"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, September 12, 2002

No word of the day today. And no, it's got nothing to do with September 11 commemorations; I simply don't feel like providing one.

It's amazing the things people will do in pursuit of an obsession. See, I was re-reading History of Middle-Earth and Unfinished Tales (two rather rambly books in the Tolkien legendarium; only of interest to real affocionados of the Tolkien mythology) on the way to and from Singapore last weekend - and it struck me that just how .. complete Tolkien's world really is, if one can be bothered to dig up the huge numbers of supplementary and literary sources available to a serious researcher. I remember the feelings of awe I felt when I first read Lord of the Rings at 14, and the reverence that filled me as I gazed upon the original Silmarillion manuscript at the Bodleian Library. Someone had gotten me into the restricted collection - a long story, and at the time inspired more by a desire to touch C.S Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia manuscript as well.

Some day I shall make the pilgrimage to Wisconsin where the holograph manuscript (handwritten) Lord of the Rings resides at Marquette University.

In any event, it's amazing the amount of debate and discourse that exists with regards to Tolkienology. Tolkien himself was rather obsessed with world-building, based on Northern tradition and mythologies; and its worth nothing that the two elven-languages in LoTR are *consistent*, functional linguistic systems with root words, inflexions, idioms and even evolutionary structure over the ages. There's even degrees and academic journals in Quenya linguistics out there, apparently.

Just as theologians once (apocryphally) debated over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, there are people who argue over whether a Balrog had wings. They dig into remarkably abstruse texts, such as Tolkien's own correspondence and obscure first drafts for the slightest glimmer of corroborative evidence, and - well. I just have to marvel at the richness of a world which can inspire such fervour, such monomania. Say what you will about Trekkies; ultimately the whole fantasy and RPG genre may never have existed without Tolkien,(RPGs are, in many ways, the bastard descendants of the earliest unions of wargaming and fantasy - fantasy being spearheaded by Tolkien's popularity in the 60s and 70s, and the subsequent emergence and pre-eminence of American fantasy).

Fan fervour, however, does have its excesses of bohliaoism at times.

Fantasy rant above was inspired by surfing through some LoTR resources out of boredom; the computer system is down, and most of my daily tasks are, subsequently, unperformable. While, technically, this means I should be pursuing and following-up some of my other assigned projects, well - the watchword is "indolence".

Incidentally, for Gabriel, here's a couple of good articles on the history of gamebooks and RPGs.

The rant of my Singaporean weekend trip waits to be written - perhaps later. I only got four hours of sleep last night, and am more emotionally unstable than usual. It must be the sunflower-seed flavoured moon cakes.

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