What is the Big Society Equivalent of Gandalf the White?
The internet sometimes feels like one big cavern of promiscuous information where intellectual swingers throw around their ideas in search of fertile ground. It has been called an ‘echo chamber‘ and is fuelled by the urge to link, forward, quote, repeat, retweet and so forth with a gradually vanishing care for provenance or accuracy. What ‘works’ online is mostly a function of ‘forwardability’. The chamber thus abounds with misinformation laundered through a thousand servers, while the good, the true and the beautiful gradually lose their bearings.
That wasn’t meant to sound so negative…and of course I live with, through and sometimes even for the internet. I just wanted to give some context for an echo of my own, in which I repost something I have already written, simply because I like it, and because it might otherwise be forever overlooked.
“I have already used a Lord of the Rings reference on the Big Society, describing the emphasis on community at a time of austerity as an attempt to build the Shire in Mordor. At the moment it feels more like Downing Street are carefully planning a resurrection that has to be the same thing, but different. In this case the next iteration of the Big Society looks more like Gandalf the Grey reeling from his battle with the Balorog of Morgoth, when he “strayed out of thought and time”, “but it was not the end…” and Gandalf the White was “sent back, until my task is done”.
(sourced via Wikipedia)
The character is part of popular culture, but the analogy might be somewhat obscure for those unfamiliar with the Gandalf’s character, and his role in the epic. I read very little growing up(too busy playing chess) so my first encounter with the works of JRR Tolkien was Peter Jackson’s triopic, which I have in extended DVD versions, and have watched far too many times. These films led me to chase down the Tolkien Canon, and I had to promise my wife Siva that I would never attend a conference on Tolkien’s work. I now feel a healthy distance from middle earth, but I still find that most issues in life have some parallel in the character and stories there.
I don’t want this to become a Lord of the Rings love fest, but I am curious to know what readers think of such parallels, and whether they have any value. I promise not to take this as a license to generate more of them!