Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Things of Happiness: Lord of the Rings.

In case anyone missed it, I am an enormous dork. Evidence, of course, is leaked all over this blog in the form of literary inspired fashion, poetic quotations—or those taken from theoretical articles and citations, and inspirational book covers. Not to mention that these days it is decidedly uncool to trot around a college campus or mall dressed up like a French school girl, librarian, tea-time visitor, or other preciously quaint and whimsical identities. But I'm also a dork of a totally other kind. I'm not really entirely sure where to begin this kind of thing because there are so many dorky facets of my life and personality that picking one as a defining characteristic is a daunting task, not to mention impossible.

I'm an enormous fan. My whole life I have had rabid hopeless obsessions with things. Weird things like Victorian wasting diseases (who doesn't love a good one of those?), musicals, 18th century novels, fantasy (always), historical persons or events, cartoons, movies, books and book series, the color orange. I think one of my first obsessions was Les Miserables. I was eight and I saw the Tenth Anniversary Concert on the local public station when they were doing one of those drives, and was hooked. I tried to read the book when I was a pretentious 13 year-old, made costumes, bought every CD I could find, and spent hours on the internet. I was also uncannily good at roping uninterested companions into playing my current obesession games. This habit has not changed. It's been Les Miz, CATS (musicals were especially enthralling), Sailor Moon (hmm), Titanic, Tamora Pierce books, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and many other things I can't even force myself to remember. These escapades involve a total immersion for months, sometimes even years at a time. Sometimes I miss the totality of these kinds of things. It's like a love affair in a way, but I'm not going to force that analogy farther than that. One of the important bits about these phases is that they resurface throughout my life. In recent years there have been very few new ones. Instead I notice the resurfacing of the old loves, although now they are mildly bittersweet and somewhat detatched.

This is getting long. I don't know that I care! The thing is, like anything else these phases are so strongly associated with my aesthetic and emotional memory that my reactions to them are visceral. I'm being melodramatic. But that's the idea anyway. It's that whole bit about how a certain song can transport you through memory to certain feelings in your stomach and head, smells, visions, just those intangible feelings of the state of body! I've been avoiding my point here. I'm experiencing a revisiting of my Lord of the Rings love. My boyfriend, not realizing I was in possession the the extended editions of each film, suggested we have a marathon of the films (that was a bit of a struggle). Since then I've had them on in the background almost non-stop, just as I did back-in-the-day. I'm a big fan of the cast commentaries on these in particular, they're sort of awesome and in some ways usurp the films themselves.

But do you know, they just thrill me? They make me so happy I think I just want to cry, or pretend, or something. The first, Fellowship, has especially strong memories for me and it's definitely my favorite. Oh, but I can't describe it! It is the very pinnacle of my dorkish sensibilities! The feeling it gives me is simultaneously one that I would have gotten anyway just from the experience, but then also doubly of that I had when I was a sophomore in high school and my best friends were equally obsessed. Late nights with movies, websites, food and weird inside-jokes about LotR are so dear to me that the whole thing almost breaks my heart.

Of course, the costumes are endlessly fascinating—since it seems necessary to bring this back around to questions of style (although, honestly, it's not a stretch as for me, and I think for most bloggers, it's something we almost always notice. I am sorry, coma, to abuse you thus)--and make me envious. Of course the male costumes are wonderful and interesting, but to tell the truth the women's costumes tickle my fancy! They're sort of nostalgic in a way, reminiscent of all the kinds of dresses princess seemed to wear in stories, and the kinds of outfits I always doodled in my notebooks: improbably fastenings, long sweeping sleeves, trains, delicious embroidery and braids! I love it, the sort of regal Medieval look. To be fair though, it does touch on something much more Pre-Raphelite—which of course is so inspiring and exciting and pretty that I think I might pass out.

"In the middle of the table, against the woven cloths upon the wall, there was a chair under a canopy, and there sat a lady fair to look upon, and so like was she in form of womanhood to Elrond that Frodo guessed that she was one of his close kindred. Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost; her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, grey as cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things that the years bring. Above her brow her head was covered with a cap of silver lace netted with small gems, glittering white; but her soft grey raiment had no ornament save a girdle of leaves wrought in silver. So it was that Frodo saw her whom few mortals had yet seen; Arwen, daughter of Elrong, in whom it was said that the likeness of Luthien had come on earth again; and she was called Undomiel, for she was the Evenstar of her people. Long she had been in the land of her mother's kin, in Lorien beyond the mountains, and was but lately returned to Rivendell to her father's house."

-Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

This one has nothing to do with anything, other than it's my favorite Waterhouse (which, I suppose it sort of works. He's sort of vaguely Pre-Raphelite, no? I seem to remember there is some debate over that. Oh well!) ever. I love it. I need to have this dress, it is constantly in my dreams!


