Eeves and Rahk: The F8 of the Adventurous

I’d like to introduce a concept; maybe somebody already thought of it and gave it a different name, but I don’t exactly plan on plundering the stygian depths of TVTropes to find out. I call it the Legendarium Effect.

The idea is simple; the larger a body of work, the easier it becomes for people to suspend their disbelief when strange ideas are introduced out of nowhere. The name comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Legendarium,” or the collection of posthumously published works beyond the scope of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but still covering the world of Middle Earth.

A simple example of this effect is that in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf is a wizard. When he comes back from the dead, we know it’s because wizards are extremely powerful in Tolkien’s universe and such a thing could very well be possible for them. However, in the Legendarium, Tolkien writes that Gandalf is a “Maiar,” one of the lesser children of Eru Iluvitar, the creator deity of the Tolkien mythos. He’s effectively an angel, but there are also evil Maiar such as Sauron. (Yes, Gandalf is of the same spiritual level as the dark lord.) We can accept this concept because Tolkien spent decades mulling over it and most of the Legendarium is about the conflicts between the Valar and the Maiar (collectively the Ainur) and Morgoth, the Dark Lord who corrupted the world before Sauron. It’s also not precisely necessary to know this to understand The Lord of the Rings, though it does help contextualize Gandalf’s ascension from “Gandalf the Grey” to “Gandalf the White.”

Inversely, if all of this information were dumped on you the moment Gandalf is introduced in The Hobbit, nobody would take it seriously. All we need to know is that he’s a wizard; anything about being a Tolkienesque pseudoangel is secondary. So the Inverse Legendarium Effect then becomes “the amount of disparate concepts introduced in any singular space is inversely proportionate to the viewer’s ability to take the work seriously.”

All long-running works observe the Legendarium Effect until they reach the “Homestuck Horizon,” an impassable boundary by which any simplified explanation of the work does not serve it justice and any detailed explanation sounds like the run-on ramblings of a child describing their favorite thing. Works which observe the inverse of the Legendarium Effect and dump too much information on the viewer at once, like this strip, surpass or approach the “Axe Cop Horizon” instead, an impassable boundary by which every explanation of the work, simple or detailed, sounds like the ramblings of a child.

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