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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Silmarillion Chapter Discussion: Akallabeth (Downfall of Numenor) Part II
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Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 28 2013, 6:06pm

Post #26 of 60 (204 views)
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Wisdom and Understanding. [In reply to] Can't Post

Even with wisdom, it doesn't make you a saint. You still have to make a moral choice with that deeper understanding that you have. You could do great good, or great evil. I think that the power and wisdom simply amplify what we are, what truly are, in our heart of hearts, letting everyone know who WE are. Saruman was fine, running the council and opposing Sauron in other ways. It was only when he gained power, that his megalomania and selfish self was revealed.

We all have selfish desires in us, and if we get the power and means to fulfill them, we are put in a dangerous spot. No matter how petty our desire might be,(I think Saruman was only slightly jealous of Gandalf) it can become inflated into a dominant motivation. Think Maeglin, Grima, and Turin.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 28 2013, 6:16pm

Post #27 of 60 (211 views)
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The problem of the Elves. [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps your post encapsulates the heartache of the Elves.

They are immoral, so they tend to outlast everything. I can only imagine that, like us, they want done stability and security. Well they want something stable, and unchanging in their life, and are deeply grieved by their losses, because they only add up. How many of us have go e to a childhood place of memory, and it is gone, or at least altered? What do you feel? Loss. Not merely of the place or time, but of the essence of that memory. You thought that you could go back, but know now that you never will. You lose friends and family and ask, 'What am I holding on to?'.

I can see the reason that the Elven rings were preserving in nature. But when you try to regain, or worse, hold on to the past, you lose the future that you never knew. You limit your life to the joys of the past, and doom yourself to tire out these good memories, until they become bitter. By that time you would be lost in the past, no future left. Joy and creativity is gone, you have them in exchange for a shadow. Life passes you by, and you are unaware, you live in a dream, and can't wake up.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 28 2013, 7:21pm

Post #28 of 60 (206 views)
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Loss of childhood [In reply to] Can't Post

Veering slightly off-topic, but in relation to your comments about preserving things from childhood. I had the odd experience years ago when my parents told me that a neighbor of ours from my childhood neighborhood had died. I had never known her well and never saw her that often, but she was a fixture in the locale. I never saw her after we moved or heard news about her. But when I heard that she was gone, it was surprising that I felt like I had lost *something* from the past. Of course losing someone you know well and care about is much harder. So if you multiply those losses over thousands of years, the Elves' yearning for preserving the past is understandable. I think the only way it becomes a problem is when that's all you want and you cut off any hope of gratification in the present and future, or that seems like a problem to me; others see it differently, I'm sure.

One of the lingering disappointments I have in Tolkien's world is the unchallenged melancholy and fatalism of the Elves. They're fading, it's the Age of Men coming, they're doomed to go to Valinor or become a "rustic folk of hill and dell, slowly to forget and be forgotten." I'm not criticizing them, but I would like to shake them by the collar and say, "Don't give up! You can do more great things. Build a new Tirion, build even better boats at Alqualonde, make things better than Rings of Power." It's frustrating to see any person or any civilization in decline and go with the flow rather than try to change it.


Ethel Duath
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 2:15am

Post #29 of 60 (189 views)
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I always had exactly the same reaction [In reply to] Can't Post

and would even hold conversations with them in my head to that effect!

I'm wondering what Tolkien has to say about the elves' approach to life and that sort of fatalistic detachment? I have the feeling it's been discussed before here somewhere.


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 29 2013, 2:53am

Post #30 of 60 (242 views)
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Indeed Ethel, JRRT discusses it in Letter #131 [In reply to] Can't Post

Which as we all know I do enjoy.

He says there: "In the first we see a sort of second fall or at least 'error' of the Elves. There was nothing wrong essentially in their lingering against counsel, still sadly with the mortal lands of their old heroic deeds. But they wanted to have their cake without eating it. They wanted the peace and bliss and the perfect memory of 'The West', and yet to remain on the ordinary earth where their prestige as the highest people, above wild Elves, dwarves and Men, was greater than at the bottom of the hierarchy of Valinor. They thus became obsessed with 'fading', the mode in which the changes of time (the laws of the world under the sun) was perceived by them. They became sad, and their art (shall we say) antiquarian, and their efforts all really a kind of embalming..."

So that's how the One really, ultimately came about: the Elvish desire to hold onto the past, and never let go of the glory and joy that they took in Arda as it was in THAT moment, and using what he calls 'the closest to magic and the machine' to keep things as they are. A completely understandable failing but a failing nonetheless.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 12:07pm

Post #31 of 60 (201 views)
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Alert to Reading Room! [In reply to] Can't Post

Please stay tuned for Brethil's multi-week discussion of Letter #131 when we finish the Silmarillion. It's not a regular letter and is more of a guided tour through the sprawling maze of Tolkien's thinking. Who better than Brethil than to lead the tour?


