The struggle in terms of the strange

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Christine Kelley

Christine Kelley writes about speculative fiction and radical politics from a queer revolutionary perspective. Currently her main project is Nowhere and Back Again, a psychogeography of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Her first project was the now semi-retired blog Dreams of Orgonon, a song-by-song study of Kate Bush. Support Christine on Patreon.


  1. Arty Fish You All In Telly Gents
    June 16, 2021 @ 4:46 am

    Part of the uniqueness of New Zealand, of course, is that even the Maori only colonised Aoteroa a thousand years ago, and actively developed an ecologically sensitive culture after hunting the flightless Mua into extinction. Compared with the long human history of the four major continents, the print of the anthropocene lies extraordinarily lightly on New Zealand. That’s what makes it such a vivid analogue to Tolkien’s Middle Earth, suspended between the pastoral Eden and the dark Satanic mills.


  2. Douglas Muir
    June 16, 2021 @ 4:29 pm

    Tolkein’s WWI experience haunts all of TLOTR, but it’s absolutely central here. The Dead Marshes are the accursed trenches, an internal No-Man’s-Land of the spirit where the renewing soft rains and green grass of spring have never come.

    And notice that the Dead Marshes are on the border of Mordor. Like No-Man’s-Land, they’re what you have to cross to reach enemy territory.

    As to Gollum and free will, I really have to disagree here. Yes, he’s a puppet on strings just as surely as any other fictional character. But Tolkein actually put a lot of thought into Gollum. It bothered him that Gollum’s damnation was a necessary condition for his fictional eucatastrophe. There’s an exchange of letters where someone asks what would have happened if Gollum’s near-repentance outside Shelob’s lair had gone the other way; Tolkein’s response is, shall we say, troubled.

    Doug M.


    • Christine Kelley
      June 16, 2021 @ 7:04 pm

      More on Gollum this Friday. 😉


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