“Well, you see, Sauron taught Celebrimbor how to make rings of power and that’s why,” I said to the blank stares of my families. “Well, you see, Celebrimbor was a great smith of the Elves and so…” All of this to answer “How did he make so many rings and why?”
Thanksgiving means spending a lot of time with family and doing so watching as many “safe” movies as possible and the Lord of the Rings films are definitely considered “safe.” But sometimes, someone will ask a question that they know I have the answer to and they’ll get an answer. An answer steeped in lore and marginalia that drags well into the next scene. I refuse to pause movies because we’re not really watching, the movie is on because it facilitates us not having to do anything more than passively absorb a movie. So the answers spill over.
The answers spill over because I’m so full of them. I’m so full of the extant texts and letters and works that compose this whole tapestry that is the Lord of the Rings (I can do this with a few other subjects too). The blank stares make me wonder what it’s like on the other side of the veil that separates me from my family. They just see the movie and ask the occasional well-intentioned question but I see one facet of a massive ball of lore that I’ve been tugging at for the last 17 years.
The horror of knowing is more than watching a movie and feeling the need to dig deep into the background of a movie in order to give a proper and substantive answer. It’s the isolation doing so brings. I don’t remember the hours spent reading and learning about Middle-Earth. It just sort of happened over time. My brain feels pre-wired for absorption of these massive fictional universes. So even when I pick a safe movie like Fellowship of the Ring I feel like I can’t sit still.
All of that is on me. I could sit quietly and ignore the questions my family bat around as they try to figure out why Boromir tried to take the One Ring or why Saruman could just use a big rock to talk to Sauron. Or why the One Ring didn’t corrupt Frodo. Or why did Gandalf get to come back from the dead but not Boromir. But I don’t. Because people should know what a palantir is and that Boromir was a good, well-meaning boy!
It’s difficult to be very interested in something and be isolated both from people who have the same interest level and among people who don’t. I didn’t set out to know as much as I do. I didn’t really even set out to learn. It just sort of happened. Casual interests can evolve with enough time and boredom. But here, all these years later, its lonely and embarrassing.
I’ve seen Twitter light up with people asking what piece of media would they like to experience for the first time again. I don’t need that. I just want to go back to not knowing about the things explained in the extended editions. I just want to go back to seeing it as a movie.