Riven Delve
Grey Havens


Aug 29 2013, 4:08pm

Post #32 of 60 (176 views)
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question about substitute religions [In reply to] Can't Post



In Reply To


it seems to me that when humans don't get what
they want in the real world from their religion, they find another or become
more fundamentalist.





CuriousG, I'm not sure what you mean by this. Were you thinking that when the Numenorians (being human) didn't get what they wanted in the "real world" (which was immortality?) from their religion (which was following the Valar/Eru), they found another (worship of Melkor/human sacrifice) or became more fundamentalist (this is where I'm confused--do you mean the Faithful, represented by Elendil & Co., who eventually become "separatists")? Just trying to unpack your thoughts here. Thanks. Smile


"It was just a sword, beautiful in the way of a weapon, with the jewels in the hilt set in gold scrollwork, and the blade glimmering and eager, as if it would fight of itself. Weapons are named for this; some are eager fighters, some dogged, some unwilling; but all are alive."--The Hollow Hills



Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 29 2013, 5:09pm

Post #33 of 60 (168 views)
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Thanks for the shout-out CG! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Please stay tuned for Brethil's multi-week discussion of Letter #131 when we finish the Silmarillion. It's not a regular letter and is more of a guided tour through the sprawling maze of Tolkien's thinking. Who better than Brethil than to lead the tour?




And for the (hopefully justified) vote of confidence! AngelicWink

Should be fun - a wealth of thoughts and philosophy in there.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 5:14pm

Post #34 of 60 (174 views)
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Part of that, yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the Faithful remained faithful because they did get what they wanted (they didn't expect immortality), so they weren't more fundamentalist. But the unfaithfuls who wanted long life/immortality turned to Dark Worship as their substitute religion to answer their prayers.

In real world history, it seems common in nearly every culture and religion that when something goes wrong, some people blame their deity(s) or say the deity is irrelevant and leave their religion (King's Men). Others say they weren't observant enough and need to try harder/be more fundamentalist about it. And of course there's a third group that carries on as before (Faithful). I don't think there were any fundamentalists of Eru who said they needed to try harder so that they'd become immortal, so that was one group of the three that was missing. Though one wonders what people said after Numenor was destroyed: was it because we rebelled? Was being Faithful not enough; should we have tried harder to obey Eru? The way the later history is written, however, it seems that the Faithful decided the status quo was just fine.

It's not all stimulus/response, of course. There are people who aren't religious and people who are fundamentalist regardless of their environment. But given the upheaval in Numenor, I think they were cracking along those fault lines.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 5:24pm

Post #35 of 60 (166 views)
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Updated avatar [In reply to] Can't Post

I found a new image for you for the occasion, if you'd like. Angelic (*runs away from thrown stones and possible shotgun*)




Riven Delve
Grey Havens


Aug 29 2013, 6:02pm

Post #36 of 60 (167 views)
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OK, I think I got it [In reply to] Can't Post

I was also wondering what you meant by "in the real world"...but it seems you are thinking of our real world history.

Did the Faithful remain faithful because they got what they wanted, as in they did not expect immortality? Hmm. Was that only what they wanted? I'm wondering if they remained faithful because they were hoping to get what they wanted, because they were expecting, in faith (as it were) that the Gift of Men would be so much better for the Faithful than anything they could get in Numenor, or in worshiping anyone/anything else. In other words, that the Gift of Men would not be about "the real world," or Numenor. It would actually be better than the real world.

If that is the case (and again, I'm merely musing Angelic), I wonder how much the Faithful knew about this gift, which was supposed to be so much better than immortality. It never seems quite clear what they understood, except that obviously most of the Numenorians were not buying the concept! Tongue

So the Faithful remain so regardless of circumstances, regardless of what goes wrong, not worrying that the deity is at fault or irrelevant, but because circumstances are irrelevant to their faithfulness, which is aiming for a "hereafter."

"It was just a sword, beautiful in the way of a weapon, with the jewels in the hilt set in gold scrollwork, and the blade glimmering and eager, as if it would fight of itself. Weapons are named for this; some are eager fighters, some dogged, some unwilling; but all are alive."--The Hollow Hills



Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 29 2013, 6:08pm

Post #37 of 60 (156 views)
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Yup [In reply to] Can't Post

"But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound forever in the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory, Farewell."
-Appendix A

******************************************
Once Gandalf dreamt he was a moth, a moth flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Gandalf. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Gandalf. But he didn't know if he was Gandalf who had dreamt he was a moth, or a moth dreaming he was Gandalf. Between Gandalf and a moth there must be some distinction! But really, there isn't, because he's actually Olórin dreaming he's both Gandalf *and* a moth!
-From Gandalfi: The Moth Dream


