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CHAT: Pointy Ears

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Saturday, November 27, 1999, 19:05
OK, that's good enough for me.  I don't know where the "pointy ears"
thing comes from, but I don't see any reason one should adopt
Tolkien's rather hyper-strict tastes in these things -- EXCEPT in the
situation we have been discussing: producing a derivative work based
on his fiction.  There it is appropriate and commendable -- and if
Tolkien really had a problem with pointy ears, out with them!  I just
didn't realize he did.

But generally, de gustibus non disputandum est.  I don't see anything
silly about pointy ears; they're a tradition -- not one whose age is
great enough to pass Tolkien's "if it happened in a year with four
digits AD, it's a newfangled vulgarity" muster, of course... ;)  but a
tradition nonetheless.  It immediately establishes in the mind of the
viewer that what you're seeing is something not quite human despite
the fact that it looks almost perfectly human, and it's probably
something magical.

I imagine pointed ears on fairies were originally animal-like ears,
and the animalism got reduced to an abstraction: the point.  But I
don't know for sure.


Sally Caves wrote:

> He said, in some source I can't remember, and quoted by somebody else on > the list, that his elves were no different physically from human beings > except that they were immortal, and taller and more beautiful. And that > they had no such physical deformities. That I remember. I wish I could > remember the source. > > Where does this association with elves, fairies, and pointy ears come > from? > I'm sure Tolkien would have considered the pointy ears a terrible > vulgarity, > and would never have entertained the possibility that his elves had > them, > any more than they would have had slanted eyes. Slanted eyes and pointy > ears? Where do these come from in popular conceptions of elves? > > Sally > > ============================================================ > SALLY CAVES > > (bragpage) > (T. homepage) > (all else) > ===================================================================== > Niffodyr tweluenrem lis teuim an. > "The gods have retractible claws." > from _The Gospel of Bastet_ > ============================================================