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Report on Mythcon 40, July 17-20 at UCLA
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Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 22 2009, 11:34pm

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Report on Mythcon 40, July 17-20 at UCLA Can't Post

Here is my brief report on the conference.

We arrived on Friday evening, too late to attend any of the papers or festivities. But I did get to meet a few people, including David Bratman, the "reader" who made such excellent suggestions for revising my book, leading to it's publication.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, everyone gathered outside for a processional, and then the opening ceremonies, lead by the conference chairperson, Sarah Beach. One comment that she made caught my attention. She mentioned that there had been some pushback to her choice of James Owen as the author guest of honor. I guess that must have been because he uses fictionalized accounts of the Inklings in his books, taking broad liberties with the facts. But over the course of the weekend, I found Mr. Owen to be both quite witty and engaging, and also quite knowledgeable about the Inklings. He took part in a number of panels and had a lot of good things to say.

Following the opening ceremonies, Diana Pavlac Glyer, author of last year's MythSoc Inklings scholarship award for her book on the Inklings, The Company They Keep and the scholar guest of honor, gave her keynote address, entitled "Sailing Out to Sea In Our "Coracle of Verses." The title was taken from a line in the prologue poem of the first book published by C.S. Lewis, a book of verses entitled Spirits in Bondage: A Cycle of Lyrics published in 1919 under the name Clive Hamilton. The line in the poem is "In my coracle of verses I will sing of lands unknown." For those who don't know (I didn't), a coracle is a small, simple round one person boat used in different places, mostly in Asia. In true college professor form, Dr. Glyer passed out handouts of the full poem, and went through whole thing. She used the idea of the coracle as a metaphor for this early "primitive" work by Lewis as a precursor for much of the work of the Inklings. It was a lovely talk which I enjoyed very much. I've never been much of a fan of Lewis's, but I really like this poem, particularly the last two lines, which could easily be referring to important aspects of Tolkien's work (though of course at this point the two of them had no idea of the existence of the other):

Sing about the Hidden Country fresh and full of quiet green
Sailing over seas uncharted to a port that none has seen

This was followed by the "Keynote Panel" entitled "Inklings and Creative Community." It was basically a discussion about how to work in collaboration with others. The panel consisted of Dr. Glyer, James Owen, the fantasy author Tim Powers, conference chairperson Sarah Beach, and Sam McBride, author of Women Among the Inklings. I found the comments of Owen and Powers to be the most interesting. It was particularly amusing when the panel members were asked about advice about how to work in collaborations, and Powers replied "Don't." He then clarified that he meant that it was better to not work in a collaboration than to try to force one that didn't really work. I thought that made a lot of sense.

After lunch, I attended a paper called "Divine Intervention in The Lord of the Rings" by a young man named Sklyler King, instead of Sam McBride's paper "The Company They Didn't Keep: The Influence of Inklings Outsiders" (there was also a Roundtable discussion on Young Adult Fantasy going on at the same time). I wish I had attended McBride's presentation. King mostly reviewed material familiar to any serious reader of Tolkien's work, without giving much in the way of his own perspective. He was clearly nervous, and in addition to many ums and uhs he spoke too fast and often lost his place. His paper was badly organized and went on too long. In addition, some of his facts were simply wrong. Most grievous was probably his statement that the only way that mortals could reach the undying lands was by dying. There is nowhere in Tolkien's work that I can think of where he says that mortals go to the undying lands when they die; on the contrary, they leave the "circles of the world." King had a few good things to say, and I certainly applaud him for trying, and encourage him to keep studying Tolkien, but I have to say that his paper was the low point of the conference for me.

