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22 December 2010

Thinking About the Long Defeat

And ripping more Lord of the Rings while doing it.

Courtesy of a 2008 article from The American Scene:

“I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing. Now I actually think sometimes we may win. I don’t dislike victory. . . . You know, people from our background — like you, like most PIH-ers, like me — we’re used to being on a victory team, and actually what we’re really trying to do in PIH is to make common cause with the losers. Those are two very different things. We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it’s not worth it. So you fight the long defeat.”
In an interview Kidder gave earlier this year about the book, he commented on the phrase, and says that Farmer “probably picked [it] up from reading Camus.” But that’s not right: he got it from what we learn in Mountains Beyond Mountains is his favorite book:The Lord of the Rings. Galadriel says it: “Through the ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.” And Tolkien himself, in letters, adopted and endorsed the phrase: “I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’ — though it contains (and in a legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory.”

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