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Fall, Mortalty and the Machine

noWizardme
Grey Havens


Jan 27 2013, 12:24pm


Views: 197
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Fall, Mortalty and the Machine [In reply to] Can't Post

Some editions of the Sil include Tolkien's covering letter to Milton Waldman in 1951, part of Tolkien's attempt then to get the Sil published. Tolkien tries to summarise what the Sil is about, and comes up with "Fall, Mortality and the Machine": thoughts very relevant (I think) to our current chapter, and why Aule gets a reprimand for dwarf-making, in contrast to the treatment of Melkor.

First, I'll try to paraphrase Tolkiens argument briefly.

Fall (in the Luciferian sense) we've seen already in the Sil with Melkor and Sauron. I believe we see the same theme several more times before the book is done. Tolkien argues that Mortality is one route to Fall. That could be the case directly, I suppose, I that one might object to the limitations of being mortal and Fall in trying to overcome them. But Tolkien develops the argument a different way. He argues that Mortality is bound up with creativity. This can lead to trouble - for example the creative mortal becoming possessive and wanting to become "Lord and God of his private creation." That then leads, Tolkien says, to the Machine: plans and devices for domination (whether magical or science and engineering) "bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills". This thought leads Tolkien onto an ideas about magic, which I note he also explored in his essay On Fairy-Stories. The idea is that "Enchantment" - super-effective art- is distinct from Magic ( a technology for getting your way). [Some of us recently discussed that in this thread: http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=544821#544821 ]. This discussion of Elvish arty magic vs. domination magic leads us into a revealing comment about Mortality and the Elves.

Quote
"The 'Elves' are 'immortal' at least as far as this world goes: and hence are concerned rather with the grief and burdens of deathlessness in time and change, than in death."

So an immortal creature can still suffer the pains and temptations of Mortality- grieving for the impermanence of its creations, rather than its own transient-ness.

The Enemy, Tolkien notes, is very much about domination. But:


Quote
...frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root, the desire to benefit the world and others - speedily and according to the benefactor's own plans - is a recurrent motive."


Ok, that's my paraphrase of Tolkiens letter (happy to discuss any points I missed or misrepresented!). The reason I raise it is as follows.

I see Aule fitting into this Mortality/creator trap (for all that, like the Elves, he is immortal). But he's quickly caught, and confesses, repents and is forgiven. Is there a Christian and especially Catholic parallel to be made here? Perhaps someone knowledgeable will comment, if it seems interesting.) of course, having bent the rules for one "child", Eru is promptly faced with "why can't I have one?" From the others. Perhaps it's a good thing that only 3 of the Valar know about this, or we'd end up with a veritable Narnia of talking creatures. Less flippantly, maybe this episode is showing us the acceptable limits of what sub-creators can do without Falling. Tolkien may be wanting to show us this to contrast with other episodes in his writing where characters overstep the line and "frightful evil" results.

I'd be interested in hearing what you think!

Subject User Time
The Silmarillion discussion: Of AulŽ and Yavanna telain Send a private message to telain Jan 20 2013, 6:00pm
    I do like the last lines of this chapter ;-) FlyingSerkis Send a private message to FlyingSerkis Jan 20 2013, 9:36pm
        AluŽ and Yavanna masinger Send a private message to masinger Jan 20 2013, 10:46pm
            now that you mention it... telain Send a private message to telain Jan 21 2013, 1:48pm
        what are Valar "children" anyway? telain Send a private message to telain Jan 21 2013, 1:33pm
    Dharma and Greg PhantomS Send a private message to PhantomS Jan 21 2013, 2:52pm
        of ethical creation telain Send a private message to telain Jan 22 2013, 8:25pm
            Counterfeit creatures noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jan 27 2013, 2:45pm
                I suspect counterfeit Dwarves are hobbits--beware!/ CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 28 2013, 3:38am
    Of Valar and Marriage Counseling CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 21 2013, 7:30pm
        that last line... telain Send a private message to telain Jan 23 2013, 8:30pm
            I'm going to jump on that comparison! FlyingSerkis Send a private message to FlyingSerkis Jan 23 2013, 9:25pm
                Great insights from both of you.// CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 23 2013, 9:36pm
                thanks! telain Send a private message to telain Jan 24 2013, 6:39pm
                    Noble goals, dropping it stylistically, selfishness and retrofitted Ents noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jan 24 2013, 10:16pm
                        Whateth dost thou speaketh of? telain Send a private message to telain Jan 24 2013, 10:59pm
                            Okay, back to Dwarves, or Telain complaineth to Eru CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 25 2013, 12:08am
                                absolutely no complaints here! telain Send a private message to telain Jan 27 2013, 12:45am
                                    Begging dwarves beggar belief? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jan 27 2013, 12:38pm
                                An Ent and a Dwarf walk into a bar (it has to be tried :) ) noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jan 27 2013, 1:30pm
                                    I like the 2nd one best./ CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 28 2013, 3:37am
                        Some passages are to be found in the original Silmarillion, and others ent, as you might say squire Send a private message to squire Jan 25 2013, 12:58pm
            The problem with Ents CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 24 2013, 6:01pm
                good points! telain Send a private message to telain Jan 24 2013, 6:44pm
            Yavanna is to Galadriel as who is to whom? CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 24 2013, 6:57pm
    very interesting questions! elostirion74 Send a private message to elostirion74 Jan 22 2013, 9:32pm
    Maiar of AulŽ and Yavanna Aragalen the Green Send a private message to Aragalen the Green Jan 25 2013, 12:54am
        Superb connection!// CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 25 2013, 1:34am
            Then again, Yavanna... Aragalen the Green Send a private message to Aragalen the Green Jan 25 2013, 1:46am
                superb connection seconded! telain Send a private message to telain Jan 27 2013, 12:56am
                    Fall, Mortalty and the Machine noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jan 27 2013, 12:24pm
                        Creativity gone amiss CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 28 2013, 4:24am
                            Saruman! noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Jan 28 2013, 5:26pm
                                Don't stop there with the editing CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 28 2013, 5:49pm
                                "creativity gone amiss" and sadly... telain Send a private message to telain Jan 28 2013, 5:57pm
                                    and on to the next chapter... noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 3 2013, 5:08pm
    Insights from "Arda Reconstructed" CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 28 2013, 3:50am
        Interesting! telain Send a private message to telain Jan 28 2013, 5:38pm
    A long post went down the cyber-drain! sador Send a private message to sador Feb 7 2013, 2:51pm
        The writing is still very much JRRT's VoronwŽ_the_Faithful Send a private message to VoronwŽ_the_Faithful Feb 7 2013, 3:55pm

 
 
 

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