One of the reasons that I was annoyed that King went overly long is that I was scheduled to follow him with my paper, "Reconstructing Arda: The Second Prophecy of Mandos." I ended up starting about ten minutes late, but that was okay. I'm happy to report that my presentation went quite well, and my paper seemed to be quite well received. I'm not particularly well-versed in public speaking, but I think I did okay; the audience seemed to be paying close attention. My paper was partly taken from the discussion about the Second Prophecy in my book, but expanded greatly (I would say that less than half of it closely tracked the discussion in the book). Most of what I added related to detailing the history of the Prophecy (including an interesting parallel with Tolkien's newly published poem "The Lay of the Volsangs," pointed out to me in a thread here by solicitr) and the books of Clyde Kilby and Elizabeth Whittingham, which I felt very much helped bolster my argument that Tolkien did not intend to remove the Second Prophecy from the Quenta, and that it provided an important element to his mythology. There were a number of quite insightful comments and questions at the end, most of which seemed to be supportive of my view (and some of which provided some additional rationales that I had not thought of before). Overall, it was a satisfying experience, though quite draining to be the center of attention like that.

After I presented my paper, I took an hour off to recharge my batteries a bit. I probably would have attended Angie Gardner's paper "The Life and Times of Hilary Tolkien" among the four (!) different presentations going on that time, but I missed it.

Following that came my one big dilemma of the weekend, with two papers that I was interested in seeing. David Bratman was in the Auditorium presenting a paper on "The Inklings in Fiction." And Janet Croft was in Plaza A, presenting "Naming the Evil One: Onomastic Strategies in Tolkien and Rowling." Even though I haven't read Rowling, I ended up deciding to attend Croft's paper. I'm glad I did, because I enjoyed it a lot, but I hear that Bratman's paper was a real tour de force, and I'm sorry that I missed it. But that's the way it goes sometimes at these conferences. I chose Croft's paper because I really am interested in the power of names and naming, and I thought her discussion was lively and erudite. She focused mostly on the naming strategies used by and for Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman in Tolkien's work, and Voldemort in Rowling's work (with a little of discussion of the applications of names to Gollum by Frodo and Sam). I thought it was a fascinating subject, and one that can be mined much further. (In fact, Croft indicated that she was particularly interested in exploring and comparing the different ways that Turin and Aragorn each collected their multitude of different names). I even found the discussion of Voldemort interesting, even though I haven't read the Potter books. I was interested to note that the bulk of the questions and comments at the end were about Rowling, not Tolkien.

Following this, I stuck around the Plaza A for Bill Stoddard's paper "Simbelmynë: Mortality and Memory in Middle-earth" skipping the roundtable discussion on Teaching Tolkien led by Leslie Donovan, and the Panel on Fantasy in Art and Other Media. This was another excellent paper. Stoddard has a slow, quiet, soothing voice that I found particularly well-suited to his subject, which again was one that I was quite interested in. I thought Stoddard did an excellent job of showing the interplay between the mortality of Man and the longeval deathlessness of the Elves with memory in Middle-earth. A very worthwhile paper.

That ended the scholarly presentations for the day. After dinner, there was a "Reader's Theatre" presenting an adaptation of Dorothy Sayer's play Love All, adapted by Sherwood Smith. It was quite entertaining. David Bratman in particular was excellent as a writer who has run off to Venice with his actress mistress. Unfortunately, by this point I was exhausted and left towards the end, missing the masquerade that followed entirely.

The following morning, I really wanted to attend Mike Foster's discussion "In the Belly of the Balrog: Tolkien and the Book of Jonah" but my computer crashed and I ended up missing almost the whole thing while I fiddled with it. Pity; that would have been interesting.

