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Memes! Characters and Questions

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"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.

Memes! Characters and Questions

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After all, mimicry is part of the point of memes. ;)

And I'm rewarding myself for a job well done on the Green Knight story tonight. I'm about a third through Part Four. Woohoo!

For the record, I'm doing The Silmarillion fandom here. I could do LotR as well, but since I've never been immersed in LotR to nearly the degree as The Silmarillion, this makes better sense.

01. The first character I first fell in love with.
Maedhros, actually. This was before I knew he was (canonically) hot and an amazingly complex character to ponder. I liked him at first because I loved the look of his name. Maedhros. Savor it ... I looked up in the pronunciation guide how to say the dh and loved seeing it and saying it. Of course, now, most of the time, I call him Nelyo or Maitimo, but he's become special now for different reasons.

02. The character I never expected to love as much as I do now.
Finarfin. I don't even remember him from my first reading except maybe as, " 'Finarfin'?! What a stupid-sounding name!" I suppose that I am a bit hypersensitive to the sounds of words. Sometimes, I'll repeat ordinary words over and over until they start to sound really silly and laugh uproariously over how silly they sound. But this is not a Weird Things meme, so I digress.

It wasn't until I did a bit more reading, research, and writing about The Silmarillion that I realized what a deceptively strong character Finarfin is. Well, I've blathered about this at length before, so I'll spare the speech now. As far as a character to write, Finarfin is one of my favorites. He can be frivolous and fun, but this is mostly put on as a distraction for his brothers' benefit to keep them off each others' throats. This makes him a challenge to write and a lot of fun too, kind of the best of both worlds: typical Finwion angst with a touch of frivolity.

03. The character everyone else loves that I don't.
Hmmm. I've yet to really get into Maeglin yet. And I feel as though I should! He has all of the hallmark traits of a Character that Dawn Felagund Would Like to Write. He's a bad guy in the history, but he has a tortured past and plenty of motivation, and there's the chance to yammer about historical bias ... I feel like I should try writing him, but then, I don't need more muses pestering me. So I leave him to others to pick apart and vindicate.

04. The character I love that everyone else hates.
Namo Mandos. And I have no idea why. Well, okay, I do. I love to ponder the burden of preternatural sight: the ability to see into the future or into the thoughts of others, for example. Hence my fascination with my own bizarre incarnation of Caranthir. But I digress ... again. Canonically, Namo knows a good deal about the future and yet there is little that he can do to intervene. What kind of mind or spirit is required to deal with such knowledge? It's fun to consider. Also, I am a horror writer at heart, and the ideas of the halls of Mandos and Elven re-embodiment is just too good for me to pass up.

05. The character I used to love but don't any longer.
Well, my favorite LotR character used to be Sam, and as the races of Middle-earth went, my favorites were the Hobbits. This seems kind of odd to consider, in retrospect. I don't really think much about the Hobbits at all anymore, even Sam, and I can't imagine writing Hobbit-centric fanfic. Not that I have a problem with Hobbit-centric fanfic, of course, but it just doesn't intrigue me.

06. The character I would shag anytime.
Maedhros. My first Elven love, yes, who is really to blame credit for my love of fantasy literature. Oh, and he's (canonically) hot.

After that, Feanor ... though I think it's wise to use twice the birth control with him. :^P

He's also (canonically) hot.

07. The character I'd want to be like.
Hmm. It's tempting to say Nerdanel or Finarfin, but I don't think I'd want to stay in Aman. I agree more with the Elves who went to Beleriand than those who stayed behind, although I admire their strength in overcoming social influence to do so.

Probably Finrod, which makes sense given my pseudonym. (I know, I know ... "What?! Your real name is not Dawn Felagund?!?!" I get that more than you'd think ... and my real first name is Dawn, for the record. My last name is not Felagund.) Finrod has good grace and good cheer in even the face of ... well, typical Finwion angst. He's brave and wise and artistically gifted. He likes to look at men sleeping in the woods. He's open and accepting of a variety of people and cultures, which is something that I have always admired and aspired to in my own life.

