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Letter #131 Discussion: Heaven or Hell?; And the Golden Pavement on the Road 'South'
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Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 2:08pm

Post #1 of 43 (378 views)
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Letter #131 Discussion: Heaven or Hell?; And the Golden Pavement on the Road 'South' Can't Post

Greetings Fellowship of the Room!

In this week, the fourth selection of discussion points on JRRT's Letter #131, I would like to touch on a very prevalent theme in the writings of Tolkien: how evil rises.

I hope you enjoy these points; as always, I look forward to the discussion on these central concepts.



**I would like to discuss the evolution of evil as seen by JRRT, specifically in a comparison between Sauron and Numenor. He says about evil: "...but the problem: that this frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root, the desire to benefit the world and others - speedily and according to the benefactor's own plans - is a recurrent motive." Particularly about Sauron, and his actions after the War of Wrath: "He lingers in Middle-earth. Very slowly, beginning with fair motives: the reorganizing and rehabilitation of the ruin of Middle-earth, 'negected by the gods', he becomes a reincarnation of Evil, and a thing lusting for Complete Power - and so consumed ever more fiercely with hate (especially of gods and Elves)." In these two instances, Numenor and the rise of Sauron - great ill and destruction rise from the simple desire for more: more control, more shaping of the world to their will - in short (as JRRT defines it) more Power.

I find it interesting that the gods (but not Eru) were involved in both of these circumstances - in the gift of Numenor to Men, and in the 'neglecting' Middle-earth after the War of Wrath. Do you see this as the literary 'Fall' mechanism; or, continuing the previous discussions, more of a theological defense of monotheism in light of free will, by keeping Eru Illuvatar distant from the events?

And this bit: "... frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root, the desire to benefit the world and others - speedily and according to the benefactor's own plans - is a recurrent motive." We know it relates to Sauron; does this relate at all to the actions of the Valar and the Numenorians as well?

Is this all 'legendary mode' of talking on part of the author? Or is there a real world message here that he felt was important? With what we know about JRRT's published works and his Letters, and knowing his feelings on the continuum of good and evil, where do you think the line between 'good intentions' and 'evil' lies in his world view?

If you sense a message, do you feel it is a dated morality, or one that applies to times other than its own?

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!

















(This post was edited by Brethil on Oct 8 2013, 2:09pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 2:13pm

Post #2 of 43 (242 views)
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The Morality of The Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

**A topic we cannot skip: the forging of the Rings, especially as it ties into the earlier points about fading and how that fear drove the Elves to the decision to make the Rings. To lead into the time before the forging, we read about the Elves: "There was nothing wrong essentially with 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 peace and bliss and 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. Thus they became obsessed with 'fading', the mode in which the changes of time (the law of the world under the sun) was perceived by them."

Aside from the ideas of fighting Fate and Time influencing the Elves' decision to craft the Three, would the Elves have had this desire to hold onto their memories of The West and to retain their prestige 'as the highest people' without firsthand knowledge of Valinor - ie: because of the Summoning (possibly the Valar 'failing in faith')?


**Then Sauron, lingering in Middle-earth, shares his dreams with the Elves: "He was still fair in that early time, and his motives and those of the Elves seemed to go partly together: the healing of the desolate lands. Sauron found their weak point in suggesting that, helping one another, they could make Western Middle-earth as beautiful as Valinor. It was really a veiled attack on the gods, an incitement to try to make a seperate independent paradise. Gilgalad repulsed all such overtures, as also did Elrond. But at Eregion great work began - and the Elves came their nearest to falling to 'magic' and machinery. With the aid of Sauron they made Rings of Power ('power' is an ominous and sinister word in all these tales, except as applied to the gods.)"

So, what's wrong here? The Three Rings are later borne by Elves, preserving things unstained (cue beautiful, ethereal music)...so far, so good..."The chief power (of all the rings alike) was the prevention or slowing of decay (ie: change viewed as a regrettable thing), the preservation of what is desired or loved, or its semblance - this is more or less an Elvish motive." Still sounding pretty sweet...let us read a little more..."But they also enhanced the natural powers of the possessor - thus approaching 'magic', a motive easily corrupted into evil, a lust for domination." Oh, there it is: there's always a catch. Dangit. Plus of course Sauron made the Ruling Ring - another big catch...

Compared to their descriptions in LOTR, how does this affect your perception of the Three?

