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The Eye of Sauron Is the Modern Surveillance State [Tolkien vs. Orwell]
Slate ^ | Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at 4:57 PM | David Rosen and Aaron Santesso

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 Orwell’s 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. Orwell’s book, however, isn’t the most compelling or accurate literary prediction of modern surveillance. That award goes to a less obvious title: J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien’s 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 it’s Sauron’s vulnerability that has the most relevance for America today. Consider the basic premise of Tolkien’s 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, Tolkien’s 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 ...


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Conspiracy
KEYWORDS: 1984; bookreview; christians; lotr; orwell; tolkien

1 posted on 07/18/2013 9:42:25 AM PDT by Pan_Yan
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To: Kartographer

Ping.

There are a couple of nuggets in here your crew might enjoy.


2 posted on 07/18/2013 9:44:13 AM PDT by Pan_Yan (I believe in God. All else is dubious.)
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To: Pan_Yan

Except, my interpretation is that the Eye of Sauron is not used continuously, on everyone...


3 posted on 07/18/2013 9:46:35 AM PDT by bigbob
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To: Pan_Yan
sooo - are these the guys that are going to defeat Obama?

4 posted on 07/18/2013 9:46:42 AM PDT by BCW (Book - http://babylonscovertwar.com/index.html)
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To: BCW

Those are time bandits. You are thinking of Hobbits.


5 posted on 07/18/2013 9:48:31 AM PDT by 4yearlurker (Hurry Jesus!!!!!)
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To: BCW

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.


6 posted on 07/18/2013 9:48:45 AM PDT by Pan_Yan (I believe in God. All else is dubious.)
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To: Pan_Yan

How did Sam trek all the way to Mordor, with only elven bread, and still remain FAT?


7 posted on 07/18/2013 9:50:51 AM PDT by PGR88
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To: Pan_Yan
Tolkien’s most potent and intimidating image of centralized surveillance, the Eye of Sauron atop a tower, taking in the whole world

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.

8 posted on 07/18/2013 9:52:23 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: bigbob

totally - otherwise it would have been pointless to pull a feint to distract the Eye whilst the Hobbits snuck thru the side door


9 posted on 07/18/2013 9:52:47 AM PDT by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Pan_Yan

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.


10 posted on 07/18/2013 9:53:18 AM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: PGR88

Lembas is pure carbs.


11 posted on 07/18/2013 9:54:09 AM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: cdcdawg
I suppose Obama would take this Ring out of a desire to do “good”.

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.

12 posted on 07/18/2013 9:59:28 AM PDT by Pan_Yan (I believe in God. All else is dubious.)
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To: Pan_Yan
If the modern surveillance state is the Eye of Sauron, then these are the nine Nazgul who do Sauron's bidding.


13 posted on 07/18/2013 10:00:37 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (Anywhere there is tyranny you will find that the people were first disarmed.)
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To: cdcdawg

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”.


14 posted on 07/18/2013 10:01:08 AM PDT by bigbob
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To: Pan_Yan

There is nothing else to say.
Liberty, some supervision required.

15 posted on 07/18/2013 10:01:43 AM PDT by tpmintx (Gun free zones are hunting preserves for unarmed people.)
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To: Pan_Yan

The best equivalent for Obama I can find is Lotho Sackville-Baggins (a/k/a Pimple), but it’s pretty limited.


16 posted on 07/18/2013 10:07:38 AM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: bigbob

At my house we call Club Crackers “Lembas”. Now I want to eat a sleeve of them.


17 posted on 07/18/2013 10:08:37 AM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: cdcdawg
Who are the happiest people in Middle Earth? The nearly government-free hobbits.

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.

18 posted on 07/18/2013 10:18:20 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

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.


19 posted on 07/18/2013 10:28:39 AM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: Pan_Yan

How did this slip past the eye of Sauron at Slate?


20 posted on 07/18/2013 10:30:04 AM PDT by Defiant (In the next rebellion, the rebels will be the ones carrying the American flag.)
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To: Pan_Yan

Based on what I know about Tolkien, I believe he would have hated this Slate article.


21 posted on 07/18/2013 10:33:54 AM PDT by EternalVigilance ('Si vis pacem, para bellum.')
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To: Pan_Yan
So we live in Mordor now?

With the current administration of King Zero and his propaganda arm media court, it sure seems like it.

22 posted on 07/18/2013 10:53:11 AM PDT by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: 4yearlurker

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?


23 posted on 07/18/2013 10:53:30 AM PDT by BCW (Book - http://babylonscovertwar.com/index.html)
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To: cdcdawg

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.


24 posted on 07/18/2013 11:16:57 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

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.


25 posted on 07/18/2013 11:42:19 AM PDT by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Hegewisch Dupa

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.


26 posted on 07/18/2013 11:58:00 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: Sherman Logan

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.


27 posted on 07/18/2013 12:05:05 PM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: Pan_Yan

Perhaps the Mouth of Sauron, who speaks to Aragorn and the others outside the gates of Mordor?


28 posted on 07/18/2013 12:21:08 PM PDT by Gtown
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To: Gtown

Sauron is easy to take out. Just give him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.


29 posted on 07/18/2013 12:24:30 PM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: tpmintx

I bought that shirt from Woot and wore it on July 4th.


30 posted on 07/18/2013 12:34:46 PM PDT by Cooter
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To: Pan_Yan

31 posted on 07/18/2013 12:36:14 PM PDT by Cooter
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To: Pan_Yan











32 posted on 07/18/2013 1:01:12 PM PDT by G8 Diplomat
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To: Sherman Logan

those are truly excellent points!


33 posted on 07/18/2013 1:29:05 PM PDT by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Gtown
Perhaps the Mouth of Sauron, who speaks to Aragorn and the others outside the gates of Mordor?

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.

34 posted on 07/18/2013 3:25:45 PM PDT by Pan_Yan (I believe in God. All else is dubious.)
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To: Pan_Yan

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.


35 posted on 07/18/2013 8:36:07 PM PDT by Free Vulcan (Vote Republican! You can vote Democrat when you're dead...)
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