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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
TORn AMATEUR SYMPOSIUM - Day Three: Geography and Literature, Art & Language
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DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 24 2013, 10:28am

Post #51 of 70 (193 views)
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I think the BBC are reading our TAS discussions! [In reply to] Can't Post

First there was the dolphin article yesterday, relevant for Elizabeth's and Rembrethil's essays; and now they have an article today on how drought in 1976 is still impacting tree growth today in the UK. Click here.

In summary, it says that scientists have found that a drought in 1976 (the most intense drought between 1914 and 2006) killed off many drought-sensitive beech trees, and growth of the trees is still restricted today.


Quote
The researchers say the oaks increased their growth rate by approximately 20% in the years immediately after 1976. The beech trees eventually stabilised their growth rate but only at around 75% of pre-drought levels.

The scientists say that beech trees can appear to tolerate drought without a long term impact until a threshold is reached.

"I think tipping point is a key idea, and that's something that we see very clearly in the work," said Prof Jump.

"They are resistant up to a point and then we hit a tipping point and the system shows very severe impacts. The problem is we don't know where these tipping points are for other species."


It just goes to show how a relatively small (spatially and temporally) change in the weather of a region can have long lasting impacts on a forest.

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



Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 24 2013, 1:37pm

Post #52 of 70 (156 views)
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Merci tree bien pour votre bon knots! / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

******************************************
"The tragedy of territorial geeks is that they found the wonderful world of fantasy, then missed its point."
-Luke McKinney


Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 24 2013, 3:31pm

Post #53 of 70 (148 views)
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But it's all in good fern! / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

******************************************
"The tragedy of territorial geeks is that they found the wonderful world of fantasy, then missed its point."
-Luke McKinney


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 24 2013, 3:44pm

Post #54 of 70 (140 views)
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As always, your words bee balm to mine ears! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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









Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 24 2013, 4:53pm

Post #55 of 70 (138 views)
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All true (and don't make me cluch my forehead about the Valar) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The whole point of the War of Wrath was to finally rid Morgoth of Arda - if they had left him be, he could have caused much larger damage. Wink

They just failed to get rid of Sauron, and stupidly built Númenor instead. Angelic




I know - they are still learning. Plus there was a rock in the field. The sun got in their eyes.

I do hope she didn't mind it too much if she had a boon of peace and life afterwards. But Yavanna can be a bit stroppy - wasn't too happy with her beloved hubby for making creatures that would burn wood.

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









elaen32
Gondor


Jul 24 2013, 9:26pm

Post #56 of 70 (128 views)
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Spies of Saruman!!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


The first TORn Amateur Symposium, IS NOW ON from Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Come and join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work



elaen32
Gondor


Jul 24 2013, 9:28pm

Post #57 of 70 (132 views)
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Yes, Yavanna should just get a life! Er.. [In reply to] Can't Post

hold on, she's immortal... oh well! No, the Valar get it wrong, yet again! They're mighty slow learners


The first TORn Amateur Symposium, IS NOW ON from Sunday 21st July in the Reading Room. Come and join us for some interesting discussion on some different and personal ways of looking at Tolkien's work



Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 25 2013, 1:05am

Post #58 of 70 (129 views)
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Very uncanny! (waving: Hullo BBC!) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
First there was the dolphin article yesterday, relevant for Elizabeth's and Rembrethil's essays; and now they have an article today on how drought in 1976 is still impacting tree growth today in the UK. Click here.
In summary, it says that scientists have found that a drought in 1976 (the most intense drought between 1914 and 2006) killed off many drought-sensitive beech trees, and growth of the trees is still restricted today.

Quote
The researchers say the oaks increased their growth rate by approximately 20% in the years immediately after 1976. The beech trees eventually stabilised their growth rate but only at around 75% of pre-drought levels.

The scientists say that beech trees can appear to tolerate drought without a long term impact until a threshold is reached.

"I think tipping point is a key idea, and that's something that we see very clearly in the work," said Prof Jump.

