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The Silmarillion discussion: Ainulindale



CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 31 2012, 3:38am


Views: 3430
The Silmarillion discussion: Ainulindale

“There was Eru, the One,…” What a bold way to start off a creation story.

Tolkien deliberately emulates the wording of Genesis (count all the “and’s” for fun), but it’s a big departure that Creation came from a Great Music. Googling various creation myths, I didn’t come up with any that were based on music, so Tolkien wins the innovation prize. Or prove me wrong: does anyone know of a creation story based on music? (I read one argument that Genesis was meant to be sung or chanted, but that’s not the same.)

Eru is given no beginning, but the Ainur have one and come from his thought. Any ideas on why he didn’t sing them into existence?

It’s not simple music: “Sing! A world!” Instead it’s a dramatic story of competing themes, where original beauty and harmony clash with vanity and discord in a near-war. Not only does the Great Music create, it spells out the fate of the world and its peoples. On first read, I was confused by the complexity of all this, but now I enjoy it. What’s your first reaction?

The Music of the Ainur lives on in water, especially the Sea, and the Ainur considered water better than earth and air. Yet Ulmo isn’t the chief of the Valar. Why do you suppose Tolkien chose Manwe as the king of the world over Ulmo? Was he bowing to the influence of Norse and Greek myths that had the thunder/sky god as First God?


Quote
“Many of the Children of Iluvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.”

>> Do waterfalls and ocean waves sound musical to you, or is their sound their own and unrelated to music?

Melkor’s sins: secrecy, pride, lust for power. What would you add?

What this chapter tells us about Tolkien that we see in all his Middle-earth works:
  1. He loves music.
  2. He loves water, especially the sea.
  3. The greatest people can become the most evil. (Melkor here, Feanor later.)
  4. The desire to subdue others to your will is evil.
What else would you add?

Bonus question: if you wrote a creation story, what would you base it on? Cooking? Painting? Manufacturing? Computers? Laughter?


Ardamírë
Valinor


Dec 31 2012, 4:14am


Views: 2165
Thanks for kicking this off, CuriousG!

Smile

First reaction? Well, I read it first when I was 10 or 11. Skipped over Ainulindale and Valaquenta, and was still overwhelmed by chapter one. I don't think I returned for a couple of years.

"There was Eru, the One,..." Given Tolkien's Catholic background, it's not at all surprising to find that he begins his creation account in the same manner as Genesis by claiming only one god. Compare Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (emphasis mine). Not "gods" or "a god" but "God" - as in the only one.

The Music of the Ainur. I actually don't think it's that big of a departure to put a creation story to song. Again, Genesis asserts that God spoke the world into existence. It's not that much of a stretch to think of putting it to music or (more accurately) of being music. It almost conjures up the idea of a musical for me - a dramatic story telling. C.S. Lewis also has Aslan sing Narnia into creation in The Chronicles of Narnia, though I couldn't say if he got the idea from Tolkien or not.

I think Eru didn't sing the Ainur into existence to show that they are separate from Ea. He thinks them into existence and then they assist (or at least, He uses them) in the creation of the world. I don't have my copy on hand, and it's been a while since I read it, but I have a thought. Eru's creation goes from thought to sound (the music) to actual spoken word Ea. I think he doesn't say Ea until the end, right? If not, then that train of thought is void Laugh


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Why do you suppose Tolkien chose Manwe as the king of the world over Ulmo? Was he bowing to the influence of Norse and Greek myths that had the thunder/sky god as First God?


That might be part of it. But also, Ulmo cannot be head Vala or else he couldn't secretly support the Noldor in Beleriand against the Valar's will. Remember he uses the streams and waters of Beleriand to communicate with the exiles. And he also comes to Tuor against the will of the Valar. Recall what he says to Tuor at Nevrast (in Unfinished Tales):


Quote
Therefore, though in the days of this darkness I seem to oppose the will of my brethren, the Lords of the West, that is my part among them, to which I was ap-pointed ere the making of the World.


And later:


Quote
‘Go now,’ said Ulmo, ‘lest the Sea devour thee! For Ossë obeys the will of Mandos, and he is wroth, being a servant of the Doom.’


Well, that's all for now. I'll try to read Ainulindale tomorrow and add more thoughts. Thanks again! It was quite fun Smile

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


noWizardme
Valinor


Dec 31 2012, 10:22pm


Views: 2070
Why not sing the Aunur?

Why not sing the Aunur? Because it is one thing to imagine lines for different instruments, and quite another to be playing in an ensemble. I'm not much of a musician, but or do you need to be much of one to appreciate the magical feeling of playing music with others.

That Melkor is such a lead guitarist- glory hog :)

But it seems the discord was all part of the plan c.f.:

Quote
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result..." Gen 50:20


I like the idea that the musicians are surprised by what they made, and will continue to get surprises down the ages...


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 31 2012, 10:31pm


Views: 2034
Tolkien seemed to have the same sentiments about evil

Iluvatar has the same concept in different words:

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And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.


Now try to say "attempteth" without lisping.


noWizardme
Valinor


Dec 31 2012, 10:53pm


Views: 2013
Where it starts...

I wasNicking SirDennisC' s Biblical quote from the "oft evil will shall evil mar "thread
http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=536537#536537

This is where all that gets baked into the fabric of the Tolkien universe, I suppose...


squire
Half-elven


Jan 1 2013, 2:35pm


Views: 2030
Hark to those herald angels singing

...it’s a big departure that Creation came from a Great Music. Googling various creation myths, I didn’t come up with any that were based on music, so Tolkien wins the innovation prize. Or prove me wrong: does anyone know of a creation story based on music?
It’s not simple music: “Sing! A world!” Instead it’s a dramatic story of competing themes, where original beauty and harmony clash with vanity and discord in a near-war. Not only does the Great Music create, it spells out the fate of the world and its peoples. On first read, I was confused by the complexity of all this, but now I enjoy it. What’s your first reaction?

You got me thinking about the Ainulindale's complex choral music as a metaphor for the Creation, and the question of why Tolkien apparently was the first to write a creation story based on music.

Obviously, the primary issue is the basis on which we should be comparing this early 20th century work of fiction with "various creation myths", as you put it. As always with his "legendarium", Tolkien is emulating a mythology, not creating one anew. No one believes in the Silmarillion in the sense that hundreds of generations of people have believed in the various creation stories of the world's pre-industrial cultures - which were told and retold orally long before they were ever written down by later recorders. In short, every real creation myth dates back at least several thousand years before the present.

