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Silmarilion Discussion: Chapter 12 -- "Of Men," Part 2: The Biosphere of Arda
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Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 4:06am

Post #1 of 110 (665 views)
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Silmarilion Discussion: Chapter 12 -- "Of Men," Part 2: The Biosphere of Arda Can't Post

  
the biosphere of arda




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

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

(This post was edited by entmaiden on May 8 2013, 2:12pm)


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 4:09am

Post #2 of 110 (424 views)
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direct link to image [In reply to] Can't Post

    
The biosphere of Arda




(dang. photobucket shrank the image, as did the board. maybe i'll figure out a workaround later.)


text:

The biosphere of Arda revolves around two races, the Firstborn (Eldar) and the Secondborn (the Edain). Each has not only a spiritual role to play but a physical one as well. The health and vigor of each of these races contributes to the health of Arda.

The Eldar came first. Blessed with the greater portion of wisdom, and skill, and health, and beauty. According to Tolkien, in Arda unmarred, it is theirs not to grow old physically, but that their fëar (spirits) burn more fiercely over time (spans of ages), and gradually spend the stuff of their hröar (bodies). It is considered unnatural for a member of the Eldar to die – to not return from the Halls of Mandos to Arda. They are meant to live eternally within Arda, for as long as Arda exists. Their fëar and hröar are, not just symbolically, but literally for Arda, youth, health through preservation. By their natures and by their wills they live in harmony with the music of Eru.


Though Middle-Earth for the most part lay in the Sleep of Yavanna, in Beleriand, under the peace of Melian, there was life and joy, and the bright stars shone as silver fires; and there in the forest of Neldoreth Lúthien was born, and the white flowers of niphredil came forth to greet her as stars from the earth. (The Silmarillion, “Of the Sindar”)

“There is a wholesome air about Hollin. Much evil must befall a country if it wholly forgets the Elves, if once they dwelt there.”

“That is true,” said Legolas. “But the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the silvan folk, and the trees and the grass do not now remember them. Only I hear the stones lament them: deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone. They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago." (The Fellowship of the Ring,The Ring Goes South)



The Elves love Middle-Earth, and Middle-Earth returns that love. A new species of flower erupts in showers underfoot at the birth of Lúthien. The land and the stone still vibrate with health and happiness and longing at even the memory of Elves having dwelled with them. The Elves were meant to inhabit Middle-Earth, shepherd its life, provide healing, and stability. They awoke there, and were never meant to travel to Aman. Middle-Earth needed them.

And then the Secondborn awoke. If Elves are the Children of the Stars, the Edain are Children of the Sun. They awoke into a world that was still largely sleeping (the Sleep of Yavanna). But, as the Eldar are agents of preservation, the Edain are agents of change. Life (niphredil) and land (Hollin) responded to the Elves, but Middle-Earth also celebrates the arrival of the Secondborn.


From this time forth, were Reckoned the Years of the Sun. Swifter and briefer are they than the long Years of the Trees in Valinor. In that time the air of Middle-Earth became heavy with the breath of growth and mortality, and the changing and ageing of all things was hastened exceedingly; life teemed upon the soil and in the waters in the Second Spring of Arda, and the Eldar increased, and beneath the new Sun Beleriand grew green and fair. (The Silmarillion, “Of Men”)


The Sun is synonymous with the Edain, the Children of the Sun. They dawn on Middle-Earth together. But, even as the Sun and the Edain herald change and mortality, much that was in the Sleep of Yavanna awakens. The land and waters roil with new life, enough to be called the Second Spring of Arda. All of Beleriand grows verdant. Even the Eldar themselves are renewed and invigored by the influx of change and mortality – their numbers increase, even as their rhythm in Middle-Earth is hastened.
At this time, the two races live and are abundant in Middle-Earth. Their combined and shared gifts of wisdom, strength, endurance, and adaptability is the noontide of Middle-Earth, which basks in the light of the two peoples, the Children of the Stars and the Children of the Sun, much like Valinor was bathed in the light of the Two Trees.



cheers --

.


