Thursday, December 13, 2007

Elf and happiness

It is probably heresy to say this but I really have my doubts about elves as a magical species - especially as they are depicted in most modern fantasy. I just don't buy all that fey, hippy dippy stuff, art nouveau look they sport.

To be honest, to me, they come across like fundamentalist Christians - in the sense that when they are around people are wary of saying the wrong thing and breathe a sigh of relief when they leave the room or go back to their elven homes.

I've yet to read a compelling treatment of what it is really like to be an elf. Even Tolkien's elves, for all their deep history, didn't really convince. I guess it's hard to draw a compelling picture of the motivations of creatures that live so long. I got the sense that they thought humans, being very short-lived by their standards, were a bit of an annoyance. Like humans are with the blowflies battering against the windows. The buzzing can be a bit annoying but, you know, they will be dead soon so it's not worth bothering to kill them or sort out their problems.

There is a difference to be drawn here between a depiction that presents them as essentially unknowable with motivations vaster and more important than we mere humans can appreciate and making them a bit ineffable. Most of the depictions fudge the issue - because it's a difficult one I guess - but I'd give them points for trying.

I think Pratchett was more on the money with his depiction of elves as cruel and downright dangerous to any thing that doesn't share their longevity.

No comments: