Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Introspection

Author: Lyra
Nominator: Himring
2011 Award Category: Drabble Series: General - First Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: Drabble Series
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: 6x100 Nerdanel finds a moment to ponder different forms of isolation - and the lack thereof - after the Flight of the Noldor. Written for the SWG B2MeM challenge for March 5th: Write a story or poem or create artwork that will illustrate the consequences of isolation. A ficlet in six consecutive drabbles (as counted by OOW).


Reviewed by: Himring -- Score: 10

Lyra can be relied on to come up with interesting ideas. Some of her shorter pieces are almost like thought experiments. This piece is about the development of Noldorin society in Valinor after the departure of Feanor and Fingolfin--not the initial chaos and struggle to re-establish order, which is only implied, but a general change of attitudes once Finarfin had settled into his rule and before Earendil (or Idril) arrived to bring news from Beleriand. The piece centers on Nerdanel. Nerdanel is also the protagonist of Lyra's "Golden Days"; she has drawn a convincing portrait of her a true artist, beside her roles as wife of Feanor and mother of his children. Here she discovers the connection between introspection and art and meditates on the cost of the emotional risk-taking that art involves--and on the other hand, on the price that has to be paid for not taking such emotional risks. At first glance, that sounds very theoretical (Lyra says in the notes that she had been reading an influential work by Walter J. Ong) and, to begin with, the tone of the discussion may seem almost too calm--I think some readers might feel that the piece engages in telling rather than showing. In my opinion, they would be mistaken. The style of writing reflects the theme of the piece. There are currents of deep emotion running underneath--and it breaks out in the last sentence.

-- This is very much a thought experiment, and - as it's more or less ordered stream-of-consciousness - it definitely is more telling than showing... However, sometimes (I think) telling is more effective after all, and in this case it definitely is. So I'm glad that it works for you, too! Thank you for joining me (and/or Nerdanel) in this experiment, and for leaving such a generous and thoughtful review.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 8

This piece is absolutely amazing to me. The depth of insight Lyra provides here is not only applicable to Nerdanel and the Noldor, but to "real people" as well. It is seldom that I find a piece with such a scope, one that can accurately capture realistic situations and emotions, and apply them flawlessly to a fandom-related setting. Truly, truly blown away by this piece. The concept presented, that one can be isolated even when surrounded by people, it not a new one to me. But at the same time, I've never seen it handled as well as it is here in Introspection. Reading this, I cannot help but have an emotional response to Nerdanel's plight, and even for the misconceptions of the Noldor, who think they can drive away evil by removing all chance of solitude. And though it's awful, I find that this is relatable to modern readers, who are removed entirely from Arda. What a wonderfully detailed examination of society and its reactions to turmoil. Additionally, Lyra's prose is spot-on. Evocative and precise, it adds to the depth of the tale, which is already fantastic.

-- Wow, thank you so much for such a gorgeous review - I'm, in turn, blown away a bit! When I wrote this, I was aware that it's a rather uncomfortable, theoretical and difficult piece, so I'm thrilled that not only do people read it, but enjoy it - and its applicability - too!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 7

Having just gone through Fanon's description of brain-washing for intellectuals in class, this story takes on a whole new, torturous cast. The rejection of solitude, the degrading of introspective, the forced "thinking out loud" and the corresponding fear and distrust of crowds - these all seem applicable to Nerdanel's situation. The focus on solitude as such as the sufficient condition for destructive ideas is clearly an error, but one that will be hard to correct given the general freezing of thought into a pattern that undercuts the conditions necessary for real reflection. At least Nerdanel hasn't been wholly reeducated yet - she continues to have it in her to miss her solitude and its potential for both great and terrifying ideas and artistry. What she needs is a way of bringing to light the question of how one can create socially in a way that is not alienating. Well done, Lyra!

-- I'm glad you enjoyed this (if "enjoy" is the right word for such a torturous story)! I must admit that my knowledge about how "brain-washing" works is extremely limited, but I'm certainly glad to learn that my interpretation isn't totally off. Thank you for reading and for leaving such a thoughtful review!

Reviewed by: elfscribe -- Score: 6

In this ficlet Lyra envisions an Aman in which the Noldor respond to the disaster of the Silmarils by fearing anyone who chooses to create in isolation. [“For is it not agreed that it was the self-absorbed focus on work, the locked doors and unsocial isolation in the forge, that allowed the unthinkable to grow in the mind of Fëanáro?”] The lack of introspection results in a stultifying of creation, so that there are no more works of genius, only passionless rehashing of old works. The story is told from Nerdanel’s point of view, who is accepted by the others, but apparently watched to make sure she conforms to the strictures of the Remnant, the remaining Noldor. I can well imagine that she misses her husband’s passion, even though such emotion is, as she says, [“unreliable, shifting, dangerous”] and that her life is now grey. I had not imagined such a scenario before, but Lyra made me believe in her version and I’m impressed by the power of her rendition.

-- I hadn't exactly imagined this scenario before, either - what the Remnant got up to after the Flight of the Noldor wasn't really my concern, although I've read several enjoyable (and rather less pessimistic!) fics on the topic. This plot (or more correctly perhaps, characterisation) bunny caught me by surprise as well, but then I found it compelling. Seems I'm not the only one! I'm thrilled people enjoy this (rather depressing, and moreover theoretical) piece. Thank you for your review!

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 6

I have been meaning to review this fic since I saw it had gleaned a well-deserved nomination, and now (as so often) wish I had done it sooner to actually get around to reviewing it properly, because is one that I'd say unreservedly needs as many points as possible. Lyra's [Introspection] features Nerdanel after the Darkening adjusting to her new life - one of boredom and a lack of passion that she misses dreadfully - not surprising considering who her husband was and how affairs have changed for fear of the same thing happening again. I can easily see how the strictures hinted at in the story would quench any spark of free thought and inspiration, which makes them especially sad among a people consisting of artists. Wonderfully done, believable, and one of the best renditions of Nerdanel that I have read in a while drawing off very human ideas about language and society.

-- Eh, I'm already thrilled that people seem to enjoy this grim, dark, uncomfortable and philosophical piece at all - no need to stretch your review further than inspiration allows. Thank you for letting me that this works for you!

Reviewed by: Darkover -- Score: 3

I could not agree more. In this drabble about Nerdanel--and fans sometimes forget that she was undoubtedly creative in her own right, too--you make it clear that creative people need time and privacy in order to *be* creative. You also imply that one can have passion, or stability, but not both. Well done.

-- I'm not sure that I'm quite so radical (concerning the stability OR passion issue) - but I do think that passion has a destructive side that always bears a certain danger, and if you try to avoid danger completely, all passion will (and even must) be quenched. It's no coincidence that the word literally means "suffering"... Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Reviewed by: Independence1776 (Crystal113) -- Score: 3

A literally breathtaking examination of the aftereffects of the Oath and Kinslaying on Valinor's society and how they would negatively impact the arts. As someone who is extremely introverted, Lyra's story sent shivers down my spine, due to the echoes that solitude has little place in modern society.

-- I was worried that this piece would be too uncomfortable and theoretical to find any readers (let alone, for lack of a better word, fans). I'm glad to find out I was wrong! Thank you so much for your review.

Reviewed by: Liadan -- Score: 3

When it is determined by those who remain in Valinor that introspection and independent thought is what led to the destruction of society, it is banned and stability and peace reign once more. But is the price ultimately too high?

-- I think it is :) Thanks for reviewing!