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

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

(This post was edited by Ataahua on May 8 2013, 7:13pm)


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 4:17am

Post #3 of 110 (404 views)
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question 1 -- why is mortality "unclean," if it is part of the biosphere? [In reply to] Can't Post

  

1. It seems mortality, change, is as much the will of Eru as is immortality and preservation. Their dramatic infusion into Middle-Earth benefits not just it, but the Eldar themselves. Even though years move more swiftly and change increases, their numbers also increase.

So why do the Valar (and to a lesser extent, the Elves) treat mortality like something unclean?

"And Varda hallowed the Silmarils, so thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil will may touch them."




cheers --

.


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

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

(This post was edited by Inferno on May 8 2013, 5:18am)


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 4:25am

Post #4 of 110 (381 views)
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question 2 -- do you agree or disagree with this concept of the biosphere of arda? [In reply to] Can't Post

 


2. Do you buy into this concept of the biosphere of arda, that the Elves and the Edain are not just inhabitants, but forces for health within it, like the rain and the wind?

Does this macro view make you feel differently about what is healthy for this world? Does it make you reconsider any of your previous assessments of the Valar, Elves, or Edain?

Does it make anything that happens more meaningful, or less meaningful?

Does this biosphere concept impact any thinking you've had in the previous segment regarding suffering?





cheers --

.


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

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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 4:30am

Post #5 of 110 (377 views)
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question 3 -- is suffering equivalent to mortality? [In reply to] Can't Post

 


3. In part 1 (still ongoing), there's a l of discussion around suffering. Suffering deals with loss: loss of health, loss of happiness, loss of stability.

Mortality is loss. Loss of life. Existence. Being.

Is suffering equivalent to mortality? If so, because the Edain are mortal, is it their lot to suffer?

If so, because the Eldar are immortal, is it unnatural that they suffer?






cheers --

.


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

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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 4:39am

Post #6 of 110 (378 views)
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question 4 -- the two races and the two trees [In reply to] Can't Post

 


4. Sure this likening of the two races to the Two Trees is poetic (the light of the two races mingling and enlightening Middle-Earth, and this mingling its noontide, blah, blah, blah)...

... but do you actually buy this argument? That Middle-Earth got a lot better when the Edain appeared, and got a lot worse as the Elves left en masse for Aman?

Again, if you buy this argument, and the biosphere approach, has Middle-Earth sickened with the departure of the Elves?

Are the Edain like vigorous white cells, scrubbing away old tissue so new tissue can grow?

Are the Eldar like anti-oxidant features of the body?

(I know we were sort of talking macrosphere, so forgive me for invoking microsphere elements. But you get the idea.)




cheers --

.


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

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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 11:57am

Post #7 of 110 (370 views)
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question 5 -- how powerful is mortality? [In reply to] Can't Post

 


5. If the Eldar and the Edain are operating, natural forces within Arda, and part of its balance, so must too be the Ainur.

Aman is said to be deathless, not because of the land itself, but because of those who dwell there. Would a member of the Edain achieve immortality by living there? Bilbo, Frodo (and presumably Sam and Gimli) travel there to live for an extended period of time. But they are not of immortal race, but mortal.

Is Aman preserved through the high concentration of Valar and Eldar? Is this why Aman can extend the life of mortals?

Would the preserved status of Aman be in danger if a high enough concentration of the Edain settled there? Middle-Earth responded to their awakening with rapid change and aging. Aman is part of Arda, and we know the land itself does not impart mortality. Could the Edain physically disrupt the eternity of Aman, just by their presence?

Is the mortality of the Edain powerful enough to disrupt the immortality of the Ainu, even though the Ainu themselves are the most powerful beings in Arda?





cheers --

.


