What Being at the Front of the Train Looks Like: The Making of The Hobbit

My normal readers might be mystified by my sudden fascination with The Hobbit, the film that is set to be released in December of 2012 for part one, then December 2013 as a two-part film adaption of the classic Tolkien novel. Well, aside from being a lover of great books, I love great movies, I love stories that articulate mythology because it is myth that builds or dismantles cultures. I concluded this during my 10 year independent study of comparative religion and mythology led by Joseph Campbell. My passion for life is in these topics, and my anger at politics at all levels is because I can see clearly that they are on a destructive path in the scheme of cultural understanding. Many people who share these passions with me withdrawal from political involvement. I see this as a flaw since observations seem wasteful if assistance to our current culture is not utilized.

But the more I interact with the people of the world the more I’m disappointed, which is why people who study such things retreat to mountain cabins or even caves to live out their days with stacks of books and very little social interaction. Because when you work hard to gain knowledge and elevate your consciousness, it becomes infuriating to deal with people who insist on being stupid, and insist on being at the back of the train.

When I speak of trains at this site I’m talking about the Robert Pirsig concept of the Metaphysics of Quality which you can read and see a chart I prepared to display the idea at a previous article I wrote. (CLICK HERE) When you understand the Metaphysics of Quality you can accurately predict elements in society that will work and what will not work. Successes in society could be said to be at the “cutting edge” at the front of the train. Losers chose to be in the rear of the train, as exhibited in my article and chart as reference.

When I meet people who insist on being in the front of the train, I find joy. And I begin to cheer for those people to be right, because it takes a lot of courage to exist at the front of the train of any mode of thinking. In regard to The Hobbit, it is a film production that is at the front of the train. It is a project of extreme quality as determined by Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality. Because of that, I will predict right now that The Hobbit will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards ceremony in the spring of 2013 as well as Best Director along with at least 5 other Academy Awards. Part 2 of The Hobbit will do the same in the spring of 2014. It is as clear to me as a freshly cleaned window that The Hobbit is a special film, because The Hobbit obeys all the elements of the Metaphysics of Quality, and anyone who wishes to study what it looks like in the real world as opposed to words on a printed page needs to just watch this Hobbit Blog from the set of that same film to study what being in the front of the train looks like and see quality before it’s creation.

The primary reason for The Hobbit’s success is Peter Jackson, the director. He functions from the front of the train as most successful people do. But the difference with Jackson is that he effortlessly is able to deal with all elements of his train, with ease. Keep in mind that the film he is working on has a budget of around $150 million dollars which is the same budget as the Lakota School System or any medium-sized corporation. The startling aspect of the above clip is that Jackson is not predatory in his dealings with his co-workers. He is loose, and addresses all departments of his film projects equally. Jackson knows he is way out in front of everyone else, that he’s on the cutting edge, but he does not feel the need to belittle the other members of the train, even those in the back who tend to bankroll these kinds of projects. Jackson deals with everyone well, and this is reflected in his films.

Movies to me are fascinating to study as little mini companies. They rise up like rain clouds then storm like there is no tomorrow then as quickly as they came are gone from the sky as though they were never there. They go through a typical business cycle in just a few years what a company like Boeing might go through over decades. In the clip above you are seeing the start of a company, the hiring, and basic implementation of the product by a small army of cast and crew. On a movie, thousands of people are suddenly employed; hand-picked by the producers to execute the product, so the quality of those decisions will ultimately determine the success of the venture.

Most film productions do their hiring from the back of the train. Jackson does his from the front. This is the prime difference in determining success or failure. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, a large company, or an advertising firm; they all share in the rules of the Metaphysics of Quality. If decisions are made by those at the front of the train they tend to work much better than those from the back. The science behind that concept requires study to understand the reason. But it does not take a mind from the back, middle or front of the train to observe quality and anyone with a mind can witness from the above clip that there is something special going on with The Hobbit.

Unfortunately people like Peter Jackson are rare. And I doubt that Jackson set out to learn and live the Metaphysics of Quality. Jackson is the benefactor of a number of unusual circumstances that prepared his mind to be simply the greatest film director in the modern world. And he is. History will prove it. Those two Hobbit films will bring joy to hundreds of millions of fans and will generate at least a billion dollars in revenue per film for a two-year period. The merchandising alone will carry the mythology of The Hobbit into mainstream culture that will transcend politics for years to come and society will benefit from that joy in immeasurable ways. And it all starts at the front of the train of thinking, in the clip seen above.

You see, because Jackson is at the front of the train he’s already achieved the success in his mind. He’s already arrived and it shows in his body language, his speeches, his general communication to the people under him. He doesn’t feel a need to comb his hair or dress in a particular way to impress anyone, because he doesn’t need to. Everyone else in the world is under him in thought and he knows it. But he doesn’t rub it in either. He knows that the people in the middle of the train, who are helping him make the films will understand where he’s going eventually, and they’ll arrive there of their own accord. The financiers in the back of the train with the media are scared as they always are. They are ready to jump off the train at the first sign of trouble. But when the box office receipts come in, they’ll be the first to take credit for the entire train. And Jackson knows it and does not show bitterness about the process. Because by the time all this happens, he’s already on to his next project well out of sight from those in the back of the train and Jackson doesn’t care. And society isn’t even on the train, they just watch it come and go in passive observation. Once it passes they might say they enjoyed it and will remember it far into the future. But they cannot take credit for its creation, or its motion. For them it’s just an experience.

So when I’m ready to fold up the chairs and take my books up to a mountain cabin and tell the world to go “fu** itself” these clips by Jackson remind me that not everyone is worth casting away as fools. Because Jackson reminds me that there are some good things to look forward to, and there are people worth knowing. Peter Jackson and his Hobbit films are examples of these. Traveling in the front of the train is usually a very difficult task because the rest of the train weighs you down. And most of the time it leaves those in the front feeling used and abused. But every now and then the situation works out really well, and Peter Jackson is among the best of the best at what he does, and I find his work refreshing, and his Hobbit Blogs more than entertaining. I see in them hope and it is how I recharge my own batteries for all the parasites that I feel I drag along behind me who refuse to move their feet or exercise their minds.

That’s why fighting from the front of the train is better than retreating off the train all together to read books and watch the worlds trains roll by in a valley below without being engaged. It doesn’t always feel that way, but it’s worth doing.

Rich Hoffman


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