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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
TORn AMATEUR SYMPOSIUM Day Two - Fauna of Middle Earth
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TORn Amateur Symposium
Bree


Jul 22 2013, 8:59am

Post #1 of 60 (808 views)
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TORn AMATEUR SYMPOSIUM Day Two - Fauna of Middle Earth Can't Post

We are pleased to present the following TAS entries in the category, Fauna of Middle Earth:


"Models of Dragon Ontology", by Nordwarf:

Models of Dragon Ontology


"On the Communication of Animals and the Free Peoples of Middle Earth", by Rembrethil:

On Communication Between Animals and the Free People of Middle Earth


"Sentient Animals in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien", by Elizabeth

Sentient Animals in the World of J.R.R. Tolkien


To view an essay, please click on the appropriate link above. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy posting it. The TAS is open for discussion, and any comments, questions or thought you wish to share about this particular Category pieces can be posted in this response to this thread. Also use the sub-threads below to address a particular essay.

Details on TORn's very first Amateur Symposium can be found here. And don't forget to join in with dicussions on other essays:

TAS Day One - The Physics Of Middle Earth

Thank you for joining us in this event, and we wish you Happy Reading, TORn Brethren and Guests!


TORn Amateur Symposium
Bree


Jul 22 2013, 8:59am

Post #2 of 60 (441 views)
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Subthread for "Models of Dragon Ontology", by Nordwarf. / [In reply to] Can't Post

 


TORn Amateur Symposium
Bree


Jul 22 2013, 9:00am

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Subthread for "On the Communication of Animals and the Free Peoples of Middle Earth", by Rembrethil / [In reply to] Can't Post

 


TORn Amateur Symposium
Bree


Jul 22 2013, 9:00am

Post #4 of 60 (499 views)
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Subthread for "Sentient Animals in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien", by Elizabeth / [In reply to] Can't Post

 


DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 22 2013, 9:18am

Post #5 of 60 (413 views)
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Regarding Smaug [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for this essay Nordwarf. I was particularly drawn to your conclusion and how we can apply that to Smaug:


Quote
The theory that Dragons are the species begun from the union of Maia and beast is the most satisfying of the many theories discussed in this paper. It is consistent with the world Tolkien created.


Have you got any particular "theories" on Smaug's origin? I know that Tolkien doesn't really delve into the history of Smaug, but can we say whether he was one of the original Maia dragons, or whether he was an offspring of one of these unions, or whether he was just a "normal" dragon? I guess that since he wasn't around at the very beginning, he most likely was an offspring.

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!




DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 22 2013, 9:37am

Post #6 of 60 (406 views)
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A number of thoughts for both Elizabeth and Rembrethil [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you both for your essays. I find the topic on sentient animals (and purses) very interesting, and have a number of random musings going round my head while reading your essays.

Elizabeth - I hope I haven't mis-interpreted at what you were saying, but with regards to your German Shepard (and the Fox for that matter), you suggest that just because an animal will respond to verbal commands (especially if they have been trained), doesn't necessarily make them sentient. I agree with this, as it seems that a trained animal is simply using their limited intelliggence to respond to an associated verbal phrase. The fox might be able to think, but it doesn't mean it would be able to say it's words.

And what is the line between simple sentience (a thinking fox) and advanced sentience (a talking fox, perhaps?)

Rembrethil, you say that some animals may simply have forgotten how to communicate. Do you think that all animals (let's say in Third Age) were able to communicate (specifically verbal communication, in whatever tongue).

Is it possible that Bill the Pony was sentient, and if so, why didn't Tolkien mention it? Bill would probably have something more interesting to say during the Warg attack than a random fox.

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!




Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 22 2013, 12:36pm

Post #7 of 60 (390 views)
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Of Maiar and animals [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent ideas Nordwaf! A pleasure to read! I really enjoyed your rich referencing.