Now, how old is the tradition of polyphonic choral music (choruses with more than one vocal line) - the apparent model for the Silmarillion's song of creation? As far as I can tell from a quick scan of the internet, this form came into being in the late medieval era and during the Renaissance - thanks to the institution of the Catholic church. Tolkien, I don't doubt, was entranced by this then-traditional music every week when he attended Mass throughout his life. Nor was he the first to transpose cause and effect: surely it was from the inspiration of hearing an earthly choir in full voices that he, like so many Christian mythologists, imagined the angels of heaven as a series of choirs singing to the Lord in His own presence.

In short, no real Creation myth uses a Great Music because such Music didn't exist and had never been imagined before about 1400 A.D. in Christian Europe.


It was Tolkien's idea to make this the vehicle for a Creation itself, which he does quite wonderfully with his harmonies, themes, chords and discords. (His squabbles between a conductor/composer and a prima donna soloist often remind me of A Chorus Line or Drum Line or other oldie-but-goodies of generic musical fiction that I'm sure had their equivalents in Tolkien's time.) But this relatively modern invention that he uses is, in many ways, as anachronistic to the style of story he is writing as the famous set of steam locomotives is that whoosh through his later Middle-earth fiction.





squire online:
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(This post was edited by squire on Jan 1 2013, 2:37pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 1 2013, 7:14pm


Views: 1960
Should have read the brochure?

The Ainur perform their music and the universe comes into being.
They see a Vision of the world they've created.
Part of it is Arda, the world.
Some of the Ainur agree to limit their powers and become part of Arda - these Ainur are then called the Valar
But when they arrive on Arda they "were at first astounded and at a loss" because the Vision they saw is yet to come. "So began their great labours".

A bit unexpected perhaps? Like arriving at your luxury hotel and bring told "there WILL be a hotel one day, here's your hard hat and shovel"?


Mim
The Shire

Jan 1 2013, 7:42pm


Views: 1959
Modern myth from modern things

I think that Tolkien’s choice to use music in his creation myth makes a lot of sense. He is obviously mimicking the style of creation stories, but he chooses to use music, and he would have been aware that that was not a feature of most creation myths so I think it is probably safe to propose that that is consciously anachronistic. Myths generally reflect the ideas of a particular people in a particular historical moment. So perhaps he was torn between imitating the existing creation myths and writing something that is actually slightly more authentically mythological for his people in his historical moment. Music became such an integral part of religion over the years, that you could suggest that were creation stories to be written now as opposed to thousands of years ago they may well have included music.

I would suggest that he doesn’t sing the Ainur into existence because the basis of the music that is created is that it does consist of many different strands. It would seem a little odd I think if he sang those strands to create something…and then those creations sang the same strands again to create everything else. Might be a bit like playing the violin to create a violin so that that violin can play the symphony. The creation of the Ainur then ends up seeming a bit clumsy and repetitive. Where as if they are thought into existence then we can perhaps seem them as parts of Eru, personified as instruments to play out particular parts. Instruments literally in that they create the music and instruments in the sense that they play out his will.

I didn’t really think of the music that was created as being complex in the beginning. But that might be because I’ve been an orchestral musician so when I think music, I think complicated.

I think the big problem of having the sea as king is that the sea doesn’t really fit into that role. It’s not in a position where it can over look everything, it’s relatively powerless in the mainland and for it to have an impact on you, you need to be close to it or in/on it. On the other hand the sky perfectly embodies those kinds of features of kingship, all seeing, all-powerful and you can’t escape its effects.

As far as the relationship between music and water goes, I don’t think they’re intrinsically related. I think the link between music and water lies in the fact that the sound of water is difficult to replicate. There are several pieces of music that attempt to recreate the sound of water, but you can never quite manage it. There in perhaps, lies the draw of the water for a people made from music because the sound of water is so difficult to incorporate into music. Perhaps that can also help to explain why Ulmo isn’t the king, his element may not be that easily incorporated into the fabric of the greater music.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 1 2013, 9:21pm


Views: 1911
Thanks--great points, especially


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The creation of the Ainur then ends up seeming a bit clumsy and repetitive.

I was thinking that he lacked a little consistency here, but you're right, he risked being repetitive otherwise. Someone might groan, "So if Eru wanted a cup of coffee, he'd sing that into being too?"



Quote
I think the big problem of having the sea as king is that the sea doesn’t really fit into that role. It’s not in a position where it can over look everything, it’s relatively powerless in the mainland and for it to have an impact on you, you need to be close to it or in/on it. On the other hand the sky perfectly embodies those kinds of features of kingship, all seeing, all-powerful and you can’t escape its effects.

Makes sense. For the same reason, I suppose that an earth god would have no power over the sea, so they also wouldn't make a good king of the gods. There is a lot of logic in myths, if you peel them back enough. (Maybe I should have taken a cue from comic book fans who complain that Aquaman is useless on dry land, and it doesn't matter what he can do in the water.)

However, there' more about Ulmo's broad powers in the next chapter (Valaquenta) that exist all over earth. Because he rules all water, including little springs and streams, he has power in dry land too. "The Elves say that the spirit of Ulmo runs in all the veins of the world. Thus news comes to Ulmo...which otherwise would be hidden from Manwe." But it also says he likes to stay in the sea and doesn't like going to Valimar, and seems to prefer being alone and having no fixed abode, so that wouldn't be right for a king. As a wandering loner, he sounds like Gandalf.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 1 2013, 9:25pm


Views: 1953
It does strike me every time I read it

That part about the Ainur being dismayed that the Arda they found wasn't the one in the vision from Iluvatar. It seems a little unfair of him to give them a bad surprise like that. And for the narrative, it seems that nothing would be lost if Eru did say, "This is the Arda that you will create, but you must start from scratch," and the Ainur happily go to work. But I think the Ainur are otherwise hard to identify with as beings, and this passage is something that humans run into, so they don't seem human, but more understandable.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 1 2013, 10:04pm


Views: 1946
Excellent point

But to keep at it, why couldn't hunter-gatherers, who sing (I'm guessing singing didn't come too long after people spoke), tell stories around the fire about the gods who sang individually? Such as, "The god Serpens sang to the stream, and snakes were born. The god Florian sang to the sky, and flowers were born." Or whatever. In a way, it seems odd that no one ever thought of music as a creative force before. Instead creation usually sounds like the work done by a craftsman.