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 6:48pm

Post #38 of 60 (162 views)
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The mysterious Faithful [In reply to] Can't Post

Great observations all around, Riven. It's a little hard to discern from the story exactly what the Faithful did believe.*** They seem predisposed to accept that "death" was the Gift of Iluvatar to Men to leave the world for an undefined better place. There doesn't seem to be a hint anywhere that they expected a detailed paradise/heaven/Valhalla, but they seemed to accept it on faith that Eru was taking them somewhere good because he was good and they wouldn't be dumped in a desert full of scorpions. What else did they want? So hard to say. Maybe that was enough? Or did they also expect Eru to bless their crop harvests, or maybe not him but Yavanna, or expect/pray to Ulmo to keep their ships safe? Or maybe they didn't expect divine intervention in all walks of life, and sort of saved their expectations only for the afterlife. Many unanswered questions.

***[I should note that by "real world," I mean the non-Tolkien Earth we're in, not anything in Tolkien's cosmos, so I wasn't talking about the Faithful in our real world, unless I was just totally confusing my terms.]


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 29 2013, 7:19pm

Post #39 of 60 (152 views)
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Hmm. I'll save the shotgun for later. But no peanuts for you. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 29 2013, 8:47pm

Post #40 of 60 (150 views)
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Personal conflicts in faith [In reply to] Can't Post

I do tend to agree.

When people are upset and their faith/religion doesn't give them the answers they want, a lot of people become disillusioned. These are the people who "lose" their faith.

Then you have those who build up deeper rules or regulations, trying to do "better". They might try to 'earn' the favor they want. It could be a result of 'I must not be doing it right. There must be a purer path. I must follow a stricter code.' or 'I didn't try hard enough'. Now, whether they are feeling guilty or set the bar for the fulfillment if their desire, higher, it is actuated by the same principle. They think that they are not good enough. These are the people who become hard-core, radically different from their peers and noted for their self sacrifice and extreme zeal in service to the faith.

Then you have those who don't make a huge change. They continue much the same, trusting that there is a reason/higher power/plan that is better. These are those who continue much the same, just trusting that there is a better thing on its way.

I've seen them all, and tend to think that the third is best.

We can always find a disappointment. So the first is out for me.

The second would force us to be more strict, each time that we desire something. Eventually our desires would become so large, that in order to 'be worthy' we would have to sacrifice so greatly to obtain a proportional blessing. It would be detrimental to us, as we would push ourselves to a breaking point.

Now the third, to me, dies not mean a fatalist attitude, "what will be, will be', but rather, that we hold onto our faith more tightly, trusting in a benevolent higher power/ Deity/ what have you. They may deepen their faith, but do not do it to be 'rewarded' with their desire, but instead to do what us right.

Just IMHO, and what my small mind has concluded from my experiences. I know I don't have all of the answers, but this is good enough for me.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 29 2013, 9:05pm

Post #41 of 60 (170 views)
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Personal choices and doubt [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent plunge into and description of all the subtypes, Rem. What struck me in reading your musings is that the status quo group must have a great deal of confidence that changing nothing is the right course when everything else around them is changing. When you're surrounded with a flurry of activity, you do wonder if you're missing out on something important. On the one hand are people storming out of the temple saying "phooey" on that religion, on the other hand is the group exhorting everyone to try harder, be more pure, and be less complacent.

A person would feel ridiculed by both camps if they stayed in the middle since the 1st group would think you're dumb to believe in a deity who's been proven a disappointment, and the "try-harder" group would view you as lazy and part of the problem of not being pure enough. The other camps are urging action in one direction or the other, and your group is counseling inaction? Tough spot to be in.

In Numenor's case, the Faithful had done nothing "wrong." They were continuing to do what had always been done, but they got cast in the bad guy role. It seems any group can wind up the bad guys if they're in the minority. The Faithful got the last laugh, escaped the Atlantean calamity, and wrote the history books, so they no doubt felt vindicated as winners always do.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 29 2013, 9:42pm

Post #42 of 60 (163 views)
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Oh yes, totally!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

They'd have to have some pretty strong conviction that they were 'doing it right'.

Motivation of the sub-types:

The first two of my sub-types, seem to have a selfish view as their aim.

The first ( Possibly exemplified by the King's Men?) were unsatisfied with the religion when hardships came, or they did not get what they wanted. "They" weren't satisfied, but is religion really ALL about them?

The second group, only wanted something out of the deal. Oh, there were willing to suffer for it, but they WANTED it. A magical lamp and Genii might have been a better choice for them.

The third (The Elendili?) seemed to have another aim, to follow Eru and his path.

What other motivations might be there?

Pure abstraction from my limited examples. Please, let's keep illustrations and examples in the theoretical realm.



