Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two ways of viewing history

  • 1)Isaac Asimov, atheist, thinks history is at worst moved by people like Dorwin or the king of Anacreon, and at best by people like Hari Seldon.
  • 2) JRRT and CSL, believing "there is an Aslan in Narnia", believing there is a Providence, they also believe there are people like Aragorn or Theoden or Faramir, and that sometimes they do a decisive thing ... even in Númenor there was an Elendil. Not that they ignore people like the Denethors or the Shifts or the Sarumans. Indeed, Haris Seldon is not quite unlike Saruman.

There is a practical consequence of this difference: Isaac Asimov thinks a Hari Seldon, manipulating and foreseeing human reactions for a decent purpose is one of the best things in history, but JRRT and CSL see such as one of the ways in which the downward route to the worst opens up.

When people knowing I like JRRT and CSL offer me Asimov to read, with a recommendation, I have fears, that they want to make me either a Hari Seldon type or a willing front man for a such.

Or, of course, they could just be considering me nuts and trying to keep me quiet with the least effort possible. But offering me a company where Asimov trumps Tolkien or where one at the table lumps them together as "sci-fi and fantasy" because they happen to be sold in same shelves in bookstores, or where a Muslim shouts down Classical Music, or where a hipster interrupts my reading to tell me how he called his former director more or less a child molestor or how he detests a certain non-socialist president of a certain country, believing me to be very much on the side of school-directors and that type of non-socialism, when in fact I would like to end school obligation both legally and practically and when in fact my non-socialism is somewhat different from that president's, well, that is not likely to change my convictions, just to damp my mood. And that has been done much enough already.

But is it not interesting that people who might be considering me nuts would be the same as those who share the convictions of Asimov rather than Tolkien? Or, if I am wrong on that one, that the people I imagine imagine me to be nuts are those who place Asimov over Tolkien?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Nanterre Université

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