Posted by: soniahs | April 7, 2011

Darwin, Wallace, and … Tolkien?

Via Jessica Palmer, here’s an interesting project: a multimedia essay on ecological mythos, Romanticism and 19th-Century science, filmmaking, and Middle-Earth.

It’s called The Mythoecology of Middle-earth: A report from the Shire, a landscape born of high fantasy, natural science, and geek tourism, by Peter Nowogrodzki, and it’s a virtual cabinet of curiosity (or confection, as Tufte would say) inviting readers to explore connections between natural history, travel, and mythology:

In the century before Tolkien’s birth, the study of nature itself had become the subject of ardent imaginative exploration: The Age of Discovery’s there-and-back conquests uncovered troves of biological data, fodder for the Age of Wonder, in which “Romantic science” strived to imitate poetry—not just describing nature but transforming the world by fundamentally altering our perception of it.

It has birds (eagles, giant: real and mythical), trees (as illustrated by Haeckel, Blake, and the Weta Workshop), meditations on the virtual and the mythology of filmmaking, demands by Maori for respect for indigenous landscapes and by labor unions for better pay.

I’m not sure it has a point, but it creates some interesting juxtapositions.

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