Riven Delve
Grey Havens


Aug 29 2013, 11:08pm

Post #43 of 60 (174 views)
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Probably JRRT intended the mystery about the beliefs of the Faithful [In reply to] Can't Post

lest anything allegorical slip in...Angelic

"It was just a sword, beautiful in the way of a weapon, with the jewels in the hilt set in gold scrollwork, and the blade glimmering and eager, as if it would fight of itself. Weapons are named for this; some are eager fighters, some dogged, some unwilling; but all are alive."--The Hollow Hills



CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 30 2013, 12:09am

Post #44 of 60 (167 views)
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I could see the status quo group [In reply to] Can't Post

as being not necessarily motivated by the philosophy they have and being resistant to change in general. "Why should we change our ways? We don't want to change?" The purists and rebels are disruptors rattling the cages. While I think Tolkien depicted his Faithful as faithful, by human nature there would be people in that group who just didn't want to change and were suspicious of "new ways" such as making human sacrifices. If there had been hard-core Eru purists who said salvation only came from praying 100 times a day, the status quo group would say, "We don't want to pray that much." So there would be some who remain in the Faithful middle by default, not by choosing it as their heartfelt direction.

Very interesting commonality you find between the purists and the rebels. They both want something for themselves!


Bombadil21
Bree


Aug 30 2013, 10:27am

Post #45 of 60 (167 views)
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A troubling story... [In reply to] Can't Post

The 'fall of Numenor' material has always been my least favorite of Tolkien's narratives, due, I think, to its problematic and unsympathetic portrayal of the Men who reject Eru and their 'gift', and the troubling portrayal of Eru himself.

To be sure, the story has many fun and engaging elements: the crazed Ar-Pharazon, the hubristic Numenorean empire in Middle-earth, the machinations of Sauron, and the fascinating story of the Numenorean's slide away from trust in the Eldar.

Nevertheless, I find the tale problematic for a couple of reasons. To begin with, I find the rigid demarcation of the Numenoreans into "faithful" and Morgoth-worshippers unsettling. It seems to me that the Numenoreans weren't necessarily wrong to lust after immortality - after all, it is a natural wish in humans to live beyond the mortal span of only 70-80 years, or several hundred, in the case of the Numenoreans. Furthermore, extolling them to have 'faith' in the 'gift' of death would, I think, do very little to assuage the natural human inclination toward desiring greater lifespans.

This brings up another issue: how is it that the Valar (and/or Eru), could think that granting the Numenoreans an earthly paradise was a good idea, , knowing that human psychology will very rarely be completely satisfied by the demand to simply have faith in the face of death, especially given that the Elves do indeed possess immortality. If Eru has some wonderful divine plan that must necessarily involve the mortality of Men, why not just tell the Numenoreans what that is, instead of expecting them to acquiesce to the lore of Eldar and the Valar?

Taken together, these elements produce a far less humane story than either the Lord of the Rings or the Quenta Silmarillion material. There, humans are allowed to luxuriate in their imperfection to a degree, and are not expected, on pain of divine punishment to behave according to any rigid code. They may wonder why the Eldar possess immortal life, but within the pages of the Lord of the Rings and Quenta Silmarillion at least, there is no definitive answer.

These works also display less of the blatant moralism of the "Akkalabeth", and instead there is a sense of narrative leeway granted to characters we might otherwise condemn (think Boromir, Feanor, Galadriel, Gollum and especially Turin, all of whom mess up in some very fundamental ways, and yet none of whom are smited by Eru or otherwise judged to be completely beyond the pale by the text).

But in the "Akkalabeth", the innocent women and children of Numenor are killed in an unforgivable act of divine genocide. There is simply no moral justification for such an act, and it displays a rare lapse in narrative judgement on Tolkien's part. I understand that he was probably trying to invoke something of the grandeur of Biblical events, but for me Eru's "intervention" serves only to make me far more sympathetic toward Sauron, regardless of that character's malicious intent. Genocide is simply more evil than invading Valinor - Eru could simply have 'buried' Pharazon's army and left it at that.


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 30 2013, 12:23pm

Post #46 of 60 (158 views)
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By a thumb test [In reply to] Can't Post

This chapter is only okay to me. It's not one I ever come back to to browse or peruse for enjoyment and to reread favorite lines, which I do everywhere else. Something that enriches the rest of Tolkien's writings seems absent here. The redeeming part is that it gives all the background on Numenor, that mythical land in LOTR that we only get hints at.

I agree, Eru is very troubling here, there's no way around that. Especially to think that he wiped out Numenor but never personally stepped in to rid the world of the greatest evil, Melkor.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Aug 30 2013, 3:12pm

Post #47 of 60 (145 views)
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Everybody's favorite Devil's Advocate [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey, I love that you shared your opinion, and I do respect it, but I do have a few conterpoints of my own. I'm just playing DA, so please, don't take any of my statements as harsh or browbeating.

