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Theological Notebook: Eduardo Segura on "Tolkien, Lewis, and Hollywood: What Images Cannot Say"

There was a presentation today at the Raynor Library that I'd been looking forward to for awhile. Marquette has the bulk of Tolkien's papers and is the center of such literary scholarship. That being the case, we get a reasonable amount of high-end presentations in that direction. Today the Special Collections and Archives hosted a lecture by Tolkien scholar Eduardo Segura, Professor of Aesthetics, Philosophy of Language, and Literature at the Institutio De Filosofia Edith Sten (Granada, Spain). As the announcement put it:
Professor Segura's presentation, "Tolkien, Lewis, and Hollywood: What Images Cannot Say," will center on differences between literature and cinema as artistic means, particularly from J.R.R. Tolkien's and C.S. Lewis’ outlook. Dr. Segura will discuss Tolkien's passion for inventing languages, and the immense difficulty of communicating metaphorical meaning on film—even those brilliant scenes that Hollywood has recently released. A question and answer session will follow.
Things went reasonably well, given that English is not Dr. Segura's first language. Lewis and the adaptation to film of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe actually got short shrift, and it focused largely on Tolkien and the attempt to adapt The Lord of the Rings to film. While possible to with regard to just plot, he was more careful than the typical complaints of fans in distinguishing what elements were not able to be adapted, which tended to tie into the depths language can convey beyond its surface, as best seen in poetry, which I found an interesting distinction.

I found that a lot of the material was very familiar to me – I don't think in terms of being a literary scholar, but for this material I actually suspect that my competency is in fact up near the very top – but I did find some interesting moments when he addressed the Enlightenment's more-or-less dismissal of the imagination and of myth, and then Romanticism's failure to rehabilitate imagination by leaving it separate from reason or logos. We ran late, so I still had a question saved for trying to coax out from him a little more of a clear response on what he thought Tolkien's and Lewis' solution to that problem was – was it just asserting or acting on the union of imagination/myth and of reason? – or was it something else? And does it succeed? This would be akin, it would seem to me, to the parallel issue of the papacy's leading the defense of faith and reason as one human reality (as against post-modernity's apparent despair regarding faith), much to the utter shock of those Enlightenment proponents we hear spinning in their graves.

The Raynor Library is really on a roll right now. Last week they had Deirdre Dempsey's colloquium on the dig in Syria she's been working during the summers, and they have upcoming a combined Law/Biology/Theology panel on the Intelligent Design question.
Tags: books, faith and reason, incarnation, literary, marquette, movies/film/tv, mysticism/spirituality, theological notebook, tolkien
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