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Turns Out The Pondering Orb Meme Came From The Lord Of The Rings

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Turns Out The Pondering Orb Meme Came From The Lord Of The Rings

The pondering orb meme, one of the most versatile and hilarious images if you ask me, actually originates from a Lord of the Rings tabletop roleplaying game. Knowledge is a gift, isn’t it? 

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The clock strikes two o’clock on the morning of October 16th. An ordinary Saturday, or so it would seem. Twitter user @thatsgoodweb posted “pondering my orb” accompanied by an illustration of an elderly bearded figure staring into the centre of a glowing blue sphere. On that day, the world changed.

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Look, if you don’t find this funny or relatable in the least, I’m not sure what to tell you. There’s a connection between memes and Dadaism, a short-lived surrealist artistic movement originating from the reaction to the depravity of World War I. Memes are “visual sound bites,” argues art historian Ara H Merjian, who specialises in the study of Fascist and anti-fascist aesthetics of the last century. “There’s also this really Millennial or Gen Z attitude that everything sucks. The whole world is bad, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” added Dada artist John Heartfield in a chat hosted on Art in America last year.

Yet, there is something that can be done to ensure we’re not in the pits of despair all of the time, and that's to create memes that distract or underscore current events. “Pondering my orb” is one example and there will be thousands more. It’s just silly and it’s brought a lot of entertainment to those scrolling the Internet expecting the best and the worst of humanity sandwiched between adverts. 

Check out some gameplay for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, following the conflicted character before the events of The Hobbit!

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Phew. Things got deep there for a moment. Don’t worry. Here comes the Lord of the Rings trivia. This illustration comes from the cover of the Valar & Maiar: The Immortal Power booklet released in 1994 for the second edition of the Middle-Earth Roleplaying Game that hit the shelves one year prior. The artist, Angus McBride, has depicted Saruman gazing into the palantir, weaving a thread between the wizard and Sauron that ultimately leads to his end. 

It would be brilliant to see a reference to “pondering my orb” in the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, slated to release for PC and consoles next year. I suppose we’ll have to watch this space.

Featured Image Credit: Angus McBride, New Line Cinema

Topics: The Lord Of The Rings

Imogen Donovan
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