What can I say that millions of others haven’t already said or thought. This is an amazing series…the consummate story of good versus evil. I can’t image a literary life without having read J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, starting with The Hobbit and going to the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As wonderful as the movies were/are, I think reading the books was a much deeper experience and should be a part of every person’s library.
Looking back on it, I think that one of the things that stuck with me was the plight of Frodo. When I first read it I don’t think that I quite understood what Tolkien was trying to say about the nature of evil as embodied in the ring. Sure, it was obvious that it was evil and that it magnified extreme passions. What I am referring to are the more subtle aspects of what it did to Frodo – how his continued possession of the ring increasingly weighed him down, how in the end it won out even over him, and how afterward his mind was irreparably harmed by the experience. Tolkein was masterful in the way his story drew parallels with our life journey and our frailties as an imperfect species.
There are some direct connections with this philosophical/spiritual concept and what is being discovered on a scientific level. What I am referring to is the potentiation of neural pathways in the human brain. Thought processes and deep emotions are directly related to patterns of neural firing in the brian/cerebral cortex. A specific thought process, if repeated over and over again, causes the strengthening, or potentiation, of the corresponding specific pattern of neurons. Over time, the strengthening of these pathways has the potential to indelibly change who you are. Focus on the negative and that in many respects is what you become. These ideas are not new in the study of the neurogenesis of psychoaffective disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders. In a way, in Frodo’s journey is a lesson for all of us – focus on evil, stay in close proximity to it, choose to keep it as company, and it will change who we are, and the damage could potentially be irreparable. The same principle of course goes for the forces of good.
There are definite story lines within The Chronicles of Gillean that embody this concept, most poignantly with the main protagonists Jake Gillean and Ben Murray.