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

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


CuriousG
Valinor


May 8 2013, 1:34pm

Post #8 of 110 (360 views)
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Wish I knew [In reply to] Can't Post

I also don't understand why the Edain can't go to Valinor, since they are Children of Iluvatar like the Elves, not orcs. Mandos implies that he wants to kill Earendil for a mortal stepping on immortal land, and it appears only his half-Elven blood saves him.

Just what makes them unclean? It seems like they are more prone to certain sins, such as worshiping Morgoth/Sauron and killing their own kind. But that's not everyone and shouldn't condemn the race as a whole.

I sorta think that Tolkien considered Men in the sense of the Fall of Adam (the Christian notion) that made all humans flawed from birth, whereas Elves don't have that burden. I don't know of any text references that clearly explain why Men are "unclean." Unless they just plain don't bathe and don't wash their clothes. Or maybe there's dirt under their fingernails and manicures didn't come along until the 4th Age.


telain
Rohan

May 8 2013, 1:57pm

Post #9 of 110 (350 views)
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off the cuff... [In reply to] Can't Post

My first reaction to this question (and thank you for such thoughtful and interesting questions!) is the relationship between Morgoth and Mortality.

It was my impression that Melkor/Morgoth was really the one responsible for creating disease and death, particularly in Middle-earth and among Yavanna's creations. Even after "the Great Sleep" still death and disease prevailed. My thought, then, is was this the reason Eru created the Edain as mortal beings? Are they more in keeping with the "new" Middle-earth than the Eldar? I think you are right: change is just as a part of Eru's plan as immutability. Was this his plan all along -- that Melkor/Morgoth would instigate change and that change would lead to greater things, as Manwe pronounced in the last chapter?


In another post I compared the Eldar to the air and water (constants) and the Edain to the kelvar and olvar (mortal). Did Eru see it as necessary to have two Children each with ties to different aspects of Arda? One that would represent the constant aspects, while one would represent the changeable ones?

As for the Valar and the Eldar: I think their prejudices stem from lack of understanding. Even the Valar do not know the full purpose of the Edain in the fullness of Eru-time. The Eldar certainly don't, and would +probably+ not understand why Eru would make one set of Children mortal. +Clearly+ they are inferior...

The Silmarils are the last representation of the constancy of the the light from the Two Trees -- Trees that were destroyed. I could see how they could make a connection between the destruction of the Trees and "mortal" flesh. They would not want anything associated with death to come near these last fragments of their finest creations. Again, we've noted lack of response and action from the Valar in the past, but now, with the building up of the Pelori, I see them as reacting reacting impulsively and absolutely (the pendulum does swing both directions, but with the Valar the pendulum is rather large and unwieldy and it does take some time...)

As an aside: I am very intrigued by your organization of questions into posts. I am looking forward to seeing how the discussion unfolds!


Darkstone
Immortal


May 8 2013, 2:26pm

Post #10 of 110 (349 views)
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Envy [In reply to] Can't Post

"Death is their fate, the gift of Ilúvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy."
-Quenta Silmarillion, Of the Beginning of Days

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 2:38pm

Post #11 of 110 (342 views)
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link in original post [In reply to] Can't Post

 
hi guys... i was having trouble with the original image in this thread.... it's now fixed.

to get the full effect, click on it, and then click on it again (your cursor probably will have turned into a magnifying glass) to get the full effect.

cheers --


..


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

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


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 8 2013, 2:47pm

Post #12 of 110 (351 views)
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yes, perplexing and.... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
... for my part, distasteful.

so we're mortal. according to the valar themselves, this was the "gift," the gift from iluvatar.

so... why so angry, namo? wanting to kill just because a mortal, who is basically a good guy, and coming to knock on the doors of the valar to ask them for help?

i never, ever, never liked the concept of original sin. i do see a correlation between the catholic view and the "unclean" state of the edain, but it's something that doesn't sit well.

according to (some of) the wise of the edain, the edain originally had a longer span of years (not as long as ages), and had the ability to voluntarily pass into the halls of mandos, and that we lost that by being beguiled by morgoth (and, just saying, having a vala or two to guide us when we awoke in hildórien instead of being at the mercy of morgoth would have been +great+).

but, even if those (some) sages had it correct, we always were mortal. the valar seem to have a problem with our mortality, not any (presumed) fallenness.

cheers --

.


