Thursday, March 23, 2017

Perceiving Art in Circles - An Autobiography of Being a Fan

Sometimes we love an artwork so much that it impacts our whole life. I'm a passionate fan of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and the person I am now is the result of re-reading the books and re-watching the movies over and over for about 20 years ...

Some artworks give us guidance throughout our whole life.

Some artworks stick with us throughout our whole life. We keep re-reading, re-watching and re-playing them over and over again while our friends and family just roll their eyes and wonder when we'll finally be fed up with them. But, sadly for these people, this never happens.

For me, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is this kind of artwork. After my parents introduced me to its prequel The Hobbit at the age of five and I forced them to read it to me over and over again they decided it was time for the great trilogy. I was only seven years old back then. And little did I know that this novel would be one of the greatest influences in my life.

Childish Fascination

My first experience with LotR was an adventure. I completely immersed myself in the world of Middle-earth, I was really scared when the Hobbits were buried alive in the Barrow-Downs, I participated in their every step, and I developed a childish crush on Merry.

Just like with the Hobbit, I asked my parents to read LotR to me over and over. I wanted to experience this journey again and again. And, as you probably suspect, I slowly shifted and partly was forced to shift to reading it over and over myself. I used to read the novels multiple times in a year.

I've always been a dreamer. I used to build and live in my own world even before I was introduced to Middle-earth. And when I finally dived into Tolkien's world it became a source of inspiration.

Learning My Most Important Skills

It shouldn't be surprising that I flooded the cinema with my drool when I went to watch the movies by Peter Jackson. And while I loved them I was also deeply disappointed: I've been reading the books over and over again in the years before, remember? So I noticed every little deviation from the books, I found the elves looked far too human, all my favourite story parts were missing and I couldn't bear what they had done to Faramir's character who had become my LotR crush by then.

With time I learned to accept and even love those deviations. This was when I developed my own skills as a story teller and realized that the script writers actually had made the story and characters more complex for the movies. And the funny thing here is: It's thanks to LotR that I developed my writing and learned to appreciate the changes.

Though I always used to create stories and my first fanfiction was set in the Harry Potter fandom I made my greatest progress as a LotR fanfiction writer. Thanks to LotR and the hype over the movies I became a member of several creative fan communities where I participated in discussions about writing, gave feedback and got feedback, made friends and learned a lot from other people.

However, writing wasn't the only skill I developed through LotR. I also had my own fan website through which I learned HTML, CSS, using Photoshop, a little animation and some basics of internet marketing. And since my fan page was dedicated to the deeper parts of the lore I did lots and lots of research and learned how to become an expert.

Choosing My Life Path

I've always liked fairy tales and mythology. LotR enhanced this love up to the point when I started reading such works like Beowulf and the Edda and even developed an interest in Old English. So is it any surprising I studied history, literature and languages after graduating school? Already having basic research skills I quickly adapted to the challenges of real academic research.

After realizing that, no matter how much I enjoyed studying, I didn't want to stay at university for the rest of my life I decided to go back to what I had learned through being a LotR fan and look for a way to make a link to what I've learned at university. This is where I am now. Taking a course in internet marketing management, reviving my web design skills and staying in touch with matters of art and culture. I work hard on turning myself into a highly skilled professional who can implement a very particular business idea. The future I'm creating right now is based on everything I learned thanks to being a LotR fan.

The Key to Happiness

Even now, LotR still has lessons in store for me. Last weekend I started re-watching the movies. And you probably know this effect that every time you re-read or re-watch something you always notice something new. Well, this time it wasn't just a little detail I noticed. It was a realization about my whole life.

I'm naturally a person who is prone to depression, and when I broke up with my ex I also lost my faith in men. Many factors helped restoring my well-being, but it was the realization that LotR is actually a love story that made the scales fall from my eyes.

It is a fantasy story, yes. It is a story about adventure. It is a story with massive world building. But, above all, it is a non-sexual love story between the hero and his loyal companion. While the Frodo and Sam scenes tended to bore me after watching them for a few hundred times I now look at them from a completely different perspective. Because, you know, after being disappointed in romantic love, then in other types of love and eventually realizing that I don't know any people capable of love to learn from ... I finally realized that the prototype of true love had been right under my nose all the time.

Every single one of us is the hero of his or her own story and has an individual, unique burden to carry. Every single one of us deserves having a friend who is always there to back us up, to rescue us, and, most of all, to protect us from being consumed by our burden. And since we all carry a Frodo in our inside we all have develop an inner Sam as well. Because without an inner Sam we can't support our inner Frodo, let alone another person. So now I'm re-watching the movies to learn how to become Sam.

So, well, this is how LotR keeps influencing my life in the most unexpected ways. And I'm pretty sure you have an artwork influencing your life as well. Maybe it's also LotR, maybe Harry Potter, maybe Batman, maybe something different. But I'm pretty sure you have it along with a captivating story to tell. The comment section awaits you!

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