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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The beginning of days 3 - the conclusion

Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Aug 28 2009, 11:57pm

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The beginning of days 3 - the conclusion Can't Post

Well, the remainder of this Chapter seems to have more description than action, in fact some might say that it belongs more in the first two books. Maybe someone is guilty of bad editing. I think I'm talking to you, Chirs Tolkien! Smile So, I think I'll let you all read it and I'll just make some general points.

1) Whatever was cruel or violent or deadly in those days was laid to Melkor's charge. A bit harsh? Now I know that Melkor wasn't very nice so giving him justice may seem a little silly, but surely there where more evil creatures than him! Sauron, Balrogs, Ungoliant, other demons. etc!

2) Aule had the chief part in the making of Valinor and was good at shaping wood metals and tiler. Whatever Tiler is! Thought occurs that he might be good with Computers as well if he was about now!

3) The fairest of all gems were the Silmarils and they are lost. Well why don't you tell me what's about to happen Mr Tolkien? Crazy Though I admit I did have an idea reading through this that this might take place!Smile

4) Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from Manwe's halls. So, these creatures where older than any of the Elves? Interesting!

5) The three of the Valar that where more concerned with events outside Valinor where Ulmo, Orome and Yavanna. Explains why I got Orome and Ulmo a bit confused earlier on. Orome pursued to the death the monsters of Melkor. Of what shape where these monsters?

6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received. Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!


(This post was edited by Hamfast Gamgee on Aug 29 2009, 12:00am)


Elizabeth
Valinor


Aug 29 2009, 12:46am

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Thanks, Hamfast. [In reply to] Can't Post

I know presenting a week of disucussion is difficult, and this is a difficult chapter, even though it's fairly short.

1) Whatever was cruel or violent or deadly in those days was laid to Melkor's charge. A bit harsh? Now I know that Melkor wasn't very nice so giving him justice may seem a little silly, but surely there where more evil creatures than him! Sauron, Balrogs, Ungoliant, other demons. etc!

A lot of the evil beings seem associated wth Melkor, but it isn't by any means clear that Melkor was the source of their evil. In particular, Ungoliant strikes me as an independent evil character, whose association with Melkor was a temporary one of convenience.

2) Aule had the chief part in the making of Valinor and was good at shaping wood metals and tiler. Whatever Tiler is! Thought occurs that he might be good with Computers as well if he was about now!

I think a "tiler" lays tiles, and (since creativity is prized, presumably also a designer of decorative tiles). And, I'm quite certain that if the Valar had had computers, Aule would have been good with them!

3) The fairest of all gems were the Silmarils and they are lost. Well why don't you tell me what's about to happen Mr Tolkien? Crazy Though I admit I did have an idea reading through this that this might take place!Smile

Tolkien is fond of foreshadowing. It can be a powerful technique, particularly if it builds suspemse as you wonder when the other shoe is going to drop, and how.

4) Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from Manwe's halls. So, these creatures where older than any of the Elves? Interesting!

Indeed. Whenever folks ask why Gandalf didn't tell the Eagles to fly The Ring to Mt. Doom someone will point out that the Eagles are ancient, independent beings in their own right, not necessarily subservient. You'll notice Gandalf is always respectful to Gwaihir.

5) The three of the Valar that where more concerned with events outside Valinor where Ulmo, Orome and Yavanna. Explains why I got Orome and Ulmo a bit confused earlier on. Orome pursued to the death the monsters of Melkor. Of what shape where these monsters?

Whatever shape they wanted to have, since most of the beings we're dealing with at this stage are shapeshifters.

6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received. Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!

The nature of the Gift of Death is a central theme in the Sil, and to a lesser extent in all Tolkien's work. To a great extent, these writings are his way of grappling with this issue, looking at both sides of the question you ask. And it's a question that all of us wrestle with, sooner or later, and to which there are no easy answers.





The Rohirrim, by Peter Xavier Price

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Curious
Half-elven


Aug 29 2009, 1:25am

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1) Whatever was cruel or violent or deadly in those days was laid to Melkor's charge. A bit harsh? Now I know that Melkor wasn't very nice so giving him justice may seem a little silly, but surely there where more evil creatures than him! Sauron, Balrogs, Ungoliant, other demons. etc!

