300 Word Memories #5 – Friendship

friendship
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 6, 2017

Friendship is something that we all share with someone to varying degrees, and under a variety of circumstances.  Friends, true friends, should be able to go through thick and thin, no matter what the obstacle.  The greater the obstacle, the quicker one will find out who their friends are.  With that said, with the recent divide and conquer left-right paradigm political climate that always takes place during election, lots of friendships were tested.

Recently, noticed myself that a lot of people kept throwing other individuals they considered ‘friends’ under the bus, simply because those people employed varying beliefs.  Saw this take place literally dozens of times over the last six months, and it’s quite mindboggling to say the least.  In fact, it’s still taking place to some extent.

All of these issues make me wonder if the virtue of friendship hasn’t been cheapened, when compared to what it was like in the past, when say, people like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were friends.  Mind you, Tolkien and Lewis, although sharing much in common, did not agree on everything.

This increasing pattern makes me wonder whether or not what people call friendship nowadays is nothing more than a shell of its former ideal.

Ironically, the very people throwing others under the bus for being who they really are, are themselves the ones demanding other individuals to respect those very same qualities.   Talk about hypocritical!

In a world where people gain ‘friends’, seemingly with every new minute, it does seem that to some extent the quality of friendship/acquaintances has been cheapened.  But perhaps, by that very nature, when true unbounded friendship is achieved, it is vastly more meaningful than it ever could be.

It seems with time, more and more people just want others to be a clone of themselves.  They want to talk to a mirror for the rest of their lives.  They want the mirror to reply, exactly how they themselves would reply.  Every.  Single.  Time.  That’s a highly disturbing proposition.

What’s the world coming to when other people want to literally program you to be who they want you to be?  Perhaps, this is taking place because from the bottom up, that’s exactly what the system does to us.

From youth, the public school system has taught society how to conform in astounding degrees.  This can be seen here, here, and here.  So it’s no wonder that now the people that have been conforming their whole lives want others to conform.  That doesn’t justify what’s taking place, but it helps shed a shred of light unto this conundrum.

Regardless of that, however, if there’s one positive thing to take from this it is that, if someone’s not your true friend, they will just be an anchor upon your ship, and hold you back.  Nothing positive can come from someone that wishes you to conform, regardless of what you believe.  That simply shows these people did not respect nor value the friendship and what it truly means.

Just as a ship can’t move while being held back by the weight of a broken anchor that can’t be pulled back, some individuals won’t be able to move forward through life with people holding them back in similar fashion.  That’s why it’s vital to breakaway from toxic relationships.

After all, those who really are your friends, deep down inside, will never put you through such circumstances.  In fact, they will go with you above in beyond, through hell and back and always be there, right by your side, to the end – because that’s what true friendship is about.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

February Book Haul 2017

February Book Haul.jpg
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 5, 2017

January’s Book haul opened the year up with some portentous books, and February continued that pattern to boot.

Without further ado, let’s begin:

Philosophy Of Tolkien: The Worldview Of Lord Of The Rings by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

Having been reading quite a bit of Kreeft’s work in the last 6 months, it was intriguing to see him have a book which show insights on Lord Of The Rings.  The review of this is coming soon.

Summerhill School: A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil

Summerhill is a school that strove to allow children the ability to make choices in school in nigh everything that affects them, thus allowing them the option to be democratic in the very thing that will form the foundation for their life: education.  It’s an intriguing read, and if you are interested to read more about it check the review here.

On The Shoulder Of Hobbits: The Road To Virtue With Tolkien & Lewis by Louis Markos

This book, like The Philosophy of Tolkien, is part of my recent binge on all-things Tolkien, and it was quite the book.  Markos does an exemplary job of giving salient examples of virtues which are sprinkled throughout the works of Tolkien & Lewis, and does so in cogent fashion.  Review of this coming soon, too.

Making Choices, Practical Wisdom For Every Moral Decision by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

The topic of morality doesn’t get enough attention, and having never taken a course on morality, nor done any research on it, thought it prudent to see what gems of wisdom one could glean from such a book like this.

Confessions Of A Reformed Southern Belle – A Poet’s Collection Of Love, Loss & Renewal by
Tosha Michelle

Am about half way through this.  Anyone that’s read Tosha’s poetry will know her type of work, which is always engaging as it is emotive.  Tosha is to poetry what stars are to the night sky.  A veritable Sorceress of the written word, in this book Tosha infuses her emotions on paper and holds nothing back.  It’s really a rather heartfelt read so far.  A review of this will come soon.

The Hobbit Party: The Vision Of Freedom That Tolkien Got, And The West Forgot by Jay Richards

Thrice is nice?  This is another one within the Tolkien-binge-series yours truly has been ensconced in.  The Hobbit Party features insights on philosophy, theology, political theory, and much more.  Looking forward to reading this.