This is your least favorite? Hey, that's cool, and I respect that.

You say that It is because the"...problematic and unsympathetic portrayal of men...". Why do you think it is problematic? Problematic for whom? You?

The unsympathetic part I can see, starting with Adunakhor(sp?) And going through Gimilzor, Gimilkhad, and Pharazon, but what about the Elendili and lords of Adunie? There isn't a blanket of antipathy present, for Men in general, just the rebellious ones.

Then you bring up the "troubling portrayal of Eru". What troubles you?

You share your favorite parts, which DO make it fun, and I agree, very epic.

Now we get into the "problematic" portions:

The clear divisions of "faithful" and "Morgoth worshippers". Now we have to keep in mind that it was not always so; they did not have to choose between Morgoth and Eru right away. It began as the Elendili and the King's Men. These were the original groups, political and not religious in nature, and though a seemingly clear divide exists, I do believe that it was a measure of the inner inclination that each Numenorian had. All of them were not in the Capitol, some were farmers on the far eastern shore, they were not all active politically. Instead, I find this statement to encompass their inner sympathies, which side they would have aided in a time of trouble. I mean, you have the King controlling everything, it would be helpful to be of the same mind to get in in the kingdom. Just IMHO, and speculation.

The "Morgth worshipp(ing)" did not come till later. Neither do I think that all participated in it. It happened in the Capitol and all of the King's men, open and merely inclined, could not have paraded through it. Some might have secretly been made such by it, but held in for the king. The actual worshipping was quite small, and could have been a nice way to assassinate your political/ business/ family rival.

I don't think it wrong to want something, but what we do to get it, is very telling... Wanting immortality was not WRONG per se.

Urging to "have faith", can have different effects on different people.

If that person has the faith and trust, it can help them strengthen that faith, al a the Elendili

But if they never had true faith,and just went along with it, they'd be in a "believe because I say so" situation. Not comforting nor enviable. Perhaps the King's Men fit here?

You mention that it is "human" to want longer life. True, but the placement if your words in the same sentence as faith being urged, seems to imply that there is a clash between humanity/ human nature and faith. Is there? Don't many faiths exist, that aim to grow you BEYOND humanity, into something better? No clash here IMHO.

Then you say"... how is it that the Valar (and/or Eru), could think that granting the Numenoreans an earthly paradise was a good ideaThis brings up another issue: how is it that the Valar (and/or Eru), could think that granting the Numenoreans an earthly paradise was a good idea, , knowing that human psychology will very rarely be completely satisfied by the demand to simply have faith in the face of death..."

This seems to be the Valar's call here, and they don't seem to be of one mind, al a Ulmo's absence. They are not all knowing or all powerful( they have messed up by now for us to know), and cannot have taken Psych 101 classes, as you seem to have done. I don't think the they KNEW it would happen, that would be cruel, but that they hoped that Men would be like he Elves, and repent of their deeds in time. I think it unfair to say that they knew what would happen.


Then we have your next point"...especially given that the Elves do indeed possess immortality. If Eru has some wonderful divine plan that must necessarily involve the mortality of Men, why not just tell the Numenoreans what that is, instead of expecting them to acquiesce to the lore of Eldar and the Valar?"

I get that the idea of immortality is attractive, and ACHIEVED immortality, almost irresistibly potent, but the Numenorians seemed to think that it was able to be just that, ACHIEVED. It was not. The Valar and Elves were immortal because they were Ainu and Firstborn, not because they were immortal. The Numenorians thought that they could become immortal, and tried to experiment to find the Secret. They made an error, much like Morgoth's, they wanted the the thing that only Eru had to give.

Your next point is a bit tricky but we can get over that. You ask why, if there was a greater plan( do you doubt this?), why not just tell them? Well who is doing the telling Eru or the Valar?

If Eru, he did tell of its existence, but why should he explain everything and ruin the good surprise? Why tell a kid what you are going to get him for his birthday and ruin the joy of opening the present?

If the Valar, well quite simply, they said that they didn't know!! They couldn't tell. In the Real world, people with faith DO "acquiesce" to the "lore" of others, whether it be Moses, Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, Muhammed, Bhudda, or Anyone else. It's not too unreasonable, that's why it is called faith.

Your next section runs like this"Taken together, these elements produce a far less humane story than either the Lord of the Rings or the Quenta Silmarillion material. There, humans are allowed to luxuriate in their imperfection to a degree, and are not expected, on pain of divine punishment to behave according to any rigid code. They may wonder why the Eldar possess immortal life, but within the pages of the Lord of the Rings and Quenta Silmarillion at least, there is no definitive answer."