Another thing I noticed is that most creation myths involve violence. Even Eru has strife when Melkor tries to highjack the Great Music, though no one is hurt or killed; there's lot of killing in other legends. Not sure why Creation of the Universe involves destruction--seems like that would come later.

Hebrew/Christian/Muslim: God issues verbal commands.

Norse: Odin kills a giant and creates the Earth from its body parts.

Hindu: This page isn't authoritative, but credible: Brahma creates the world from a lotus flower.

Aztec: Gods beget gods who create things.

Mayans: I found several; this one is most direct about creation, which uses thought and verbal commands.

Greeks: Several competing stories, but same general pattern as Aztecs.

Sumerians: Same general pattern as Aztecs.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 1 2013, 10:30pm


Views: 1939
Nice--thought to music to sound

I haven't read the Narnia books for so long--thanks for bringing up Aslan, singing, and creation. Maybe this is something the Inklings discussed?



Quote
Eru's creation goes from thought to sound (the music) to actual spoken word Ea. I think he doesn't say Ea until the end, right? If not, then that train of thought is void.

You are right, and that's a great observation. He does say Eä! pretty late in the story, which has always seemed out of place to me. Maybe Tolkien had this sort of progression in mind? When Eru gets to "Eä!", he sounds more like the God in Genesis: "Eä! Let these things be", as in "Let there be light."



Quote
That might be part of it. But also, Ulmo cannot be head Vala or else he couldn't secretly support the Noldor in Beleriand against the Valar's will.

The story would get contradictory if Ulmo was the chief god and aided the Noldor, since he'd be breaking his own ban on them (if Ulmo banned them as Manwe did).** But does the story dictate who gets to be chief god? If Ulmo were #1, he could ban the Noldor, and Manwe or Aule or Varda could help them, especially Varda. But maybe Tolkien liked having Ulmo be several things: 1) god of water who stays in touch with the world the other gods retreat from, 2) the renegade who helps the Noldor when he's not really supposed to, 3) the Gandalf sort of person who wanders alone and eschews established authority, such as the wizard refusing to be head of the White Council. Ulmo is certainly more sympathetic as the renegade helping the Noldor than he would be as chief god.

**[RE: the Alignment thread: Ulmo is Chaotic Good.]


Plurmo
Rohan

Jan 2 2013, 3:26am


Views: 1948
I wonder if the creation myth of Arda was analogous to

Tolkien's creation of a World that could only be described in elvish language.

In his mind, the music and meaning of the words he created was perfect, but any script he would try using would inevitably lack fidelity to what he wanted to convey. The musicality of the speech would be hard to learn and English would not translate it with enough accuracy. Even if one or two attentive readers could "read his Arda," the majority would end up reading "Arda Marred" instead.

At some point he would have accepted that concrete, "real" textual Arda was indeed Arda Marred, the Arda made by others according to their ability, while Arda Unmarred, his creation of perfect sound and meaning, was destined to be forever a blueprint inside his mind.

Regarding the musicality of water, I have this perception that Tolkien particularly liked words ending in "th." And I, as a non English reader, have this, perhaps wrong, impression that words in English ending in "th" end with the sound of dying foam. In that sense this would be one instance where the music of water would be present in Tolkien's language-created world.


Cyberia
The Shire

Jan 2 2013, 8:09am


Views: 1939
Regarding Ulmo

Ulmo reminds me of another god(ess) of the Sea, Calypso in Pirates of the Caribean. Particularly when she said to Davy Jones:

Jones: For ten years I waited, then when we could be together...YOU WEREN'T THERE. WHY WEREN'T YOU?

Calypso: (innocent shrug) It's in my nature.....

Meaning she couldn't help it. As the embodiment of the sea, she was unpredictable...treacherous even. It wasn't personal, it's who she was.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 2 2013, 5:15pm


Views: 1931
Ulmo


Quote
The Music of the Ainur lives on in water, especially the Sea, and the Ainur considered water better than earth and air.


You then ask why Tolkien chose Manwe over Ulmo. But since Tolkien used all the waters of Middle-earth as Ulmo's domain, that includes the rivers and streams and pools in Beleriand. And if Tolkien wanted the god of the sea to be able to communicate with the Noldor through these, then that necessitates that Ulmo not be Chief Vala. He can't be rebel and chief. So I guess I'd say the story does dictate that it cannot be Ulmo.

I quite like your comparison of Ulmo to Gandalf. And really, I see him very much the same, only on a grander, more majestic scale, and more rebellious against the Valar rather than their emissary.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 2 2013, 5:19pm


Views: 1874
I actually don't see the similarity

Other than being gods of the sea. Ulmo is always looking out for the peoples of Middle-earth. He's not especially fickle or unpredictable, and definitely not treacherous.

It's not to say I don't like Calypso. I find her to be a very interesting character, but I don't really think she's very much like Ulmo. I'd say she's more like Ossë or Uinen.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 2 2013, 6:37pm


Views: 1889
Sorry, I wasn't clear

My original and follow-up questions should have more clearly stated my line of thinking, which is:

1. Tolkien rates water as the best element in Arda, so why would the Vala of that element be #2?
2. If the reason for that is that there needed to be a Vala who helped the Noldor, then what about this scenario? Ulmo is the #1 Vala and issues the ban on the Noldor, then a lesser Vala, such as Manwe, is the one in the story who helps the Noldor. Or others from a long list of options: Varda could help them because the Eldar love her most, or Lorien could come to them in dreams, or Orome could help them on his rides through Middle-earth.

I should have originally asked: "Does the personality of Ulmo have to be the way it is? Was Tolkien so determined to make Ulmo the kindly renegade that he had no choice but to make him #2 since a renegade couldn't be #1? Or would it have been more logical and consistent with water being #1 that Ulmo should be #1, and the kindly renegade role would be assigned to someone else?"

When I think about it, Aule lives in Valinor, not underground caves, and Manwe may have a palace on a high mountain, but he doesn't float around in the sky all the time, so neither immerses themselves in their element as Ulmo does. What if Ulmo was like the others and ruled the sea from Valinor? That should be possible.