On the brighter side, while I was waiting for my computer to reboot, I spent the time reviewing what I wanted to say in the panel that I was scheduled to sit on at 10:00 a.m. on Tolkien in the 21st Century, and I'm glad I did. The panel was moderated by Nancy Martsch, editor of the newsletter Beyond Bree, and consisted of her, myself, Janet Croft, Tolkien linguist Arden Smith, and Leslie Donovan, a professor who teaches both medieval studies and Tolkien. We started out with a discussion of the films and how they influenced interest in Tolkien, led by Janet Croft (who edited the book Tolkien on Film). I then led a discussion about Tolkien on the internet and how the films have sparked a tremendous amount of discussion about Tolkien's work on the internet, some of it very insightful. I mentioned that the Reading Room was one place where a lot of serious discussion about Tolkien took place, and that a number of denizens here contributed entries to the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia edited by Michael Drout, and I also pointed out that my own book started as a discussion at thehalloffire.net. I also mentioned that the messageboards that have sprung up as a result of the films have done more than provide a venue to discuss the films and Tolkien's work; they have also provided a community in which people can discuss a lot more than just Tolkien-related issues, and have been a venue that have allowed people to make life-long friends. I was pleased that I had had the opportunity to review what I wanted to say, because I was able to make my initial remarks without reading them or referring to notes, and with no ums or uhs. This was followed by a discussion led by Leslie Donovan about teaching Tolkien and about the increase in scholarly works about Tolkien. Arden Smith then talked about what is going on with the linguistic works of Tolkien that he and his three colleagues are editing and publishing. Nancy then asked each of to state what we would like to see more of in Tolkien studies. Most of the rest of the panel focused on discussion of Tolkien's shorter works. I added a different idea; the need for more criticism of Tolkien by people who understand and appreciate his work. My point was that virtually all of the negative comments about Tolkien's work have been made by people who have no understanding of or appreciation for what he did. In response, it seems like Tolkien scholars have had to bend over backwards to show why Tolkien should be appreciated. But no one is perfect, not even Tolkien, and criticism of his work by people who have studied it and understand and appreciate it would be so much more valuable than the superficial criticism made by mainstream literary critics. Nancy also had me give a short overview of the situation with the Tolkien v. New Line lawsuit (with N.E.B. giving her a good opening to do so). We ended with a short but fairly vigorous question and answer session.

After that panel, I caught about half of the panel discussion on "Lewis versus the World" in which panelists Sarah Beach, James Owen, Glen Goodnight (the founder of the Mythopoeic Society, attending his first conference in years), Don Williams and Hannah Thomas. The discussion focused mainly on the attacks on Lewis by Philip Pullman and other atheists, and was very lively to say the least. The highlight for me was when Don Williams made the point that "new atheists" don't seem to have any understanding of what people of faith believe or why (and that many people of faith don't understand what atheists believe, and why), and then recited from memory the poem of an "old atheist," Thomas Hardy, ending by saying that he could never imagine Richard Dawkins saying anything like that.

After lunch, we decided to get away for a bit, and took a walk to the Fowler Museum of Culture, so we missed that afternoon's presentations. The main thing that I am disappointed that we missed was a Homage to Pauline Baynes, a slideshow presented by Glen Goodnight. We got back in time for the live auction at 4:00 p.m. There was a silent auction through the weekend, but anything that got more than two bids went to the live auction. I had donated a signed copy of my book. I have to admit, I was quite entertained by the fact that my book was the one item to incite a bidding war, with it finally going to Arden Smith (who amused himself and me by translating the fragment of the inscription that can be seen on the cover).

That night was the banquet, with lots of good food and drink and better company. Glen Goodnight made an emotional speech talking about his history founding the society and history with it. Then James Owen made his keynote address. He talked a little bit about a paper that he written about the Silmarillion when he was fourteen that was about one loremaster passing on knowledge of this history to the next. He really caught his stride when he told a story about how he was recently given a tape recording that he had made when he was two years old, in which he was leaving instructions for "big Jamie" to be reminded about how to fly. Really moving stuff.

