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Silmarilion Discussion: Chapter 12 -- "Of Men," Part 1
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Maciliel
Valinor


May 6 2013, 10:46am

Post #51 of 72 (363 views)
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here's your order, sir... [In reply to] Can't Post

[sador]

In Reply To
as a bonus, the Edain also possess less beauty than the Elves – whatever that means.
Do you really want to go there? Because i don't.
[/sador]


i have no problems going "there." but i will understand if you sit on the bench, and let this this ship sail.



[sador] Anyway, to answer your questions:

1. So does this suffering have a purpose?
According to Tolkien, it is all a part of the Plan; I wouldn't attempt to bend his story to my own beliefs - although in my case, not much bending is needed.
The interesting part is that Men seem not to be bound by the Music, and to have a power to shape their destiny for themselves. But once this power is granted to multiple beings, friction (of all kinds) is inevitable, as is suffering.

It seems that the brief span of Men's life, and the many mishaps which are strewn on their way, are intertwined with that power - with the Gift of Iluvatar. [/sador]


interesting.



[sador] 2. Are the Edain supposed to grow in wisdom and empathy, and bring this increased understanding to their part of the making of the Second Music?
I've noticed that some of the responses here asserted that the Elves did have greater empathy. I beg to differ; I do not see any indication of this. Consider for instance Lindir's dismissal of Mortals and their affairs in Many Meetings - and even Gildor expressed the same feeling, somewhat less rudely.
Or else, consider the Elvenking.
[/sador]


i definitely see elves as operating more in harmony with eru's plan... but when it gets to the point where they are dealing with other children of iluvatar, i don't see them acting in as much harmony. and that is surprising, given their status as "wisest."


[sador] Will their spirits which have grown in such a way become Ainur, or Ainur-like?
They are Ainur-like - but like the Ainur of the Music, not the clothed Valar and Maiar.
[/sador]

interesting! already ainur-like.



[sador] 3. If suffering can be a pathway to empathy and wisdom, why is the lifespan of the Edain so short? There is a limit to suffering one can accumulate and grow through, is there not?
I guess you've read The Wanderings of Hurin, right? I think this is a case of someone whose sufferings have gone beyong his capacity. [/sador]


no, i have not read "children of hurin," 'tho i know the tale from the silmarilion. i do think there is a limit to suffering though which one can learn and grow, but i wouldn't set one of the parameters at length of life (the elves seem to work well with that), but with the (variable) concentration of suffering within any given time span (long or short) that is beyond the individual's capacity to balance. additionally, intense pain that is overwhelming for an hour or six months may be able to be balanced through time. which doesn't necessarily mean that the grief or loss is less, but that it doesn't overwhelm and drown everything else out. accumulating positive experiences can balance out intense suffering, over time. but that is how the edain do it. perhaps the elves do it differently.



[sador] 5. No Vala comes to help the Edain. Why?
Do you want me to spoil my discussion? I was planning to discuss this...
[/sador]


of course i do not wish you to proffer thoughts you are keeping in reserve for your own chapter. there were explicit sentences in "of men" that describe this, which is why i included it. again, feel free to let that ship sail.




[sador] It’s said that it’s just naturally more difficult for the Edain to hear the messages of the Valar through things like rivers and the land (as the Eldar do)… so wouldn’t they need extra help?
According to what I've written above about the strange power that Men have over their destiny, perhaps a direct message won't help, either.
[/sador]


will have to mull this over. but i'm certainly glad tuor got the message.



[sador] Did the Valar learn from their mistakes from their treatment of the Eldar (do they even realize they made mistakes in bringing the Eldar to Aman?)
I would hope so. At any rate, Ulmo considered the invitating of the Eldar wrong, and is the only one to reach out to Men.
[/sador]


so, is ulmo not only the only vala reaching out to the edain, but also bucking the system? ulmo certainly has been a good friend to us. it is said (actually, i said it, in another thread) that the echos of the music live longest in the water, and perhaps because the water flows through ulmo, or that he is its lord, that ulmo is better in touch with the thoughts of eru.