This is more "what if" than anything. I'm not criticizing Tolkien at all, I'm just puzzled that he made water #1 and Ulmo #2, not that it was a bad choice.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 2 2013, 7:19pm


Views: 1912
Stop me if you've heard this one, O Muse

But to keep at it, why couldn't hunter-gatherers, who sing (I'm guessing singing didn't come too long after people spoke), tell stories around the fire about the gods who sang individually? Such as, "The god Serpens sang to the stream, and snakes were born. The god Florian sang to the sky, and flowers were born." Or whatever. In a way, it seems odd that no one ever thought of music as a creative force before. Instead creation usually sounds like the work done by a craftsman.
Thinking about your question, I wonder if the answer isn't due to the fact that music is fundamentally about rhythm and repetition. It's quality is not originality in the sense that a spark or a new idea seem original to us. Music, both acoustical and verbal (as in poetry), is prized for its virtue in helping with accompaniment and in remembering. The later inventions of harmonies and polyphonies are what makes more sophisticated and modern forms of art-music seem "original" to us, but I question whether older and less sophisticated cultures perceived or performed their music in that spirit.

You might say that the stories told around the campfire would have been sung, so as to be more easily remembered and kept unchanged, but the singers would never assume that the god-figures who created their universes were singing a song to execute the creation. Given the nature of music, that would imply that the universes were well-known and already occupying their usual cyclical places in space-time, which is the opposite of creation!




squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 2 2013, 8:14pm


Views: 1955
Excellent insight--many thanks! //

 


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 3 2013, 4:54pm


Views: 1917
Another sung creation- the Kalevala

The Kalevala (A 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology) begins with the traditional Finnish creation myth:

Quote
"Creation, healing, combat and internal story telling are often accomplished by the character(s) involved singing of their exploits or desires. Many parts of the stories involve a character hunting or requesting lyrics (spells) to acquire some skill, such as boat-building or the mastery of iron making."
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalevala


(Not my own detective work here - it comes up in Tom Shippey's book " JRR Tolkien author of the century")


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 4 2013, 12:41am


Views: 1876
Well, no...

Ulmo doesn't have to be the way he is, of course. I do wonder, though, how far back the quote about water being #1 goes back. If it's a later conception, then Manwe and Ulmo's places in the story would have already been firmly established.

I really don't know. I do think, though, that much of it goes back to other mythologies with multiple gods. The god of the heavens seems to be #1, so it's probably why Manwe is as well.

I know it's not a very good argument or coherent thought, but it's all I've got right now Crazy

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


Eruonen
Valinor


Jan 4 2013, 9:31pm


Views: 1821
He was not far off of reality either............

http://news.bbc.co.uk/...e/nature/1304666.stm

Monday, 30 April, 2001, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Astronomers hear 'music of creation'

Big Bang...big drum boom and then...

"The presence of these so-called harmonic peaks bolsters the theory that the Universe grew from a tiny subatomic region during a period of violent expansion a split second after the Big Bang.

"Just as the difference in harmonic content allows us to distinguish between a flute or trumpet playing the same note, so the details of the harmonic content imprinted in the CMB allow us to understand the detailed nature of the Universe," said Dr Barth Netterfield, of the University of Toronto in Canada......"Now, we see not just one, but three of these peaks and can tell not only which note is being played, but also what instrument is playing it - we can begin to hear in detail the music of creation....."With today's results we know for sure that the music is there and we can interpret it.....There is no doubt that by listening carefully, and in new ways, we will learn even more."


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jan 4 2013, 9:33pm)


KingTurgon
Rohan

Jan 4 2013, 9:45pm


Views: 1841
Tolkien's Representation of the Trinity

One thought I have for all you Christians out there :)

Tolkien clearly shows that:
Eru=God the Father
The Flame Imperishable=The Holy Spirit

My question is, who represents Jesus? Nothing really jumps out at me in the Silmarillion even though I have been (and still am) a lifelong Catholic.


(This post was edited by KingTurgon on Jan 4 2013, 9:45pm)


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 4 2013, 10:12pm


Views: 1845
Jesus is Jesus

The Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth is pretty obviously pointing towards Jesus entering as Jesus. Even as a Christian myself, I'm not sure I like the idea. I've never liked the idea of Middle-earth as a pre-earth history. The Athrabeth is a fantastic work, don't get me wrong, but I don't like when it connects too obviously with our world.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


Eruonen
Valinor


Jan 4 2013, 11:18pm


Views: 1825
For JRRT the events of ME were prior to

any hint of the Christian story. ME societies were essentially pagan (his use of pre-Christian Anglo - Saxon, Norse, Finnish culture etc. etc ) However, he included the elements in his sub-creation for the later story to come about. Read Thomas Shippeys "The Road To Middle Earth" and many of the details will come into place.

Other books that discuss the theme...

The Gospel According to Tolkien - Ralph C Wood
Tolkien in Perspective - Greg Wright

There are many others...


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jan 4 2013, 11:20pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 4 2013, 11:32pm


Views: 1089
Gandalf, in some ways

Gandalf is certainly not Jesus, but there are some parallels between them (self-sacrifice, resurrection, not being recognized by followers after resurrection, etc). Otherwise, I don't see a clear candidate for Jesus in the Silmarillion.

It's funny how little information we get in the Bible about the Holy Spirit, and Tolkien gives us just as little about The Flame Imperishable--on purpose? I agree he intended it as the same thing.


The Gardener
Registered User

Jan 5 2013, 6:00am


Views: 1037
Creation is song

I am sure Squire is right in linking the idea that Eru and what follows comes through song to Tolkien's Catholicism. As a Catholic in those days all his knowledge of the Biblical view of God and Creation would have come through the Mass. The words of Genesis 1 itself would more than likely have first been heard sung.Think what it must have felt like to hear it like this and how almost without thinking Tolkien would first have thought of Creation as a song.

But not just Genesis but the great vision of heaven itself would all have been sung. Much of the texts of the Mass that evoke Heaven are from the Book of Revelation where the angels sing "Holy holy holy.Lord God of hosts.." or as he would have heard it "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus. Dominus Deus Sabaoth" so linking his love of God to his love of words and ideas expressed in another language, and all sung.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 5 2013, 7:40am


Views: 1044
Where's Eve? Or Varda?