"They are resistant up to a point and then we hit a tipping point and the system shows very severe impacts. The problem is we don't know where these tipping points are for other species."


It just goes to show how a relatively small (spatially and temporally) change in the weather of a region can have long lasting impacts on a forest.This real world data does go a long way to support much of your ideas in how radically the forests of Middle-earth could change, both in climate changes and in unrestrained logging.


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









telain
Rohan

Jul 25 2013, 8:56pm

Post #59 of 70 (116 views)
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although... [In reply to] Can't Post

Ulmo sort of "lost" the Sirion and the Gelion didn't he? Of course the water simply became part of the ocean, but the characters of Sirion and Gelion--how they flowed through the landscape--were lost.

And of course Aule, if he looked up from the workbench long enough (sorry Aule! just a bit of fun!) he might have noticed some things had changed and that maybe a few of his very favourite mountains would no longer be seen (except by Ulmo's denizens of the deep...)

But I think Yavanna must have had either a temper tantrum or a sense of utter loss: "Really? I put all this effort into trees and other plants and then there are the animals! Aule's rocks can live underwater, but the things that I created can't!" I wonder as I write this how much Yavanna and Nienna had to say to one another. It seems Yavanna's creations bear the lion's share of loss, destruction, and change altogether.

Here's some puns just for you...

I must admit I have finally twigged on to the fact that the TAS has branched out into several new directions... I suppose I had better uproot myself from this thread! You may even see some responses (or puns...) sprouting up elsewhere...


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 25 2013, 10:08pm

Post #60 of 70 (108 views)
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True about Sirion's loss especially [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Ulmo sort of "lost" the Sirion and the Gelion didn't he? Of course the water simply became part of the ocean, but the characters of Sirion and Gelion--how they flowed through the landscape--were lost. I had not thought of this! (Your geographer's soul sees all, Telain.) And he did love Sirion. Maybe I was thinking less loss in the sense that it is the nature of water - to flow and meet other ways; but indeed that coursing of what seemed to be with such joy would be lost - for a time, until it rises again. (Which Galadriel foresees.) Rather like your avatar.

And of course Aule, if he looked up from the workbench long enough (sorry Aule! just a bit of fun!) he might have noticed some things had changed and that maybe a few of his very favourite mountains would no longer be seen (except by Ulmo's denizens of the deep...) Probably the most pragmatic of the Valar! Opposites attract one supposes...because...

But I think Yavanna must have had either a temper tantrum or a sense of utter loss: "Really? I put all this effort into trees and other plants and then there are the animals! Aule's rocks can live underwater, but the things that I created can't!" I wonder as I write this how much Yavanna and Nienna had to say to one another. It seems Yavanna's creations bear the lion's share of loss, destruction, and change altogether. I would agree here. Agree but not blame, as it would be a heavily loss at first. The hope being that with Morgoth gone, Arda could turn over a new leaf and spruce itself up a bit. I know you were discussing puns - I may have beech you to the point. Wink


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









telain
Rohan

Jul 26 2013, 4:55pm

Post #61 of 70 (99 views)
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thank you for finding that quote! [In reply to] Can't Post

I knew it was Elrond (in my mind I could see film-Elrond saying it, even though it wasn't a quote from the movie...) For some reason the image of a squirrel hopping from tree to tree was rather appealing...

And, yes, I do think a revision of your essay is in order... Wink But I guess I will just have to be content with Barrow-downs radiation fog essay -- which I am very interested to read! And with maps! Excellent. I was so close, actually, to informing my physical geography students that there was a really interesting essay I read recently on climate change...


Quote
even in our own world it is difficult to model and understand, due to the inherent complexities in the Clausius–Clapeyron relation to the scaling relationship between extreme precipitation intensity and surface air temperature.


