Thursday, April 25, 2013

"Leaf by Niggle" freewrites

Feel free to post your freewrites from class today here, whether you read them aloud in class or not.


Anna Adams said...

Here is my freewrite:

"Leaf by Niggle" serves as a personal commentary because Niggle, in a lot of ways, is just like Tolkien. Niggle is afraid of never finishing his painting, a fear that Tolkien had to have shared. Tolkien spent decades working on his mythology, and there was work that Tolkien never finished. Tolkien, also like Niggle, spent a lot of time 'niggling' at his work, making small changes and tweaks in the pursuit of perfection. I think "Leaf by Niggle" represents Tolkien's feelings about his work: never as good as he imagined (who doesn't feel this way?) and always in need of improvement. Niggle must deal with interruptions from life and laziness that prevent him from working on his painting, which is basically the story of every artist/writer who ever existed. I find this especially sad, because if Tolkien shares all of Niggle's feelings, then that means he thought of many aspects of life as interruptions. I am under the impression he later regretted this view on life. I would be very surprised if Tolkien had said this wasn't a personal commentary, because it felt like a very personal story to me, to the point where it was almost too intimate and I felt I was somehow violating Tolkien's privacy.

Megan said...

Leaf By Niggle’s commentary on the role and nature of the creative artist is of never having enough time, and being too busy. Niggle is a nice guy, an average guy, who is helpful and kind when he must be, but we do feel bad for him in the text. We want him to get to paint his picture, but he is bogged down with things around his house and helping his neighbor and being ill. He simply doesn’t have enough time to paint all his leaves that he wants to, and then he’s whisked off on his “journey.”

I think it’s interesting that his art studio is in a shed behind his house. It is hidden, and it is secondary, and possibly a source of embarrassment, or is at least treated that way.

It’s also hugely important that he paints leaves, not trees, not forests, but leaves, and he’s very good at them. And gets bogged down by detail. What a picture of Tolkien! Perhaps not all artists are quite like this. But Tolkien and his detail, man.

And yet, his reward, at the end of the day, is to go to the world where his tree exists, where he gets to finish it, and his neighbor helps him, and they become friends. And once they are done and get a chance to move on, the Voices discuss how beautiful it is, and name it and plan to bring many people there to get better before moving on. I think that’s just so wonderful and sweet, that in heaven or purgatory or whatever stage he’s at just then if we look at it allegorically, that he get to spend it working on his heart’s love, his own sub-creation, his own tree. Except now he can see the forest and I definitely cried in the last two pages damn you Tolkien you did it again.

Also I guess another thing that’s important is how undervalued the art is. People don’t think it’s very good, he never has time for it, etc. The canvas is more important to mend his neighbor’s roof, and though one leaf does survive for some time in a museum, it too is destroyed. But presumably the actual Tree lives on forever.

I guess I can or want to relate to Tolkien, or, you know, Niggle. I like to write for fun, but there’s sort of just never time, and school and other things are more important. And it doesn’t have the same value, the same payoff, but I guess it’s important all the same.