It all started with Melkor. He corrupted his followers, he taught them to do evil. Every evil has his source in him, just as in LotR every evil has its source in Sauron, and Sauron, in turn, is evil because of Melkor. There's a vast conspiracy of evil.

We may rebel against this notion because we are used to seeing good and evil in every man, or better yet, evil as a relative term, with one man's evil being another's good. But that's not how Tolkien's fantasy works, and that's also not how his faith worked. Middle-earth is locked in a struggle between good and evil from the beginning. It's a vast war between two armies fought over eternity. We must all choose sides.

2) Aule had the chief part in the making of Valinor and was good at shaping wood metals and tiler. Whatever Tiler is! Thought occurs that he might be good with Computers as well if he was about now!

I don't have the text handy so I'm not sure if "tiler" is a misprint or not, and I don't know what it means. I'm not sure Eru approves of mass-produced computers. I think Aule was better with carefully-crafted artifacts, made one at a time.

3) The fairest of all gems were the Silmarils and they are lost. Well why don't you tell me what's about to happen Mr Tolkien? Crazy Though I admit I did have an idea reading through this that this might take place!Smile

Yes, it's not what happens but how it happens. And also what happens next. In a sense, the story really gets going after the Silmarils are lost. All the rest is background.

4) Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from Manwe's halls. So, these creatures where older than any of the Elves? Interesting!

Yes, they were. I'm not sure why that's interesting, except that we should be on the lookout for hawks and eagles in the stories that follow.

5) The three of the Valar that where more concerned with events outside Valinor where Ulmo, Orome and Yavanna. Explains why I got Orome and Ulmo a bit confused earlier on. Orome pursued to the death the monsters of Melkor. Of what shape where these monsters?

Any shape you can imagine. Some may have been shapeshifters like Sauron.

6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received. Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!

For example, Feanor and his sons may have longed to leave Arda.



batik
Tol Eressea


Aug 29 2009, 3:38am

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arg!! lost my reply... [In reply to] Can't Post

Mad...

1) Whatever was cruel or violent or deadly in those days was laid to Melkor's charge. A bit harsh? Now I know that Melkor wasn't very nice so giving him justice may seem a little silly, but surely there where more evil creatures than him! Sauron, Balrogs, Ungoliant, other demons. etc!
Laid to his charge isn't exactly the same as judged guilty, is it? I find the phrase "in those days" interesting. A tip off that in other days, others may be charged with bad goings-on.

2) Aule had the chief part in the making of Valinor and was good at shaping wood metals and tiler. Whatever Tiler is! Thought occurs that he might be good with Computers as well if he was about now!

"...tiller and husbandman"...husbandry...farming...tilling...it fits. Although if there was any tile work in the homes of the Valar, Aule, no doubt, had a hand in that, too.

3) The fairest of all gems were the Silmarils and they are lost. Well why don't you tell me what's about to happen Mr Tolkien? Crazy Though I admit I did have an idea reading through this that this might take place!Smile
I find that final phrase in this paragraph to be so...abrupt. I don't quite know much much importance to place on Tolkein's making that statement--placed within the paragraph that tells how the Valar pretty much abandoned M-e; that Aule made things "openly and in secret"'; that he is the friend of the Noldor, etc. and so on.


4) Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from Manwe's halls. So, these creatures where older than any of the Elves? Interesting!
Well, I am just happy to be able to get a visual on some of those "other spirits" we've been reading about.

5) The three of the Valar that where more concerned with events outside Valinor where Ulmo, Orome and Yavanna. Explains why I got Orome and Ulmo a bit confused earlier on. Orome pursued to the death the monsters of Melkor. Of what shape where these monsters?
Various and sundry!

6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received. Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!
A blessing can be a curse; a curse can be a blessing.



dormouse
Half-elven

Aug 29 2009, 9:29am

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1) Whatever was cruel or violent or deadly in those days was laid to Melkor's charge. A bit harsh? Now I know that Melkor wasn't very nice so giving him justice may seem a little silly, but surely there where more evil creatures than him! Sauron, Balrogs, Ungoliant, other demons. etc!