08. The character I'd slap.
Oh, but there's so many! Can I give a collective thwack to the Valar? They're very good at screwing things up. They meddle long enough to make a huge mess, then they're disinterested. "Oh. We just screwed over all of Aman! Let's ignore Middle-earth!" WTF.

There are good among the Valar, but collectively--like so many people I know--once they get in a group, they stick their brains up their butts and all run together off a cliff. Taking a few Elves with them.

09. A pairing that I love.
Nerdanel and Feanor. OTP. I do not protest canon interpretations other than mine, of course, but one that I'll never particularly care for is the idea that Nerdanel and Feanor married only because he needed an heir and she had big hips. No, I think their love was deep and obsessive and that she was a major reason why--despite the havoc wreaked by the Feanorians--that their deeds did lead to good in the end. She shaped him but, more importantly, she shaped their children. The dynamics of their relationship is one I can't imagine ever growing tired of pondering or exploring.

10. A pairing that I despise.
tarion_anarore and I were just talking about her version of this meme, about how Beren/Luthien has never inspired us. And I've tried. I swear, I've tried. When I read that chapter for last year's Silmarillion reading, I read it while constantly telling myself, "See the awe-inspiring magic, Dawn? See the pretty language? You love this!" And I did enjoy it ... while I was reading it. But it never lasts; it never inspires me. And as I was telling Tarion, I kind of feel bad about this because I know that Beren/Luthien was Tolkien's OTP and that he wanted their story to form the center of his entire mythology. He even had his and his wife's headstones marked as Beren and Luthien. And I feel bad that something he obviously loved and treasured so much does so little to move me while I'm squeeing over characters who appear maybe five times in the book. That might be silly, but I can imagine how it feels to have a character or idea I've spent so much time on ignored or rejected in favor of something silly and throwaway. But the story's too perfect--the characters too perfect--and the magic too overt. This story always feels AU in the context of the rest of The Silmarillion.

Also, from telperion1, if you want to ask me a question, no matter how silly or embarrassing or serious or incendiary, ask away! This is an Ask Dawn Felagund free-for-all! The only things I won't answer are obvious intrusions on my or someone else's privacy in a way that might be dangerous. So no, I won't hand over my credit card number or Bobby's SSN or anything like that. But I'm open-minded and shameless, so nearly anything else is fair game.

(telperion1, I'm still trying to think of a question for you!)
  • (telperion1, I'm still trying to think of a question for you!)
    Should I be scared? *winks*

    But as I have posted my own meme, I can ask with impugnity. Hmm. And I have nothing incredibly probing to ask!

    How about this: as a so-not-Silmficcer I hardly ever can connect a Valinorian name with Maedhros, Maglor, etc., so I always notice it when authors use it. You said above you often use Nelyo or whatever rather than the name the Silmarillion uses. I assume this applies even to fics not set in Valinor, even centuries after they were given the Sindarin names. My question is: why? I'm really quite curious about it.
    • I'm actually really careful with the names I use for my characters, and the names used depend on the era (of course), who is speaking, and other factors as well. Most of my stories take place in Aman, so the names are naturally in Quenya. When I write stories set in Beleriand where it is likely that First Age character would be called in Sindarin, I do use the Sindarin names.

      So, for example, if I was writing about the kinslaying at Doriath from the PoV of a Sindarin soldier, he would refer to Celegorm, not Tyelkormo.

      But even beyond that, the names I choose are complex. To give probably the worst example: Maedhros.

      In Aman, he would have been Nelyafinwe Maitimo, and he preferred his mother-name Maitimo and also has two canon nicknames, Nelyo and Russandol.

      In Felakverse, he named himself Nelyo when very young because he could not say Nelyafinwe. So young Maedhros in my stories is usually called Nelyo by his immediate family.

      As he approached his coming-of-age, he wished to change this to the more formal Maitimo. However, it was difficult for his family--used to calling him Nelyo--to make that switch, so they tend to call him both in early adulthood. When they're more emotional/impetuous or feeling defiant (*cough*Feanor*cough*), they'll call him Nelyo. Otherwise, he is Maitimo.