A LESS humane story? Do you mean Humane; as in kind and benevolent or Human: as in representative of human nature?

The answer to both is this: this story is unlike any others in Tolkien, for the scale of judgement and impact upon only one people group. Now judgement came, does that make it inhumane or inhuman? No. Judgement is expected, and needed, done will suffer, but that is the nature of judgement, to punish. Tolkien here was painting a picture of the darker side if man. It reads much like the CoH, but we don't see all of the judged's actions. In CoH we can make our own judgement of Turin, he is one man and we see his every action, and in detail. We are able to form our own opinions for judgement. In the case if the Numenorians, we don't see the day to day activities. We don't see all of the good, bad, and the ugly. We see highlights, and the summary of the case, with the final verdict given by the judge, Eru. It is up to us then to accept, or reject, this judgement, and it all depends on our own faith in the judge.
Personally, I think if Eru as a kind, benevolent deity. He had his reasons, and if you look up thread, you will see done of mine for trusting this decision. A take of judgement doesn't necessarily make a story inhuman or inhumane, of anything, it makes it MORE so.

We move on. You pint out that they are given much leeway. True, but do you believe that they should have had more? They mounted an invasion of Aman, something not to be done by few, or those who did not sympathize. There were no slaves, and they could have escaped. They must have made a choose to support it.

You say there is no answer in the Quenta, but it was explained to them by the Valar, which is better? Firsthand account or written tradition?

The next area a of thought" These works(Quenta and LotR) also display less of the blatant moralism of the "Akkalabeth", and instead there is a sense of narrative leeway granted to characters we might otherwise condemn (think Boromir, Feanor, Galadriel, Gollum and especially Turin, all of whom mess up in some very fundamental ways, and yet none of whom are smited by Eru or otherwise judged to be completely beyond the pale by the text).

But what about Morgoth, the Balrogs, orcs, Saruman, Sauron, the Evil men, and the countless others? Moralism depends on your morals. We make prejudgements on these, almost without question. Don't get me wrong, we are supposed to hate them, they are the antagonists, but in LotR alone we have the Hobbits and co., against the Dark Lord. How much more simplistic moralism do you want? Like I said, moralism is a matter of perspective.

You wrap up" But in the "Akkalabeth", the innocent women and children of Numenor are killed in an unforgivable act of divine genocide. There is simply no moral justification for such an act, and it displays a rare lapse in narrative judgement on Tolkien's part. I understand that he was probably trying to invoke something of the grandeur of Biblical events, but for me Eru's "intervention" serves only to make me far more sympathetic toward Sauron, regardless of that character's malicious intent. Genocide is simply more evil than invading Valinor - Eru could simply have 'buried' Pharazon's army and left it at that.

You state that, "innocent(s)" die, true. There must have been some, but perhaps not as many as we may think. The Numenorians had stopped having many children, there may have been very few. Now moving on to women. They must have at least, tacitly supported the actions of the men. Tolkien was not into weak women, but in ancient society that he was trying to mimic, men took the lead. Women ruled the house though, if they wanted to, they could make life stink for the men, or at least very difficult.

Combining these factors, and possible theories of second chances for the innocent, it could be seen as just punishment, not fair perhaps, but just according to a strict law.

Genocide you say. Now this IS the trickiest portion to tackle. If you mean that the wholesale slaughter of one group is wrong, yes I agree, but there is another factor in this case, Sauron. He did not want Numenor destroyed, why would he wish to be caught in the destruction himself? He wanted to use Numenor as a power base for his evil machinations. He would have become supreme in the land, after Pharazon had been defeated. Sauron needed to be dealt with. Also, the majority if those left were King's men, they now followed Sauron in trying to arrest the Elendili. They must be judged as guilty.

Now the judgement was harsh, innocent people did get hurt, but was that Eru's fault? If he didn't interfere in Numenor, it would have been better, right? I think not. Here we must make a judgment, what caused the pain, suffering, and death of innocents? Eru? No. Evil. Evil hurts people, all people, good people, innocent people. Should it? No!! Does it? Yes, sadly. You earlier stated that there was an oppressive moralism to this tale, but now it seems that you wish to impress a moralism of your own. The bad guys get punished and the innocent go free. This would be an even greater moral simplification. How would we react if the text read:" and as that wave crashed, all if the innocent children, men, and women, were borne out of harm by Ulmo and to the shores of Middle-Earth". We'd cry ex deus machina!!! In the real world innocents are hurt, why should it be different in ME?

Now I'm not trying to change anybody's opinion. When was the lat time that an Internet post did THAT!!?? Probably..,.never! Just me playing DA. I look forward to the ensuing discussion.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Aug 30 2013, 5:22pm

Post #48 of 60 (135 views)
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The Valar don't know the answer, and do not have the power [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...

