The Ring, the Stone, and the Pool – Exploring the nature of technology through the magic within Tolkien’s myth

by May 18, 2001Critical Viewpoints

While finishing his Masters degree at Regent College, a school of Theology in Vancouver, B.C., Leif Hansen wrote a paper in which he uses three magical artifacts found within Tolkien’s Trilogy (The One Ring, The Palantiri stones, and the Pool of Galadriel) to frame the paper — which in general explores the nature of technology and how we can best use it.

Here is an excerpt from the paper, relevant to the upcoming movie:

Tolkien wrote in a letter to his son, at the close of WWII:

“As the servants of the machines are becoming a privileged class, the Machines are going to be enormously more powerful. What’s their next move?”

(Midway through the paper, speaking of the spell of idolizing technology)

“Tolkien seems to have foreseen the casting of this spell, as early as the industrial revolution of his time. Yet, ironically, his book is about to be turned into the biggest budgeted and most anticipated movie ever. Furthermore, there is good evidence that his writings were a major influence on the creation of new technological narratives like computer games and virtual worlds. As Erik Davis puts it in his book Techgnosis: myth, magic + mysticism in the age of information, ‘But though Tolkien had little taste for the modern world, the modern world loved him. Tolkien’s imagery also saturated a counterculture that desperately wanted to bring its own magical perceptions to life. The Lord of the Rings didn’t just make you want to escape into another world; it made you want to build your own.’ Is technology’s entertaining magic about to demonstrate its dominion over the artistic enchantment of Tolkien?”

Please click on the link below to read the entire paper in MS Word format –or email the author, for another format. This is an in-depth paper, 45 pages, but relevant sections can be jumped to by the table of contents.


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