Welcome to the Reading Room! (And welcome to KingTurgon also)

Since we're comparing Tolkien's Ainulindale to the Bible, we've already seen Original Sin in Melkor's fall. But Melkor doesn't get to blame it on his wife and in fact, there are no women mentioned at all in this chapter, not even the revered Varda, which seems odd. Most creation myths I perused involved a woman, I suppose because people naturally associate creation and women giving birth. Any guess why there's no mention of females here: not among the Ainur as they sang, and no women cronies of Melkor, and not a peep about Varda or Yavanna though we're introduced to Manwe, Ulmo, and Aule.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 5 2013, 9:03am


Views: 1068
Allegories - Contrast to The Lord of the Rings?

First - welcome KingTurgon!

Allegories! I think there's a interesting contrast to lotr here: Tolkien spends some of his Foreword to the 2nd edn being impatient with the idea of allegory ( in the strict sense of "This" = "That" - e.g "Sauron = Hitler") But it would be difficult not to see that going on for at least the 2 parts of the Trinity as KingTurgon points out. I've often wondered whether his critique of allegory might also be partly a shot at C S Lewis, whose use of Christian allegory in Narnia I personally find crude. Interesting, how we suppose on no evidence that authors we like would agree with us.... (Or at least it seems that I do this!)

I certainly don't mean to take things to the other extreme here and suggest that the story can't refer to anything outside itself- its just that the links don't needs to be so thumping as in Narnia...

Back to the Sil, Other things break the Trinity allegory down - we have an ultimate God in the Silmarillion, then a bunch of under-gods (which don't have a Christian pArallel I an think of, though this may be lack of knowledge about that faith on my part).

As a solo reader (without the benefit if this board!) I would be assuming JRRT is giving himself a sort of adapter between his own monotheistic faith and the polytheistic faith of his literary models. That could be totally facile on my part of course; or other interesting explanations could be advanced (please do). As asolo reader I probably would have stopped looking for further Christian parallels there, so will be interested to have any further ones suggested as we proceed.

Ps: , A friend of mine, a Cathic Priest, has this interesting blog post on Christian parallels in Narnia - http://frmartinflatman.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/a-film-to-express-the-incarnation/


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 5 2013, 9:11am)


squire
Half-elven


Jan 5 2013, 2:49pm


Views: 1023
Worship of Creation is song

It seems to me that in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, the songs of angels take place in a created world. After the fact, so to speak. That goes along with my feeling that, as forms that emphasizes rhythm and repetition, song and music are ideal for reflecting on and appreciating works of creation.

God in Genesis creates the world with words, not verses: "Let there be Light!", etc. The angels are nowhere to be seen or heard at that point. But as you say, once Genesis has occurred and is to be remembered ever after with joy and awe, then music takes its rightful place as the best means for that, which is worship.

Tolkien was not your average Catholic. As a student of language, literature, and mythology, he surely would have had more sources of knowledge about the Bible and its traditions of creation than what he heard at church services, even when he was relatively young and just writing the Ainulindale tradition for the first time (in 1919, when he was 28 - see BoLT I.2). And as has been pointed out elsewhere in this discussion, he was trying to write a polytheistic cosmology, with many "gods" and "goddesses", under the umbrella of a monotheistic theology which accorded with his own deepest beliefs. He wanted both, and in his literary imagination his Catholicism had to step aside to make room for pagan matters. He admitted that this led to interesting conflicts later on, in a charmingly modest phrase: "This is, of course, meant to provide beings of the same order of beauty, power, and majesty as the 'gods' of higher mythology, which can yet be accepted -- well, shall we say baldly, by a mind that believes in the Blessed Trinity." (JRRT, Letter 131, written ca. 1951)



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 6 2013, 5:56pm


Views: 1041
Jesus

First I wanted to say that I've wanted to join in the discussion, but putting my humble thoughts amongst those who have obviously have a greater understanding of Tolkien than I do is a little intimidating. But I wanted to give it a go :)

Following the comparison of Tolkien's works with the Bible, to me the Silmarillion is more of the Old Testament, and The Lord of the Rings as New Testament. Although the idea of a redeemer of Middle-earth doesn't seem to be clearly stated in the Silmarillion (although I suppose Earendil could be a Redeemer) as it was in the Old Testament for the Savior of Men, there is an analogy to Jesus for me: Frodo.

Frodo took the Ring to destroy it to save Middle-earth, knowing he may die in the process. He almost did die, as Gandalf states, before Aragorn heals him: "But you went to the very brink of death ere he [Aragorn] recalled you, putting forth all his power, and sent you into the sweet forgetfulness of sleep" (The Return of the King, The Field of Cormallen). Just as Jesus was, Frodo was a reluctant savior, but still followed his command/mission through to the end. In a way, this could have been the reincarnation. Frodo returns to the Shire, but realizes that he no longer belongs to Middle-earth, although he saved it for Mankind and the other beings who live there. He then goes "over the Sea" to the Blessed Realm, an analogy of Heaven.

So although the Quest of the Ring really isn't in the Silmarillion proper, the background set-up is.

I hope this makes some kind of sense. Thank you.

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 6 2013, 7:09pm


Views: 989
Interesting idea- glad you posted it //

 


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 6 2013, 8:02pm


Views: 1001
I know this isn't really a religion thread, but...

I absolutely must refute the idea that Jesus is a reluctant savior. That goes against everything written in the Bible, and is a gross misrepresentation of Christ. His whole ministry is about reconciling God with man through salvation.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 6 2013, 8:41pm


Views: 1001
Maybe "reluctant" isn't quite right,

Just that Jesus had at least a moment of doubt: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me...My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done" (Matthew 26:39, 42. New International Version Bible).

This is the comparison between Frodo and Jesus I meant. A moment of doubt, but realization that the journey must be seen to its conclusion.

I don't want to cause conflicts with what people believe. I consider myself a Christian, but others may not recognize that. I do not follow any organized religion, but have studied deeply many religions.
I see Jesus as a very insightful person, whose messages of love and caring for others are those that I try to humbly follow. I don't have blind faith, because I, like most humans, have an insatiable curiosity to learn, to seek knowledge; and these qualities must have been given to us (if there truly is a God) to do these very things: ask, seek, learn, disagree, discuss with others, keep learning. If I look through my local directory, I can find many Christian churches, many who disagree with each other on many issues (the Trinity being most notable to me). Which one is right? Which is true? I don't know. So I keep learning. These are my humble opinions.