Do you think that from a purely speculative plot perspective, being of the line of Feanor and of both inquisitive and skilled mind, Celebrimor was a necessary part of the creation of the Rings - a continuation of the Great Tale of the death of the Trees and the making of the Silmarils? Or could it have happened theoretically at the hand of any skilled Elven smith?
What about some of the best in the business - Dwarven smiths?

Any other points about the Rings that stand out to you?




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


Oct 8 2013, 2:46pm

Post #3 of 43 (235 views)
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Well, now that you've brought up Rings... [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been holding on to this idea. The rings were all connected in a way, so that the One could dominate all the others. Now, if we accept that this 'door' of opportunity may be used in both directions, we could say that Bilbo, Frodo, Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, Cirdan, Gollum, and any other ring-bearer, was affected slightly by the others who wore their rings. Where am I going? You will see. Now, the object of Elrond, Galadriel, and Cirdan was to hide the Three, so their mindset is of secrecy. Could this have affected Bilbo and Frodo? Were they secretive about the Ring, because of its powerful influence for greed? Or the subtle, subconscious influence of the greater ring-bearers? The Ring 'wanted' to be found, so I cannot see it wanting to conceal itself, so why doesn't it turn its bearer into a egotistical braggart? This course would be as effective as sending up a flare, and sky-writing "the One is here, come pick me up Sauron!". So was the waylaying of the Rung in secret for all those years indirectly the fault of the other bearers of the Three?


Dame Ioreth
Grey Havens


Oct 8 2013, 4:15pm

Post #4 of 43 (229 views)
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Some stolen thoughts... [In reply to] Can't Post

... from a wise soul who sailed West.

I've been browsing TORn (not doing laundry) and I found some old posts from Reverend, a member of these boards years ago, one of which I think is apropos (and probably got me on this track).



"Morgoth personally was cast into the void beyond the walls of the world, not to return until the end of time. But he had infused so much of his personal power into the fabric of Middle-Earth that the whole place is more or less hot with evil radiation (he was particularly fond of gold, and hence it tends to be a special focus of evil). I find it very helpful to think of Morgoth's corruption of the earth in terms of radioactivity; there's a little bit of it everywhere (background Morgoth), and it can be concentrated and/or used as a power source.

Sauron no doubt employs the power of Morgoth routinely, and may have special access to it through Mt Doom (most of Morgoth's power, after all, went deep into the earth). He may have some way to commune with the spirit of Morgoth, although Morgoth is outside the world and technically dead.
The key thing to understand, though, is that Morgoth was a vastly greater power than Sauron. As Sauron's One Ring radiates temptation and corruption, because it hold the greater part of Sauron's power, so too does the fabric of the earth, the vessel of Morgoth's power, do the same thing; all the world is Morgoth's Ring. This means that we are constantly under assault from evil impulses, and our perceptions are under the Shadow (so, for instance, we may even find fault with the Valar's governance of the world!). In effect, the essence of Morgoth becomes an external cause of what theologians call the Depravity of Man.

Because of the corruption of all matter, Elves' bodies will not last forever, as intended. This is a problem for their souls, which WILL last forever. Hence, elves in Middle-Earth will eventually 'fade' into something very like a wraith. Apparently the Elven-Rings can hold this effect at bay over a limited area. This is what it means when Elrond says that they have great power to preserve all things unstained - they can exclude the Morgoth-taint, so that places like Rivendell and Lorien give us a glimpse of what Arda Unstained should have been like. The failure of the Elven-Rings after the War of the Ring is why all the Elves who could HAD to sail west; to avoid fading.
And that should hold you for now.
" -- Reverend's explanation of Morgoth's taint.



I've always seen Sauron's One Ring as a physical incarnation of Morgoth's evil, born of the fires of Mt Doom, a volcano, closer than anything else in ME to the depths where Morgoth's power was still seething. The other rings, made from that same gold that Morgoth coveted, and controlled by the the One Ring (made in secret) were tainted from the start. They were also made for the wrong reasons, going against what seemed to be the grand plan, allowing the elves to hang on when they were past their intended time.

I think the One Ring itself radiated the corrupting influence of its master - someone who wanted all for self. Evil, in this case, is to say "mine". In a small being like a Hobbit, that translated into keeping it secret and safe because so much of the rest of ME was able to dominate and take. Besides, hobbits are by their nature a sort of secretive race, being able to pass among us without being noticed. They share within themselves as society demands but keep things close to the vest (or in a pocket) when dealing with others.

“Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


sador
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 5:22pm

Post #5 of 43 (224 views)
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Apologies for my going MIA. A few general remarks: [In reply to] Can't Post

First, in my skimming through the first discussion, I've noticed that Bombadil21 called Letter 131 "the bane of Tolkien studies". In general, I agree with his attitude to the Letters - fascinating as they often are, they only reflect Tolkien's ideas at the moment they were written - and some of those published are indent drafts! These are as likely as not false trails - there is normally a reason why they were discarded. And unlike the Silmarillion drafts, they are not a part of an attempt to write a complete account, so they have considerably less value as interpretations.
However, this is not the case with Letter 131. It was sent, and to a prospective publisher. Consequently, it is complete, comprehensive, clear and probably candid.

I also have no issue with it's being published with The Silmarillion. For one thing, this is literally the author's introduction; for another - seeing how Christopher and Guy Kay often preferred the drafts of the early 1950s to later writings, I suspect that (apart of nomenclature) the have tried to create the Silmarillion which Tolkien would have published if he could, rather than reflecting every later idea of his. If my guess is correct - this letter is in a way the blueprint they have used - another reason for publishing them together.

Regarding this part - I note the omission of the summary of LotR. In a way, it is pointless to keep it; unlike Waldman, anybody who reads the Letters already knows the main book well. But I would dearly like to read how JRRT himself summarized it.
Perhaps it was used, at least in part: the summary of FotR and TTT could have been the source of the synopsis preceding RotK. But even if so, I miss the author's summary of the third volume.

Sorry for taking a powder, and for going on a tangent when I do respond. But that's the RR for you; and it has been done before, even to me. Smile

Thanks for this fascinating discussion (at least the parts I've read)!


sador
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 5:50pm

Post #6 of 43 (214 views)
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Thank you very much [In reply to] Can't Post

for citing Reverend's truly brilliant explanation!

I've missed so much by not joining TORn earlier...


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Oct 8 2013, 9:03pm

Post #7 of 43 (205 views)
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Frightful evil can and does arise ... [In reply to] Can't Post

Is a general observation about human nature.
It is very easy to delude oneself that the end justifies the means(especially if you are the kind of big-picture mover and shaker who often ends up in positions of importance):


Quote
"Everybody on their deathbed thinks that they did the best they could. Adolf Hitler thought that he did the best he could. I've read that he said the German people let him down, they didn't have the intensity and devotion that was required. And that allowed him to flood the subways when they were in there, to stop the Russians, and feel justified doing it. But in my philosophy, which I've read a lot though I never took it, everybody feels they did the best they could under the circumstances. And so we have to be careful."

Cpt Alan Bean, Astronaut (Apollo 12 moon landing, Skylab) and artist
Interviewed in Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith, Bloomsbury 2005


Or, perhaps it is almost inevitable that:

Quote
"Most noble goals can remain so only in principle: carnage and misery form a very large part of how things come to fruition"

Aliette de Bodard (author )
"Author Spotlight" interview in Lightspeed Magazine #30, November 2012


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!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 11:20pm

Post #8 of 43 (191 views)
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Interesting idea Rem! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I've been holding on to this idea. The rings were all connected in a way, so that the One could dominate all the others. Now, if we accept that this 'door' of opportunity may be used in both directions, we could say that Bilbo, Frodo, Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, Cirdan, Gollum, and any other ring-bearer, was affected slightly by the others who wore their rings. Where am I going? You will see. Now, the object of Elrond, Galadriel, and Cirdan was to hide the Three, so their mindset is of secrecy. Could this have affected Bilbo and Frodo? Were they secretive about the Ring, because of its powerful influence for greed? Or the subtle, subconscious influence of the greater ring-bearers? The Ring 'wanted' to be found, so I cannot see it wanting to conceal itself, so why doesn't it turn its bearer into a egotistical braggart? This course would be as effective as sending up a flare, and sky-writing "the One is here, come pick me up Sauron!". So was the waylaying of the Rung in secret for all those years indirectly the fault of the other bearers of the Three?




So the Rings functioning in a very low-level way as a sort of communal consciousness?

That's a fascinating idea. It doesn't detract at all from the free will of the wearer, and as you point out 'wanting to be found' would seemingly encourage just that - behavior of standing out.

So if your theory holds, then the subconscious and collective will of the Elves and Dwarves who bore Rings would be stronger in Bilbo and Frodo (and Gollum) than that of the One itself upon those characters, at their time of possession?