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

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


Otaku-sempai
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 3:28pm

Post #13 of 110 (353 views)
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Map of Arda based upon Tolkien's drawings [In reply to] Can't Post

Full-sized image.

This image differs significantly from the previous one, largely due to the continent that makes up the lands of Harad.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Brethil
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 5:03pm

Post #14 of 110 (325 views)
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On uncleanliness and test of faith [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

1. It seems mortality, change, is as much the will of Eru as is immortality and preservation. Their dramatic infusion into Middle-Earth benefits not just it, but the Eldar themselves. Even though years move more swiftly and change increases, their numbers also increase.

So why do the Valar (and to a lesser extent, the Elves) treat mortality like something unclean?

"And Varda hallowed the Silmarils, so thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil will may touch them."





Well two answers here. I think the Valar not wanting to interact directly with mortals might be part of Eru's plan; the Firstborn were given proof of Divinity and still Fell, and the Valar themselves had a failing of faith in initiating the Summoning. Is the removal of the relations between the mortal Men and the Valar a stage in the test of faith of the new race? As we discussed in the other chapter section, is the evolution of the Edain a key component of the Second creation? Is Eru seeking to perfect the ideal of Faith (as 'hope without guarantee - Earandil's mission exemplifying faith?) It is from manwe that we get the statement (in the time of earandil) that no mortal shall set foot on Blessed realm and live; and of course we have already read that Manwe and Mandos are more in the know about the fate of Men than the rest of the Valar. Thoughts?

I think the hallowing by Varda rather separates out the two choices - mortal flesh NOR unclean - so I don't read that as a description of mortal as unclean. Of course the two can certainly converge.

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


Brethil
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 5:29pm

Post #15 of 110 (330 views)
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Some biosphere thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To


2. Do you buy into this concept of the biosphere of arda, that the Elves and the Edain are not just inhabitants, but forces for health within it, like the rain and the wind?
Does this macro view make you feel differently about what is healthy for this world? Does it make you reconsider any of your previous assessments of the Valar, Elves, or Edain?
Does it make anything that happens more meaningful, or less meaningful?
Does this biosphere concept impact any thinking you've had in the previous segment regarding suffering?






I do find it an interesting concept, but I see it from a different perspective: that the biosphere changes don't occur because of the awakening of the Edain, but by the way the world is nourished: through the new Sun.

The old Arda, under the Elves, was sort of 'sleeping' I think (as the Secondborn still were). Lorien and Este (In the Blessed 'Feedback' section) ask for some darkness and starlight as the constant light has disrupted the sleep in Arda - so in my mind that starlight and nighttime equates to a restful, sleeping era (Varda makes the change, very much like one of our good Modar...). The new Arda, as Men awaken, under the fallen but blazing light of the Sun, also awakens with clouds and waterfalls (implying rains) and an explosion of growth. This brings to mind an interesting biological analogy for me...
(...especially having read Squire's link to the biology of Arda discussion. The lack of UV light for example allowing for longer telomeres on the caps of Elven DNA strands, providing for long, un-mutated replications and life spans but not changing the gamete mixing between Elf and Men. The exposure of Men to the sun, shortening the DNA strand and limiting their life-span. Merely an amusing speculative foray into fantasy biology. It would perhaps explain Cirdan's beard, having long exposure to the Sun at his great age he experienced a mutation! But that is all a whimsical side note.)...
...Back to topic: the Sun sped up the rate of growth, woke up the olvar and kelvar more than they had been before, so that's why I think the years seem to fly by faster, yet be richer. So I don't think it is a sickness, but that life simply speeds up and wakes up - appropriate for a race to govern who IS limited by time, and *must* learn to use their time wisely, So here too I don't see it as negative, a disease-state or punitive, but part of the learning experiences needed to make the 'best' of the Secondborn and maybe the best creation of the next world according to Eru's vision. So maybe I see Arda as the growing and proving ground for the ultimate vision. Perhaps Arda isn't it.
The Sun of course is the second best light, the imperfect vision...but I don't think it is second-best for Men. For them I think it is ideal. I think the second-best refers to the Elven-centric Sil perspective (appropriate) and also from their lack of understanding of the nature of Men (after all the Gift puzzles them mightlily, doesn't it? To the point of envy.)

