The fuddy-duddy picks up a pen, considers a moment, and begins:
“How many times have I read The Hobbit? I’ll have to ask Beatrix.”
The fuddy-duddy rings the silver bell that sits at his elbow. He waits a moment. He leans forward and pokes the fire with a fire tool.
“Beatrix must be on the toilet; she never ignores me unless she is pooing. Oh, well. Anyway, I guess I’ve read The Hobbit twenty times in my life, and I’m surprised—I must say—to read it again last week and immediately have the desire to re-read it again immediately. Immediately afterward! Gosh! What is it about the story that draws me to the tale again and again? The elves and dwarves? (Yes, Tolkien spelled the word dwarves not dwarfs for some reason.) The wizardry? I’ll be quite candid with you, gentle reader, I usually hate fantasy. Why? Why do I so hate fantasy? That’s a good question! Why do I hate fantasy and yet love these particular fantasy books—this book and, of course, the accompanying Lord of the Rings. Why? Why? Oh, gosh, why? I don’t know, gosh; let’s say most fantasy inherits much from Tolkien and his imitators don’t realize—uneducated fools that they are—what we, receptive readers, love about Tolkien: we don’t really give a crap about the elves and all that magic. In fact, it doesn’t appear that Tolkien loves it particularly either for that isn’t the point of the tale. Oh, yes, he invented languages, but he tells a story, a tale. The tale, ah yes, the tale. He doesn’t write chapters and chapters of description about Galadriel’s lingerie—unfortunately…”
The fuddy-duddy pauses lost in thought for a while with a whimsical expression on his face.
“Tolkien’s point goes much deeper than any of those fancy dazzling trappings right down into the human myths that undergird our own consciousness. Chaos—the worm, the serpent—awakens and visits havoc on society. A hero must rise up and confront this dragon, but there are no heroes in the neighborhood! The only option is for a normal, small person to go on an unexpected adventure. It all sounds cheap Hollywood to mention it in such general terms, but that’s the truth of it. Tolkien gets right in amongst us all into the foundations of our cliché humanity: we are all just little people who can’t really do much, but, and yet, we can, too, with a bit of luck and if we keep our wits about us—and if we discover magic technologies no one else possesses. We are all little people and we must—we must, it is true—we must confront chaos and work to re-establish order. This is the fate of every human as we create civilization together.”
The fuddy-duddy pauses in his writing to ring the bell violently again.
“Beatrix is really pooing with a vengeance today; I guess poo is a little dragon of chaos in a way that destroys civilization. A dragon of chaos inside of each of us. A hero must rise up and confront Beatrix and say, Beatrix, you must stop eating yourself sick! You’ll smell up the whole house tomorrow if you eat like that!”
The fudddy-duddy pauses and pokes the fire with his fire tool as if fighting a poo-dragon.