This was followed by the entertainment for the evening. First was the very hilarious "Dead Inklings Panel" in which David Bratman played Tolkien, James Owen played Charles Williams, Donald Williams played C.S. Lewis, and two others (whose names escape me right now) played Warnie Lewis and Dorothy Sayers. It was hilarious. The main point was that they were critiquing and criticizing Diana's book about them. I was shocked and ultimately quite pleased that my paper was also spoofed, with Donald Williams as "C.S. Lewis" commenting about "that version of the Silmarillion that got published, it didn't even have the Second Prophecy of Mandos in it" and then Bratman as Tolkien riffing on that further. Next was a musical interlude led by Mike Foster of songs by Bob Dylan adapted to Tolkien themes. Very clever. Finally, there was the skit by the "Not Ready for Mythcon Players" about three pirates based on Tolkien, Lewis and Williams searching for treasure. The funniest line was probably when the introduced "Long John Tolkien" and he said "my name is "Ron" not "John". This was a reference to the fact that in his books, Owen refers to the Tolkien character as "John" even though he was always "Ronald" (or "Tollers") to his intimates. But the funniest thing was Arden Smith dressed as cheerleader, complete with fake breasts, because there was a cheer-leading competition or conference, or something, that was going on the same place all weekend.
The following morning we got up early and flew home, so we missed all of the presentations that day, as well as the closing ceremonies. Oh well. Still, it was definitely a very enjoyable and educational experience. I particularly enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with N.E.B. -- who is fully as kind, considerate, and intelligent in real life as he appears to be on-line -- and getting to meet and chat with Drogo, and Arquen and her daughter OrcKid (undoubtably I missed someone, sorry if I did!)

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 23 2009, 12:58am

Post #2 of 36 (4364 views)
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Great report! [In reply to] Can't Post

"Well, one can't be everywhere at once, I suppose...But I missed a lot, seemingly." It is hard to choose between events that are scheduled simultaneously!

Thank you for these detailed descriptions! I wish they'd tape some of these things, I'd love to have seen the "Dead Inklings Panel" and the Players' parody of Owen's stories, as well as David Bratman's, Janet Croft's, and Mike Foster's papers.

And congrats on creating the biggest tussle at the Auction! Laugh


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915



drogo
Lorien


Jul 23 2009, 1:04am

Post #3 of 36 (4377 views)
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Great report [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the summary--that just shows the kind of various scholarly and downright fun activities that go on at Mythcons. We treat our Guests of Honor to food sculptures at the banquet: Diana Glyer received a lot fo breadroll coracles (one of the motifs in Lewis she talked about in her presentation), and in honor of Owens's There Will Be Dragons, many had chicken bones on plates and called that "There Were Chickens Here." Yes, we do odd things like that.

Anyway, It was very good to meet you along with N.E, Arquen, and Orckid in LA, and I really enjoyed hearing your paper and panel discussion on the internet (especially the part about the Reading Room Encyclopedists project! Smile).

I hope you can come to Dallas next July for Mythcon 41. Visualweasel from the RR is the co-chair of the committee, and I'll be the registrar for that one. It's always fun to run into TORNadoes at these events!


(This post was edited by drogo on Jul 23 2009, 1:05am)


drogo
Lorien


Jul 23 2009, 1:16am

Post #4 of 36 (4354 views)
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*Waves at dernwyn* [In reply to] Can't Post

Hard to believe it was a year ago when we were at the Connecticut Mythcon. Hope you're well!

I will say that the food at UCLA was better, though instead of football players we had a sea of cheerleaders, French exchange students, and a mass of other campers sharing the space with us. But at leat the rooms had beds with sheets!


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 23 2009, 1:23am

Post #5 of 36 (4348 views)
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*waves back* [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey there, drogo! Good to "see" you again!

I have the feeling that Central Conn. University was unaccustomed to hosting conferences...Crazy

It sounds like you all had a terrific time - I'd forgotten about the "food sculptures"! Laugh


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915



Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 23 2009, 4:05am

Post #6 of 36 (4369 views)
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I forgot to mention the food art [In reply to] Can't Post

That was great. I also didn't mention the book toss or the Golfimbul, because I didn't participate in either of those.

I do hope to make it to Dallas next year. We'll see!

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 4:35am

Post #7 of 36 (4363 views)
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What about Luthien catching up with Beren? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
There is nowhere in Tolkien's work that I can think of where he says that mortals go to the undying lands when they die; on the contrary, they leave the "circles of the world."


Doesn't Luthien catch up with Beren's spirit in the Halls of Mandos, and doesn't she convince Mandos to release Beren's spirit so he can return to Middle-earth? Doesn't that indicate that the Halls of Mandos function as a kind of purgatory or limbo for mortal spirits before they leave the "circles of the world"?