Might be fanciful but I see an optimism in here.

(“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”)

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

(This post was edited by Brethil on May 8 2013, 5:36pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 8 2013, 7:46pm

Post #16 of 110 (308 views)
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Suffering and Free Will among Men and Elves [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

3. In part 1 (still ongoing), there's a l of discussion around suffering. Suffering deals with loss: loss of health, loss of happiness, loss of stability.
Mortality is loss. Loss of life. Existence. Being.
Is suffering equivalent to mortality? If so, because the Edain are mortal, is it their lot to suffer?
If so, because the Eldar are immortal, is it unnatural that they suffer?




Well, JRRT says (Letter #181) about Elves and Men: "In this mythological world the Elves and Men are in their incarnate forms kindred, but in the relation of their "spirits" to the world in time represent different 'experiments', each of which has its own natural trend, and weakness." The Elven sprits being attached to the world with their powers of, and purpose of (oh dear here I go again...) sub-creation is what makes them 'immortal' for as long as Arda exists. Men being outside the Song and NOT bound to Arda is what makes them 'mortal'. So the differentiation is a spirit one, and two sides of the same 'experimental' coin. All for the making of the next world?

He talks about the failing of the Elves in resisting change - thus their resentment of the Edain makes sense, as they represent a huge change, including (from the Elven standpoint) the bringing of the Sun. So that is their 'weakness', and that to a large extent is what causes their suffering: resisting change which JRRT describes as the will of God. That is their choice though, free will in action (exacerbated maybe by the failing of faith of the Valar, with the Summoning?) and they do indeed suffer, through loss sadness and fatigue with the world, as well as living with regret. Ultimately they make the Three in an effort to stop change.

Men are subject to death and disease, very true. Thus things DO NOT stay the same - they change, for good or for ill, and pretty quickly. Men do not seem to resist change as a race, but looks for ways to cope. So their 'weakness' is not the refusal to change. He also writes "Here I am only concerned with Death as part of the nature, physical and spiritual, of Man, and hope without guarantees." I think then that the weakness of Men is the seeking of power and control over their short duration - and that is THEIR cause of suffering to a large extent. They want to have cake and eat it too: they seek hope WITH a guarantee - ie: what they looked for in establishing great powerful Kingdoms, sailing into the West, and accepting the Nine Rings. But hope by definition can have no guarantee; is this more of the test of faith?

I don't think he meant mortality as 'loss' because it implies the release from the suffering of the world that the Elves do not get. Plus since we don't know the Fate of Men we can't fully theorize how much of the Self (fea) is retained, and how much is lost. So I think both races can suffer as part of a plan - but the extent sort of depends on how they exercise their free will.

