The Hobbit finally joins the category cloud and associated reflections

To some extent, a response to Judi’s post about the pitfalls of monolithic fandom.

The beard edging out the jaw? Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in the trailer for The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey (December 2011). Source:

I noticed a week or so ago that The Hobbit finally joined the blog category cloud (at right). The category cloud shows the top 30 categories (of 207, currently) into which I put posts on this blog, pictured in size relative to mathematical proportion of mentions. The Hobbit is the smallest size, with 94 mentions in 832 posts. If I recall correctly, it pushed out “the jaw.” I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but it was fairly recently. The first Hobbit-related tag came in October 2010, so it’s taken well over a year for this development in Armitage’s career to manifest itself noticeably in my writing focus.

The jaw edged out by the beard: John Porter (Richard Armitage) cranes his jaw (and mobilizes mentalis, as well) to relax himself before his interview with Kenneth Bratton in Strike Back 1.1. My cap.

Given the fact that this blog is getting so (relatively) long-lived (I realized when FanstRAvaganza 3 planning started that while I was a total newbie two years ago, I now could be called a “senior” Armitage blogger), it’s getting hard for a new category to make it into the cloud. Given a once a day post, right now I’d have to post every day for over three months on a single topic to get a completely new topic into the cloud (and of course, every time I post, the number of posts necessary for a new category to enter the cloud rises slightly as the denominator of the fraction used to make the determination increases as well). John Porter, Lucas North, and Guy of Gisborne, while Mr. Thornton, — oddly — with only 134 posts, seems the character most likely to go under if I suddenly start writing a great deal about something else (Thorin Oakenshield)? It goes to show, for one thing, that what’s most important or most crucial to a project isn’t always reflected in the labeling. Mr. Thornton is the cause of this blog. He deserves more explicit love from Servetus, I think, even if it’s hard for me to write about what he means to me. I should be trying harder. The reader perspective may also differ from the author perspective. The most obvious category for searching for the most viewed post on this blog (by a factor of four) has only eight mentions. (Not because I wouldn’t write about it more, but I’ve run out of data.)

Additionally, however, I think it demonstrates something else I’ve been wondering about recently (not just with regard to the blog, but also in other contexts in my life): the extent to which new information gets read in the context of things we know already and how we come to change our opinions. Older information always seems more important in weighing one’s judgments than newer material. The argument for this strategy involves things like recognizing patterns; the argument against it is somewhat the like the argument against overly weighting the role of probability in making a particular decision — every new piece of data is an independent occurrence. Older information is not more valuable merely by virtue of being older; it’s valuable for the same reason that any information can be — because of the context we can fit it in. But it’s older information that creates context. In political discourse, Americans tend to be critical of people who change their opinions (“flip floppers”), but at the same time, is there necessarily any virtue in hanging on to an opinion because it’s the one one’s always had? Don’t we want to hold the correct opinion on things? And shouldn’t we praise people for recognizing the truth about something, or for making their opinions more precise and grounding them more fully? Anyway. You see the problem.

John Porter (Richard Armitage), stunned by the bodies of dead refugees in Strike Back 1.4. Source:

I wonder sometimes how my ability to see new things that Richard Armitage does will be affected by my familiarity with everything he’s already done. I had the impression after pondering the Jane interview (and now you see another instance of a reason I found that exchange so profitable even though I disagreed with some or much of what she said) that I remain committed to the idea that Richard Armitage is still capable of surprising me in big ways because I have been so often surprised by moments in his work in the past. It’s true that there’s a sense in which fandom creates a positive prejudice about something that can’t be avoided (there’s a nice German adjective for having a previous opinion about something that prevents one from looking carefully at new things: voreingenommen). At the same time, however, I never want Armitagemania to take on an ideological quality that shapes everything I see about him. Insofar as fandom ends up being a fantasy of the self, that would mean that I was no longer looking at myself honestly. And the attempt to do that after years of ideologization was, after all the, creative genesis of this blog in the first place.

~ by Servetus on January 25, 2012.

10 Responses to “The Hobbit finally joins the category cloud and associated reflections”

  1. So you are worried you won’t be able to look at RA with fresh eyes, and hence yourself the same way?

    I believe we as human being are constantly changing, constantlty evolving, physically and psychologically. We are not the same people we were two years ago or even six months ago. Everything that happens to us is new data to consider. We are in danger of being ideologically stuck when we are uncurious about that data.

    I don’t think you’re in dange of becoming ideologically restricted. You are too analytical and inquisitive about the details. The category cloud mirrors your evolution. TH has been slow to join the cloud because information has only been slowly filtering out. Thornton has less written about him because he doesn’t carry as much import as he did initially. I don’t see it as necessarily a bad thing.


    • Yes — though it’s a slightly bigger question. There was originally a paragraph in here that I decided to take out, asking why I seem to be mired in a question asking as opposed to a question answering life stage — and discussing how I think that fact is reflected in a lot of stuff that’s happening around here.

      I hope I still keep uptaking data.

      I find it so difficult to write about Thornton and Guy, though they are really really important to the genesis of the blog. A lot of “too painful to watch” moments involve Guy, in particular. Oh well. two step forwards, one back; I want to get back to the place I was at the beginning of January.


  2. I guess I was simply ignorant of the mechanics of blogs, but I had thought the categories in “clouds” were selected by the blogger, not by some statistical algorithm. Statistics often lie, especially about the importance or significance of things that matter. They only measure what is quantifiable, measurable by “objective” numbers.
    We are constantly changing, it’s true, but often in ways statistics cannot measure. We do not always manifest change in quantifiable ways or even in ways that anyone would want to measure, were it feasible.


    • it’s a straight percentage generated graphic. Of course, I think it’s possible to tweak the parameters, but I haven’t ever looked into doing so.

      I hope I’m always changing! 🙂


  3. I am surely ‘voreingenommen’ regarding RA. I fear that I might judge his future work too hard, as I know from old work he has done, what intense acting moments he can create (which even did turn meager scripts round). I want the absolutely best from him. Is that crazy? ;o)


    • Interesting — I had thought about being voreingenommen for judging positively — the opposite process. 🙂

      I want his best, too.


  4. Perhaps if you used a modified scientific method to examine Richard Armitage’s new works, it would help you evaluate them.
    For example: Hypothesis: Richard Armitage will (or will not) flesh out the character of Thorin Oakenshield to become a believable dwarf (or whatever, it’s late). Then make your “notes” during the movie (the experiment). Compare your results to the hypothesis and either accept or reject your hypothesis.

    Of course, I’m coming from a more scientific background and you have a philosophical background. I know the scientific method isn’t totally objective, but it may be a way to first focus on how you feel regarding his new work and then from there go into a more philosophical thought process. Perhaps that is something you already do.

    Keep asking questions, don’t settle for having answers and enjoy the journey. People who don’t ask questions about themselves or life strike me as those who aren’t fully living, merely existing.


    • I like the method, although I think that Jane would probably say that I’m not capable of evaluating the hypothesis because I’m already prejudcied.

      Thanks for the support. I wouldn’t want to go through life without questions. Boring.


  5. […] think this has been no secret to people who follow this blog closely. It took fourteen months for The Hobbit to make it into the category cloud at right, which tracks the top forty blog subjects here, and “Thorin Oakenshield” is […]


  6. […] Is this an appropriate moment to note that “Thorin Oakenshield” has finally joined the category cloud (eight months after “The Hobbit” did)? […]


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