He was the one who introduced conflict into the Music and so was the ultimate source of the evil - all the others are just singing his song. But I think the reference in this passage is more specific: in this particular span of time, when Valinor is lit by the trees and Middle-earth is in twilight Melkor is the one prowling round in dark places gnashing his teeth and looking for things he can smash, destroy or terrorize.

2) Aule had the chief part in the making of Valinor and was good at shaping wood metals and tiler. Whatever Tiler is! Thought occurs that he might be good with Computers as well if he was about now!

It's 'tiller' - one who tills the land. Aule is being given credit here for all the later skills with the fabric of the Earth that will be developed by Elves and Men. I expected he invented the computer really, we just don't realize it! Tongue


JTM
Bree


Aug 30 2009, 5:39pm

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The Gift of death [In reply to] Can't Post

I was rather hoping for a little bit more discussion on the “gift of death”. To me this theme is far and away the most interesting part of the chapter. It would appear that this is very much connected with Tolkien’s faith and harks back to “the Fall” in Genesis 3. As many of you may know death was part of God’s judgment on Adam and Eve (and all humanity) for their sin. However, as becomes typical of God, even what is a terrible judgment is tempered with mercy. After all who would want to live forever in a sin cursed world? That would be nothing less that a living hell. I assume that this is what Tolkien means by his cryptic phrase; “Death is their fate, the gift of lluvatar, which as time wears even the powers shall envy”.
Likewise, Tolkien’s Christianity would appear to arise in the very next sentence; “But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope.” For the Christian death holds no fear, it is only the work of the Devil and sin that makes death a terrible prospect for the unbeliever”.
What also interests me is the line that “men shall join in the second music of the Ainur”. In contrast to Curious’ answer some time ago- is this not a clear reference to a kind of heavenly afterlife for men? However, if I have got the right end of the stick, I am still rather clueless as to why the elves go through “a purgatory” but their ultimate destiny in unknown.


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Curious
Half-elven


Aug 30 2009, 8:01pm

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The "Gift of Death" treads dangerously close [In reply to] Can't Post

to heresy, or at least heterodoxy. Orthodox Roman Catholics see death as a punishment for original sin.

Earlier this summer we discussed how Tolkien may have revised the idea of death as a gift in Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, which was apparently intended to be an appendix to The Silmarillion. Andreth informs Finrod that originally Men did not die, but that death was imposed upon them.

So does the idea of Death as a Gift survive? Only if we conclude that this is a Christian world in a pre-Christian time, in which case in the future Christ will come and turn death into a gift of everlasting life. In the meantime, until Christ comes, the souls of even the best men may be trapped in Limbo, which, if I may speculate further, may be a portion of the Halls of Mandos unknown to the elves.

Or we could ignore Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth as a belated attempt to make The Silmarillion more orthodox, and stick with Death as a Gift.

As for elves, even the Valar don't know whether they will join in the Second Music. Heck, the Valar don't know whether the Valar will join in the Second Music. That may be why the vision Eru showed them ended prematurely. But Galadriel seems to think the elves and the ents will both join in the Second Music when she suggests, in "Many Partings," that she and Treebeard will meet again when Beleriand rises from the sea.


sador
Half-elven

Aug 31 2009, 9:48am

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1) Whatever was cruel or violent or deadly in those days was laid to Melkor's charge. A bit harsh? Now I know that Melkor wasn't very nice so giving him justice may seem a little silly, but surely there where more evil creatures than him! Sauron, Balrogs, Ungoliant, other demons. etc!
He was the first cause.

2) Aule had the chief part in the making of Valinor and was good at shaping wood metals and tiler. Whatever Tiler is! Thought occurs that he might be good with Computers as well if he was about now!

Yes, of course - don't forget Saruman, the father of all computers, was originally a Maia in Aule's train!

3) The fairest of all gems were the Silmarils and they are lost. Well why don't you tell me what's about to happen Mr Tolkien? Crazy Though I admit I did have an idea reading through this that this might take place!Smile

I think you mean the theft of the Silmarils (at least Curious did) - but that's wrong; I'm pretty sure Tolkien meant the end of the Quenta Silmarillion, in which the three Silmarils returned to their natural elements.
Did you have an idea that was about to happen?