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


telain
Rohan

May 8 2013, 9:19pm

Post #17 of 110 (311 views)
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well... [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Unless they just plain don't bathe and don't wash their clothes. Or maybe there's dirt under their fingernails and manicures didn't come along until the 4th Age.


that was Saeros' problem with Turin...Wink


Brethil
Half-elven


May 9 2013, 2:41am

Post #18 of 110 (301 views)
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And let's not even discuss those smelly Dwarves... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
Unless they just plain don't bathe and don't wash their clothes. Or maybe there's dirt under their fingernails and manicures didn't come along until the 4th Age.

that was Saeros' problem with Turin...Wink


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


telain
Rohan

May 9 2013, 2:47am

Post #19 of 110 (285 views)
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faith and the great unwashed horde [In reply to] Can't Post

I also read "mortal" and "unclean" as separate, but it is strange to me that "unclean" and "evil" are also separate (in fact I was about to suggest that unclean meant evil, but thankfully I reread the quote before posting...) Which then begs the question -- what does "unclean" mean? The line specifically says "hands unclean, nor anything of evil..." -- does this mean the hands of Sauron nor the wings of Balrog may touch them?

True, some of the Elves' nicknames for Edain are a bit...negative... but they don't mention "Men, the Great Unwashed Horde". Humour aside, I think "unclean" is something a bit stronger (and more malevolent) than that.

The fate of the Edain is part of Eru's plan, but I wonder if it is one of those things that doesn't quite come across in the narrative particulalry well. We've just learned that the Ainur are glorious and immortal, and the Elves are glorious and immortal, and the Edain get sick and die. But wait! It's a good thing and they will all envy the Edain in time. That is a very hard pill to swallow. But it is also (I imagine) difficult to write something like the Silmarilion and have it connect somehow to history and the modern era, yet be essentially (and appropriately enigmatically) myth and legend at the same time. It is almost as though Tolkien is asking his readers to have faith, just as Eru is asking the Edain to do.


telain
Rohan

May 9 2013, 2:54am

Post #20 of 110 (305 views)
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oh, lets! [In reply to] Can't Post

So, that was fun. I just finished replying to one of your posts when I learn you were replying to one of mine! Excellent!

I was hoping I would get to give you this reference soon, and now is my chance. I am reading Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland, and in discussing the Forest of Dean, she gives an account of a rather small group of people with a very long and storied history. They are called "Free Miners" and they are allowed to mine certain areas of certain forests if they were born in that locality. The quote that made me think of you is this:


Quote
They...were renowned for their mining skills, hardy nature, gritty determination and ferocity in battle.


Sounds like dwarves to me! Though she says nothing of chiseled good looks, hmmm...


elaen32
Gondor

May 9 2013, 6:03am

Post #21 of 110 (291 views)
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"Cleanliness is next to Godliness"..... [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe it's the concept of "mortal flesh" rather than mortality which the Valar see as being akin to being "unclean" here. The Valar and the Elves knew little about death and, what they had seen at the point that Varda hallowed the Silmarils was brought about by Morgoth. Their concept may have been more that death= the corruption and decay of the hroa rather than the release of the fea from the circles of the world, of which they had little understanding or knowledge.
Like you, I do not agree with the concept of original sin at all, but it is a strong tenet of catholicism. Since Tolkien was devout, it may well have been a concept that he believed in and translated into his writing, so this may be an issue here also

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


sador
Half-elven


May 9 2013, 8:53am

Post #22 of 110 (283 views)
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I think the two are seperate. [In reply to] Can't Post

"mortal flesh" is one thing, and "hands unclean" another (and "anything of evil" is a third).

It is worth pointing out, though, that the only mortal flesh around at the time was that of the kelvar, as Men weren't around yet. It is possible that it is an omission of Varda (not realising that Men would be included), or yet still of the author's - after all, the only Man to ever touch a Silmaril did so with impunity, and so did the three half-Elven which did so (Dior, Elwing, Earendil)!
Which of course makes the case of Mandos demanding that Earendil will die once he arrives in Valinor (which he does in a way - the "undying doom" laid upon him, as he never returns to the lands of the living or is ever seen by any of them; the Valar are merely witholding the gift of death from him) particularly interesting - did Varda specifically allow him an immortal-like status, which Mandos wanted to deny?