This brings up another issue: how is it that the Valar (and/or Eru), could think that granting the Numenoreans an earthly paradise was a good idea, , knowing that human psychology will very rarely be completely satisfied by the demand to simply have faith in the face of death, especially given that the Elves do indeed possess immortality. If Eru has some wonderful divine plan that must necessarily involve the mortality of Men, why not just tell the Numenoreans what that is, instead of expecting them to acquiesce to the lore of Eldar and the Valar?

...
(my italics)
I think the Valar don't know why it's important that "Men" (and women too, presumably Wink )remain mortal - the Valar have both been told that this is so, and also have no ability to grant immortality, whatever the Numenoreans do. So everyone has to be content, or not, with faith.


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

"nowimë 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!"


Bombadil21
Bree


Aug 31 2013, 12:34am

Post #49 of 60 (140 views)
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A reply [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
You say that It is because the"...problematic and unsympathetic portrayal of men...". Why do you think it is problematic? Problematic for whom? You?


Problematic because the 'rebellion' of the 'bad' Numenoreans does not arise so much out of their empire building (although this isn't portrayed in a positive light, to be sure) but out of their 'disobedience' to the 'will' of god that they should accept their mortality on faith.

It is problematic to me personally yes, but I also think in a less subjective sense. For people who share particular values (i.e. the values of humanism) condemning whole nations of people on the basis of their beliefs feels...unwarranted.


In Reply To
Then you bring up the "troubling portrayal of Eru". What troubles you?


that he is a mass-murdering and genocidal warlord far worse than Morgoth ever was.


In Reply To
You share your favorite parts, which DO make it fun, and I agree, very epic.


awesome :-)


In Reply To
I don't think it wrong to want something, but what we do to get it, is very telling... Wanting immortality was not WRONG per se.

Urging to "have faith", can have different effects on different people.

If that person has the faith and trust, it can help them strengthen that faith, al a the Elendili

But if they never had true faith,and just went along with it, they'd be in a "believe because I say so" situation. Not comforting nor enviable. Perhaps the King's Men fit here?

You mention that it is "human" to want longer life. True, but the placement if your words in the same sentence as faith being urged, seems to imply that there is a clash between humanity/ human nature and faith. Is there? Don't many faiths exist, that aim to grow you BEYOND humanity, into something better? No clash here IMHO.


Human inclinations toward belief in agencies other than other human beings is certainly a part of the human cognitive and psychological makeup. In philosophical circles this is called the 'intentional stance'. Faith in unseen entities is certainly one manifestation of this tendency.

I think what I meant was that many humans are not ultimately satisfied by 'faith' in an afterlife, and given the choice would chose to extend their lives here on earth. In terms of the Numenoreans, I meant that having seen immortality in the Eldar they would know it were physiologically possible to attain. The injunction to have 'faith' would then seem even more absurd.


In Reply To
Then you say"... how is it that the Valar (and/or Eru), could think that granting the Numenoreans an earthly paradise was a good ideaThis brings up another issue: how is it that the Valar (and/or Eru), could think that granting the Numenoreans an earthly paradise was a good idea, , knowing that human psychology will very rarely be completely satisfied by the demand to simply have faith in the face of death..."

This seems to be the Valar's call here, and they don't seem to be of one mind, al a Ulmo's absence. They are not all knowing or all powerful( they have messed up by now for us to know), and cannot have taken Psych 101 classes, as you seem to have done.


I know a little of human cognition and psychology, but I'm no expert. :)

Then we have your next point"...especially given that the Elves do indeed possess immortality. If Eru has some wonderful divine plan that must necessarily involve the mortality of Men, why not just tell the Numenoreans what that is, instead of expecting them to acquiesce to the lore of Eldar and the Valar?"


In Reply To
I get that the idea of immortality is attractive, and ACHIEVED immortality, almost irresistibly potent, but the Numenorians seemed to think that it was able to be just that, ACHIEVED. It was not. The Valar and Elves were immortal because they were Ainu and Firstborn, not because they were immortal. The Numenorians thought that they could become immortal, and tried to experiment to find the Secret. They made an error, much like Morgoth's, they wanted the the thing that only Eru had to give.


Hmmm, interesting. They way you word it makes me like this story even less. Why is it in the nature of Men to remain mortal, yet in the nature of the Eldar to remain immortal, more or less? This is the ultimate question the Numenoreans want an answer to but never receive. I don't see why such a question shouldn't be answered by Eru though. What's his plan? And why is it so important that it be hidden from the Numenoreans (and the Elves)?