I would agree on the idea that Maiar and animals could reproduce; there is nothing inherently humanoid I think about the Maiar - the choice of the Valar, for example, to portray themselves in humanoid forms was because of their great love for the Firstborn (especially after the Summoning.) WE read in the early creation of the world that the many spirits entered Arda by choice, and their form I think was a matter of choice as well. So it makes sense that some of them would choose a shape of something extant in Arda already, especially if that particular lifestyle appealed to whatever their ideals and sensibilities were.

In conjunction with Daniel's question - if Glaurung is called Father of Dragons, presumably Smaug (did I leave out the h- sound? Wink) is a descendant, and therefore a hybridized Dragon? Or do we think he could even be third-generation?

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 22 2013, 1:04pm

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A few ideas [In reply to] Can't Post

Honestly, I tried to leave my essay as open-ended as possible. My aim was to show the practicability and possible means of communication, and inspire discussion. It also attempted to glimpse a bit of the creative process behind the world-building of ME. The little quirks and foibles in the legendarium are what bring us together, Why else have the RR? It was partially intended to help explain the "Intelligent Animal" phenomenon, and partially a bit of musing. More a bit of musing, really. XD

I DO believe though, that there is good case to allow for a higher level of consciousness in Tolkien's animals. They all have their own speech, and it would seem to be implied that if learned, the characters can converse in a highly intelligent manner. All this due to the Elves' first years of teaching the Ents and animals.

That said, I also believe that my theory of Dragons' origin is plausible, at least it satisfies my needs. Haha. Dragon's were such an interesting part of the legendarium of ME, but I believe they were becoming a second set of Balrogs, too powerful and too many. If the theory of rebellious spirits were accepted, I think that Dragons could have played a larger part in the story, as it would give them conspiratorial ideas and an unfixed allegiance--ME free-agents, if you will.

Like I said, I like a good discussion, and I hope my essay engenders a good deal, hence the open-ended-ness(?).


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 22 2013, 1:50pm

Post #9 of 60 (366 views)
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Bravo - a good theory of dragons [In reply to] Can't Post

It would get Tolkien out of a theological fix - he wants intelligent and complex dragons like the ones in the old Northern tales. But he decides at some point that only Eru can create sentient life (hence Alue's problems trying to make dwarves). Tolkien patches this up - for example retrofitting the Ents into the scheme. But I thought he'd overlooked dragons! Whether he did or not, the Maia/creature hybrid hypothesis sounds like a plausible explanation!.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 22 2013, 1:57pm

Post #10 of 60 (373 views)
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A "sentience" or two in response [In reply to] Can't Post

Really enjoyed reading this paper - I think it's true that our ideas about which creatures are sentient are much more confused than one would think. And the problem is further complicated by whether a creature is behaving in an intelligent-seeming way without being intelligent, or whether the observer is introducing his or her own bias (as in Clever Hans).

I did like the bit about the fox - he's written as a traditional folk story Mr Fox, but you could rewrite the passage to make him sound much more animal like, without altering the event.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


cats16
Valinor

Jul 22 2013, 3:54pm

Post #11 of 60 (364 views)
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There be dragons [In reply to] Can't Post

Really cool analysis here, Nordwarf. As one who isn't as well-versed in The Sil. (heard many of the stories "second-hand" via TORn, but I'm planning to read it before the year's end) or HOME yet, I thank you for your thoroughness while expanding on quotes from the texts. That's a really interesting thought about the Maiar cross-breeding with beasts. And I think you really hit the nail on the head near the paper's end, showing that dragons truly are evil-purposed beasts made with their Master's image in mind.


cats16
Valinor

Jul 22 2013, 4:04pm

Post #12 of 60 (346 views)
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On sentience/communicaton [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought it might be easier to respond to the thread itself, as your papers have multiple overlapping points being made (which is fantastic, I must say!). I really enjoyed both of these, as they really do compliment each other well. Rembrethil's paper lies heavier with the practice of animal communication, within Tolkien's mythology (I love your point-by-point breakdown) while Elizabeth's considers the theory of sentience, and then delves into the practical instances, both in the real world and that of Tolkien.