      Now, outside of his immediate family, he is Maitimo, except to some of his family (Fingolfin and Finarfin, mostly) who call him Russandol. And in an official capacity, he is naturally Nelyafinwe Maitimo.

      After leaving Aman, his name is translated to Sindarin Maedhros, and he insists upon this name being used for a variety of reasons: trying to fit in with the Sindar and the fact that Maitimo, "well-shaped one," no longer fits once he is missing a hand. However, his brothers will call him in Quenya when they are speaking Quenya to him. And they will occasionally slip and call him the old Nelyo too.

      So it's quite a complex issue for me, as you see. :) And I hope I haven't bored you with my long ramble there (and also, most of this is not to be confused with anything like canon, just my interpretation of what little bit we do have on Feanorian names. :)
  • Haha, word to the Fëanor hotness comment. And the Maedhros one too, of course, but most fanartists seem to draw him hot, but not Fëanor D: I see a lot of art featuring him with a huge nose and creepy eyebrows and eek. It's like, "UR NOT DOING IT RITE".

    >.< Annnyway. Beren and Luthien never really got me hooked either. I tried reading that part of the Silm first, but...I didn't ever really get that into it.

  • Hmm, I'm tempted to do this meme, but I'm scared that because my answers are so much the same, it'd look like I just copied you! ;)

    I especially agree with Maeglin and Beren/Luthien. Beren and Luthien--I read that and finished the story thinking, "So what? She's gorgeous, he's heroic... *yawn*" (And don't get me started on how much I resent the "beauty" in Tolkien's most notable females. Somehow I wasn't surprised when I first heard that Nerdanel, my favorite female Elf, was not known for being ridiculously gorgeous.)
  • I looked up in the pronunciation guide how to say the dh and loved seeing it and saying it.

    I am still bitter about this. I went through the entire book pronouncing Maedhros as "made-ros", then I get to the back and see that it's wrong. My reaction was something like, "&^%$#$%! Tolkien, you frickin bastard why didn't you tell me that at the frickin beginning?!!?!?? AGH!! ^%$#@!!" *sniff* If I ever make up pronunciations, I will use footnotes, or put the pronunciation guide in the beginning, to save readers from the trauma I have experienced.

    Probably Finrod

    I almost mentioned Finrod, but I thought he might read it and be SMUG and say something inappropriate. Though he did that anyway. :P Really, the more I think about it, the more I really can't think of any one character I'd really want to be like, because they all have some major flaw that I would like to exclude from my personage. Now, I can better pick a character who I am like...not sure that's good though.

    This is an Ask Dawn Felagund free-for-all!

    Where's my postcard? :P (Yeah, I just can't think of anything super interesting to ask.)
  • Endlessly fascinating for me to read what you (or almost anyone says about the characters of the Silmarillion). I couldn't have Maedhros as my first love, because I was obsessed with Tolkien years before I knew a Silmarillion even existed. I obsessed over every hint of that history in LOTR. In fact, the first copy of LOTR I read didn't even have the appendices! (I think it was a pirated American edition.)

    Funny on the question of Maedhros, when I started writing my Maitimo/Findekano series it was because I was so crazy about Maedhros and then somehow Fingon started to take over--for the moment he is my hero. But it is still all about the Feanorians for me at heart.

    I don't feel guilty about being underwhelmed about Beren and Luthien--he just made the Feanorians so much more interesting and complex. Turgon also annoys me to death off in his little hidey-hole; OK, so he ventures out once, too little, too late--don't know why he didn't get slapped in my version of the meme--someone else distracted me.

    I agree Finrod is awesome and I love him. But sometimes he is just too good for me. Part of the reason I just had to make him do something dumb in my Maitimo/Findekano series. He is still his noble, generous self, but he pulled a pretty stupid, thoughtless stunt and was lucky that he got off as easily as he did (largely because Maedhros felt so guilty and is generally such a good guy himself).
    • I forgot a question: I thought The Children of Hurin was unrelievedly dreary and, therefore, really hard to read. (I can handle tragedy, but there has to be an up side in there somewhere to really engage me.) There was some amazingly beautiful language in it which sort of saved it for me. That and having the whole story in one place. Have you read it yet? How did it strike you? (If you've already answered this question and I've missed it, just direct me.)
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  • Can I give a collective thwack to the Valar?

