Culture vulture

Part 3: Gollum decoded
In which we bow to our public and exit the topic with this brief parting shot.

Gollum, ancient wheedling, scheming murderer and pathetically dilapidated and deluded split personality, is the most finely wrought symbolic representation of the human condition in the whole bloody epic. Gollum represents a corrupt version of the reptilian back brain that sustains survival at all costs, and without that inexorable drive to survive no other accomplishments, be they ever so noble, would ever have been achieved, would they?

The reason Tolkien supplies us with such a finely wrought portrait of Gollum’s thought processes is that he wants us to recognize Gollum’s plight as our own. The ring he is enslaved by is the talisman of artificial wealth and power as opposed to the world of natural providence that he rejected when he chose to murder his cousin in order to possess the precious bauble. By the time we meet him, Gollum is so driven by self-loathing and addiction to the corrupting power of the ring that he knows he can never return to the world he knew before he took possession of the ring. Much like technological mankind can never return to a world of natural order. And yet we sense with deep sadness that our schism from nature and the embrace of technology has lessened rather than enhanced our relationship to the world’s ever-returning bounty.

I just hope that when our collective inner Gollum self-immolates we’re still left standing to reconstruct the Shire.

And now for something completely different.
An open Christmas letter to George W. Bush

Dear George:

Merry Christmas and congratulations on getting your man. He looks like he needs some comfort and joy, things that apparently have been in short supply in his colorful but horrendous life.

But that’s all ancient history. The real crux of the biscuit here is that it’s time for a quantum change in the way humans conduct their affairs on this planet, and you could, by exercising your power in a compassionate and conservative manner, bring about the greatest change in human civilization since the dawn of history. I beg you to cease all hostile behavior on all fronts. Divert all available resources from military might to making sure that every child is fed and sheltered and every adult is educated and employed in meaningful work. Please, talk to every other world leader and ask them to join you in devoting the planetary resources to tending to the needs of every living creature. Abolish wealth and poverty and build a civilization based on sound ecological practices.

I know it sounds nuts, but please, let’s just try it for a few years then decide if we want to go back to the old days of war, pollution and poverty. It’s hard to make a choice until you’ve experienced both sides of the issue, and now is the perfect time to experience peace.

Best wishes and happy holidays.