Dreamed 1997/7/14 by Chris Wayan
I'm in Middle Earth, traveling in a racially mixed group of friends: hobbits, dwarves, elves, and men. We just got through a tight spot--we met the three highway-robber trolls from THE HOBBIT, and came out bruised but alive.
We're a bit annoyed because some critic wrote that we treated those poor trolls unethically, luring them to stay out till the sun rose and they turned to stone. Come on! They planned to eat us.
In this draft of the text, Tolkien the author steps in to tell readers "Of course the trolls weren't really named Tom, Bert, etc. These are just my translations of the sort of names trolls use--short, simple common Westron names, easy to say and remember, if you're a troll, which means none too bright."
There's an Elf in our company; it was his spell that foiled the trolls at last. He's clever, cool, a bit distant. His name is Rwarauch or Rwaraugh or Cwarauch, which may be a cultural translation too--it looks like the Celtic original of the name "Rory" doesn't it? He's of the house of Baummann--this HAS to be a cultural translation, what else is bad German doing in Middle Earth? It hints he's of Silvan (eastern) descent, and comes from Lothlorien, since it means "tree-man" and people there live in the trees, though the Elves of Mirkwood/Greenwood are a possibility. Ruaraugh Baummann, what's that remind me of?
As I gradually wake, I barely notice that I escaped the Trolls only to be swallowed by Linguistics. In fact I crawl right down etymology's throat! Go on musing about the hidden meanings behind those words for hours...
Today I read a National Geographic article on Rome, debating the meaning of "Roma"--Etruscan, Greek? It discounted the Romans' own explanation: the twins Romulus and Remus. I think that's foolish, given the accuracy of other oral traditions. My dream's making a joking suggestion that "Roman" IS an old personal name, smoothed over eons--from the elf Rwarauch Baummann, to Rory Bauman, to Rorboman to...
This Germanic elf-name may be one of Tolkien's cultural translations. He did this sort of thing--the Rohirrim and hobbits' speech share archaisms from Old and Middle English to suggest their kinship, while the western Elves sound rather Latin, to hint at their antiquity and culture. But German elves? Come to think of it, the only word of wood-Elvish that Frodo records on their whole trip sounds quite German: "Yrch!"
Why such a bookish dream? And I had others the same night full of writing! Well, just before sleep, I remembered Stephen LaBerge's technique to induce lucid dreams. If you suspect you're dreaming, just read something twice! If you're right, the text will change, because dreams aren't capable of that kind of stability. Or so he says! I felt skeptical.
I think this dream is a side-swipe at LaBerge. My dreams are saying "Whether or not we can do it, you waking-world people can't seem to keep your words stable through time, either--not even written ones. What does that make you?"
And the secondary lesson is that you can get diverted from the real plot of your life by this sort of detail-hunting. Or, as Bilbo once said,
"Escaping trolls to be caught by academics!"
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