Yes. Tongue

And the topography really does do weird things. Calgary had massive amounts of flooding this June due to a "Cold Low" or upper Low raining in the higher elevations instead of snowing.. Tricky to explain that to first years who think that the prevailing winds mean it always goes West to East (therefore rain/snow always falls on Vancouver, not Calgary) and that Lows are associated with warm air... Thankfully, I was wise enough not to include it on the test... Especially since I am not a climatologist and know just enough about these things to really confuse the issue!


telain
Rohan

Jul 30 2013, 2:38pm

Post #62 of 70 (88 views)
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something fitting about a late response to a post-pastoral landscape... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for this essay, squire, it was beautifully written and thoughtful.

Like Brethil and elaen, I didn't mind the dryad reference. I suppose the description of wild-growing thyme and bay (the good kind of bay, not the poisonous varieties found in non-Mediterranean climates) already put me in a Classical frame of mind. The dryad -- and I like how she is dishevelled, which I agree signifies the "post" in post-pastoral -- may reference a different mythology, but it is the right mythology for this landscape. In fact, if he had used another reference, (a Celtic or even a Sindarin word) I might have seen it as "wrong".

In fact I might say Tolkien is playing more with time than with space in this instance; there is enough other evidence to suggest this is the land of ancient Rome/Greece, so perhaps he is merely making that connection a bit stronger. But we also know that each of the human populations in Middle-earth have their own language (and therefore, presumably, their own myths, religions, etc.) In other areas of Middle-earth, for example, the people that reside there might elicit different mythologies as the world of Men gains stronger footholds. So, Tolkien is then playing with time by referencing a mythology that is not yet a part of this place. A good counter-example would be Rohan -- we wouldn't expect to read about dryads there, but perhaps skogsra? If Tolkien had written about a more "Eastern European" place, we might have read about dishevelled vila instead?

Just a thought...

Time is always an interesting component to Tolkien -- I never know exactly "when" things are supposed to have taken place. I made an assumption above that all this is happening before Ancient Greece/Rome, but there is some evidence to suggest it could be happening at the same time as, or even after the Ancient world. I know this is a rather "archaeological" post (i.e., it is buried pretty deep...) but the time problem is one I wouldn't mind hearing more on...


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 30 2013, 4:28pm

Post #63 of 70 (76 views)
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Telain Teldaquent appears ... [In reply to] Can't Post

I like your point about swapping around with the time metaphor.

Interesting geo-philosophical quote in Letter # 294: "But this is not a purely 'Nordic' area in any sense. If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles South, is at about the latitude of Florence. The Mouths of the Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about the latitude of ancient Troy...The progress of the tale ends in what is far more like the re-establishment of a Holy Roman Empire with its seat in Rome than anything that would be devised by a 'Nordic'."

Fascinating set of coordinates from his mind, sketching his internal world map. Taken figuratively, as the events would have taken place before current civilizations arose I believe, yet seeding their respective cultural inheritances. In this context the Dryad is really right at home isn't she?

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









squire
Valinor


Jul 30 2013, 5:44pm

Post #64 of 70 (89 views)
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"the re-establishment of a Holy Roman Empire with its seat in Rome..." [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the comments, belated but acute. This kind of thinking is what I like about reading the Ithilien sections of History of Middle-earth, as explored a bit in my essay. That chapter is where Tolkien seems to have first realized the attractions of unfolding a non-"Nordic" culture and landscape in what up til then had in fact been a pretty Nordic world.

The invention of Gondor, first previewed in Ithilien, shows the growth in his world-building skill that characterizes The Lord of the Rings. I'd suggest that the various Elvish and Mannish cultures that he had devised for his Silmarillion cycle - by the time of writing LotR they were pretty fully developed, after 25 years - have almost no sense of regional variation in either landscape, horticulture, or artifacts. Languages, yes, in spades. But language was it, as far as he was concerned in the early years.

Nicely done, to recall Tolkien's later characterization of the Return of the King as analogous to "the re-establishment of a Holy Roman Empire with its seat in Rome..."