The Best Things In Life- A Contemporary Socrates Looks At Power, Pleasure, Truth & The Good Life by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

This is the foundation or Kreeft’s Socrates Meets Series, which essentially is the author’s fictional foray into questioning the greatest minds in philosophy through the fictional character of Socrates.   The author explores many salient issues such as money, education, morality, etc.  Looking forward to reading this very much.

The Collected Poems Of William Wordsworth by William Wordsworth

Hoping to engage in some of Wordsworth’s work, which has always intrigued me, and this  collection seemed a proper beginning.

Starcraft Evolution by Timothy Zahn

This is Sci-fi novel for the Starcraft fan.  If you haven’t read any of the previous books, or know about the game, this will probably not make much sense even though the author’s writing is pretty good.  Starcraft essentially follows three separate species, Humans being one of them, through their ongoing conflicts.  Might or might not write a review on it, we’ll see.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susanne Collins

If you haven’t heard of the Hunger Games, feel free to click the X on the top right of the screen.  Just kidding!  Although have seen the movie, haven’t read the books, so thought it might be intriguing to actually read them since books are magnitudes superior to any movie.

Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying & Healing The Body Through Oral Cleansing by Dr. Bruce Fife.

Having been oil pulling for nigh 3 years, thought it prudent to research this further, and lo and behold, there was one sentence that was worth the entire price of the book, which wasn’t much anyways considering how much you gain from it.  If you’re looking for a simple way to help your health, ponder getting his book, or at least learning about oil pulling.  A review of this was just shared today here.

Holding Their Own [Volume 13]Renegade by Joe Nobody

Holding Their Own is post-apocalyptic fiction at its finest.  Haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on it.  But the series has been very engaging, the story is rather realistic, the characters are very intriguing and grow throughout the series, and it keeps a great pace throughout.  Holding Their Own is one of my three favorite post-apocalyptic series for sure.

Lawless [Lawless Trilogy] [V1] by Tarah Benner

Another post apocalyptic book that am hoping is a solid read.  Haven’t read any of Benner’s work yet, so am looking forward to delving into it.

Final Word

Make sure to look for the reviews of these books in the coming weeks/months.  Many of these books offer much to the readier in a variety of ways.

That said, what did all of you get this month?  If you have any book suggestions or comments, please feel free to share them below.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

Book Review: The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien

thehobbitlotr

TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 2, 2017

“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”
John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.

“Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry.  When we consider a book, we musn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means.”
– Umberto Eco, The Name Of The Rose

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is one of his landmark pieces, which is part of Tolkien’s legendarium.  Tolkien’s legendarium revolves around the world of Arda.

Unknown to many, The Legendarium was created by Tolkien to serve as fictional mythology about the remote past of Earth, in which Middle Earth is the main stage.

The Legendarium is composed by phenomenal fiction such as The Lord of the Rings and also The Hobbit, as previously mentioned.  But also, the Legendarium features works such as The Silmarillion, The History of the Middle-Earth, The History Of The Hobbit, and more.

Undoubtedly one of the most significant books in the 20th Century, The Hobbit takes us through the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, whose life early on echoes predictability, comfort and simplicity.

However, after an unexpected party, Bilbo’s life changes most auspiciously.  After repeatedly stating he was not interested in being privy to an adventure, Bilbo was tricked into going by his guests, the dwarves, appealing to Bilbo’s more adventurous side – his Tookish side. There in the adventure begins.

On Bilbo’s quest to the Lonely Mountain, he and his companions traverse through Rivendel, the Misty Mountains, the dark forest of Mirkwood and even Lake Town, before anchoring at the Desolation of Smaug for the apex of the story.

On the way, Bilbo and his gang run into all sorts of folks: elves, humans, eagles, wargs, orcs, and even intricate characters such as Beorn and Gollum, all of which serve to make this phenomenal fantasy into one of the most intriguing mental escapes any fictional book has ever accomplished.

Throughout the epic, Bilbo’s journey mirrors that of the readers in the time which Tolkien published the story in 1937.  Just as Bilbo was reticent of going in the journey, being rather conservative, and being comfortable in his rather run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter everyday life, so were the people of the time of Tolkien a bit reserved about venturing on a journey into the realm of epic fantasy.  Mainstream folks weren’t interested in fantasy, and some even felt askance to it.  This was the reason why Tolkien used Bilbo as an analogy for the reader to familiarize itself with this Universe.

In fact, as medieval literature specialist and writer Corey Olsen Ph.D. puts it in his in-depth book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

“Bilbo’s initial perspective is so narrow, so domesticated, that being made late for dinner apparently counts as very serious hazard.  When Gandalf suggests sending him on an adventure, Bilbo runs into the house in panic.”[1][Emphasis On Original]

That’s how reticent Bilbo was!

