things seen clearly …freed …from possessiveness

Recovery (which includes return and renewal of health) is a regaining—regaining of a clear view. I do not say “seeing things as they are” and involve myself with the philosophers, though I might venture to say “seeing things as we are (or were) meant to see them” —as things apart from ourselves. We need, in any case, to clean our windows; so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity—from possessiveness. Of all faces those of our familiares are the ones both most difficult to play fantastic tricks with, and most difficult really to see with fresh attention, perceiving their likeness and unlikeness: that they are faces, and yet unique faces. This triteness is really the penalty of “appropriation”: the things that are trite, or (in a bad sense) familiar, are the things that we have appropriated, legally or mentally. We say we know them. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.

“On Fairy Stories” by J.R.R. Tolkien published in Tree and Leaf (Boston, 1965), pp. 57-58.

I may be at risk of recording this entire classic by Tolkien within the collections in this blog, but I don’t think that I had this critical passage in my harvesting here.

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