[rule110] Fwd: Lord of the Rings: an allegory of the Phd

  • From: "C. Gershenson" <cgershen@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Anselmo Garcia <agarciac@xxxxxxxxx>, Genaro Juarez Martinez <genarojm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Jelle Zuidema <jelle@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Joгo Filipe Dias Rodrigues <joao.rodrigues@xxxxxxxxxx>, list rule100 <list@xxxxxxxxxxx>, Luis Miramontes Hercog <sbulmhercog@xxxxxxxxxxx>, Marcello Ghin <marcelloghin@xxxxxx>, Olaf Duemmer <duemmer@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Ricardo Barbosa <rbarbosa@xxxxxxxxx>, Tom Lenaerts <tlenaert@xxxxxxxxx>, Uri Hershberg <uri.hershberg@xxxxxxxx>, Vasileios Basios <vbasios@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Apr 2005 15:45:41 +0200

This is a forwarded message
From: Klaas Chielens <klaas.chielens@xxxxxxxxx>
To: Francis Heylighen <fheyligh@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thursday, April 7, 2005, 3:34:54 PM
Subject: Lord of the Rings: an allegory of the Phd

===8<==============Original message text===============
I found this somewhere online and thought it would be nice to share it with
you all :-)

Lord of the Rings: an allegory of the PhD

The story starts with Frodo: a young hobbit, quite bright, a bit
dissatisfied with what he's learnt so far and with his mates back home
who just seem to want to get jobs and settle down and drink beer. He's
also very much in awe of his tutor and mentor, the very senior professor
Gandalf, so when Gandalf suggests he take on a short project for him
(carrying the Ring to Rivendell), he agrees.

Frodo very quickly encounters the shadowy forces of fear and despair
which will haunt the rest of his journey and leave permanent scars on his
psyche, but he also makes some useful friends. In particular, he spends
an evening down the pub with Aragorn, who has been wandering the world
for many years as Gandalf's postdoc and becomes his adviser when Gandalf
isn't around.

After Frodo has completed his first project, Gandalf (along with head of
department Elrond) proposes that the work should be extended. He
assembles a large research group, including visiting students Gimli and
Legolas, the foreign postdoc Boromir, and several of Frodo's own friends
from his undergraduate days. Frodo agrees to tackle this larger project,
though he has mixed feelings about it. ("'I will take the Ring', he said,
'although I do not know the way.'")

Very rapidly, things go wrong. First, Gandalf disappears and has no more
interaction with Frodo until everything is over. (Frodo assumes his
supervisor is dead: in fact, he's simply found a more interesting topic
and is working on that instead.) At his first international conference in
Lorien, Frodo is cross-questioned terrifyingly by Galadriel, and betrayed
by Boromir, who is anxious to get the credit for the work himself. Frodo
cuts himself off from the rest of his team: from now on, he will only
discuss his work with Sam, an old friend who doesn't really understand
what it's all about, but in any case is prepared to give Frodo credit for
being rather cleverer than he is. Then he sets out towards Mordor.

The last and darkest period of Frodo's journey clearly represents the
writing-up stage, as he struggles towards Mount Doom (submission),
finding his burden growing heavier and heavier yet more and more a part
of himself; more and more terrified of failure; plagued by the figure of
Gollum, the student who carried the Ring before him but never wrote up
and still hangs around as a burnt-out, jealous shadow; talking less and
less even to Sam. When he submits the Ring to the fire, it is in
desperate confusion rather than with confidence, and for a while the
world seems empty.

Eventually it is over: the Ring is gone, everyone congratulates him, and
for a few days he can convince himself that his troubles are over. But
there is one more obstacle to overcome: months later, back in the Shire,
he must confront the external examiner Saruman, an old enemy of Gandalf,
who seeks to humiliate and destroy his rival's protege. With the help of
his friends and colleagues, Frodo passes through this ordeal, but
discovers at the end that victory has no value left for him. While his
friends return to settling down and finding jobs and starting families,
Frodo remains in limbo; finally, along with Gandalf, Elrond and many
others, he joins the brain drain across the Western ocean to the new land

===8<===========End of original message text===========

    Carlos Gershenson...
    Centrum Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
    Krijgskundestraat 33. B-1160 Brussels, Belgium

  “Knowledge brings more questions than answers”

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