That phrase would certainly tie in with my sense of there being a "post-pastoral" quality in an abandoned Roman landscape, in the shaggy years before Charlemagne/Aragorn might have made his way south to whip things back into shape. What's interesting about his definition of "not purely Nordic" is that he doesn't take it any further than Italy, really. Although Tolkien often suggests there are echoes of Byzantium/Troy/Constantinople to Gondor and even Egypt/Atlantis/Crete to Numenor, he really isn't interested in exploring any cultural intersections between his version of the West, and its civilized and far more ancient neighbors to the East and South. In Middle-earth those regions are not just strange and foreign, as in our own history; they are deeply evil or at least dominated by evil.



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 (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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telain
Rohan

Jul 30 2013, 10:23pm

Post #65 of 70 (61 views)
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you have the eyes of a hawk... [In reply to] Can't Post

and the trowel of an archaeologist!

I like your idea that elements in LOTR are antecedents of the cultures to come -- that there is something in them that seeds their later, great human civilizations. Furthermore, I like the possibility that Legolas, et al, perhaps inspired the idea of the dryads that will come later and are in fact inspired by squire's quote!

The more I read about ancient and medieval European history, the more I realize how integrated it was, which then makes Tolkien's diverse mythological allusions more palatable (and more interesting!)


telain
Rohan

Jul 30 2013, 10:40pm

Post #66 of 70 (58 views)
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Charlemagne, son of Arleman, son of Aragan, son of... [In reply to] Can't Post

I would agree with you here:

Quote
I'd suggest that the various Elvish and Mannish cultures that he had devised for his Silmarillion cycle - by the time of writing LotR they were pretty fully developed, after 25 years - have almost no sense of regional variation in either landscape, horticulture, or artifacts. Languages, yes, in spades. But language was it, as far as he was concerned in the early years.


And it makes sense from a linguist's standpoint. But I imagine when he got to writing the vast amount of detail--especially of landscape (if you will permit me a bit more geography in this cultural discussion)--then perhaps he realized that with the land the people had to change as well. I am not (not) suggesting environmental determinism, but more of a pragmatism -- to write the entire LotR from the perspective a "single" culture, but to traverse obviously vast stretches where different people lived (and might not have ever come in contact with one another), the prospect of a single culture breaks down.

In The Sil he really doesn't concentrate on the land, or the differences between peoples (though as mentioned he does concentrate heavily on difference in language). I am still trying to figure out just what he intended the differences to be in the various Elven populations (obviously language, skill, Light of the Two Trees -- but what do those things mean to the cultures that eventually get created?)

We tend to see culture through the eyes of individuals in The Sil, therefore their dialogue (their "language") is important. We tend to see culture in LotR as many things, but partly landscape. As a result, there is more to work with and deeper mythos created for the different regional Elvish/Atani peoples.

And Aragorn as proto-Charlemagne? That's an interesting thought! Aragorn does seem a bit "larger than life" doesn't he?


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 31 2013, 12:04am

Post #67 of 70 (78 views)
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Sil cultures [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
.
In The Sil he really doesn't concentrate on the land, or the differences between peoples (though as mentioned he does concentrate heavily on difference in language). I am still trying to figure out just what he intended the differences to be in the various Elven populations (obviously language, skill, Light of the Two Trees -- but what do those things mean to the cultures that eventually get created?)




Well we do get the detailed histories of the various Elven branches as a result of the Summoning; and their experiences will determine their reactions later on in the Sil. and LOTR and (quite unconsciously perhaps in TH). Certainly much of the Half-elven bloodline came to full fruition by the (according to JRRT) convenient and random naming of Elrond as Half-elven in TH.

Thingol with his insular choices, and later Thranduil as his later-day echo, reacting differently than say, Galadriel?

In a way, maybe it can be said that he separated the various cultures only to reintegrate them in the pairings of Elf and Men, and thus 'our' human history?

