Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

Table of Contents

Things to keep in mind:
The secret of f--ry stories.

Indeed, f--ry stories have always been radical. The particularities of any one f--ry story may differ, but the point is this: another world exists, largely invisible or obscured but right alongside our own. It is not governed by our hegemony but has its own traditions and rules. It is often older than ours, and though its existence may be denied by figures of authority, the elders—the grandmothers, the spinsters—whisper their tales of a different kind of world to the children before they sleep. If you are keen enough to sense where the boundary between worlds is stretched to only a translucent scrim, and brave enough to break through it, you will find something that takes your breath away. And though nowadays compendiums are plentiful, f--ry tales have an oral tradition of much longer standing; the democratic nature of this tradition, in combination with its content, is what led Propp to credit it with a “revolutionary dynamic.” Often, in f--ry tales, the good triumph over tyrants thanks to ordinary powers of cunning, kindness, or perseverance. In The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit makes the point that in f--ry tales power is rarely the right tool for survival: “Rather the powerless thrive on alliances, often in the form of reciprocated acts of kindness—from beehives that were not raided, birds that were not killed but set free or fed, old women who were saluted with respect. Kindness sown among the meek is harvested in crisis.” Perhaps this aversion to absolute power was another reason that Tolkien was drawn to the f--ry story. When asked if the “one ring to rule them all” was an allegory of nuclear weapons, Tolkien replied, “Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power (exerted for Domination).” These stories are some of the oldest in our collective memory, and yet they continue to be told. If they did not need to be, we would stop.

Natasha Boyd


Table of Contents