[LMB] Reading in different languages

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Fri Oct 15 16:28:37 BST 2021

Joel: From a certain point of view, Macbeth was being rather blind.  When
> receive a prophecy that's conditional on such completely *bizarre*
> things coming to pass, you should spend a few minutes trying to parse
> it, rather than just blowing it off with a "well, *that'll* never
> happen!"  But I've been re-reading _Harry Potter and the Methods of
> Rationality_, which may be skewing my judgement.

Sylvia: I also rec that story, which has been popping up on the list quite
a bit

John: Thirded, and heh -- Joel's quite right, of course, but the tradition
of being fooled by (wilfully) ambiguous prophecy is at least as old as
Pyrrhus (he of Pyrrhic victories). One of the best and most positive takes
on that is Le Guin's late novel *Voices*.

Eric: [Tolkien] loved trees and green things in general, and
disliked industrialization pretty strongly. [...] He was never too
comfortable with orcs and such
being "always evil," and changed his mind several times about where they'd
come from.

John: Oh yeah. He once said trees were hated for the crime of being large
and alive ; and on the origin and salvability of orcs, you bet he changed
his mind, dancing all round the Manichaean heresy the while. For a fic
response see jodancingtree's sequence:

jodancingtree, Another Way of Leaving, Following the Other Wizard: journey
into healing, The Queen’s Orc, The Grey at the End of the World
Marina: Thanks for a more complete answer, and a new bit (swiz) of UK slang!

John: You're very welcome. Of 'swizz' or 'swiz' the OED says "A
disappointment or 'swindle' [...] Hence as v. trans., to trick by
swindling, to subject to disappointment". Earliest citations 1913, 1915,
from a Dict. of Slang and a letter by Wilfred Owen. Rather schoolboy, and
now distinctly dated/consciously retro, but still known from heavy usage in
the Willans & Searle books featuring Nigel Molesworth, beginning with *Down
with Skool!*.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

Associate Member, Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Independent Scholar

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