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 4:58am

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Also, [In reply to] Can't Post

in the appendix to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in Morgoth's Ring, doesn't Tolkien explain that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the time of recollection in those silent halls"?

Doesn't Tolkien also say in The Silmarillion that "some say" the spirits of men also go for a time to the Halls of Mandos, although not to the same place as the spirits of the elves?


(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 23 2009, 5:02am)


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 23 2009, 5:28am

Post #9 of 36 (4343 views)
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Yes, that's true, but ... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that is probably a product of the fact that Tolkien never edited the Quenta material on Beren and Luthien after the Lord of the Rings was written. In the pre-Lord of the Rings Quenta Silmarillion version of the Second Prophecy (which comes from the same time period as the text that was mostly used for the chapter on Beren and Luthien), it states that when Turin killed Morgoth in the last battle he was "coming from the halls of Mandos" which is consistent with the Beren and Luthien account. However, in the final post-LOTR edits that Tolkien made to the Quenta Second Prophecy account, he specifically changed that to say that he was "returning from the Doom of Men at the ending of the world." This change implies to me that he no longer believe that men went to the halls of Mandos, even for some kind of purgatory or limbo.

In any event, the impression that I got from the talk was that Mr. King meant to imply that men went to the undying lands to stay when they died, and that is clearly not correct. N.E.B. can correct me if he had a different impression from that statement.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 6:04am

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"YA panel in next room sounds like fun!" [In reply to] Can't Post

That's from my notes on King's talk, which are not very good. I remember him suggesting that men (or hobbits?) would go to Valinor when they died, thought perhaps I should query it, mused for a moment on the example of Beren that Curious has raised --and which I mentioned last month on the Mythsoc list, remembering dna's observation during our Children of Húrin discussion that Beren is dead for some three years-- and then forgot to make a note as I tried to follow the rest of King's paper. Anyway, he ran too long for questions.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
We're discussing The Hobbit in the Reading Room, Mar. 23 - Aug. 9. Everyone is welcome!

Join us July 20-26 for "The Return Journey".

And starting August 10: The Silmarillion!
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How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 7:22am

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Turin still could have [In reply to] Can't Post

gone to the Halls of Mandos for a time, just not until the end of time.


a.s.
Valinor


Jul 23 2009, 11:14am

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Dallas 2010!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the report on Mythcon. Wasn't the food art fun? And I'm happy to hear your paper and panel went well.

I hope I can make it to Dallas next year.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Pooh began to feel a little more comfortable, because when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.



Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 23 2009, 2:23pm

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It's possible [In reply to] Can't Post

To me the fact that Tolkien made a point of eliminating the reference to the Halls of Mandos is a pretty good indication that he did not to have it be implied that Men went there, even to wait to leave the Circles of the World. But it is certainly possible to interpret it differently, since he doesn't explicitly state that they do not. Of course, he also doesn't explicitly state that fish fly in Middle-earth, but I chose not to believe that they do.

Your point has made me think of one other thing. On the manuscript where Tolkien changed the language about Turin going to the Halls of Mandos to saying that he came from the Doom of Men, there is a note in the margin that says "Beren Camlost" with no specific indication of where to insert it. I have interpreted that as perhaps implying that he was considering adding Beren to the Prophecy, so that he also returns from the Doom of Men to participate in the last battle. That is how Elizabeth Whittingham interprets that note in her book The Evolution of Tolkien's Mythology. However, it occurs to me in the course of this discussion that that might be a note to himself to go back and make a similar change in Beren's story, so that it no longer says that tarried in the halls of Mandos, but rather says that he allowed to return from the Doom of Men at Luthien's prayer. I think that is more likely.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 2:39pm

Post #14 of 36 (4348 views)
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Well, if he had once said that fish fly, [In reply to] Can't Post

and had never gone back to change it, then I would choose to believe that they fly until offered proof that they don't. And what if he did consider changing it? He thought about changing the story of the Two Trees and the Fall of Numenor as well, but that doesn't cause me to discard everything he wrote before he had that thought.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 2:52pm

Post #15 of 36 (4324 views)
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Nice thought about the "Camlost" note! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
We're discussing The Hobbit in the Reading Room, Mar. 23 - Aug. 9. Everyone is welcome!