By the way, Jackson and co. used the same technique with Galadriel telling Elrond the Quest will claim Frodo's life. How many movie-firsters found this foreshadowing useful?

4) Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from Manwe's halls. So, these creatures where older than any of the Elves? Interesting!
Yes.
See Elizabeth's answer.

5) The three of the Valar that where more concerned with events outside Valinor where Ulmo, Orome and Yavanna. Explains why I got Orome and Ulmo a bit confused earlier on. Orome pursued to the death the monsters of Melkor. Of what shape where these monsters?
Plumbers, dentists, insurance salesmen - the whole range!

(Oops, for a moment I thought this was one of Ataahua's Conspiracy Theories threads! Blush)

6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received.
Eru's gifts are often not gratefully received.
Men are a screwed-up race (in RL too).

Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!
Yes, the burden of responsibility is terrible. Especially that of watching the consequences of one's sins and follies unfold itself, while being powerless to prevent it.


"Did not thy thought and mine meet also, so that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the clouds?" - Manwe.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Aug 31 2009, 9:49am

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Heresy or even heterodoxy [In reply to] Can't Post

sound like an overstatement to me.


Quote
Orthodox Roman Catholics see death as a punishment for original sin.



That may be literally true, but Catholics also believe that God is merciful - and I think His mercy works in the way that we see Aragorn following when he sentences Beregond to exile - but, it transpires, "exile" to his beloved Ithilien. Death (like exile) may be a punishment in itself, but the punishment conceals a reward - assuming you have earned one. So death becomes a kind of test - it looks like a punishment, and you may well feel that you have not earned any reward and be fearful (as Beregond is at first), but for those who are virtuous, the apparent punishment, the loss of one's life, is actually the gift of a better life to come.

(Of course, the "better life" may be postponed if one dies before the coming of the Redeemer, but Catholics believe that the virtuous waited in limbo and were rewarded once mankind had been redeemed.)


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



FarFromHome
Valinor


Aug 31 2009, 11:03am

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The myth continues [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Well, the remainder of this Chapter seems to have more description than action, in fact some might say that it belongs more in the first two books. Maybe someone is guilty of bad editing.



I think this is yet another example of Tolkien trying to use the style of mythologies, where different accounts of the same events or stories are often found one after the other, as if the writer has compiled information from different sources and hasn't tried to make a single story out of it. I don't criticise Christopher Tolkien for leaving these hints in the Silmarillion - in fact, I'm more likely to criticise him for leaving too many such hints out!



Quote
1) Whatever was cruel or violent or deadly in those days was laid to Melkor's charge. A bit harsh? Now I know that Melkor wasn't very nice so giving him justice may seem a little silly, but surely there where more evil creatures than him! Sauron, Balrogs, Ungoliant, other demons. etc!



I suppose that all those other evil creatures were the doing of Melkor anyway - the buck stops with him! He's the "explanation" for the existence of evil in the world, so I suppose in the end, it all does have to end up being laid to his charge.




Quote
2) Aule had the chief part in the making of Valinor and was good at shaping wood metals and tiler. Whatever Tiler is! Thought occurs that he might be good with Computers as well if he was about now!



I think that's "tiller", not "tiler". He knows how to till (i.e. work) the land, it seems. He's also a "husbandman", i.e. he herds animals. So he's the first farmer, I guess. Not sure that that would make him good with computers - I get the impression that farmers don't have much time for them!



Quote
3) The fairest of all gems were the Silmarils and they are lost. Well why don't you tell me what's about to happen Mr Tolkien? Crazy Though I admit I did have an idea reading through this that this might take place!Smile



He's setting up all the sadness to come, I think, and getting us interested in finding out why the most important thing we are told about these fair gems is that they don't exist any more. That's from Tolkien the modern storyteller's point of view. Real myths often also tell stories this way, though, because they assume that everybody knows the basic story - they are retelling old tales, and maybe setting them down in writing for the first time.



Quote
4) Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from Manwe's halls. So, these creatures where older than any of the Elves?
Interesting!



Well, they are only spirits "in the shape of hawks and eagles". The mythic viewpoint would say that the idea for every creature existed even before those creatures actually came into being. There's a sentence that hints at this in this chapter: "As yet no flower had bloomed nor any bird had sung, for these things waited still their time in the bosom of Yavanna."



