Skip to comments.The Eye of Sauron Is the Modern Surveillance State [Tolkien vs. Orwell]
Posted on 07/18/2013 9:42:25 AM PDT by Pan_Yan
What can literary fiction teach us about recent revelations that the National Security Agency has aggressively been gathering massive amounts of data on American citizens? The novel one usually turns to, of course, is George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its terrifying vision of the Thought Police. Even President Obama, in response to questions about the NSA, has been forced to deny that the government has engaged in Big Brother tactics. Orwells book, however, isnt the most compelling or accurate literary prediction of modern surveillance. That award goes to a less obvious title: J.R.R Tolkiens Lord of the Rings.
Tolkiens most potent and intimidating image of centralized surveillance, the Eye of Sauron atop a tower, taking in the whole world, has resonated with those who are paranoid about government monitoring. But its Saurons vulnerability that has the most relevance for America today. Consider the basic premise of Tolkiens trilogy: a small group of dedicated subversives willing to sacrifice their lives slips in under the surveillance system of a great power, blends in with an alien population, and delivers a devastating blow to the heart of its empire, leaving its security forces in disarray and its populace terrified. Even a tower or two crumbles to dust. Far from being covert, much of this operation is conducted in plain sight, with the great power aware of its enemies existence, if not their intent. Given its prescience about modern-day terrorism, Tolkiens vision offers at least three lessons for present-day America.
1. All-Seeing Is Not All-Knowing
2. The Enemy Controls the Plot
3. The Louder the Noise, the Fainter the Signal
(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...
There are a couple of nuggets in here your crew might enjoy.
Except, my interpretation is that the Eye of Sauron is not used continuously, on everyone...
Those are time bandits. You are thinking of Hobbits.
I saw that movie available for free viewing the other night. I opted to watch reruns on the History Channel instead. Not Sean Connery’s best work.
How did Sam trek all the way to Mordor, with only elven bread, and still remain FAT?
Actually, that's Peter Jackson's image, not Tolkien's.
In the books the Eye was at least as much felt as seen, and mostly by those carrying the Ring.
totally - otherwise it would have been pointless to pull a feint to distract the Eye whilst the Hobbits snuck thru the side door
For the sake of accuracy, it must be said that Tolkien’s “Eye of Sauron” was not really the same as Peter Jackson’s “Eye of Sauron”. Jackson and Bakshi both made Sauron into an evil lighthouse. Still, the piece is pretty thought-provoking.
I’m amazed at how some liberals can read Tolkien, and not get the message about power. I suppose Obama would take this Ring out of a desire to do “good”. Who are the happiest people in Middle Earth? The nearly government-free hobbits.
Lembas is pure carbs.
I actually can't find a good equivalent to Obama in LOTR. I sincerely believe he's a puppet in way over his head but also that he is not misguided or ignorant; he truly desires evil for our land. Kind of like if Wormtongue got elected Steward of Gondor.
I’ve thought for years that someone is missing a golden opportunity by not making some kind of energy bar, drink, goo, etc and branding it “Lembas”.
There is nothing else to say.
Liberty, some supervision required.
The best equivalent for Obama I can find is Lotho Sackville-Baggins (a/k/a Pimple), but it’s pretty limited.
At my house we call Club Crackers “Lembas”. Now I want to eat a sleeve of them.
Who have been protected throughout their history, though they know it not, by the Rangers of the North. Who they dislike and mistrust.
It's sort of like the European/American relationship.
I’ll agree with that at the point in the story where Tolkien brings us in. The hobbits had repelled an orc invasion a couple of generations before Bilbo at the Battle of Greenfields. This event is famous for the invention of the game of golf.
It really is like the European/American relationship, especially in the context of the Cold War, when it was written.
How did this slip past the eye of Sauron at Slate?
Based on what I know about Tolkien, I believe he would have hated this Slate article.
With the current administration of King Zero and his propaganda arm media court, it sure seems like it.
In know...but Hobbits aren’t real - the Time Bandits are! Plus - wouldn’t you want to go back to 1983 and get Reagan and bring him to 2013 to fix this mess?
My chronology might be a little off, but if I remember correctly the Battle of Greenfields was the first and last in the Shire in about a millennium.
The hobbits were able to get along without a government because others protected them. That, after all, was the original purpose of governments, to protect people against outside aggressors. Those peoples in history who did not develop effective systems for accomplishing this just disappeared, destroyed by outside enemies.
and to add to your most excellent point, Gandalf knew the job he was sent to do was over when he sent the Hobbits back to defend themselves after the Ring was destroyed but the Shire taken over by Saruman. protecting themselves was a key part of what they had been trained to do. Plus it gave Gandalf a chance to go drink with Bombadil.
I was always amused by the reaction of the four hobbits to the “tough” thugs they ran into in the Shire.
They’d spent the last year or more tangling with and defeating the greatest forces of evil in the world, and here some low-rent bully-boys thought they could terrify them.
This always reminded me of the old western notion of the townspeople cowering in fear while the bandits rode into town. High Noon and all that.
In actual fact, most of the men running around the Old West were veterans of WBTS. Somebody who went thru Fredericksburg or Franklin wasn’t likely to be intimidated by Frick and Frack.
Bullroarer Took was something like Bilbo’s great, great, great uncle. It was around 200 years, which is long enough for them to get very complacent. Good cautionary tale.
Perhaps the Mouth of Sauron, who speaks to Aragorn and the others outside the gates of Mordor?
Sauron is easy to take out. Just give him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.
I bought that shirt from Woot and wore it on July 4th.
those are truly excellent points!
I was thinking more the king of the Nazguls since he's a king but also a slave. Though Mister Teleprompter is very much a mouthpiece.
Another thing is that Sauron was not all-seeing because did not yet possess the Ring. If he had it then that ability would come with it.
In the same vein the liberals are not all powerful because they have not been able to dispense with the Constitution.
The hiding in plain sight analogy I like best. The best way to take down a tyrant is not a direct attack at the head, but cut him off at the knees.