A Shortcut to Mushrooms

On this page I try to draw a path through the index. The pictures drawn on this page will change as I approach my ideal of naming through organization.

Sooner or later I will get to grips with painter.net and draw a proper picture. In the meanwhile, some basic pictures in words.

The first picture is titled index name, and is given by Treebeard.

Entish is a language that does not select a representative name from a story but simply gives a name by listing the whole inventory of a story’s index. An entish name = a story = the index of something = that thing’s nature and history.

A second picture is titled aborigine, a name found in the early drafts of the sequel but not in the final story. It names the bearer of a title given twice in the story, as recounted in this entry in the Tolkien Gateway index of Middle-earth (accessed April 7 2018):

Eldest was a title for the eldest of all beings. Confusingly, it seems to apply to two different individuals; not only does Tom Bombadil claim it for himself, but Celeborn also uses it to address the old Ent Treebeard. Tom Bombadil’s nature, including what manner of being he is and if he can be considered alive and incarnate, remains unknown. The matter of who is truly the eldest living being in Middle-earth is a mystery.

Behind this statement of confusion and mystery one hears echoes of long and interminable online discussion over many forums camped among the index of Middle-earth, realising the primary illusion of Tolkien’s art by making the world of the index a reality derived from yet independent of the stories. Signs of confusion and mystery in the index of Middle-earth are for us footprints in the snow, signs of an unnamed mushroom awaiting naming in an index of the nameless in Middle-earth.

This presence is named by Tolkien, but only once (I think) and in a draft: aboriginal.

Aborigines may be discerned in the original hobbit story, for hobbits are drawn from a turn-of-the-century scholarly account of Britain’s aborigines. In the sequel, however, hobbits are given a migration history and step into the named history of the Old English Rohirrim. The idea of an aborigine is expressed anew, first by Tom Bomadil and then in Treebeard.

A living aborigine is a picture Tolkien wishes to draw because such a creature has seen all history yet his (or her) original name proves allusive to intruders, like us.

Bombadil, in his house, talks the hobbits through the words of Treebeard, enchanting his guests with the lore of the Old Forest and the history of the Barrow-downs, back to the first acorn and the days before the darkness entered from outside, just as Treebeard remembers back to long before the wizards and ships came from over the sea, and names a hillock by tellings its history.

Bombadil is like a quick and still happily married Treebeard. Indeed, he seems to have a tree as a father-in-law – bad-tempered Old Man Willow. But Tom Bombadil is too ancient and too quick for any title to catch him, he simply is, the master who has never been caught.

The eldest names all the index, but his own name alludes the index. Hobbits and Gollum are the original aborigines of the two hobbit stories, but the drawing of the sequel out of the original changed the index, and Treebeard and Tom Bombadil provided the two new faces of the aborigine of Middle-earth.

In the index of Middle-earth, the title of eldest common to Treebeard and Tom Bomadil points to the name of a nameless aboriginal presence that alludes the index.

[Note: further clarification is here required because the elves teach the ents to speak while Tom Bombadil appears to have spoken from his beginning – so they are different kinds of aborigine.]

A third picture gives the magic ring to Tom Bombadil, who holds it up revealing his eye looking through it. This picture is given in The Fellowship of the Ring but the name of its meaning belongs in our index.

However, this picture cannot be drawn until we discover what the original magic ring is. So we return to this third picture after a fourth.

Our fourth picture, then, is the original magic ring.


An index of art is the only reliable shortcut to mushrooms

Those who prefer the long way round are welcome to jump directly to the bibliography.