Join us July 20-26 for "The Return Journey".

And sign up for The Silmarillion!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 23 2009, 5:07pm

Post #16 of 36 (4326 views)
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Hmmm? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
[Well, if had once said that fish fly,] and had never gone back to change it, then I would choose to believe that they fly until offered proof that they don't.

It doesn't seem to matter whether he changes something or not, to you. He changed the statement that Turin returned from the halls of Mandos to saying that he returned from the doom of Men, but you still believe that he did return from the halls of Mandos, or at least that he might have.

Quote
And what if he did consider changing it? He thought about changing the story of the Two Trees and the Fall of Numenor as well, but that doesn't cause me to discard everything he wrote before he had that thought.

Does every version of every story have equal weight? Does an author not have the right to revise their own work as his or her ideas evolve, and have the revised version accepted as having superceded the previous version? Particularly when he never published the previous version himself?

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jul 23 2009, 5:07pm

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Coracles [In reply to] Can't Post

They have coracles in Asia? I always thought of them as a Celtic invention. Thank you for this and the many, many other gifts in your post.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jul 23 2009, 5:13pm

Post #18 of 36 (4323 views)
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Besides... [In reply to] Can't Post

Some fish do fly! http://images.google.com/...poSq2ZFoLatgOFx6iWBQ

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 5:19pm

Post #19 of 36 (4325 views)
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No, that's not what I believe. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
He changed the statement that Turin returned from the halls of Mandos to saying that he returned from the doom of Men, but you still believe that he did return from the halls of Mandos, or at least that he might have.


No, I just look for an explanation that is consistent with all the evidence, if possible. Turin could have gone to the halls of Mandos for a time of reflection before moving onward to the doom of Men, just as Beren did, and just as Tolkien says Frodo did. There's nothing inconsistent there. There's no need to throw out the idea that any mortal ever went to the Halls of Mandos.

The only revision I see is that Turin was not in the halls of Mandos at the end of time. That doesn't revise what happened to Beren or Frodo or the rest of the mortals before they moved on to their doom.

I'll admit, I'm not as familiar with HoME as you are. But you haven't shown me anything that revises Beren's fate -- you've only speculated that Tolkien had such a revision in mind, based on what looks like very little evidence.



Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 23 2009, 5:21pm

Post #20 of 36 (4322 views)
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According to Dr. Glyer [In reply to] Can't Post

They are still in use today in places like Vietnam and Tibet (if I recall correctly what she said). Let's see what Wikipedia says about coracles:


Quote


A coracle (Welsh: cwrwgl) is a small, lightweight boat used mainly in Wales but also in parts of Western and South Western England, Ireland, and Scotland, as well as India, Vietnam, Iraq and even Tibet[1].



I remember now that she said that the name was Welsh, and wrote out the Welsh spelling, stating that she did not know how to pronounce it in Welsh.

She noted that coracles appear four times in Lewis works, the last time in Voyage of the Dawn Treader when the mouse Reepicheep sets off on his own in his small Coracle to find Aslan's country. Or something like that (I've not read any of Narnia since I was a child, though I should.)

Thanks for your kind words. Smile

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 23 2009, 5:58pm

Post #21 of 36 (4318 views)
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Why change it? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

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He changed the statement that Turin returned from the halls of Mandos to saying that he returned from the doom of Men, but you still believe that he did return from the halls of Mandos, or at least that he might have.


No, I just look for an explanation that is consistent with all the evidence, if possible. Turin could have gone to the halls of Mandos for a time of reflection before moving onward to the doom of Men, just as Beren did, and just as Tolkien says Frodo did. There's nothing inconsistent there. There's no need to throw out the idea that any mortal ever went to the Halls of Mandos.

The only revision I see is that Turin was not in the halls of Mandos at the end of time. That doesn't revise what happened to Beren or Frodo or the rest of the mortals before they moved on to their doom.