[sador] or is this just another instance of their isolationism and neglect?
In Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin, Ulmo makes the odd statement that "Doom is strong" (UT p. 29), which implies that he is in a way working against Mandos (despite his earlier qualifying this by "seem to"). What does that mean? Did Mandos prefer Men to be left in the dark?
Anyway, it seems that you are the source of ElendiltheShort's comment last week.
[/sador]


i am not understanding your reference to elendiltheshort's comments (?).



sunny cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


sador
Half-elven


May 6 2013, 10:59am

Post #52 of 72 (367 views)
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The Wanderings of Hurin [In reply to] Can't Post

Is a long work by JRRT, which describes a part of what happens to Hurin after his release from Angband (it was never completed).
I won't spoil it for you - but I highly recommend reading it. It was published in The War of the Jewels (HoME vol. xi).

ElendiltheShort complained about some people being too ready to criticize the Valar; I've replied to that in the discussion of the previous chapter.


Maciliel
Valinor


May 6 2013, 11:01am

Post #53 of 72 (359 views)
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yes, i saw that.... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
...just didn't ascribe what he was talking about to me...

thanks for the recommendation. : )


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


telain
Rohan

May 6 2013, 1:28pm

Post #54 of 72 (352 views)
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oh, thank you for that! [In reply to] Can't Post

I do love that quote...

I completely agree -- do something. Actually, one of the things I tell myself when I am feeling unmotivated/unfulfilled is "what I am doing right now is exactly what I should be doing." That seems to calm my otherwise overactive imagination. At least sometimes...

Ah, yes. I think Feanor probably would be the greatest name-caller! At another time I would imagine Elrond might come in a distant second (I'm sure he had some "words" for Aragorn from time to time...).

Good point about Morgoth and the reason so many Edain go astray! Yes, if the only higher power that takes an interest in you (and you just happen to be predisposed to like power) then, well, I suppose it should be no surprise to anyone.

About the Moriquendi: I would like to know more of their take on all this. I suspect they would have a rather different attitude toward the Valar, and toward the Edain. Do they have a favourite Vala? (I suspect most would have at least a respect for Orome). Clearly Morgoth doesn't see them as particularly worthy of ruin, which means they get a bit of the best of both worlds.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 6 2013, 8:42pm

Post #55 of 72 (344 views)
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So true Mac, about being seperate from the Song. Half a theory here. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
[1. So does this suffering have a purpose?
According to Tolkien, it is all a part of the Plan; I wouldn't attempt to bend his story to my own beliefs - although in my case, not much bending is needed.
The interesting part is that Men seem not to be bound by the Music, and to have a power to shape their destiny for themselves. But once this power is granted to multiple beings, friction (of all kinds) is inevitable, as is suffering.

I find this idea to be critically important. Haven't worked out all (most?) of the details or prettified the concept, so not entirely sure how, but somehow the Firstborn and all the mishaps of early Arda seem to be a test mode, in a way. And that the latitude of Men to make unforeseen decisions and have a fate beyond the bounds of the Song as the Valar understand it ... but NOT past the understanding and foresight of Eru ... might imply that Men will have a large part to play in the Second world, beyond the Ainur, and that they are indeed key players. This may be out on a (creaky?) limb - but is the purpose of the Firstborn to prepare the world for Men, who in return will shape the Second creation phase? As Telain pointed out so excellently the archetypical roles we can assign to the various races indicate Men as the sort of ever growing, ever changing population - their shorter life would contribute to that rapid and adaptive change that they are able to survive. So maybe 'individual' suffering and experience isn't as important, instead the adaptation of the entire race through those experiences? Again I have to believe in a higher purpose in JRRT's mind, considering his own belief set; and that somehow it is optimistic for the souls of Men in the long term.
This is in NO way a complete idea. Just always a feeling I get. Your chapter insights seem a perfect place to theorize on it Mac...SmileAngelic





Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 12:19pm

Post #56 of 72 (327 views)
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Just what are Men good for, anyway? [In reply to] Can't Post

That's an interesting theory, Brethil, that it's more about the education of the collective than the individual to prepare for the next phase of Arda. That makes us individuals feel less important, especially if our suffering is "for the greater good," but to back away from the situation, it would make sense. Certainly in the first Music is was all about collective groups: the Ainur sang as individuals, but only as a united group did their song have any power, and the great themes for Elves and Men didn't single out great individuals (like Earendil, Feanor, etc).

The other bit that would support that is how much learning by trial and error happens in the first ages of the world. The Valar make plenty of mistakes, as do the Elves (except the Vanyar, I suppose). The immortals need to learn things first, so by the Third Age they're much wiser. The Valar decide to send the Wizards to oppose Sauron partly because they don't want to intervene directly anymore, but the Wizards' task is to unite the free peoples (mostly Men as the most numerous race) to defeat Sauron by realizing their potential to do so. Yes, many of them will die in the process, and I won't make light of that, but as a collective, they will realize that they can set the world to rights and don't need the Valar to solve everything for them, preparing the human race to play a larger role in the Second Music and not just be backup singers for the Elves.


Maciliel
Valinor


May 7 2013, 1:37pm

Post #57 of 72 (325 views)
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the moriquendi [In reply to] Can't Post

 
yes.... i've definitely got an interest in the moriquendi... we hear so little of them... nandor, green elves, eol's people.

btw... i've been thinking of the gifts of the calaquendi, moriquendi, the edain....

tolkien makes various comparisons. to simplify, he says that the degree of greater wisdom and skill and power that the eldar have over the edain is of similar degree to that which the calaquendi have over the moriquendi.

when each kindred intermingles with those who have gifts of less stature, it is to the benefit of the lesser.

we may look at the moriquendi as "elves" and that means so much, so much that may be dazzling or awe-inspiring. and they may look that way at the calaquendi.

taking this back to real life -- and suffering -- when we compare ourselves always to those who have more (or the perception of more; more also depends on what you're valuing), we might feel "moriquendi." but to someone in a third world country, we may look "calaquendi" to them.

+many+ have had the experience, suddenly looking at someone else who couldn't walk, lives in a slum, or has competing warlords for neighbors and looking back to themselves... the world opening, seeing more value in what they do have, and the greater ability to choose a path of their own making.

but those who are less fortunate than we are are not cursed with ill-fortune or immobility or murderous neighborhoods because it is their purpose to teach us a lesson. we may glean wisdom, we may glean humility from their suffering, but they are individuals with as much value as we have, so to think of their suffering as somehow engineered to inspire others is distasteful to me.

people suffer. it is. we can do much to prevent it, we can do much to heal it -- and we gain +so+ much by being the caretakers and the healers. we do not even often realize how we are impacted by helping others.

if you've ever had a horrible day, or even been in bad straits, and come across someone in need, and you did something to help them, that made that moment or that world a little better for them, often you may have also experienced a lightening of your own load. no, your problems may not have gone away, but perhaps they became more bearable.

i know tolkien was a devout catholic. and looking at suffering as we're discussing it in this thread, i'm wondering about the value he placed on suffering and martyrdom, in a catholic context.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 2:35pm

Post #58 of 72 (316 views)
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Even pity is an act of distancing yourself from someone [In reply to] Can't Post

I appreciate your comments, Mac, in particular:


Quote
but those who are less fortunate than we are are not cursed with ill-fortune or immobility or murderous neighborhoods because it is their purpose to teach us a lesson. we may glean wisdom, we may glean humility from their suffering, but they are individuals with as much value as we have, so to think of their suffering as somehow engineered to inspire others is distasteful to me.

