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Old December 23rd 01, 01:59   #4
bakana
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Orlando, Fl. USA
Posts: 2,413
Re: Lord of the Rings?

Every time someone starts a thread like this, we get to re-post what JMS said about it. He was Very Open about what he was doing, so there Is No Mystery.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR> Re: the name Rangers ... hey, when you grow up watching The Lone Ranger, and spend lots of time researching the Texas Rangers when you work (briefly) on Walker ... certain names spring unbidden.
jms

The Rangers actually owe more to the Lone Ranger and the Texas Rangers in general.
jms


I was the Supervising Producer brought on under Executive Producer David Moessinger when "Walker, Texas Ranger" was first being produced for CBS. I left in fairly short order to do B5, which had already been commissioned prior to doing Walker...
jms

... that isn't the reference I was talking about. Being on that show, I kinda had to look into the history of the Texas rangers in general, and being the curious kind of guy I am, I widened out into the Army Rangers, and other sorts. I'd been looking for a kind of name to attach to this group, and the more I thought about it, the more it fit.

As far as the costume is concerned...it's not medeival based; if you look at the ranger's outfit, than go look at a Minbari warrior outfit, you will discover a LOT of points of comparison. It was *designed* to echo Minbari warrior caste clothes, to reflect the fact that these two sides are working together. Go fire up "Legacies" and look at his uniform, then look at the ranger. You'll see the similarities in silhouette and line in various places.

Of course I've read and enjoyed Tolkein. But as I've said, I have no interest in doing LoTR with the serial numbers filed off. I've dropped references to it in dialogue, but the structure of the story has nothing whatsoever to do with LoTR. Basically, a lot of people have come up and said, "Oh, this is the same as Foundation," or "This is the same as LoTR," or "This echoes a lot of Dune," or "This is obviously a Homeric tale," or "There's a lot of Star WArs here." It uses the same tools as all mythic structure fiction uses. Hence it resonates. But I didn't sit there and think, "Hmm...Gandalf left, so I'll have Sinclair leave." That's just plain silly.

It's really a matter of what you bring to the table, that affects what you see in the story.

The roots of the symbolism and structure of B5 go back a hell of a lot longer than this. Here ... I'll give you one free.

G'Kar is in many ways my Cassandra figure, who in the Greek tales was granted the gift of prophecy ... all the disasterous things she predicted would come true ... but she was cursed by the gods that NO ONE would ever believe her. And later, when the war was at its height, she ended up in the service of.....

Okay, five points to the person who can supply that answer, and see the connection.
jms

The interesting thing for me in this and related conversations is that I frequently notice messages indicating that:

"jms is doing the whole Kennedy thing,"
or it's the Lord of the Rings,
or it's Dune,
or it's tracking the Bible,
or it's following Yeats ...
or it echoes Shakespeare, as in this case.

In a way, they're all right, and in a way, they're all wrong. Right in the sense that in trying to create myth, or a story using traditional epic structure, you can see echoes not only between B5 and other such stories, but also between those other epics. The mistake is in thinking (and this isn't directed at you, just sorta woolgathering) that it is in fact a parallel to any one of them. That leads you into the error of the blind men each touching a part of an elephant; if you think the trunk IS the elephant, you've erred, and all conclusions that follow are thus skewed incorrectly.

To the question of Shakespeare and Londo ... yes, there's some resonance there, because Londo is an almost archetypal tragic/comic, or romantic/tragic figure. There was certainly a fair amount of Falstaff in him; references to consulting three technomages certainly resonates with MacBeth being "endorsed" as it were by the three witches. You can look at Londo and see Lear, or Hamlet, or others ... and they all resonate to one degree or another, but none of them is wholecloth.

Right now, all that most viewers have of the B5 story is a piece of the elephant, and are assuming that that *is* the elephant. Another good comparison would be to say that if you stop a reader part way into The Lord of the Rings, they'll assume it's all about some hobbits on the road, having adventures. Because they don't yet know about Mordor, or Sauron, or the Rings, or Rivendell, or the sheer *scope* of the thing. I don't think anyone has yet twigged to what this story is, really.

One of the things really lacking in American culture, I think, is a sense of *myth*. So the story of Babylon 5 has a very mythic kind of structure. I think that's important. Which is why a lot of the elements I draw on aren't traditional television devices...literature, poetry, religion, hard SF, metafiction, Jungian symbology...there are an awful lot of ingredients in this particular pie, culled from the less likely aisles in the supermarket. You have to remember that my degrees are in psychology and sociology, with minors in literature and philosophy. So my tastes and predilections and resources are fairly eclectic and lean toward the classical. (How else to explain an atheist who's read the Bible cover to cover *twice*?)

And I think I just answered your question in far more detail than could possibly have been desired....
jms
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