In Reply To
If Eru, he did tell of its existence, but why should he explain everything and ruin the good surprise? Why tell a kid what you are going to get him for his birthday and ruin the joy of opening the present?


this is different. We're dealing with people's lives. It would be far more moral for such a god to reveal its purposes, given that it claims to have made the world and to therefore have power over it. Leaving people in ignorance, only to arbitrarily destroy them when they fail to live up to your expectations, is kinda harsh.


In Reply To
If the Valar, well quite simply, they said that they didn't know!! They couldn't tell. In the Real world, people with faith DO "acquiesce" to the "lore" of others, whether it be Moses, Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, Muhammed, Bhudda, or Anyone else. It's not too unreasonable, that's why it is called faith.


Perhaps. Since you brought the Real world up, I'll just say that I'd have the same criticisms of all gods in this world. They can't expect me to believe in them unless they actually have some effect on the world. Knowing what their divine plans are would be a good start.


In Reply To
A LESS humane story? Do you mean Humane; as in kind and benevolent or Human: as in representative of human nature?


Humane as in allowing for the reality of human foibles without insisting on a dogmatic "party line". The Numenoreans are not 'allowed' to rebel against Eru and the Valar - their whole civilization is wiped out because of it! Their natural human tendencies toward 'sin' are punished ruthlessly. Eru never attempts to negotiate with the Numenoreans, for example. His only response is extreme and disproportionate violence. We don't see this kind of 'intervention' in tLoTR or The Silmarillion proper - narratives are allowed to play out more or less as they would in the 'real' world - through the interactions of imperfect human (or human-like) characters.

In Reply To
Personally, I think if Eru as a kind, benevolent deity. He had his reasons, and if you look up thread, you will see done of mine for trusting this decision. A take of judgement doesn't necessarily make a story inhuman or inhumane, of anything, it makes it MORE so.


I'm sorry. The story unambiguously depicts Eru murdering innocents. There is NOTHING benevolent about this at all. As I say, I think it was a lapse of judgement on Tolkien's part to include such divine wrath as a crucial element of his story.


In Reply To
We move on. You pint out that they are given much leeway. True, but do you believe that they should have had more?


Yes. What right does Eru have to smite?


In Reply To
But what about Morgoth, the Balrogs, orcs, Saruman, Sauron, the Evil men, and the countless others? Moralism depends on your morals. We make prejudgements on these, almost without question. Don't get me wrong, we are supposed to hate them, they are the antagonists, but in LotR alone we have the Hobbits and co., against the Dark Lord. How much more simplistic moralism do you want? Like I said, moralism is a matter of perspective.


There are problems with Tolkien's treatment of orcs and other 'minions' - these have been pointed out by critics many times. So I'm not being hypocritical - I think Tolkien it as his worst when he falls into a kind of unthinking judgementalism, most obvious here, but also present with regard to the treatment of orcs, etc.


In Reply To
You state that, "innocent(s)" die, true. There must have been some, but perhaps not as many as we may think. The Numenorians had stopped having many children, there may have been very few.



That doesnt excuse anything.


In Reply To
Now moving on to women. They must have at least, tacitly supported the actions of the men.


Not an excuse for genocide.


In Reply To
Combining these factors, and possible theories of second chances for the innocent, it could be seen as just punishment, not fair perhaps, but just according to a strict law.


Then the law is deeply flawed.



In Reply To
Now the judgement was harsh, innocent people did get hurt, but was that Eru's fault? If he didn't interfere in Numenor, it would have been better, right? I think not. Here we must make a judgment, what caused the pain, suffering, and death of innocents? Eru? No. Evil. Evil hurts people, all people, good people, innocent people. Should it? No!! Does it? Yes, sadly. You earlier stated that there was an oppressive moralism to this tale, but now it seems that you wish to impress a moralism of your own. The bad guys get punished and the innocent go free. This would be an even greater moral simplification. How would we react if the text read:" and as that wave crashed, all if the innocent children, men, and women, were borne out of harm by Ulmo and to the shores of Middle-Earth". We'd cry ex deus machina!!! In the real world innocents are hurt, why should it be different in ME?


I don't know of any instances where a god has deliberately killed innocents in this world. The natural world cannot be held morally accountable as it has no feelings, soul, being, personality, etc. Gods, however, do, and so Eru is morally culpable.


Bombadil21
Bree


Aug 31 2013, 12:46am

Post #50 of 60 (130 views)
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Eru and punishment [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I agree, Eru is very troubling here, there's no way around that. Especially to think that he wiped out Numenor but never personally stepped in to rid the world of the greatest evil, Melkor.


Yes, good point. If you think about it Eru's actions are apparently predicated not so much on the Numenoreans imperialism (otherwise why not already destroy Morgoth), but on their "sin" - that is, their disobedience and affrontary at invading Valinor.

Apparently it doesn't really matter to Eru if Men die by the sword, what matters is that they don't disobey him or the Valar. A very moral position. Unimpressed

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