Very neat idea Rem.

Cool




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!

















Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 11:32pm

Post #9 of 43 (195 views)
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Wonderful bit from the Reverend. Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
... from a wise soul who sailed West.

I've been browsing TORn (not doing laundry) and I found some old posts from Reverend, a member of these boards years ago, one of which I think is apropos (and probably got me on this track).

"
Morgoth personally was cast into the void beyond the walls of the world, not to return until the end of time. But he had infused so much of his personal power into the fabric of Middle-Earth that the whole place is more or less hot with evil radiation (he was particularly fond of gold, and hence it tends to be a special focus of evil). I find it very helpful to think of Morgoth's corruption of the earth in terms of radioactivity; there's a little bit of it everywhere (background Morgoth), and it can be concentrated and/or used as a power source.

Sauron no doubt employs the power of Morgoth routinely, and may have special access to it through Mt Doom (most of Morgoth's power, after all, went deep into the earth). He may have some way to commune with the spirit of Morgoth, although Morgoth is outside the world and technically dead.
The key thing to understand, though, is that Morgoth was a vastly greater power than Sauron. As Sauron's One Ring radiates temptation and corruption, because it hold the greater part of Sauron's power, so too does the fabric of the earth, the vessel of Morgoth's power, do the same thing; all the world is Morgoth's Ring. This means that we are constantly under assault from evil impulses, and our perceptions are under the Shadow (so, for instance, we may even find fault with the Valar's governance of the world!). In effect, the essence of Morgoth becomes an external cause of what theologians call the Depravity of Man.

Because of the corruption of all matter, Elves' bodies will not last forever, as intended. This is a problem for their souls, which WILL last forever. Hence, elves in Middle-Earth will eventually 'fade' into something very like a wraith. Apparently the Elven-Rings can hold this effect at bay over a limited area. This is what it means when Elrond says that they have great power to preserve all things unstained - they can exclude the Morgoth-taint, so that places like Rivendell and Lorien give us a glimpse of what Arda Unstained should have been like. The failure of the Elven-Rings after the War of the Ring is why all the Elves who could HAD to sail west; to avoid fading.
And that should hold you for now.
" -- Reverend's explanation of Morgoth's taint.

I've always seen Sauron's One Ring as a physical incarnation of Morgoth's evil, born of the fires of Mt Doom, a volcano, closer than anything else in ME to the depths where Morgoth's power was still seething. The other rings, made from that same gold that Morgoth coveted, and controlled by the the One Ring (made in secret) were tainted from the start. They were also made for the wrong reasons, going against what seemed to be the grand plan, allowing the elves to hang on when they were past their intended time.

I think the One Ring itself radiated the corrupting influence of its master - someone who wanted all for self. Evil, in this case, is to say "mine". In a small being like a Hobbit, that translated into keeping it secret and safe because so much of the rest of ME was able to dominate and take. Besides, hobbits are by their nature a sort of secretive race, being able to pass among us without being noticed. They share within themselves as society demands but keep things close to the vest (or in a pocket
) when dealing with others. ____________________________________________________________________________
Thanks so much Ioreth for posting this insight! Heart(I remember the good Reverend from a few TORN incarnations ago. Angelic

So the parallel here is marred and fallen Ada being the philosophical macrocosm, and the Ring is its microcosmic compliment and heir. That's such an elegant idea; and as the faces and bodies and visible signs of Evil grew smaller and harder to spot as the Ages advance, its the same journey that Morgoth and Sauron make. (Evil in our tie being harder to spot I suppose...and smaller but more pervasive and more quietly dangerous?)

The purpose of the Three is indeed to hold back time and preserve the taint...superficially against the progress of the Song but on a purely emotional level to deny the marring of the world, and to deny and erase the coming of Morgoth. Another similarity is the focus of Morgoth and Sauron of having 'their own'. I can rather hear Morgoth looking out (maybe standing next to poor Hurin) at the dark vapours in front of Thangorodrim and calling it all 'my precious'.

Is it probably entirely coincidental (but maybe not, because it rings *lol* a bell) that the Ring is round and without end or escape...as the world becomes? Not hard to understand that desire is it, on part of the Elves? Not to do any active harm, or use any force...just some Rings to hold back the darkness.





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!

