The part that seems to take the most liberty, when considering scientific practicality in Tolkien's world, is Bard's understanding of the thrush's language. As you both mention, he is surprised to have the ability to understand the bird, because of his blood lineage with the Men of Dale. This part is sort of a slippery slope, to me, as it's harder to accept the plausibility of this action. Of course, I don't look down on it for being impractical or anything like that, it's just something that I'm conscious of when reading TH.

Great thoughts, both of you!


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 22 2013, 4:15pm

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Thanks, and some thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the comment.

The instance in question, with Bard, is a bit strange, but I put it down as a 'Faerie-Tale', 'Eucocatastrophic' moment within Tolkien. It was a children's book after all.

I like to read, (and re-read), books that I enjoy, at different levels of consciousness. I can read it in a critical style, analyzing it like we do in the RR, a cursory style, the method we all used to skim a book which we hated, for a school report, or a newspaper. My preferred manner for Tolkien is a an enjoyment style, suspending all my disbelief and letting the story take me away into realms of pure fantasy, the very idea I believe that Tolkien expressed as the purpose for fantasy.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 22 2013, 4:17pm

Post #14 of 60 (337 views)
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Glaurung and Smaug as free agents [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
.

That said, I also believe that my theory of Dragons' origin is plausible, at least it satisfies my needs. Haha. Dragon's were such an interesting part of the legendarium of ME, but I believe they were becoming a second set of Balrogs, too powerful and too many. If the theory of rebellious spirits were accepted, I think that Dragons could have played a larger part in the story, as it would give them conspiratorial ideas and an unfixed allegiance--ME free-agents, if you will.




They do seem to be a bit of a free-agent, 'contractor' sort of servant: they work when they want, on their terms, and if they decide to eat or deep fry their own team rather than help them there isn't much anyone can do about it! We see that o the sack of Nargothrond as well as Smaug doing what he pleases.

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 22 2013, 4:22pm

Post #15 of 60 (336 views)
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Agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

But I still wish that we saw more of them. It may have just gotten too complicated for Tolkien to write more of them in.


Oh, and I do not think that we even get a real backstory on Smaug? Correct me if I am wrong. I think it would be interesting to know what dragons have been doing since the Banishment of Morgoth and the sinking of Beleriand.

How many do you figure survived?

What were they up to? Besides striking deals with angry villagers, a farmer with a magical sword, and dogs, of course.


(This post was edited by Rembrethil on Jul 22 2013, 4:27pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 22 2013, 4:28pm

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Me too Rembrethil! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
But I still wish that we saw more of them. It may have just gotten too complicated for Tolkien to write more of them in.




They are so fascinating! Especially with the amount of character they are given by JRRT! Cool Of course they do shift the tide, don't they - having the potential to really overtake the story and the world.

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









cats16
Valinor

Jul 22 2013, 4:34pm

Post #17 of 60 (332 views)
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I'm the same way for Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

I would have been better to say that it enters my mind after reading that part, and I'm sitting there thinking about everything in more detail. Not trying to correct myself, but I just realized that I sounded too critical/harsh on that part when reading it. It's actually (among so many!) one of my favorite parts of the book!Smile

I agree about the "Faerie-Tale" moment. TH always makes me feel like I'm a little kid again, reading about a world with no Dark Lord trying to dominate everyone (yet!) that simply tells a great adventure story. It's only when putting some of TH into the greater lengendarium do we see some strange bits like this one.

Ah, talking about TH now makes me very reflective, as I'm about to read the real "meat" of ROTK today, where it all gets so incredibly sad. FrownCrazySmile


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 22 2013, 4:41pm

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How we view anthropormorphizing [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting Elizabeth, that we use the term 'anthropomorphizing' once we perceive that a behavior approaches our H. sapiens skill set. Yet as you conclude, I think that the nature of cognition and communication is not as much of a 'line', defining two irreconcilable skills, as a continuum showing internal variation. So it would seem that even using this definition to restrict the idea of cognition is limiting and a much greyer zone than we might (comfortably?) like to think.