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 6 2013, 9:14pm


Views: 984
Everyone's welcome to join in

And I'm glad you posted that--very lucid and cogent.

I've heard Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn compared to Jesus. I can see parallels in the first two, but have never been clear on Aragorn. I suppose he has a humble birth and becomes a great king, but that's more King Arthur (and many other stories) than religion.

Earendil is a savior of Elves and Men, but his life doesn't parallel Jesus' in many details that I can think of, and someone can be a savior without being Jesus. There were other saviors in The Bible besides Jesus (such as Esther), for that matter. Maybe one Earendil/Jesus comparison is that they both interceded with divine authority for the forgiveness of mortals. The departure is that only the Noldor needed forgiveness since the Sindar, Men, and Dwarves had done nothing wrong. For that reason, it doesn't put the Valar in that great of a light that they let other people suffer under Morgoth because of the fault of the Noldor, but the Old Testament God also has more rules and less leniency than the New one does.

Ataahua (moderator) made this recent comment on TORn's policy regarding religion. This site isn't against people discussing religion, just against people being hostile about that or any other topic.


Quote

A few years back we would not allow posts on some subjects at all because the discussions always, without fail, went down in flames. In recent years we've seen that the board community can discuss some very sensitive topics, such as religion, in a mature and respectful way - resulting in some pretty interesting discussions - so the admins became hands-off but watchful to see how each new discussion progresses. We'll step in only when it's necessary.



noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 6 2013, 10:15pm


Views: 965
Without wishing to curtail this discussion- what are our plans for the next chapter?

Do you plan to start a thread, CuriousG? Or would you be glad of volunteer thread-starters? When would we like to begin our next discussion? (I suppose that starting one does not necessarily mean stopping the other.)


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 6 2013, 10:19pm


Views: 970
Thank you, and my apologies to Ardamire

I had no intention of insulting anyone's beliefs--I have the greatest respect for all faiths. I only can speak from my heart as an ignorant human, and admit that I can be wrong.


Quote
A few years back we would not allow posts on some subjects at all because the discussions always, without fail, went down in flames. In recent years we've seen that the board community can discuss some very sensitive topics, such as religion, in a mature and respectful way - resulting in some pretty interesting discussions - so the admins became hands-off but watchful to see how each new discussion progresses. We'll step in only when it's necessary.

I would prefer we not go down in flames. So thank you again, and I appreciate the opportunity for joining my voice with all of yours.

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


Aragalen the Green
Gondor


Jan 6 2013, 10:24pm


Views: 990
A Beautiful Creation

I love Tolkien's Creation story, as a music lover. I've always wondered what the song sounded like. I imagine it was very long--a lot to sing into existence.

I thought I would give a try as well to answer at least one of the questions:


Quote
Why do you suppose Tolkien chose Manwe as the king of the world over Ulmo? Was he bowing to the influence of Norse and Greek myths that had the thunder/sky god as First God?

I think it may be that, although Ulmo is of the Waters and Manwe of the Airs, the air also holds water (as rain, mist, vapor, snow) and shares it with the earth, eventually returning to the Waters again; and then back to the Air. An endless cycle.

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 6 2013, 10:28pm


Views: 952
We can take turns. Whoever wants to do the Valaquenta, just say so, and post when you'd like.//

 


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 6 2013, 10:51pm


Views: 946
Didn't get my edit inserted in time. More info:

Since it can take time to write up a chapter post, we'd like to avoid two people working on the same one, so I think it's best if someone speaks up for a chapter before posting. You don't need to commit to a time when you'll post it, just let the rest of us know you've claimed it. If two people claim the same one, you can pm each other to sort it out.

I'm hoping we can keep this loosely structured. There was more structure in the past when there were more people chomping at the bit, so it was important to plan things out in advance. Now I think the best path would be to say at some point in a current chapter's discussion that you'd like to take the one after it, etc. We can discuss multiple chapters at the same time, but if someone wants to do "Of the Beginning of Days," they should speak up in the Valaquenta thread, not this one.

And remember there are virtually no do's and don't's in a chapter posting. I forgot that myself in the past and felt duty-bound to follow the formats of others. I can't find the thread, but someone who was new at it had a totally different (and concise) approach that worked very well for them: they listed a few points of "this is what we learn" and added a few points of "this is what I want to ask." Rather than try to conform to a format, just write down the things that interest you about a chapter, arrange that in the order that you'd like, and ask whatever questions interest you most.

Probably the only "do" that's required is to pose questions of some kind to get the discussion going: responders like a starting point. We wouldn't have gotten very far in this one if I'd said, "Creation story--discuss!"

Another "do:" please put the chapter title in the title of your post.


(This post was edited by CuriousG on Jan 6 2013, 10:56pm)


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 6 2013, 11:20pm


Views: 1037
Ah that passage

Well, if one bases their beliefs on the Bible (like I do) they must acknowledge that Jesus is fully human as well as fully God. As such, he had human emotions, and obviously the time before the passion story would have been a heavily emotional time. I don't think that should be taken as reluctance, especially with all the other passages of scripture that speak of him coming to specifically seek and save the lost.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 7 2013, 1:02pm


Views: 933
I will take the Reading Room to Valaquenta, though I... do not know the way. :)

I would be happy to start the next discussion (but also be happy to wait for a later turn if someone else particularly wants to start it off).

Whoever starts us off, Ive started a thread here http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=557415#557415 Admin announcement for now, and suggest we put any further planning as well as actual discussion in that thread, not under this thread.

Hope that's OK with everyone?


KingTurgon
Rohan

Jan 7 2013, 8:25pm


Views: 915
Earlier post

Thanks for all the welcomes everyone!

The Silmarillion is an incredibly deep book that I haven't really been able to discuss much with others up to this point, as it even took me, an avid LOTR fan, several readings to take in a lot of the deeper material. Already I've seen some intrigueing posts. :)


telain
Rohan

Jan 8 2013, 6:11pm


Views: 887
myth and music (and Manwe)


Quote
Myths generally reflect the ideas of a particular people in a particular historical moment. So perhaps he was torn between imitating the existing creation myths and writing something that is actually slightly more authentically mythological for his people in his historical moment.


Am I misremembering, or is not The Silmarilion written "by" or "from the perspective" of Elves? If so, it would make sense that the creation myth is sung and/or musically oriented. I wonder, too, if vocabulary limits the description, i.e., the word "music" is shorthand used to describe the creative process, but in fact (if we were Ainur) it would be much more than that.

