My 2019, part 3 – Prose

So, having completed the lists of comics and films, I’m now moving on to the prose section (last year’s equivalent is found here). In the list given below, allowing for human error and memory shortages, should be all my non-news articles prose reads of 2019, and as ever, I’m happy to discuss any of them in the comments. But first, some comments of my own.

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My 2019, part 2 – Films

Tempus fugit, and it’s already almost a month since I posted my list of comics read in 2019. This list of films, I had hoped, would take me less time to write up. And it did, but then life kept getting in the way of finishing it for posting. But it’s here now, so without further ado:

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My 2019, part 1 – Comic books

Last year, I did a series of posts recapping my popular culture consumption of 2018. I quite liked doing that — it’s amazing how revisiting such a list a year later sometimes makes me go “wait, that was this year?!” and sometimes makes me go “no, surely that was at least three years ago?!”

So with that, here below the cut is part 1 of my pop cultural 2019: Comics and graphic novels. On the rare occasion where I’ve written a LibraryThing review, these are linked. And as always, should you see something that you’ve read and want to discuss, or something you’ve considered reading and want my two cents on, or just want to share what you read this past year, let me know in the comments.

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Star Wraths

So, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. I didn’t hate it, let’s be clear about that right from the beginning. I just found it to be so infuriatingly full of needless problems. I actually found IX to be rather an odd accomplishment: It did from tolerably well to outright great on every conceivable demand one might have from a film that’s a film 9 out of 9, a film 3 out of 3 and a film requiring to organically make the (wildly different) themes and story points of VIII and VII somehow gel together. But at the same time, it was a huge let down as a film in its own right, failing in my opinion on several points where even your average standalone non-billion dollar franchise film should be managing to deliver, foremost among these being basic points of story logic. And this irks me. Spoilers for the film, of course, follows as I elaborate below.

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Tolkien on the study of English

[O]ne must feel a grave disquiet, when the legitimate inspiration is not there; when the subject or topic of ‘research’ is imposed, or is ‘found’ for a candidate out of someone else’s bag of curiosities, or is thought by a committee to be a sufficient exercise for a degree. Whatever may have been found useful in other spheres, there is a distinction between accepting the willing labour of many humble persons in building an English house and the erection of a pyramid with the sweat of degree-slaves.

– J. R. R. Tolkien in Valedictory Address,
as rendered in The Monsters and the Critics; and Other Essays.

Tolkien on language and invention

For you are the heir of the ages. You have not to grope after the dazzling brilliance of invention of the free adjective, to which all human language has not yet fully attained. You may say

green sun
or dead life

and set the imagination leaping.
Language has both strengthened imagination and been freed by it. Who shall say whether the free adjective has created images bizarre and beautiful, or the adjective been freed by strange and beautiful pictures in the mind?

– J. R. R. Tolkien, A Secret Vice,
in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays

Tolkien on reality

In any case, the expression ‘real life’ in this context seems to fall short of academic standards. The notion that motor-cars are more ‘alive’ than, say, centaurs or dragons is curious; that they are more ‘real’ than, say, horses is pathetically absurd. How real, how startingly alive is a factory chimney compared with an elm tree: poor obsolete thing, insubstantial dream of an escapist!

For my part, I cannot convince myself that the roof of Bletchley station is more ‘real’ than the clouds. And as an artefact I find it less inspiring than the legendary dome of heaven. The bridge to platform 4 is to me less interesting than Bifröst guarded by Heimdall with the Gjallarhorn. From the wildness of my heart I cannot exclude the question whether railway-engineers, if they had been brought up on more fantasy, might not have done better with all their abundant means than they commonly do.

J. R. R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories,
in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays