I am a Dwarf

by Mark on

Well sure. I’m short, stout, claim Scottish ancestry, boast a quaint Celtic accent, and have been known to scream “Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!” and swing an axe when flustered. But I have come before you here today to talk about how I am a whole different kind of Dwarf. As well.

J.R.R. Tolkien divided up the Free Races of Middle-Earth as follows:

  • At the bottom of the ladder you have Hobbits. Hobbits are child-like in their innocence and lack of curiosity in the greater world beyond what is immediately in front of them. They are sheltered and protected in turn by the Dunedain, a race of Men.
  • Men are Men: Numerous, short-lived, cunning, tenacious and capable of both great Evil and great Good. While far-flung and numerous, and indeed among them are great and terrible Kings, their knowledge doesn’t run particularly deep. What they do know could be fairly said to have been gleaned from the Elves and Dwarves.
  • Ancient, long-lived, secretive and wont to stay in their mountain halls, the Dwarves are the creation of Aulë and beloved of the works of their hands. Delvers of the earth and crafters of armour and jewelry of great beauty, the Dwarves alone know the secret of forging that most precious of metals, mithril. While typically slow to anger, few will willingly face the wrath of Durin’s people when it is aroused. Deeply embittered toward the Elves.
  • The firstborn of Arda, the immortal Elves came, saw and left before even the Dwarves. The Elves wield the most subtle magics and possess the deepest lore. Truly the favourites of the Valar, many Elves live in Valinor on the shores of the Undying Lands in a sheltered and carefree existence that allows them to turn their minds where they will and to what end as they wish.
  • Above and beyond all of these races are the Wizards, literal angels of the Valar clothed in flesh. The Dwarves draw upon the powers of the Earth; the Elves from the mind and from life around them. Wizards can literally draw upon the divine powers of the Valar themselves, although they are loathe to use them. Typically they present themselves in humble form and seek to guide and inspire rather than dominate and control.

Are we all caught up? Great!

Neal Stephenson took this organization and in his novel Cryptonomicon applied it to different levels of computer knowledge. At the very bottom are the Hobbits, a group of people who need to be protected lest they hurt themselves. AOL (and IOL) users. At the very top are a few rare and powerful individuals like Linus Torvalds and Bill Gates who can literally reshape the world.

And in that vein, I am a Dwarf. I am not and never will be a coder – an Elf. I know how to phrase and question and find the answer from existing lore. My ability with the tools I am handed is impressive, but I cannot craft mine own. And on occasion I can be impressively grim.

Plus: Beard.

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