Personal suffering may have a purpose, but seeing the suffering of others as solely a purpose for yourself to appreciate things is, as you say, rather distasteful in how self-centered it is, even though the intent is good to draw something positive from a negative situation.

I was struck by a TV show where a mother was trying to explain the brutal reality to her daughter with Down's Syndrome that even if people were nice to her, some of them were thinking, "I'm so lucky I'm not like this child or my children aren't like her." That is pity and counting your blessings, but it distances you from the person too, which was the mother's point. I'm not meaning to be morally condemning here or that I'm terrific at dealing with disadvantaged people, just bringing up a nuance I've observed about well-meaning pity.

RE: the Moriquendi. There is some inclination to say that they chose to stay in Middle-earth, so they need to live with the consequences and any suffering that involves. And despite the view of Ulmo, they didn't seem to bloom and prosper like the Calaquendi, so maybe Ulmo was wrong for a change. Did they esteem the Calaquendi, or resent their advantages? Did Men resent the advantages of the Moriquendi? Maybe not. The Edain who entered Beleriand were drawn there by the rumor of the splendor of the Elven kingdoms there. The Edain seem like second-class citizens to me (as Moriquendi seem like second-class Elves) who were happy with their status despite both a racial and class divide. The Easterlings were of a different sort, but they come along much later.


Maciliel
Valinor


May 7 2013, 3:06pm

Post #59 of 72 (312 views)
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i get what you're saying... but... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
... i think "pity" has taken on connotations in recent generations that make it less palatable as a word. it seems to connote being moved by someone's plight, but not being burdened by whatever is burdening that person, and is in the superior position +and+ feels like he/she is in the superior position.

but i think pity/sympathy is necessary. i think it brings us closer to empathy. pity also bridges the divide between "me" and "you." i think some things that come along with it that +sometimes+ +some+ people feel (the superiority) is not really a component of pity, but often rides piggyback. no one in need likes to feel inferior; that's just rubbing salt into the wound.

empathy is wonderful, but not everyone has the same empathetic gift, but perhaps pity/sympathy can be used to develop it.

is it inherently distancing to feel "i'm lucky i'm not unemployed, that person," "i'm lucky i'm not in a wheelchair, like that person"... i don't know. i don't think there's anything inherently wrong with feeling that, as long as that doesn't lead into "i'm employed because i'm special" "i'm not in a wheelchair because i'm special." i think if it never occurred to someone that she was fortunate to have a job or have full use of her extremities, i think, that would be unusual, and strange, and maybe not so healthy.

but we don't really have static states of consciousness like that... someone with the use of her legs could be conversing with someone who didn't, and have a "meta moment," feeling fortunate, and also feeling compassion for the person in the wheelchair, and swing right into forgetting about all that and hanging out, playing pinochle. if you never took a mental step back and compared someone's state with your own, how could you ever feel empathy for that person, really?

this is an interesting line of discussion, thank you.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


Maciliel
Valinor


May 7 2013, 3:12pm

Post #60 of 72 (310 views)
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pity vs. empathy in tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

 
...so "the pity of bilbo," wearing the ring and trying to escape the caves and seeing gollum all bereft... pity or empathy? good thing, or good-thing-with-flaws, or something else?

in the return of the king (film), the moment in which frodo has fallen down in shelob's cave, without sting, without the phial, exhausted, alone... galadriel comes to him in a vision, bends down, extends a hand... pity, or empathy? if pity, is there something less commendable about that moment? is she not feeling all that she ought to?

aragorn's rebuffing of eowyn (again, i'm thinking of the film version) before he enters the paths of the dead. pity? empathy? if it's pity, is it something less worthy?

would +love+ to read some additional examples of what folks think of as pity/empathy in the lord of the rings / sil, and what they think of it.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 3:35pm

Post #61 of 72 (310 views)
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Pity and empathy, though personally, I prefer scorn and disgust :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo and Gollum: pity

Frodo meeting Gollum in Emyn Muil: empathy

Galadriel in the movie with Frodo: neither. I think that an almost parental intervention, seeing him stumble and almost give up, and encouraging him to recover and go on. Or a coaching moment. Not out of pity, but to give reinforcement and inspiration where it was clearly wounded.