As a side point: I'm not quite sure regarding Dwarves - neither whether they would be considered mortal for the purposes of the hallowing, nor if the Valar (except for Aule and Yavanna) were at all aware of their existence! It appears from The Ruin of Doriath that the dwarves did touch the Silmaril while setting it within the Nauglamir. However, this bit was written by Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay (the ideas in JRRT's last writing of this part were clearly irreconcilable with his later ideas regarding the Dwarves), and while the image of the Dwarves working with the Silmaril went back to the Book of Lost Tales - I do not remember when was the idea of Varda hallowing the Silmarils introduced. Probably far later.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 9 2013, 12:00pm

Post #23 of 110 (283 views)
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Musings on cleanliness. Including bubble baths. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
They...were renowned for their mining skills, hardy nature, gritty determination and ferocity in battle.


Sounds like dwarves to me! Though she says nothing of chiseled good looks, hmmm...




Haha! Thank you for thinking of me Telain!Wink That bunch sounds right up my alley...and in the interest of a cleaner Arda my task would be making sure Thorin had repeated bubble baths and iced-tea shampoos (just like the directions say - lather, rinse, repeat.) (**distracted interval**)

(**back to topic..!**) In the sense of defining 'unclean', I feel like Maehdros is a great example in point: he isn't 'evil' through and through - and in later years he actually shapes up and makes some good, even hero-ish decisions. Yet he cannot touch the Silmarils without pain. So I think in that sense 'unclean' might refer to a shadow on your soul, of living against the Song (especially if you are an Elf.). I Maehdros' case that could be the Kinslaying or the Oath, either way.

The hallowing of the Jewels does come from Varda, not Eru...so maybe including Mortal in there is just a bit of a neener-neener from the Valar in separating themselves from the potential Secondborn or the Reheaded Stepchildren (Dwarves) since the Valar at that time are so bound up and concerned with the Noldor, to an unhealthy extent. (I would guess they would know about the Dwarves eventually waking even before they do. That's just a guess but I doubt Yavanna would have kept it secret. Especially if she was annoyed about the Dwarf vs tree thing, another female Vala certainly heard about it)

You are right, I think he had a bit of a challenge, in showing the negative side of something that mortals would look at with longing - immortality. But I agree, in a way he wants us to have faith, and know it works out, because I think he is trying to elevate Men's fate by illustrating a weariness? sadness? through remaining tied to the world. Showcasing the worth of humanity with a contrasting yet beautiful inhuman model (no aspersion here, using 'inhuman' as simply different than Men)?

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


CuriousG
Valinor


May 9 2013, 12:03pm

Post #24 of 110 (269 views)
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Partially [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the Elves are part of the biosphere because 1) they're bound to it, and 2) they have gifts of enchantment. That would explain why Ulmo wanted to leave the Eldar in M-E to heal it and make it a better place, rather than sit around Valar with nothing to heal and eventually get into trouble (the Noldor are the rowdy teen tribe of the Elves). And there's the bit from Gandalf that even after the Elves have left a realm it feels wholesome. No one ever says that about Men.

I think the promise of Men lies outside Arda, wherever they go when dead. They don't make it any better just as Dwarves don't, not as a whole.


CuriousG
Valinor


May 9 2013, 12:09pm

Post #25 of 110 (267 views)
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Tolkien cheats death [In reply to] Can't Post

The funny thing is that, in a sense, there is no "mortality as loss" in Middle-earth. Elves don't die normally, and get reincarnated when they do die. Men have a Gift from Iluvatar to go somewhere else. And it's clear that they go somewhere else, and it's got to be good to be a Gift. So while death is unpleasant, it's reversible for Elves and a highway to the next incarnation for Men. For all we know, Men get reincarnated as Elves do, just in another place.

I think both races are meant to suffer to grow in wisdom, but neither is meant to suffer more than the other. I think Tolkien was a believer in "this all happens for a reason."

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