(This post was edited by Brethil on Oct 8 2013, 11:34pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 11:48pm

Post #10 of 43 (188 views)
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Hullo Sador! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
(I'll let you slide on the MIA. Just this once. LaughLaugh Wink) First, in my skimming through the first discussion, I've noticed that Bombadil21 called Letter 131 "the bane of Tolkien studies". In general, I agree with his attitude to the Letters - fascinating as they often are, they only reflect Tolkien's ideas at the moment they were written - and some of those published are indent drafts! These are as likely as not false trails - there is normally a reason why they were discarded. And unlike the Silmarillion drafts, they are not a part of an attempt to write a complete account, so they have considerably less value as interpretations.
However, this is not the case with Letter 131. It was sent, and to a prospective publisher. Consequently, it is complete, comprehensive, clear and probably candid.

I also have no issue with it's being published with The Silmarillion. For one thing, this is literally the author's introduction; for another - seeing how Christopher and Guy Kay often preferred the drafts of the early 1950s to later writings, I suspect that (apart of nomenclature) the have tried to create the Silmarillion which Tolkien would have published if he could, rather than reflecting every later idea of his. If my guess is correct - this letter is in a way the blueprint they have used - another reason for publishing them together.
Agree here Sador; I'm glad we picked this Letter to discuss for those reasons you have described.

Regarding this part - I note the omission of the summary of LotR. In a way, it is pointless to keep it; unlike Waldman, anybody who reads the Letters already knows the main book well. But I would dearly like to read how JRRT himself summarized it.
Perhaps it was used, at least in part: the summary of FotR and TTT could have been the source of the synopsis preceding RotK. But even if so, I miss the author's summary of the third volume.
I can imagine that LOTR would potentially produce another 20+ pages of summation. It might be invaluable in parts, especially in areas like Bombadil perhaps. Though the intentional mystery we have today does keep us busy and happy. It would be quite a companion read to LOTR. Sorry for taking a powder, and for going on a tangent when I do respond. But that's the RR for you; and it has been done before, even to me. Smile

Thanks for this fascinating discussion (at least the parts I've read)!
Thanks Sador - glad you stopped in!





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!

















Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 11:53pm

Post #11 of 43 (189 views)
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Great set of quotes Furincurunir [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Is a general observation about human nature.
It is very easy to delude oneself that the end justifies the means(especially if you are the kind of big-picture mover and shaker who often ends up in positions of importance):


Quote
"Everybody on their deathbed thinks that they did the best they could. Adolf Hitler thought that he did the best he could. I've read that he said the German people let him down, they didn't have the intensity and devotion that was required. And that allowed him to flood the subways when they were in there, to stop the Russians, and feel justified doing it. But in my philosophy, which I've read a lot though I never took it, everybody feels they did the best they could under the circumstances. And so we have to be careful."

Cpt Alan Bean, Astronaut (Apollo 12 moon landing, Skylab) and artist
Interviewed in Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith, Bloomsbury 2005


Or, perhaps it is almost inevitable that:

Quote
"Most noble goals can remain so only in principle: carnage and misery form a very large part of how things come to fruition"

Aliette de Bodard (author )
"Author Spotlight" interview in Lightspeed Magazine #30, November 2012
The danger, as you say, of the ends justifying the means. Its an interesting moral question I suppose; do we carefully debate the degrees of 'evil' and 'good' in balance...what means justifies what outcome? Or do we hold to a single standard that is, if we are not compromising, inviolate? As your second quote suggests though, not always a possible way to exist?






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!

















Findegil
The Shire

Oct 9 2013, 1:11am

Post #12 of 43 (212 views)
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A 'companion' read to LOTR indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

I can imagine that LOTR would potentially produce another 20+ pages of summation. . . . It would be quite a companion read to LOTR.

This is a perfect cue for us to mention that we published the omitted part of the letter in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (2005, revised ed. 2008), where it takes up about seven pages. The portion was also published, even earlier, together with the complete letter to Waldman translated into French, by Michael Devaux in Tolkien: Les racines du legendaire (2003), and the complete letter in French previously appeared in 2001 in the journal Conference
.

Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull




Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 9 2013, 4:01am

Post #13 of 43 (174 views)
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Thank you so much for posting this information [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I can imagine that LOTR would potentially produce another 20+ pages of summation. . . . It would be quite a companion read to LOTR.

This is a perfect cue for us to mention that we published the omitted part of the letter in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (2005, revised ed. 2008), where it takes up about seven pages. The portion was also published, even earlier, together with the complete letter to Waldman translated into French, by Michael Devaux in Tolkien: Les racines du legendaire (2003), and the complete letter in French previously appeared in 2001 in the journal Conference
.

Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull





Especially in light of our proposed read-through of LOTR beginning next year, to celebrate the 60th anniversary. I will plan on getting more acquainted with your work in preparation as between the inclusion of the LOTR summary and your insights it will really enhance the discussion.

The amusing thing about being a Tolkien fan is that the more I read, the more I find *to* read and the less I feel I know! I seem to have missed the early signpost that said "welcome to your new addiction.'

SmileWink

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!





sador
Half-elven


Oct 9 2013, 4:58am

Post #14 of 43 (166 views)
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Splendid! [In reply to] Can't Post

It is wonderful that you, and such great scholars, should take so much trouble and show us so much.

But if I may be so bold as to ask the question: is there any connection between the omitted seven pages and the short Synopsis before The Return of the King?
And another one: I note that in the 50th anniversary edition, the Synopsis is omitted. Was this Douglas Anderson's decision, or was this the practice in previous one-volume editions as well (such as the 1968 Unwin paperback edition, published in Tolkien's lifetime)? And does this indicate that the Synopsis was not written by Tolkien himself?

Thank you again! Although if you are reading what we post here, perhaps I should take more care as to what I write...


Findegil
The Shire

Oct 9 2013, 11:45am

Post #15 of 43 (163 views)
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You're welcome, Sador [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
is there any connection between the omitted seven pages and the short Synopsis before The Return of the King?


No. Tolkien wrote the synopsis at the beginning of The Return of the King, and the synopsis of the Fellowship at the start of The Two Towers, at Rayner Unwin's suggestion: see the Chronology volume of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, pp. 430 etc., so separated from the Waldman letter by both time and purpose. We make some comments on the synopses, which have some interesting points, in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion.


Quote
And another one: I note that in the 50th anniversary edition, the Synopsis is omitted. Was this Douglas Anderson's decision, or was this the practice in previous one-volume editions as well (such as the 1968 Unwin paperback edition, published in Tolkien's lifetime)? And does this indicate that the Synopsis was not written by Tolkien himself?


The synopses were written by Tolkien. They were omitted from the first, one-volume printings of the 50th anniversary edition because (as you guess) the one-volume edition has never included them, since they're not needed. They are included, however, in all three-volume printings, where they serve their original purpose, to remind readers of what came before, in a physically separate volume, and for the very first readers of The Lord of the Rings, with the publication of the volumes separated by months.

Doug Anderson contributed a revision of his 'Note on the Text' and a few suggested corrections, but most of the work on the 50th anniversary edition was ours, in consultation with Christopher Tolkien. Our Reader's Companion documents this, and our online addenda and corrigenda supplement it.

Wayne & Christina




Dame Ioreth
Grey Havens


Oct 9 2013, 4:01pm

Post #16 of 43 (161 views)
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Pervasive evil and holding back The Song [In reply to] Can't Post

Brethil said:
Cooll So the parallel here is marred and fallen Ada being the philosophical macrocosm, and the Ring is its microcosmic compliment and heir. That's such an elegant idea; and as the faces and bodies and visible signs of Evil grew smaller and harder to spot as the Ages advance, its the same journey that Morgoth and Sauron make. (Evil in our tie being harder to spot I suppose...and smaller but more pervasive and more quietly dangerous?)

When you think about the history of our own world, we have become better at sneaky evil. The 24 hours news cycle sees all, the governments of the world see all; to "get away with" evil, one has to be truly good at hiding in plain sight. Our "bad guys" don't look like bad guys; they are, as you say, harder to spot. Also, the farther we all go down the road of this pervasive evil, the harder it is to keep it at bay within ourselves. It becomes commonplace, something we live with day-to-day. I live very close to Washington DC so a threat level Orange is just another day at the office for us here. We have become immune to evil in order to be able to life our daily lives.


The purpose of the Three is indeed to hold back time and preserve the taint...superficially against the progress of the Song but on a purely emotional level to deny the marring of the world, and to deny and erase the coming of Morgoth. Another similarity is the focus of Morgoth and Sauron of having 'their own'. I can rather hear Morgoth looking out (maybe standing next to poor Hurin) at the dark vapours in front of Thangorodrim and calling it all 'my precious'.