Having said that, I absolutely love the visualization (auralization?) of music as the vehicle for creation. Lovely.

And a word on Manwe v. Ulmo. I think you and CuriousG have it right. Water is prevalent, and it is (almost) everywhere, but nothing seems to touch everything and be everywhere at once like air. The fact that it is "above" is also a strong element. Air is "over" water and it would take quite a different mindset to reverse the hierarchy of that image.


Oiotári
Tol Eressea


Jan 11 2013, 6:20am


Views: 863
I looove this "chapter"

so much so, that I'm doing my senior thesis (for my religion major) on it this coming semester (eeep!)
which brings me to

In Reply To
does anyone know of a creation story based on music?

None that I know of (as of now), but one of my ideas for my thesis is to do a comparison of creation stories, so I'll get back to you on that in a few months.
Still there is a similarity in that it was voice that brought the world into being in Genesis and the Ainulindalë.



In Reply To
Any ideas on why he didn’t sing them into existence?

Perhaps because there was no one to sing to?


In Reply To
The Music of the Ainur lives on in water, especially the Sea, and the Ainur considered water better than earth and air. Yet Ulmo isn’t the chief of the Valar. Why do you suppose Tolkien chose Manwe as the king of the world over Ulmo? Was he bowing to the influence of Norse and Greek myths that had the thunder/sky god as First God?

This also struck me on this read-through.
As we see in the further narrative, Ulmo wouldn't have made a particularly good leader (though if he was named leader he may have acted differently), so perhaps Ulmo was not chosen for that reason.
Or perhaps Ilúvatar chose Manwë because of his brother relationship to Melkor, so he would best oppose Melkor. But that is arguing from within the story, not about Tolkien's choices (please excuse my rambling, the thoughts, they are not fully formed before getting typed).



In Reply To
Do waterfalls and ocean waves sound musical to you, or is their sound their own and unrelated to music?

When listening to water, I think of its beauty, power and curious nature. I wouldn't say my first thought is music, though I can hear it as music. On the flip side, music often reminds me of water. So there's that...



In Reply To
Melkor’s sins: secrecy, pride, lust for power. What would you add?

Actually, I would remove secrecy and replace it with deception. Here's why / my thoughts:
There were two times when the word secrecy stood out to me (relating to Melkor)

Quote
and Melkor was filled with shame, of which came secret anger

at which point I questioned who it was a secret from and who knew of it

Quote
And thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secret thoughts of thy mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tribultary to its glory.

so I think his anger was secret even from himself
he will discover his secret thoughts and THEN perceive that they are part of the whole. It is not that he is just discoveries that they are part of the whole, he is discovering the truth of what his thoughts are to begin with.

and then there is

Quote
And he feigned, even to himself at first

which brought up questions like:
At what point did he realize the actual reasons for his actions?
What was his reaction upon realization?
and incidentally, this incident reminds me this of Melkor as an addict, trying to fool himself without realizing it



and now my random thoughts...

first some Genesis comparisons

Quote
and they were with him before aught else was made

This is just begging for a creatio ex nihilo vs creation out of chaos debate.

A short summary for those unfamiliar with the debate:
In translations of Gen1:1, there are alternate translations "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. All was void and without form..." and "In the beginning, WHEN God created..."
The first is creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing), since God brings everything into existence. Whereas the second is creation out of chaos, since the "stuff" of the world exists and has power of its own.
And each side has its own implications about evil in this world and God's power.

Anyhow, I'm probably boring you, but there is potential for a similar debate here. The Void is referred to, but does it mean that there was utterly nothing, or nothing was formed/created/made? And then in the quote above, does "was made" mean "was formed" or "was in existence"?


and more with Genesis, this time with Augustine too:
According to Augustine, the second creation story in Genesis was not simply a restatement of this first. Rather, the creation in 6 days (Gen1) was an instant in which everything was created potentially. Then the the second story (Gen2-3) happened in time (since it has dialogue) and is when everything is created actually. (I think he continues to say that this creation is still going on, but I can't remember for sure)
Sound familiar? The world is created in song in the Timeless Halls, and then created actually in time. The Ainur entered into the world at the beginning of time.


And now some snippets of thoughts...


Quote
and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into depths and into the heights

In what way did they pass beyond hearing? In pitch? spatially? volume?
Or perhaps did they pass beyond in that they became more, seemed tangible?


compare

Quote
many trumpets braying upon a few notes


Quote
Then he raised up both his hands, and in one chord

Observation: notes show knowledge and ability, but a chord shows understanding



Quote
When therefore Earth was yet young and full of flame Melkor coveted it

Is that flame the Flame Imperishable (which doesn't diminish, but was perhaps more obvious) or the "great fires" that Melkor kindled?



Okay, that's enough of my rambling and questions without answers.
I should go read the thread now. (or sleep first)


..The land of long-forgotten name:
......no man may ever anchor near;
..No steering star his hope may aim,
......for nether Night its marches drear,
..And waters wide no sail may tame,
......with shores encircled dark and sheer.

..O! Haven where my heart would be!
......the waves beat upon thy bar
..For ever echo endlessly,
......when longing leads thy thought afar


(This post was edited by Oiotári on Jan 11 2013, 6:21am)


Oiotári
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2013, 8:45pm


Views: 841
No women were mentioned by name

but there was reference to the existence of both "male" and "female" Ainur, when the Valar took on physical forms.

It is slightly strange that Varda isn't mentioned, but only four (?) valar were mentioned by name: Melkor, Manwë, Ulmo, and Aulë. Varda's association isn't one of the major elements, and she is not a force of opposition, so it's not overly surprising.

But your point about women being associated with giving birth, life, etc does make it a curious absence.


..The land of long-forgotten name:
......no man may ever anchor near;
..No steering star his hope may aim,
......for nether Night its marches drear,
..And waters wide no sail may tame,
......with shores encircled dark and sheer.

..O! Haven where my heart would be!
......the waves beat upon thy bar
..For ever echo endlessly,
......when longing leads thy thought afar


Oiotári
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2013, 9:02pm


Views: 840
If we read that passage, perhaps it is not so clear


Quote
But this condition Ilúvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs.


The boldfaced part makes it sound like it may not have been Ilúvatar's rule, but their own nature that did not allow them to leave. The Ainur who entered the world did so because they cared deeply for it, and so if they cared so deeply for it, why would they leave it before it came to fulfillment?