    Yes. And if you need a helping hand, call me any time ;)
    • *snicker* Will do! :^D I've actually been contemplating a "defense of Feanor" about how the Valar are morons, but I'm afraid that I'm a bit biased on that and my rantishness might show through.
  • You did the meme! Shit... I´ll be the last at this rate. But you´re concerned with just one fandom, so I´m justified. :)

    Beren and Lúthien... LOL, I already know about one question where we´ll have the same answers.
    • Hey, I may have done the meme right away, but look how long it takes me to answer my comments ... ;)

      And I have not only one fandom but one teensy-tiny corner of that fandom since I tend not to mess at all with LotR.

      Beren and Lúthien... LOL, I already know about one question where we´ll have the same answers.

      And in some places, apparently, Beren and Luthien are all that! I wonder where these people are and if they would mind explaining to me their strange ways. ;)
  • I really liked to explore Maeglin a year ago. It was for Trek at first, later for Marina, so I read every piece of info Tolkien wrote about him. He's so complex, I bet you love to tackle him. There are some great Maeglin writers out there and I do have my hands full alreadywith two Feanorians, so I can understand.

    Can I give a collective thwack to the Valar? They're very good at screwing things up.

    Go for it! And I fully agree! Here is a bucket of smelly trouts.


    Yeah, well that one was my second runner up, but I wasn't so sure if that was Celegorm insisting that I should make that the 1st one, given his opinion about those two. ;) I always have to think about the professor and his wife grave that has Beren & Luthien on it.

    A questionnnn: OKay lets say one day the President of the United States (or someone of your his staff wow, that was an incredibly thought, you becoming the president of this country! Would you consider that?) reads your material (fan fic or original fic of your blog) and invites you to the White House to give a speech to an assemblly of guests. Would you accept the invitation and even moreso, what would be the theme of your speech.

    • He's so complex, I bet you love to tackle him.

      I think I would. I can imagine myself bored with Feanorians (ha!) many years in the future and turning to Maeglin as a new challenge. But right now, I have more than enough on my fandom plate, so I'll leave him for the other writers. :)

      A questionnnn: OKay lets say one day the President of the United States (or someone of your his staff wow, that was an incredibly thought, you becoming the president of this country! Would you consider that?)

      This one first. :) I think I'm too radical to ever be a responsible leader of this country. Just as I despise the current uber-conservative administration trying to force their beliefs and views down the throats of people like me, I can imagine that my own beliefs would prove problematic for a big chunk of this country as well.

      I read on Slate magazine one day (tangent warning!) a roundup of their readers' comments that said something along the lines of how the last seven years under Bush has been a living nightmare for the majority of Americans, and I felt vindicated by that, like someone was saying aloud what I'd been feeling but worried was too whiny to admit. I wouldn't want to do that to someone else who has opposing beliefs to me, so that would probably mean that I would never take on leadership of anything bigger than the SWG. :)

      So no, not likely, unless I could come to peace with some of the biases and angry feelings I have towards a significant contingent of this country and one religion in particular. :)

      reads your material (fan fic or original fic of your blog) and invites you to the White House to give a speech to an assemblly of guests. Would you accept the invitation and even moreso, what would be the theme of your speech.

      This is such an interesting question! I would definitely go. What I would talk about would depend on who was in power at the time. If it was Bush or someone similar, I think I would probably focus on my o-fic, which often warns about the dangers of blind faith and greed and religious oppression. If it was someone whose beliefs are closer to mine, then I'd probably temper the commentary with a little much-needed escapism and keep the discussion away from current events and closer to aesthetics and art in general. I would throw in a word about the power of words. I see this firsthand every day, just in the people whom I now count as some of my dearest friends who have been brought to me through my words and theirs. (You are one! *huggles*) I think that education here too often misses that point. Children are encouraged to read to learn but not to love. Case in point: I hated English class through much of my education. The books we were made to read did not engage me or speak to me at that time. And we were discouraged from reading what we loved, which was usually genre fic, like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, for example (who were my two favorite authors as a young teenager).