Aragorn and Eowyn: pity

Gandalf pitying Sauron's slaves: empathy, to me. I generally think Gandalf always feels empathy despite the gruff exterior. He even empathizes with the trees at the Hollin Gate that get torn down.

When Aragorn, Lego, and Gimli are tracking Merry & Pip, Gimli says that the thought of them being driven like cattle was grievous to him. A mix of empathy and pity

A Conspiracy Unmasked: the other hobbits have empathy for Frodo and Sam, as little as they know about his burden

Galadriel and Frodo at the Mirror: she feels empathy for him


Maciliel
Valinor


May 7 2013, 3:40pm

Post #62 of 72 (319 views)
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perhaps.... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
...i put the cart before the pony... but...

what do you deem is the difference between pity and empathy? and is pity different than sympathy?


cheers ---


.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 4:51pm

Post #63 of 72 (302 views)
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Pity and ponies [In reply to] Can't Post

I would equate pity and sympathy, negative connotations aside. I understand them to mean feeling a certain grief for the hardship of others, but not identifying with it or seeing it from that person's point of view. Empathy goes a step further, and you see things from that person's POV and identify with their feelings somewhat. Empathy involves more understanding of the person's plight.

Pity/sympathy: "I feel sorry for that pony struggling to pull that heavy cart while being beaten by its master."
Empathy: "I feel that pony's struggle, the way we all struggle under duress and abuse."

Or for another example. Jeff Dahmer, the guy who killed and ate people, made me feel sorry for him that somehow his life got so twisted and debased that he wound up a total loss to humanity. But I had no empathy.

People who had their legs blown off in the Boston Marathon: I wonder how they view things, will they run again on prosthetics, will they feel safe in public again after random violence like that, how are they dealing with their medical bills, how are their families taking the news, don't they want to leave the hospital and just go home?

Or in Tolkiena: Bilbo pitied Gollum's misery, and that was all. Frodo knew from his own Ring-struggle what Gollum felt, at least partially, so he understood him from the inside out and didn't just pity him on the surface.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 5:52pm

Post #64 of 72 (295 views)
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Interesting set of interactions. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Bilbo and Gollum: pity Pity because Gollum is so alien to Bilbo, bit he has that quick glimpse of Gollum's past - the sneaking and living alone in the dark (the enhanced vision of the Ring at work? Or inherent insight?) so I almost think a splash of VERY quick empathy too.

Frodo meeting Gollum in Emyn Muil: empathy This one I am not positive on. I think it's such a mix of pity (removed from Frodo) empathy (in seeing with this extra insight what Gollum's seen) and disgust. Complex.

Galadriel in the movie with Frodo: neither. I think that an almost parental intervention, seeing him stumble and almost give up, and encouraging him to recover and go on. Or a coaching moment. Not out of pity, but to give reinforcement and inspiration where it was clearly wounded. Actually I think there is a whole different dynamic here - Galadriel can surely sense Frodo's pain and flagging spirit from afar, but her reaching out to him has a whole lot of NEED behind it, coming from Galadriel herself. She needs Frodo to get up, to go on, or all is lost, as she only too clearly knows. So its almost a supplication, (portrayed in a physical sense) and the focus of power is shifted from the Wise to the Small.

Aragorn and Eowyn: pity I dunno - I can see a lot of empathy here too, as at the moment Aragorn also loves someone he thinks he can never have.