If Tolkien still believed that Turin (or other mortals) went initially to the Halls of Mandos before leaving the Circles of the World, then why change that at all? Why not leave it in place? The only way it makes sense is if he had decided that mortals do not go to the halls of Mandos when they die. Contrary to what you say, Tolkien never said anything about Frodo going to the halls of Mandos for a period of reflection when he died. On the contrary, what Tolkien said was that Frodo was given a special dispensation to go to Tol Eressea while he was still alive for a period of reflection. As Tolkien said in Letter 246:

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Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him – if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to 'pass away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within Time. So he went both to a purgatory and to a reward, for a while: a period of reflection and peace and a gaining of a truer understanding of his position in littleness and in greatness, spent still in Time amid the natural beauty of 'Arda Unmarred', the Earth unspoiled by evil.

And later in Letter 325:

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As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time – whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer 'immortality' upon them. Their sojourn was a 'purgatory', but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing.

I think it is utterly clear that Tolkien had come to the belief that when mortals passed away -- died -- they went to a place about which the Elves knew nothing. Not to the Halls of Mandos. And that is why he changed the statement about Turin returning from the hall of Mandos, and why he probably would have changed Beren's story had he gotten around to it.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 6:18pm

Post #22 of 36 (4320 views)
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In the the appendix [In reply to] Can't Post

to the "Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth" in Morgoth's Ring, after explaining that the spirits of dead mortals go to the halls of Mandos, and that only Mandos and Manwe know where they go "after the time of recollection in those silent halls", Tolkien makes the following comment on Frodo:


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The sojourn of Frodo in Eressea - then on to Mandos? - was only an extended form of this. Frodo would eventually leave the world (desiring to do so). So that the sailing in ship was equivalent to death.



This is consistent with the letters you quote.

If Tolkien still believed that Turin (or other mortals) went initially to the Halls of Mandos before leaving the Circles of the World, then why change that at all? Why not leave it in place?

Because Tolkien decided that Turin was not confined to the Halls of Mandos for all eternity, which would have been unusual for mortals, although perhaps fitting for Turin, considering his crimes.




Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 23 2009, 6:47pm

Post #23 of 36 (4316 views)
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Good point [In reply to] Can't Post

You make a good point. I'll concede that Tolkien retained the possibility that mortals may have gone to Mandos for a period of reflection. The quote that you cite follows a quotation from the pre-LOTR Quenta, in which it states "'What befell their spirits after death the Elves know not. Some say that they too go to the halls of Mandos; but their place of waiting there is not that of the Elves; and Mandos under Iluvatar alone save Manwe knows whither they go after the time of recollection in those silent halls beside the Western Sea." That passage was largely retained in the post-LOTR Quenta, and in fact is largely present in the published Silmarillion.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

www.arda-reconstructed.com


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 23 2009, 7:23pm

Post #24 of 36 (4314 views)
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So what is a "time of recollection"? [In reply to] Can't Post

Like you, I read it as a time of reflection, but Tolkien says "recollection," a term that is not familiar to me in this context. Based on my Googling, it sounds like a Roman Catholic term. The idea, apparently, is to recall your sins, and the sins of the world. I've seen it associated with Lent but also with Advent, in preparation for the celebration of Easter and Christmas, respectively. I've also seen it associated with confession and a period of silence before the communion service. In general it seems to be associated with a time of waiting and preparation, but it is specifically associated with remembering, and especially with remembering that which we would prefer to forget.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 23 2009, 8:12pm

Post #25 of 36 (4315 views)
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Pronouncing Welsh [In reply to] Can't Post


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A coracle (Welsh: cwrwgl)

I remember now that she said that the name was Welsh, and wrote out the Welsh spelling, stating that she did not know how to pronounce it in Welsh.



I know that Welsh 'w' is a vowel pronounced like 'u'. I believe the consonants are similar to English. So you'd get something like 'currugle'. Pretty close to 'coracle', overall!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled, the sigh and murmur of the Sea
upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings


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