I went to Mass this morning. The church was very well-attended too (and not just because of the Baptism crowd, which was very small). After Mass, I went into the small hall for tea and a nice long chat with two friends (but not before having a brief chat with Maureen, my uncle's godmother and a very old friend of my grandmother's, who promised to give me an old photo of my great grandfather which she has at home). We spoke long about faith and intelligence (the Curé of Ars was mentioned). I asked whether intelligence could be measured purely upon the basis of the ability inherent within someone of memorising facts by rote, or the ability to string facts together into a coherent argument. Intelligent conversation is amazing. I learned of something called ''emotional intelligence'' - which had to be explained to me - I then said that it sounded like something I would fail spectacularly at, but was assured - with evidence - that it was not so. That was nice.
Then I was invited round to lunch. It was a lovely day to eat outside, and I played ping pong with the children after stewed plums in toffee sauce with cream and coffee. I hadn't played ping pong for years - in fact, I did many things today which I haven't done for years (that makes me sound old, but I guess I just don't get up to much - except keeping up my knowledge of Tolkien, who, as you know, constantly fascinates me). I rang my father at around 6:00pm to let him know that I was going to be home later, and discovered in the process that I was supposed to have mowed the lawn!
Well anyway, I thought I'd share a quote from The Lord of the Rings I was thinking about this evening. One thing I haven't yet mentioned on this blog is my attitude to the film ''trilogy.'' This post is not about that, but one thing the films lack (or wilfully portray in a manner discordant with Tolkien's work) is the profundity and piteousness of the creature Gollum. This may seem a trivial detail, but the manner in which Gollum is presented in the film ''trilogy'' on Mount Doom (in which he sneers something - a quote in fact from Book IV, although taken out of context - and pounces upon Frodo) departs shockingly from the moving narrative of Tolkien, which goes:
'''Now!' said Sam. 'At last I can deal with you!' He leaped forward with drawn blade ready for battle. But Gollum did not spring. He fell flat upon the ground and whimpered.
'Don't kill us,' he wept. 'Don't hurt us with nassty cruel steel! Let us live, yes, live just a little longer. Lost lost! We're lost. And when Precious goes we'll die, yes, die into the dust.' He clawed up the ashes of the path with his long fleshless fingers. 'Dusst!' he hissed.
Sam's hand wavered. His mind was hot with wrath and the memory of evil. It would be just to slay this treacherous, murderous creature, just and many times deserved; and also it seemed the only safe thing to do. But deep in his heart there was something that restrained him: he could not strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly wretched. He himself, though only for a little while, had borne the Ring, and now dimly he guessed the agony of Gollum's shrivelled mind and body, enslaved to that Ring, unable to find peace or relief ever in life again. But Sam had no words to express what he felt.''
Now which presents a more Catholic approach to Gollum? The film treatment, with its emphasis on meaningless violence and its grossly unwarranted tampering with the nature of Sam's character (which Tolkien would have resented) or the portrayal in the book? Food for thought, but sadly not my own. I shall spend the next two weeks cramming like I've never crammed before! Sorry if this post follows no clear sequence, but it's been quite a full day!