I wish to compile an index for a book that is not finished. The book is my own, but it concerns the making of another: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The index of my book attempts to name the nameless in Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

As there is already an element of folly in this enterprise, I begin the index with the two names introduced and use the index to illustrate Tolkien’s usages:



The present incarnation of yemachine began with the idea that the idea of an index is a central yet rarely named element of Tolkien’s thought. Tolkien’s first book, A Middle English Vocabulary (1922), is in the nature of an index, while our author took the unusual step of placing an index at the back of Return of the King (an abbreviated version of the long unfinished index of the story that he set out to write). On Fairy-stories makes silent use of the idea of an index as mediating between a story and a world.

Nameless. Sometimes, the nameless in Tolkien’s writings is the unspeakable, acts in a heathen play of necromancy that a God-fearing soul will not put into words. Some of the nameless was once named, as in the original birthday present given to Gollum. There is a namelessness that alludes naming.

The two words of my embryonic index complement and oppose each other. This index will become is a tropy cabinet of names, each name a prize from a hard-fought encounter with the nameless of the index of Middle-earth. New entries are generated by confronting these two original items, one with the other – whereupon further names spring into view.

Working hypothesis of Tolkien’s ‘anti-index’ theory of naming: The name of one property of the bundle of properties of an entity is conventionally accepted as its name because it adheres with a second quality, a queer quality hidden in its index that alludes naming.

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