hunting blond Celegorms ;)

    Let the dragons have whatever color their authors wish :)
    • That would be a nice slogan: Let the dragons have whatever color their authors wish! :)

      It is so often the piddlin' details, isn't it? To me, this shows a shallow reading of the texts. I would love for once for someone to try to debate me over themes or characterizations. No one does. Reviews on ff.net sometimes read more like a fact-checking service ... only they don't even do the service of providing quotes of the "facts" from Tolkien's books.
  • Oh, man! As a dilettantish dabbler, barely with a toe in the water of this world (I do read a lot however), your essay is fascinating. I mean, I don't have the depth of knowledge concerning the more intricate parts of the fan fic culture, so Dawn Flisters, please forgive me if this comes across wrong, but the debate over canon seems much like interpretations of the Bible, i.e., one group of learned Talmudic-like (or Jesuit, pick your flavor) scholars debating how many red- or golden- or raven-haired Elves can slash it out on the head of a pin, and another group vehemently arguing that this does not fit at all into their idea of orthodoxy.

    *Ahem.* From my viewpoint, only the author of the original work has claim to canon. The rest is up for interpretation, and well, heh, I don't take the Bible literally either...to say the least.

    I regurgitated David Brin's wonderful and cheeky take on Tolkien at the Bad Clam Incident earlier this week. One of my favorite quotes from that article says it all:

    Don't just receive your adventures. Toy with them. Re-mold them in your mind! Keep asking "What if...?" It's how you get practice not just being a passive consumer, or critic, but a creative storyteller in your own right.

    Adhering to strict orthodoxy ("canon") strikes me as passively "receiving the adventure." That's what makes me grin with glee when I came up with a wild ass piece in which a canon character compares himself to Melanocetus and notes his need for geothermal energy. Not exactly canon. :^D
  • Oi! Canon! I spend time every week going for the primary texts—probably more than I spend writing. Nevertheless, I just went off the deep end this week, because someone went after me again about the main character in my Third-Age novel. (Dawn, Silm ficcers are so much nicer and more liberal about canon! Just trust me on that!!) This was not a new reader, but someone who has read all 27 chapters of my magum opus and always had trouble with my characterization and plot. The purported problem with my writing: canon! I have argued with her about everything from pre-marital sex to the floor plan of the Meduseld and we have agreed at least half-dozen times to disagree and go on about our business. My critic in this case could care less about magic, dwarves, elves or pretty much anything in Middle-earth that did not exist in Medieval Europe, but jumps on me about canon? Are we reading the same books?

    I agree with you, Dawn, my perception of canon has drifted in the direction of being much less caught up in trying to tie it down and define it. I get more excited these days about how to spell someone’s name than I do about the exact chronology of events or who really is Gil-Galad’s dad—although I am happy to think about such things for hours. For me mining canon has begun to be much more about the story (my story, that is!) and less which version of Tolkien’s voluminous notes on a particular subject is the one-and-only definitive version. Having said that, I like to know what it is that I am deviating from…and I always appreciate corrections, but just do not appreciate canon being used a club to beat me with. If someone objects to the style or subject matter of my writing, they can always read someone else—I don’t appreciate being called a canon deviant over it.
    • Nevertheless, I just went off the deep end this week, because someone went after me again about the main character in my Third-Age novel.


      Well I want you to know that I am very slowly reading your chapter two of 'New Day' marvelling on how for that chapter pieced things together. I kinda saved it because I know it's the last chapter, so yeah ^-^ Just that you know.
  • The first of your non-canon examples I thought was canon until you mentioned it wasn't (though I don't think I have ever seen a Nerdanel with any hair colour but red in fic!), the second I had never thought of but would probably have accepted without question and the third is one that I have (in the past) deliberately rejected! I think that what Silmarillion fandom suffers from the most isn't too much canon but too little. If there were more 'sources' - for instance tales from a Feanorian scribe, Melian's diary or Morgoth's take on the situation (as dicated to a nearby minion) - it would be much easier to treat it as a history.
  • I just like fantasising about elves getting down and dirty all day and exploring my own random ideas with them. When someone with a great affection for canon comes over to correct a point in the rare piece of mine that I don't mark as AU, I ask them to quote their source. I'm here to have fun, relax, and a bit of mind masturbation and personally I don't think the LotR community has enough of a loving, welcoming, and laid-back atmosphere. Just my 2 cents.
  • I just thought of something amusing (gotta do something to lift the pain of the losing battle that the Cubbies are fighting right now) (of course, they are still fighting).

    Anyone who bitches and moans excessively about canon and/or slash shall be sentenced to watch video of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake until it comes out of their ears. Then let's see what they have to say about canon and slash. . .

    (For the record, I am firmly of the opinion that Tchaikovsky, deep in the depths of his closeted little heart, would have just drooled over Adam Cooper as the Swan.)

    (And the Cubs have just lost. Again. Sigh.)
  • Eh... having followed all the canon debates and the fandom wank related stuff a while back, in your LJ, I have to say that, above all else, I am in no position to make any comments regarding canon. I'm probably the exact opposite to what one would call canatic and though I like to research and learn as much as I can about the characters and the places of Tolkien's world (and not just his, but any other author's, really), when it comes to my own version of canon, I'm likely to throw that information out the window or twist it so that it suits me.

    I remember picking on you about Celegorm's hair in AMC. *hangs head* Well, thanks to you and to the other clever people I have had the chance to discuss things with in countless coments regarding various Tolkien-related aspects, I'd say that I have been fairly cured of appreciating a story or not, just based on whether the author meets my already coined-down expectations or not. It is, indeed, ridiculous to think that an author writes to suit the readers, especially when fanfic is a playground where everyone should just go wild and have fun writing as their hearts desire. Frankly, I now find it much more facinating to be presented with a story so strong and characters so poignant, that the writer is likely to change my point of view just through the quality of the writing and the intensity of the story. You do that quite nicely, my dear. ;)

    These days, I've found myself writing in a different fandom and trying to keep the characters in my story as "in character" as I could. It is a difficult task and I guess I'm just not cut out as a canon writer.

    If I write Feanor as a blond, I think that's a mistake.

    Gaah! No, don't do that... Not that I wouldn't be amused, or anything, but if he gets any ideas of the kind, the level of blondness in my harem would go through the roof. I don't think I could handle it. *grin*

    I hope my ramble makes some sense. Since I am entirely not qualified to talk about Tolkien canon, it's the best I could do.
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