As you show with your examples, even with the fantasy JRRT demonstrated the subtle variations from species to species. Huan's speech is interesting, because of the 'three times' use. So I wonder if with the legendarium this represented a special, divine gift or if it was simply that he chose only to speak/used the skill during those three great times of need?

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 22 2013, 4:42pm

Post #19 of 60 (329 views)
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Likeable Villains [In reply to] Can't Post

JRRT seems to have possessed the knack of showing the allure of Evil. (I mean Sauron wasn't going to pop up in the middle of the Fellowship and tell Boromir to attack Frodo, anymore than a criminal will come up to you with a gun and tell you to rob a bank.) He captures the temptation and anguish of the characters, making their fall into evil uber-tragic, well for me at least.

He also seems to have nailed 'Likeable Villains', you know, the bad guys that you hate to admit you love, and actually feel sorry for when they die. You know what I'm talking about.Wink

How many of you tried to rationalize the Bad Guy's motives, and make him seem terribly misunderstood or a even a victim?

Smaug is just so disarming with his manners and charm. I think that I was sad to see him go, even if he WAS a monster. HE WAS MY FATHER!!! Sorry, couldn't resist

*goes off to write a nice eulogy for a dragon*


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 22 2013, 4:45pm

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Further discussion warrented? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds like more meat for the RR.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 22 2013, 4:47pm

Post #21 of 60 (322 views)
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Lots of discussion! [In reply to] Can't Post

And we want to read that eulogy Rembrethil. Cool

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









Elizabeth
Valinor


Jul 22 2013, 4:53pm

Post #22 of 60 (331 views)
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Words are a "human" communication method. [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think that "speech" as we know it equates to sentience (thinking and feeling) for species other than humans. Increasingly, the evidence is that all higher-order animals (e.g. mammals) have some degree of sentience. And they all communicate, both with others of the same species and with other species -- just not in words.

I am quite sure that Bill gave a lot of thought to his relationship with Bill Ferny and Sam, and had a very clear opinion of the two. As to his thoughts during the warg attack: he may have expected support from the humans, which the fox certainly would not, but that is maybe more of a culture difference: foxes aren't brought up to depend on humans for food and protection, while domesticated ponies are.








DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 22 2013, 5:03pm

Post #23 of 60 (316 views)
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Which might be made even more complex ... [In reply to] Can't Post

By Huan being restricted to speak only 3 times because of the "prophecy". It's interesting to think how the two might be linked, and whether he was physically restricted, or it was a cognitive decision. After all prophecies in Tolkien's books are often fulfilled naturally, and almost coincidentally. What would happen if Huan had spoken a fourth time? Crazy

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!




DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 22 2013, 5:08pm

Post #24 of 60 (314 views)
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It's difficult for Smaug ... [In reply to] Can't Post

The majority of Tolkien's villains are likable since they do not all start off being bad and/or are never truly bad (excluding the exceptions). They might stray down the bad/villainous path, but they may redeem themselves later on, and/or their actions have some sort of positive outcome.

It's difficult for Smaug since he is only ever portrayed as being evil. At least Sauron wasn't always bad. Wink

Though, I suppose, if Smaug hadn't taken Erebor, then Bilbo wouldn't have found the Ring, and it may never have been destroyed. Maybe he was a good-y after all!

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!




Rembrethil
Tol Eressea

Jul 22 2013, 5:27pm

Post #25 of 60 (307 views)
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Hmmm....... [In reply to] Can't Post

That's an interesting thought. I thought Smaug was a bit appealing, where I never felt any sympathy for Sauron. General principle agreed though, the Professor did have some likeable villains/ bad guys/ antagonists.

Inner voice:

Wait, you mean you don't all think the same way that I do!!!!!!!! Tongue

No, seriously, I enjoy these differing viewpoints. One of the reasons that you guys are part of the best fan base ever.

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