      It breaks my heart that so many young people walk away from formal education with the idea that this is what writing, reading, and books are: tedium to be endured for permission to move onto the next hurdle. That they never learn the magic of getting lost in another world for a few hours and never connect with other people based on words on a page. With the Internet and the ease of connecting to people from countries and cultures so different from our own, I think of what a better place the world would be if more people learned to love to read and write for the sake of connection with new experiences--fictional or otherwise--not for memorizing grammar facts and authors' birthdates like they're preparing for an appearance on Jeopardy.

      Whee. Wonderful question, Rhapsy! Did you post this meme because I definitely owe you a question if you did. :)
  • "Maedhros Savor it..."

    I had the same response, too, when I first read The Silmarillion. What a great name! My son should thank me for not descending into abject geekdom and giving him an unconventional name.

    Beren & Luthien - *shudder* I have the same reaction.

    In my unbridled irreverence, I answered this meme over at Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge (To be found in the blogroll of ScienceBlogs). It might not pertain to Tolkien though. I'm not sure I can answer a Tolkien-flavored meme without being sardonic.:^)

    • Great Names: People ask me why on earth I named by son Trenton. They never question my judgment when I tell them that the only names my ex-husband would even consider were Trenton or Bilbo. I have an occasional on-line correspondent whose real name is Maitimo. You gotta love that!
  • Ooo, anything? I'll stick with Fandom though.

    Are there any phrases in the Sil or HoME that influenced your depiction of Feanor?

    I was thinking that the Sil described him as a 'proud and masterful prince,' but then I couldn't find the quote, so maybe I made that up, but he is described as proud, willful and arrogant. I also couldn't find the quote (hey, I only spent about 2 minutes looking) that said he was most beloved.

    This isn't to hit you over the head and tell you that your Feanor isn't canon. Pffffft. The great thing about fanfic is that we get to explore a different side of the character, and I really do believe that Feanor is a much more complex character than just the wigged out Noldo that some portray; and I do believe that he was a loving family man. In fact, I find your description of Feanor in AMC quite seductive, and I have to remind myself that he is also an expert manipulator, a man who convinced the vast majority of the Noldor to abandon life in Aman and head off into the unknown, dangerous, lands to the east.

    How do you view him in entirety?
    • Do you want me to send you an easily searchable digital copy of The Silmarillion? ;)

      Hmmm ... Feanor is informed by all of his canon passages taken together, which despite the amount I've written about him, isn't much. My favorites in The Silmarillion:

      Fëanor and his sons abode seldom in one place for long, but travelled far and wide upon the confines of Valinor, going even to the borders of the Dark and the cold shores of the Outer Sea, seeking the unknown.
      "Of Eldamar"

      This to me shows his curiosity, his wanderlust and impatience, his enthusiasm for pursuing the unknown even into mystery and peril. *happy sigh*

      In that time was born in Eldamar, in the house of the King in Tirion upon the crown of Túna, the eldest of the sons of Finwë, and the most beloved.
      "Of Fëanor"

      I think this is the quote you were looking for. :) Though this quote has always baffled me. Beloved by whom? Finwë? The Noldor as a whole? In the latter instance, this contradicts the later history that shows that Fingolfin had the largest following. (Unless the Noldorin people followed him out of good sense but secretly lusted after Fëanor, for which I cannot blame them.) Or maybe before Melkor's machinations, Fëanor was the most beloved, which introduces a whole new can of worms between him and Fingolfin.

      Fëanor grew swiftly, as if a secret fire were kindled within him. He was tall, and fair of face, and masterful, his eyes piercingly bright and his hair raven-dark; in the pursuit of all his purposes eager and steadfast. Few ever changed his courses by counsel, none by force. He became of all the Noldor, then or after, the most subtle in mind and the most skilled in hand.
      "Of Fëanor"

      He sounds really hott here. *ahem* I mean, this passage sums Fëanor up nicely for me.