Gandalf pitying Sauron's slaves: empathy, to me. I generally think Gandalf always feels empathy despite the gruff exterior. He even empathizes with the trees at the Hollin Gate that get torn down. Gandalf also has the length and breadth of vision to remember 'before'; like maybe that time a bunch of the Maiar were hanging out on the grass in Aman under the stars listening to Tull, with a keg of Ainur's Finest... days when Sauron was still Fair and full of potential. So I think he feels not just pity but sadness for what has been corrupted. And I am sure he has quite a feeling of empathy for the lost trees at the Gate - I think that's a strong symbol for any of the Istari (which makes Saruman's conduct especially wicked and a rejection of the Valar.)

When Aragorn, Lego, and Gimli are tracking Merry & Pip, Gimli says that the thought of them being driven like cattle was grievous to him. A mix of empathy and pity I see empathy here, as the thought causes Gimli pain. Pity I see as more external and compartmentalized from you.

A Conspiracy Unmasked: the other hobbits have empathy for Frodo and Sam, as little as they know about his burden I agree here. They still feel for him but just don't have the whole picture yet.

Galadriel and Frodo at the Mirror: she feels empathy for him I would say pity here too, as she knows what he will have to face on the way was the Bearer.


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 5:56pm

Post #65 of 72 (286 views)
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Like where you took this [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
That's an interesting theory, Brethil, that it's more about the education of the collective than the individual to prepare for the next phase of Arda. That makes us individuals feel less important, especially if our suffering is "for the greater good," but to back away from the situation, it would make sense. Certainly in the first Music is was all about collective groups: the Ainur sang as individuals, but only as a united group did their song have any power, and the great themes for Elves and Men didn't single out great individuals (like Earendil, Feanor, etc).
The other bit that would support that is how much learning by trial and error happens in the first ages of the world. The Valar make plenty of mistakes, as do the Elves (except the Vanyar, I suppose). The immortals need to learn things first, so by the Third Age they're much wiser. The Valar decide to send the Wizards to oppose Sauron partly because they don't want to intervene directly anymore, but the Wizards' task is to unite the free peoples (mostly Men as the most numerous race) to defeat Sauron by realizing their potential to do so. Yes, many of them will die in the process, and I won't make light of that, but as a collective, they will realize that they can set the world to rights and don't need the Valar to solve everything for them, preparing the human race to play a larger role in the Second Music and not just be backup singers for the Elves.




Yes, going a step farther maybe it is a change that needs to happen for Men to truly possess the world, to come out from under the hem of the Valar and stand on their own. Its kind of a philosophical switch - because superficially the Sil reads as "oh that was all gorgeous and perfect, and then Men come along and it all slips away..." but maybe the message in here for mortal Men is that its all for them to inherit it and make it the best it can be. And maybe letting the Valar slip out of memory is OK in JRRT's book perhaps, because if the monotheism of Eru persists that can evolve into his Christian beliefs?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 6:45pm

Post #66 of 72 (289 views)
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It's about THEM [In reply to] Can't Post

I think pity, empathy and sympathy are about some feeling of connection with the sufferer: you are trying on their situation (or parts of it) and imagining how it would feel if it were you. So it's a feeling about their situation.

If you can imagine being in that situation yourself too clearly, it might also generate fear and disgust (as per an old lady's friends who cut her off when she suffers dementia- it's too horrifying for them, because they see that bring them).

Conversely, you can feel pity alongside frustration at someone who has made a bone-headed mistake.

Feelings about oneself - hooray for me, that can't happen to me because I'm too smart/ careful/ pretty/ rich/ powerful... Aren't pity. They are self reassurance. (And possibly vanity and pride). Or they could more innocently be a kind of gratitude and acknowledgement of good fortune

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 7:17pm

Post #67 of 72 (309 views)
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Yes, your descriptions are more nuanced and more true to life. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 7 2013, 9:25pm

Post #68 of 72 (280 views)
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The "pity" quote [In reply to] Can't Post

CuriousG's commented that he could pity a murderer/cannibali without empathising with the man's motives for his crimes. I liked that (and should have said so in my last post, sorry). Maybe that's like Frodos eventual feelings towards the murderous Gollum?
... Which made me want to raise:

Quote
[Frodo, discussing with Gandalf] " 'For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'

'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. ...'

