Even for those (or perhaps, most of all for those) who love an author with great scholarship and social critique, such as Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky, the oft pedantic writing can become tiresome. In times like those, I turn to McSweeney’s, where this spoof post brilliantly brings in both Zinn and Chomsky’s stylings while talking humorously about the awesomeness that is “The Lord of the Rings.”
An excerpt for your reading pleasure:
CHOMSKY: Or pathways deprived of giant spiders. And what is Gandalf’s long-term solution to the crisis of the divided peoples of Middle Earth? To install a puppet king of questionable provenance while the Elves continue their slow withdrawal back to the West? Meanwhile, a couple of drunkard Hobbits stagger toward a volcano while carrying a worthless ring. Gandalf is venal, he is calculating, he is ruthless, but he is not stupid.
[or this section...]
ZINN: It’s true. One shiny trinket is tossed into these creatures’ lives and immediately you see the malodorous aftereffects of economic inequality, which is enacted here on a disturbingly intimate scale.
CHOMSKY: If the story ended here after Sméagol strangles Déagol, I think we’d have a really brilliant—almost Dreiserian—economic critique.
ZINN: As Sméagol’s degeneration into Gollum is shown, we should note that it is never really established that the ringis causing this collapse into baldness, tooth loss, and green skin.
CHOMSKY: Yes. There is a lacuna between Sméagol’s first spell of invisibility and the montage of him weeping on the rocks. What really happened between those moments? What unchronicled sufferings did Gollum undergo during the time before Bilbo Baggins arrived at the Misty Mountains, cheated him in a patently unfair riddle game, stole his ring, and left him utterly defenseless? What happened before he became an unwitting pawn in the Great Game of Middle Earth? We don’t know.
ZINN: Now we flash forward to Sam and Frodo, deeply embarked upon their journey toward Mount Doom. What do they do? They sleep an extraordinary amount, and when they’re not sleeping they stagger about with the glazed and dissipated stare of recovering addicts. Clearly they’re struggling with pipe-weed and mead withdrawal. Where exactly are they now?
CHOMSKY: Mordor, the “dark land.” Which you correctly pointed out before we began should be properly known as Orcistan.
ZINN: Naturally, seeing that it’s Men who trapped the Orcs within its borders and started referring to these lands as “Mordor.” Orcs, of course, used to live throughout Middle Earth, before they were corralled—in a heartbreaking Orcish “Trail of Tears”—into this inhospitable, seismically active land.
CHOMSKY: Note later the beautiful, fertile fields between Minas Tirith and the mountains that encircle Mordor. Neither Men nor Orcs cultivate them, and clearly the purpose of the garrison at Osgiliath is to keep Orcs away from valuable farmland.