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5) The three of the Valar that where more concerned with events outside Valinor where Ulmo, Orome and Yavanna. Explains why I got Orome and Ulmo a bit confused earlier on. Orome pursued to the death the monsters of Melkor. Of what shape where these monsters?



I'm getting the impression that Tolkien is "mythologizing" the history of the early earth, with its great upheavals and shifting of continents, and its great extinctions caused by catastrophes like volcanic winters or meteor strikes. So the monsters might be dinosaurs!



Quote
6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received. Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!



Yes, it's not really clear who actually has the better "gift"! Many humans think they would love to escape death and live forever, and yet there's definitely a downside to that, as you say! On the other hand, once you accept the "gift" of death, who knows what may be waiting on the other side? Tolkien said in an interview that he intended the Elves to represent the aspirational view that men have of themselves:

Well of course as we all know ultimately we've only got humanity to work with, it's only clay we've got. We should all - or at least a large part of the human race - would like to have greater power of mind, greater power of art by which I mean that the gap between the conception and the power of execution should be shortened, and we should like a longer if not indefinite time in which to go on knowing more and making more. Therefore the Elves are immortal in a sense. I had to use immortal, I didn't mean that they were eternally immortal, merely that they are very longeval and their longevity probably lasts as long as the inhabitability of the Earth. (From this interview)

My impression from this is that the Elves, like the Men, will eventually pass beyond the "Circles of the World", and will ultimately share the gift of Men - but not until the world ends. But neither Elves nor Men know what this ultimate fate is.

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



squire
Valinor


Aug 31 2009, 12:51pm

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"My impression from this is that the Elves, like the Men, will eventually pass beyond the "Circles of the World", and will ultimately share the gift of Men - but not until the world ends."
I'm not following this closely enough to see where you got the above impression, but I strongly remember reading somewhere, probably Morgoth's Ring, an explanation of the Elves' point of view on this. They believe that their lives will come to an end when the world does: completely to an end, no afterlife, no spirit life, no nuttin'. Dead, as in mouldering in the grave. The atheist's view of Dead, in other words. They are "bound to the world" and part of it until it ends, and when it ends they will too. This will be tens or hundreds of thousands of years in the future! They will live to see that day, because even if they are killed they will reincarnate and renew their earthly lives as immortals. But it will happen eventually. As Tolkien says, he uses immortal as a relative term, compared to Men's mortality; but it does not literally mean infinite.

The Elves contrast this belief about their own fates, with the fate of Men. They believe that Men, when they die, go somewhere beyond the Halls of Mandos, somewhere in Eru's universe that the Elves have no access to. When the world comes to an end, they suppose that it will be remade in a Second Music, wherein all the taint of Morgoth will be absent once more. As far as the Elves understand things, Men will take part in that Music and that world. But the Elves will not, because they'll be dead.

The Elves confront their seemingly endless lives with all the talent and wisdom that is the gift of their race. But as one of them puts it, it always risks becoming an endless weariness with no way out (something centenarian humans often complain about, once their contemporaries are all dead). Thus the Elves truly believe that death as Men experience it can be considered a "gift" from God, when looked at from the right angle - even though most Men just don't see it that way. And I think that Tolkien once commented that if Men's fantasy creations (like the Elves, or even Art in general) represent an attempt to "escape from death", then surely in the Elvish realm the fair folk create imaginative works about an "escape from deathlessness"!

Metaphorically, I've always taken this to mean that Tolkien sees the Elves as the embodiment of Fantasy. They are Mankind's imaginative construct or creation, whose purpose is to aid us in putting up with or fending off the difficulties of life on earth, with all its pains and woes. And Men are, as we know mortal, with lifespans of a few short years. As long as Men live lives of trouble, there will be Elves, so to speak. Thus Elves are an "immortal" part of the world we know. But when, as Tolkien believed, we Men are raised up for the Second Coming, a new world will result under Christ's rule. In that perfect world, Men will no longer need fantasy, or the idea of Elves. "Elves" will thus, no longer exist, while Mankind still will, including the spirits of all the men and women who lived and died in the earlier world, brought back to life!