Do we ever read that any of the Ainur desired to leave the world? (note: not rhetorical)


..The land of long-forgotten name:
......no man may ever anchor near;
..No steering star his hope may aim,
......for nether Night its marches drear,
..And waters wide no sail may tame,
......with shores encircled dark and sheer.

..O! Haven where my heart would be!
......the waves beat upon thy bar
..For ever echo endlessly,
......when longing leads thy thought afar


Oiotári
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2013, 9:32pm


Views: 861
saying Eä


In Reply To
I think Eru didn't sing the Ainur into existence to show that they are separate from Ea. He thinks them into existence and then they assist (or at least, He uses them) in the creation of the world. ... Eru's creation goes from thought to sound (the music) to actual spoken word Ea. I think he doesn't say Ea until the end, right?


I like that thought.

When the Valar enter the world, we are told that


Quote
they are its [the world's] life and it is theirs


Yet it an important distinction that Ainur =/= Eä
They are integral to one another, but not the same.



Also, another random thought which popped into my head regarding Eru saying simply "Eä":
If I recall correctly, there is a midrash in the Jewish Talmud which says that when God created the world, he did so by saying his name and that if anyone could say his name perfectly again, the world would be re-created.
(Don't take this as authoritative, I'm just going of something I seem to recall hearing in a religion course)


..The land of long-forgotten name:
......no man may ever anchor near;
..No steering star his hope may aim,
......for nether Night its marches drear,
..And waters wide no sail may tame,
......with shores encircled dark and sheer.

..O! Haven where my heart would be!
......the waves beat upon thy bar
..For ever echo endlessly,
......when longing leads thy thought afar


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 16 2013, 3:28am


Views: 803
Good point about no one to sing to

If Eru is alone, he has only his thoughts to keep him company, so the Ainur spring from his thoughts. Though if he had Bombadil's personality, he'd be singing to himself all the time. Do you suppose the Great Music was really a bunch of "merry dol! derry dol!"?

It makes sense that Manwe was chosen to lead the Valar against his brother, but Tolkien could have made Ulmo Melkor's brother. I don't want to beat a dead horse, however, or even a dead Vala.

I like your point about deception being Melkor's sin. It was Sauron's too, who feigned to himself after Melkor's great defeat that he really would shape up and behave like a good guy, but like an addict, he fell back into his old ways. (Is there a 12-step program for fallen angels?)

Something else dysfunctional about Melkor is that he seems angry ALL THE TIME. I suppose that explains his motives for being so destructive, because if you're happy and calm you don't usually topple mountains. I wonder if professional psychologists have a field day reading about him.

The Void: there is some scant mention of Iluvatar making regions for the Ainur to dwell in before Arda is made, and that's regions in the plural. That seems to imply some sort of non-chaotic chunk of Existence. It's never clear to me if Existence according to Tolkien is Order surrounded by Chaos, or just Order. But I did read that quite a few creation myths see chaos first, then creation bringing order to it. Seems to be a human psyche thing.

Thanks for connecting the two stories of Genesis to Tolkien's 2-part creation--makes a lot of sense, and I'd never see that on my own.

Re: music passing away: I vote for intangible.

And for fire and Arda, excellent observation about the contradiction. Flame Imperishable shouldn't perish, and Melkor shouldn't really be coveting his own flames. Maybe that should be taken very loosely, just that the Earth was fresh and "hot out of the oven." Anyone who loves bread like me covets it when it's fresh!


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 16 2013, 3:30am


Views: 814
I wonder about Tulkas leaving

He showed up for a fight, because he likes fights, but he seems a restless sort, and I have a gut feeling that he would want to leave on occasion (and return), but the rules don't allow it. But we never hear of a Vala wanting to leave, unless it's in the HOME series.


sador
Half-elven


Jan 16 2013, 10:52am


Views: 525
Late for the party

This has become quite a Christianity thread! I must take care to tread softly...
I'll follow your questions as best as I can.


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Googling various creation myths, I didn’t come up with any that were based on music, so Tolkien wins the innovation prize. Or prove me wrong: does anyone know of a creation story based on music? (I read one argument that Genesis was meant to be sung or chanted, but that’s not the same.)


Just two short notes:
1. The choir of angels Gardner mention originally comes from Isaiah 6:3; however, as squire said, this is post-creation. A much better comparison would be to Job 38:4-6.
2. In A Cultural Phenomenon, Brian Rosebury discusses the Ainulindale as a creation story, contrasting it with Hobbes' Leviathan. Very interesting stuff! A summary and discussion can be found here.


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Eru is given no beginning, but the Ainur have one and come from his thought. Any ideas on why he didn’t sing them into existence?

Who said he didn't? He modulated frequencies, out of which the Ainur came to being. There were no ears present to identify it as music - but was there, or wasn't there, the matter in which the waves would create sound?
Does it matter?


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It’s not simple music: “Sing! A world!” Instead it’s a dramatic story of competing themes, where original beauty and harmony clash with vanity and discord in a near-war. Not only does the Great Music create, it spells out the fate of the world and its peoples. On first read, I was confused by the complexity of all this, but now I enjoy it. What’s your first reaction?


My first reaction? Confused is not enough to describe it. I was completely bemused - by all of the book.


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Why do you suppose Tolkien chose Manwe as the king of the world over Ulmo? Was he bowing to the influence of Norse and Greek myths that had the thunder/sky god as First God?

Water is after all a part of earth. The sky encompasses it.
The Music lives most strongly in the Sea, because it is the best medium to preserve it. That's all.


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Do waterfalls and ocean waves sound musical to you, or is their sound their own and unrelated to music?


I think they do.
At any rate, their sound is not their own - it is a part of the greater harmony of the World, of Nature, of G-d if you like.


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Melkor’s sins: secrecy, pride, lust for power. What would you add?

Someone wrote that the problem is not secrecy but deception. I agree.



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What else would you add?


He adheres to classical theodicy: Eru is good. And His good is shown to the utmost in granting His creatures the freedom to act independently, even for evil. But in the end, He somehow mysteriously turns even that evil to the greater good.


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Bonus question: if you wrote a creation story, what would you base it on? Cooking? Painting? Manufacturing? Computers? Laughter?


Those are some interesting ideas! But I'm really not into this kind of stories.