Some Thoughts on Hippies and Hobbits
Keywords:hippy, hobbit, debate, Belladonna Took, Fallone, Tolkien, On Fairy Stories, Fairy, Lord of the Rings, LotR, escapism, dropping out
After reading articles by both Belladonna Took and A.R. Fallone, author Bob Borsley weighs in on the Hobbit or Hippy debate. He believes that J.R.R. Tolkien expresses similar views as to the hippy in his body of works through three main ways; Tolkien’s criticism of modern society, Tolkien’s views on escapism and “dropping out”, and that all of those hippy ideals match within the realm of the Lord of the Rings. He begins his argument by defining what a hippy is – relating the ideology more closely with the original American hippies of the 1960’s than the urban hippies of the age. Borsley then goes into his analysis, beginning with Tolkien’s view on modern society. According to Tolkien’s passages in “On Fairy Stories”, his main criticism of today’s society is blind worship to technological advances and material goods. This, Borsley concludes, is in line with the hippy ideology. Secondly, Borsley claims that Tolkien believes escapism is a more complex issue than Belladonna made it out to be. It is not about escaping life but escaping the misery of the surrounding world. Tolkien, as well, preferred the quietness of countryside, outside of the roar of the city – in line with rural hippy ideology of escaping the urban life. Finally, Borsley finds examples of these ideologies within the Lord of the Rings. In Galadriel, he finds the concept of escapism, as she is exiled from her home, and is excited for it – to leave the society she was born into to find something new. He then claims that Belladonna’s belief that because some ideals may not be found in the book, Tolkien must oppose it, is false. Just because it is not stated in the book, does not mean the author intended to cast the belief into falsity. He claims that Belladonna unjustly refers to the hippies as a mental sickness, but then potently counters her logic with his final line; “I would suggest that Belladonna looks at the world’s governments and listen to the talk of biological and chemical warfare, of napalm and other obscenities…the hippies are just a reaction, maybe sane, maybe not so sane, to this kind of madness”.
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