What makes Tolkien's constructed universe wonderful is not that it is ultimately a calque on Christian beliefs, but that it is imagined entirely from the Elves' point of view.





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 TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


FarFromHome
Valinor


Aug 31 2009, 1:42pm

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What makes Tolkien's constructed universe wonderful is not that it is ultimately a calque on Christian beliefs, but that it is imagined entirely from the Elves' point of view.



Yes, that's one of the things I find most interesting about this universe too. We can only know what the Elves know, because this is their mythology. And even then, we can only know what Bilbo understood, which is hardly likely to be everything the Elves actually knew or thought.

So based on this final paragraph you wrote, I'm assuming that you mean that the Elves themselves don't believe they will survive the ending of the world. You are obviously more widely read than I am, so I can't hope to produce any textual evidence that will convince you, yet I have always had the impression that it's really just that the Elves don't know what lies beyond the Circles of the World. Their mythology does not extend that far. Neither do they know what lies beyond death for Men. Do they actually believe that there is nothing for them? Or do they simply not know what it may be, and hold out a vague if uninformed hope, like Aragorn on his deathbed, in his final words to Arwen: "In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory." I get the sense that Tolkien wanted the Elves to be too wise to have an incorrect eschatology, yet no way to know the "true" one. And so he has them refuse to speculate on their ultimate fate.

I like your idea that the Elves are the "embodiment of Fantasy", which certainly fits with the quote I found in the interview. However, I think they could also stand, metaphorically, for idealized humanity - the best that's in us, just as the orcs stand for the worst that's in us. I don't get the impression that the Elves leave when we don't need them any more, but more that they leave, or fade, when we lose sight of the best that's in us. But as we're talking metaphor, I suppose there's no reason both meanings can't be valid at once!

I'd be interested in any quote you might have that spells out specifically that the Elves (in their own worldview) expect to end when the world ends. I agree that they have no knowledge of anything beyond the end of the world (which I think is meant to provide a contrast with what they see as Men's "gift", i.e. that Men do have expectations beyond death). But I've always sensed that the question is left open, rather than closed off with an absolute belief in extinction at the end of the world. As I read the metaphor, it's at the Second Coming that Men (virtuous Men) and the Elves will become as one. While evil Men, I suppose, will suffer the extinction represented by the orcs.

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



GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Aug 31 2009, 6:00pm

Post #13 of 24 (160 views)
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Lack of Eternal Reward [In reply to] Can't Post

6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received. Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!

Now that you mention it, what exactly would damnation of an Elf entail, I wonder. What motivation do they have to adhere to any oaths they make? In the primary world, my understanding is that “damnation” for a human means not being able to have a relationship with God, either in our lives or in the afterlife. We see little if any religion in Tolkien’s works, and the Elves have no afterlife so where’s the punishment for breaking oaths? Of course, it may just be an academic question because Elves seem to have a moral code they live by, regardless of any carrot or stick. Just something that came to mind.

~~~~~~~~

The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.



GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Aug 31 2009, 6:02pm

Post #14 of 24 (155 views)
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Cheep, cheep. [In reply to] Can't Post

4) Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from Manwe's halls. So, these creatures where older than any of the Elves? Interesting!

I think these are not animals as we know them, but rather spirits like Maiar who take the form of eagles. I’m thinking the Ents may have been the same way but can’t remember where I got this idea.

I find it interesting that, in The Sil, birds came after mammals.

~~~~~~~~

The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 31 2009, 11:04pm

Post #15 of 24 (150 views)
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Farmers [In reply to] Can't Post

Modern farmers consider computers an indispensible tool. You can get programs that calculate complicated crop rotation plans, draw up feeding schedules for the changing needs of lifestock, figure our the precise proportions of a full range of soil amendments needed for a wide range of crops under an equally wide range of local conditions, map microclimates within large fields, keep track of complex breeding records so as to not wind up with two-headed calves that die before you can milk them, and maintain the increasingly intricate financial records required in this day and age for a home business. Aule would be pleased.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 31 2009, 11:08pm

Post #16 of 24 (155 views)
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Outer Darkness [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
6) To the Atani, Eru gave strange gifts. Strange indeed. Especially if one reads the ending of the tale of Arwen and Aragorn all that time later, it wasn't always gratefully received. Then again, would one really want to live forever throughout all of time. Especially if one could swear a terrible oath and damn yourself for all of it? Not sure!