  1. I've had so many obsessions like that. Harry Potter was definitely all-consuming when I was in elementary school. I'm glad to know others are in the same boat. I love the lotr costumes.

  2. I was never really into fantasy and when I saw the first LOTR movie I didn't expect to like it.. but I fell in love! And I love them all so much, they are among my favourite movies! It opened me up to a whole new world.. My husband has always enjoyed fantasy and introduced me to many novels. I'm so glad!!! I now love it. I'm on the 5th book in The Wheel of Time series, have you read any of those?

  3. i never was so much into lord of the rings, but all this does remind me of a time when i was in my teens when i - for years - obsessed about clothing inspired by the rennaissance or medieval times. i sooo wanted top own a dress like that, but those were far too expensive for me and somewhere deep inside me i knew i'd never wear them. i still love the way they look. it's eye-candy. and i still think that in case i ever marry i'd love to have a dress like this.

  4. ah, I think every girl wants to look like arwen once in her life. cryptically, I never thought liv tyler was thrillingly beautiful but arwen IS..

    anyway. I guess you have to be some special type of person to get this excited about things.. or absorbed. ;)
    I am as well.
    when the lord of the rings came out as a movie I was so in love with frodo baggins (NOT elijah wood, how weird is that) I watched the first movie about 8 times in the cinema and even sat in front of my lord of the rings poster crying once. because I just really wished to be there.
    I was much younger then but the tendency of getting really obsessed with things didn´t change much.
    I can spend a whole weekend by myself, reading an entire book and when I´m hooked with a pair of shoes there´s hardly anything to distract me.

    I hope, you feel less alone now! ;)

  5. Stunning post. I started reading LOTR when I was 10, so none of the Harry Potter books or other YA fiction could really do it for me for the longest time after that. I seriously needed rich, adult fantasy after that series. Loved the films too. Liv already looks like an elf.

  6. I read Les Miserables when I was probably 10 or 11. I remember watching one of the movie adaptations and my mother telling me there is a book. The next day I run to the school library to get them. The librarian was a very nice lady that knew me as one of the good kids, so she let me have them for as long as I wanted, of course after looking at me in a funny way for asking for such a book. That first day I started reading, but could not go through more than half of the first volume. I put the books on my nightstand and only picked them up again 6 months later. I finished all five of them in one week.
    Among other things, Harry Potter has been my weak spot for years, it started when I was 12 and finally ended with the last book, one year ago. I also read LoTR and seen the movies. I can’t say that back then clothing styles were at the top of my list, but looking back, I have to admit that they were very fairytale like.
    Sorry for the long comment, and thank you for your nice reply. Please excuse my English; I don’t consider it very good.

  7. I completely share your obsessive personality! And some of your obsessions (LOTR, Sailor Moon, Les Mis, fantasy novels) as well as a few of my own ... Disney, Firefly, Captain Planet (that one is particularly embarrassing and I am using too many parentheses), anime and manga, many many more. My husband and I watched the extended editions of LOTR over and over again for an entire summer, and still watch the films and all the docos regularly. It's great to live in New Zealand as well, because you can visit so many of the films' settings.

  8. I can fully empathize with that! I love wrapping myself in a fictive world and getting utterly absorbed in it. Sometimes those fictive worlds become a cozy, little home between the bookcovers!

  9. Oh wow I'd forgotten how gorgeous the costumes in the Lord of the Rings movie were! And Liv is just breathtaking!

  10. this is such a great idea! i love lord of the rings xo

  11. God, I have also been a bit of a closet nerd throughout my life as well. We won't even get into my Star Trek phase... Lovely post. I was also a fan of LOTR, but I think, unfortunately, the boys constantly talking about it kind of took the glamour out of it. The Waterhouse is stunning! I would call him Pre-Raphaelite-influenced...

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  13. I to am was an obsessive fan like you are! It is an amazing series! They will always be among my favorite books and films! :)

  14. Oh my gosh, are you me?! I was so ridiculously obsessed with the Lord of the Rings when I was younger. (We're talking learning Quenya here!) And I too am quite the dork, I've been known throughout my life for having very intense and slightly odd obsessions (Oxford University, Evelyn Waugh, various books and films, the Celts, the American Civil War), and I so very much understand the revisiting of these things, it's always lovely.

  15. you actually look a bit like liv Tyler. Wterhouse painting are amazing!

  16. I found your blog post while searching for "clothing inspired by Lord Of The Rings." I enjoyed reading your post, and exploring the rest of your blog. You are an accomplished writer and fascinating person. I wanted to share this website with you... It is from a custom costumer and she does some Elvish/Fantasy outfits I thought you might enjoy looking at.
    Thanks again!