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









telain
Rohan

Jul 31 2013, 4:36pm

Post #68 of 70 (46 views)
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exactly! [In reply to] Can't Post

The examples you gave (particularly like the Thingol-Thranduil connection) illustrate what I was getting at. I feel like Thingol and Thranduil are more individual than culture, and while we do get the histories of the different Elven peoples (and their different languages), I still don't have a really good grasp of the different cultures. At least not much beyond the basics:
Vanyar: beautiful, loyal to Valar, stayed in Valinor
Noldor: wise and skilled in craft, rebellious, noble/risk takers/arrogant
Sindar: singers, builders of boats, wary of Noldor (inclined to isolationism?)
Silvan: like forests, less "civilized"

I know I am being overly simplistic, but it is more the impression I get from reading The Sil v. reading LotR. The examples above don't feel like cultures to me. What do the Sindar sing about? Do we get a better idea of this from The Sil or from LotR? We know the Noldor made weapons and pretty jewels, but what else? What did their buildings look like and why? Sure we get an idea of Thingol's caves and Gondolin from The Sil, but I still feel like I do not know these places very well... and enough from me about that!

And I do like your idea about the reintegration as antecedent to our modern culture. Mostly human, but with a healthy dose of Elven sensibilities (certainly is a nice idea to ponder, isn't it?)


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 31 2013, 5:30pm

Post #69 of 70 (41 views)
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Culture as a function of language [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think your cultural tree is oversimplified: its the trunk of the tree, as it were, of the cultural genesis of the Elves. And I agree too, that characters like Thingol stand out so much because they arise in detail and actions above the more generalized background of their respective cultural groups.

I often wonder if JRRT's driving force for his cultural divisions were really an expression of the liguistic divisions and evolutions at their core. I found this bit below while being intrigued by your speculation on the divisions of Elvendom, (and how symbol-like the cultural identities can be) and finding so much intricate data not so much on their respective cultures and songs but on their languages and the branchings that seem to define the groups ('conversational determination'..? haha.) It addresses the point peripherally, in that it seems to relate to his desire to have the language be an integral part of the bones of the tales without overshadowing the 'feel' of the work and overpower the stories themselves:

"A precise account, with drawings and other aids, of Dwarvish smith-practices, Hobbit-pottery, Numerorean medicine and philosophy, and so on would interfere with the narrative [of the Lord of the Rings], or swell the Appendices. So too, would complete grammars and lexical collection of the languages. Any attempt at bogus 'completeness' would reduce the thing to a 'model', a kind of imaginary dolls house of pseudo-history. Much hidden and unexhibited work is needed to give the nomenclature a 'feel' of verisimilitude. But this story [The Lord of the Rings] is not the place for technical phonology and grammatical history. I hope to leave these things firmly sketched and recorded." [emphasis added] Published in Parma Eldalamberon

So no, in conjunction and as a direct parallel with the languages being 'sketched' it seems that we get character and cultural sketches in the Sil as well. That brings to mind the question many of our RR brethren have asked about the posthumous state of the Sil: had JRRT more time, and had finished the editorial compiling himself, would we have more details? OR would he have left it in its sketched state, its tone reading more like a Biblical-style text with its parables (as it were)....or would there have been an extension into more of the fully 'integrated' text like LOTR?

(BTW thank you for that hawklike archaeologist compliment upthread! Smile Most appreciated!)

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









Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 31 2013, 5:40pm

Post #70 of 70 (93 views)
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That bit ties in beautifully with your ideas... [In reply to] Can't Post

sorry it took me a while to find that reference in Letters - was looking in the #180's - and could not quite remember its location (and Index in this case did not help) and did not want to
half-quote it. Was happy to come across it in a random evening read. Smile (Lot of muttering and page-turning.)

Excellent further demi-historical parallel to Charlemagne too, Squire, and the unknowns (and known) threats to the South and the East...I would note as well that despite the Nordic/relative Northern influence early in the legendarium's conception (ie: c. 1912-13, etc.) the extreme North in the Silmarillion was the home of darkest evil in Arda!

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








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