Now that you mention it, what exactly would damnation of an Elf entail, I wonder. What motivation do they have to adhere to any oaths they make? In the primary world, my understanding is that “damnation” for a human means not being able to have a relationship with God, either in our lives or in the afterlife. We see little if any religion in Tolkien’s works, and the Elves have no afterlife so where’s the punishment for breaking oaths? Of course, it may just be an academic question because Elves seem to have a moral code they live by, regardless of any carrot or stick. Just something that came to mind.



Didn't Maedhros and Maglor speculate as to banishment in the Outer Darkness if they failed to keep their oath?

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 1 2009, 9:35am

Post #17 of 24 (161 views)
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I can certainly believe [In reply to] Can't Post

that modern farmers can't live without computers. But I can't help thinking that modern farming is very far removed from its roots, and may be one of the main reasons that we are destroying our habitat so quickly. I'm not sure Aule would be pleased at all.

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



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Sep 1 2009, 4:02pm

Post #18 of 24 (136 views)
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Depends [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't like agribusiness at all, either. But it's the organic farmer who's most interested in crop rotation. There are computer uses for both kinds of farmer.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 1 2009, 4:47pm

Post #19 of 24 (154 views)
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That's fair enough. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
...it's the organic farmer who's most interested in crop rotation. There are computer uses for both kinds of farmer.



I'm very much in favour of computers myself, so I'm not criticizing the farmers' use of them in their work. They are a wonderful tool, and I'm sure they're helpful for farmers who need to keep their crop rotations straight - although farmers obviously did this without any such aids for many centuries.

Loving computers as computers, though, rather than as a tool - i.e. just loving technology for its own sake, that doesn't sound to me like a farmer's way of viewing the world. And whether you think of him as a farmer or as a craftsman, Aule doesn't strike me as someone who would view the world that way either.


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



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Sep 1 2009, 5:13pm

Post #20 of 24 (131 views)
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I only meant appreciating a tool. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 1 2009, 8:34pm

Post #21 of 24 (133 views)
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My mistake! [In reply to] Can't Post

I realize now that what I wrote about farmers and computers in my first post in this thread was very vague indeed, and sure did make it sound as if I didn't think farmers used computers at all! You were right all along - I should have re-read the post of mine that you were responding to! Blush

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



Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 2 2009, 1:39am

Post #22 of 24 (155 views)
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"I've always sensed that the question is left open" [In reply to] Can't Post

I think you're right.

A snippet from Letters:
"But what the end of the world portended for it or for themselves [the Elves] they did not know (though they no doubt had theories)." (from Letter 245)

And there's a section in Morgoth's Ring that may be what you were thinking of:

"... before the Ending the Marring will be wholly undone or healed (or absorbed into good, beauty, and joy). In that region of Time and Place the Elves will dwell as their home, but not be confined to it.... But others use another analogy, saying that there will indeed be a New Arda, rebuilt from the beginning without Malice, and that the Elves will take part in this from the beginning. It will be in Eä, say they - for they hold that all Creation of any sort must be in Eä, proceeding from Eru in the same way, and therefore being of the same Order."

It's worth reading the whole section (which is a bit long to quote here), with its musing on time and being outside time. It's from "The Later Quenta Silmarillion (II), a section headed (iii) (I find the divisions in this chapter a little hard to follow).


My writing (including The Passing of Mistress Rose)

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Sep 2 2009, 3:32am

Post #23 of 24 (124 views)
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No problem! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 2 2009, 9:26pm

Post #24 of 24 (319 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

It's interesting to see that the Elves may have "theories" about their ending, but no knowledge. The word "analogy" is interesting too, as if perhaps all of these thoughts are really metaphors for something they cannot fully grasp. They don't seem to know whether our world will become the Paradise it should have been, or whether there will be a new Paradise (and since this is "analogy", perhaps whatever they sense is in store is something more complex and difficult to grasp than either of these ideas). But it seems that they do hope for a Paradise at the end of days.

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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