These very circumstances, which mirror those of the readers of the time, are best exemplified by the following words:

“Tolkien was very aware of the artistic challenge he faced in writing a work of fantasy, especially since fantasy literature was far from the literary mainstream in the early twentieth century.  He knew that when they encountered his story in The Hobbit, his readers would have to leave their mundane and comfortable world behind and invest their imaginations in a world that contains magic and unexpected marvels.  In chapter One, Tolkien gives us a model for this very process within the story itself.  We begin in our safe and predictable world, and in the first chapter, we find ourselves in a world of wizard and dwarves and dragons.  In this transition, we find ourselves coming alongside a protagonist who is struggling through the exactly the same process, a character who himself internalizes the conflict between the mundane and the marvelous   Our first introduction to this magical, grim, and dangerous world of adventure is also his introduction, and his reluctance and difficulty in adjusting to it give us time to ease past our own discomfort and reservations.  Bilbo Baggins serves as a perfect touchstone for readers, both exploring and embodying the trickier frontier between the predictable and the unexpected.”[2]

And yet, no matter what Bilbo thought on the surface, deep down inside part of his deepest self was quite intrigued with the prospect of an adventure.  This insight is best viewed in the following passage, which takes place right when the dwarves begin an impromptu musical performance at his abode:

“Bilbo “forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill”.  He is transported into the land of the dwarves, and their song even brings him to share for a moment their own perspective and experience.  As they sing, he “felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.”  For a little while, Bilbo is moved by the music and the poetry of the dwarves, and he steps imaginatively out of his little world and into their story.  At this moment, “something Tookish woke up inside him,” and Bilbo finds that there is a part of him that desires adventure after all.”[3]

Once Bilbo’s imagination is unleashed it was like Pandora ’s Box, and there was no putting it back.

The contrast within Bilbo is best noticed when compared with Gandalf, as each represent two sides of the same coin.

As Olsen elucidates:

“Bilbo’s settled, Baggins life is like prose, plain and businesslike, and the magical world of Gandalf and the dwarves is more like poetry, full of wonder and marvels, but also strange and sorcerous like Gandalf’s smokerings. Bilbo may adhere to the Baggins point of view, but his Tookish heritage does give him a tendency toward that other, adventurous life, a tendency that is lurking beneath the surface when Bilbo meets Gandalf.”[4]

This tendency towards  what’s intriguing and portentous is what helps Bilbo grow throughout the journey as he finds the core of his Tookish side, and uses it to help himself and his newfound friends in this journey.

Intriguingly, as Bilbo grows accustomed to the wondrous and imaginative changes that magic brings about, so did the readers of the time.

The best part of this The Hobbit is that it’s so in depth and profound that there’s much to be had from it.

Truth be told, as Louis Markos Ph.D. notes in his book, On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis:

“So greatly did The Hobbit delight adults and children hungry for the lost realm of fairy tales that the cried out for a sequel.  In response, Tolkien spent the next decade and a half crafting a far richer and more mature work that would ratchet up its predecessor from a humble fairy tale to a full-scale epic in the tradition of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Beowulf.”[5]

The Hobbit is truly an upper echelon book.  This book resides within a class of books that belongs in an entirely different realm.  Some of the greatest books of all literature treat life as a journey, and this book is no different.  Moreover, not only that, but the book is so in depth, and offers so many subtle themes, that people for ages will be learning from it.

Touching upon this very subject, Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren speak about these type of books in their own touchstone piece, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:

“There is a second class of books from which you can learn – both how to read and how to live.  Less than one out of every hundred books belongs in this class – probably it is more like one in a thousand, or even one in ten thousand.  These are the good books, the ones that were carefully wrought by the authors, the ones that convey to the reader significant insights about subjects of enduring interest to human beings.  There are in all probably no more than a few thousand of such books.”[6]

The Hobbit offers many profound lessons of life.  Through fantasy fiction Tolkien creates a story which is analogous to what each of our own journeys are individually.  And just as life offers us countless lessons from which to learn from, so offers The Hobbit many germane gems of wisdom that are for the taking which are woven throughout the story.

In sum, the best reason to read this book is encapsulated in the following words by Markos:

“All ages at all times need stories, but our needs them so much more…The stories that we need are precisely those that will beckon us to follow their heroes along the Road; that will embody for us the true nature of good and evil, virtue and vice, and then challenge us to engage the struggle between the two…”[7]

And The Hobbit, for those very salient reasons, and more, is just one of those stories.

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Sources:

[1] Corey Olsen Ph.D., Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, p. 21.
[2] Ibid., p. 35.
[3] Ibid., p. 24.
[4] Ibid., p. 23.
[5] Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, pp. 13-14.
[6] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, pp. 332-333.
[7]Louis Markos Ph.D., On The Shoulders Of Hobbits – The Road To Virtue With Tolkien And Lewis, p. 187.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.