      Since I could take up five comment blocks with quotes from his speeches and quotes from "Shibboleth" in HoMe 12, then I will stop here for now. But I have always found one thing in particular to be interesting about these rather fawning portrayals of Fëanor that we get here.

      You probably know by now (from my frequent ranting on the subject ;) that I read JRRT's works as historical documents, as he intended, not as fictional works by an omniscient and omnipresent narrator. Part of my portrayal of Fëanor is informed by this interpretation. As I understood it, Quenta was written by Pengolodh, who was born in Nevrast (according to "Quendi and Eldar" in HoMe11), so naturally, after the Noldor had arrived in Middle-earth, after Fëanor perished, Maedhros gave the crown to Fingolfin, et cetera. This lore lived on through Elrond and the Elves of Rivendell and was later translated by Bilbo in compiling the Red Book of Westmarch. (CT discusses this idea--and his regret of not having made this idea plainer in The Silmarillion proper--in the Foreword to HoMe1.) But this means that the people who "wrote" The Silmarillion never knew Fëanor and never witnessed any of the deeds in which he participated firsthand.

      Furthermore, Pengolodh was a lord of Gondolin, and Turgon was notoriously hostile to Fëanor and Co. So why all the nice words in the early part of The Silmarillion? My crackpot theory is that Fëanor's skill, intelligence, and charisma was so universally understood by those who had known him that to downplay his virtues in the histories would have immediately discredited Pengolodh's works.

      But I do view everything that was written about Fëanor with a skeptical lens, knowing that the original version was compiled by a lord of one of Fëanor's enemies and was translated at least twice after that (by Bilbo to Westron and JRRT to English). This has irked some people immensely, who think that "omg no way could feanor be a good father!!1!!one!!1!" or who think that his later deeds made compassion and kindness impossible at any point in his history. You've read AMC so you know that I do not agree with this. :)

      (I've gone over the limit, so continuation in the next block.)
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  • You know what? The first Silm character I fell in love with was Maedhros as well - and ONLY the name. I mean, it's like an articulatory orgasm. There is not one sound in that name that isn't among my favourite phonemes (... I mean. The beautiful bilabial nasal! The wonderful diphthong! A voiced dental fricative! A rolled R! ... and so on). I didn't care for the character too much on my first reading until I got to the Thangorodrim angst, but the name! ...

    I'm strangely fond of Mandos, too. And Lórien. Otherwise, I'm totally with you on the Valar-thwapping, although I might be willing to cut Ulmo and Tulkas some slack, because at least they're not totally disinterested. (It's sad that not-so-bright Tulkas seems to have more common sense than wise Manwë.)

    I do have some love for Beren/Lúthien though. I was really into the story when I began getting into the Silm fandom, and I translated bits of the Lay and Leithian into German ages back (there's no German translation of the HoME beyong the Books of Lost Tales). I have discovered way more interesting things by now, but there's still some nostalgic fondness. It's just that by now it's gone to the level of "... yeah well, that's a nice story too" and nowhere near the "OMG OTP!!!1!" lines. ;)
    • I love linguistic types! Your favorite phonemes ... *grin* Now see, I had a much simpler view of it:

      "M-A-E-D-H-R-O-S. Hmm. Wonder how you sat that? The dh is pretty cool in that combination like that. Wonder how that works? Maybe there's an index somewhere? Ah, but at the least it looks cool!"

      See, I am much more likely to admire how a word looks rather than how it sounds. (Though I love how it sounds too, upon learning to pronounce it.) I notoriously cannot pronounce words. Or I pronounce them phonetically. (Or, as I say, puh-huh-net-tick-all-ee.) I have clear memories of my mom laughing at me for saying debris phonetically. And manure was always man-yoor. In fact, the first time I raised my hand during the first grade was during a reading lesson, after learning the concept of long vowels, and being asked to decipher the word NOT on a flashcard. I proudly blurted out, "Note!" I wasn't keen on participating in class after that, surprise surprise. :)

      That was a long diversion and very OT. :^P Someday, I'm going to take a basic linguistics class so that I too can have favorite phonemes. :)

      The R is rolled? Gah! I am unable to roll Rs. Meh.
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