....'I am sorry ' said Frodo, 'But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.'
'You have not seen him' Gandalf broke in.."


I like the way that Frodo uses one sense of pity (as in "regrettable") and then Gandalf uses the other sense right back at him.
I like the capitalisation of "Pity" (and "Mercy").
I think Frodo's feeling no pity because his thought (understandably enough) are about himself: he's frightened, and Gollum is one cause of Frodos predicament. He's wishing the predicament away )but is, as I read it, a bit ashamed when Gandalf pulls him up).
Gandalf's comment that Frodo has not seen Gollum is more than foreshadowing I think: because Frodo has not seen Gollum he's thinking of him in the abstract, as a threat and cause of trouble. If he saw him, he might have an opportunity to see Gollum as a person, albiet a ruined one.
Then Frodo, for all that he has none of Gollum's murderousness and sneakiness, can pity him (I also think CuriousG is right, and its picked up well in the film that Frodo can empathise: turning Gollumish himself is a vague possibility, but awful enough to excite the imagination .



Does that help at all?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Erúmer
The Shire


May 7 2013, 11:44pm

Post #69 of 72 (276 views)
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Frodo and Gollum--empathy [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, jumping in here, but what noWiz said reminded me of an amazing quote in TTT that felt really powerful for me and I think highlighted why Frodo acted towards Gollum the way he did:

"For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Smeagol had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet a whining dog. And yet the two were in some way akin and no valien: they could reach one another's minds."

I think this is saying that Frodo is able to feel, at least a little, of Gollum, and know a little of his soul. To me, empathy is only when you know another person's pain, not just feel their pain as a burden.

There are other great quotes to be had like this, but I'm too time pressed to dig em up right now :p


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 6:46am

Post #70 of 72 (305 views)
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Good one Erumer! [In reply to] Can't Post

That quote makes me wonder whether there is some kind of connection through the Ring, as well as anything else.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


noWizardme
Half-elven


May 9 2013, 9:20am

Post #71 of 72 (251 views)
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Reactions to sad stories [In reply to] Can't Post

This web article, about why many people enjoy sad films, reminded me of this thread (because we were discussing pity & empathy, not because this thread is sad Smile):

Quote
"A lot goes on in our brains when we watch sad, emotional, or tragic films, and what’s surprising is that a lot of this brain activity actually promotes feelings of happiness, closeness in our relationships, and a sense of community.
...There are a couple of possible explanations for this phenomenon. One is that watching sad films prompts us to get reflective and feel grateful for the ways our lives and relationships are better than those of the characters on screen (“Hey, at least I’m not lying frozen on a board in the ocean while my boyfriend drowns!”). This comparative reflection actually mirrors a therapeutic technique in which patients are asked to imagine someone in a worse situation in order to gain perspective on challenges in their own life...."

"Other research suggests it’s not just about turning inward — ... When we empathize with other people (even fictional ones on screen), our brain releases oxytocin, which engages brain circuits that prompt us to care about others."

http://greatist.com/happiness/why-do-like-sad-movies


Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 10 2013, 9:34pm

Post #72 of 72 (259 views)
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Makes me wonder about kids [In reply to] Can't Post

Great article, noWiz. It makes me question if children are as empathic as adults, or just have different reactions. There are numerous observations that if you put a bunch of kids in an area, and one starts crying out loud, many of the others will start crying too. What's not clear is if they are just upset by the original crier (and wish they'd stop making the commotion), or if they are joining in their grief.

Since we're talking about little kids (age 3-6), they're not all that articulate or reflective about their emotions, so it's hard to ascertain if they're having one reaction or the other, or both, or another one, such as hearing someone else cry reignites a past crying episode of their own. It would be nice to think that empathy is more innate in us Edain than killing each other.

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