It is the holding back of the progress of the Song that gives me pause when I think of the Elves. They did not want to accept their fate, their "mission" so-to-speak, in ME. They stamped their feet and said, "Hell No, we won't go!" and made rings to try and hold back the inevitable. But in doing so, they ended up in a fading existence anyway and one filled with more pain and suffering than if they had left well enough alone. It strikes me that of all the characters in the books, there are very few who accept the will of Eru and the Song. Did the granting of the gift of free will (which I equate with the exercise of intellect) doom the players to question and hedge?

Is it probably entirely coincidental (but maybe not, because it rings *lol* a bell) that the Ring is round and without end or escape...as the world becomes? Not hard to understand that desire is it, on part of the Elves? Not to do any active harm, or use any force...just some Rings to hold back the darkness.

I understand the desire but do not accept it as necessarily a reasonable desire. It is akin to those women around me (mostly at the bus stop) approaching or wallowing in middle age who dye their hair, have their plastic surgery and fight every wrinkle with a battallion of cream jars on their night stand, trying to hold back time. They fight time instead of accepting gracefully. So to the Elves - they fight what is there, so afraid of the unknown. It is almost as if they had no trust in the future and therefore had to hold on to the past.


“Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 9 2013, 4:59pm

Post #17 of 43 (149 views)
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Quiet evil versus Clear Evil [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
When you think about the history of our own world, we have become better at sneaky evil. The 24 hours news cycle sees all, the governments of the world see all; to "get away with" evil, one has to be truly good at hiding in plain sight. Our "bad guys" don't look like bad guys; they are, as you say, harder to spot. Also, the farther we all go down the road of this pervasive evil, the harder it is to keep it at bay within ourselves. It becomes commonplace, something we live with day-to-day. I live very close to Washington DC so a threat level Orange is just another day at the office for us here. We have become immune to evil in order to be able to life our daily lives. So true Ioreth. Part of the allure of JRRT's and of many fantasy worlds - the clearness of Evil? A nice visible demarcation between Us and Them? Which also implies a clear mandate in life: a clear enemy, a clear fate to avoid. In our real world times when these things seem muddier and indistinct I wonder if that is part of the comfort we take in Middle-earth? And maybe some of the comfort JRRT took in writing it

It is the holding back of the progress of the Song that gives me pause when I think of the Elves. They did not want to accept their fate, their "mission" so-to-speak, in ME. They stamped their feet and said, "Hell No, we won't go!" and made rings to try and hold back the inevitable. But in doing so, they ended up in a fading existence anyway and one filled with more pain and suffering than if they had left well enough alone. It strikes me that of all the characters in the books, there are very few who accept the will of Eru and the Song. Did the granting of the gift of free will (which I equate with the exercise of intellect) doom the players to question and hedge? I think it does, but that is where the journey comes in...one begins with free will and therefore 'questions' and questions lead to 'doubts'. I don't think in any way shape or form JRRT would every decry the questioning or the doubts, even of his own faith...but its the journey to find it and affirm it that I think meant the most to him. He writes something like that about the Numenoreans, obeying the Valar without fully understanding the 'rules'. Thus it led to disaster, as the Numenoreans evolved to question and doubt but guided to ruin by Sauron did not find their faith, but went somewhere else entirely instead (very much like your foot-stomping Elf description!)

[Is it probably entirely coincidental (but maybe not, because it rings *lol* a bell) that the Ring is round and without end or escape...as the world becomes? Not hard to understand that desire is it, on part of the Elves? Not to do any active harm, or use any force...just some Rings to hold back the darkness.] Brethil

I understand the desire but do not accept it as necessarily a reasonable desire. It is akin to those women around me (mostly at the bus stop) approaching or wallowing in middle age who dye their hair, have their plastic surgery and fight every wrinkle with a battallion of cream jars on their night stand, trying to hold back time. They fight time instead of accepting gracefully. So to the Elves - they fight what is there, so afraid of the unknown. On a purely personal level your reasonableness and evaluation of the human response to time speaks to the life you have enjoyed: not serial existence but life. I think, as Terazed pointed out so eloquently in previous threads, as soon as one starts marking Time one has stepped away from grace and love and wandered into possessive mere Existence. It is almost as if they had no trust in the future and therefore had to hold on to the past. Wonderful! That, to me, is the crux of the whole issue of the Elves and the Ring. The loss of faith in 'the future' means the loss of faith in Eru, because Eru *is* the future. That fair desire to preserve all things unstained I see as the rejection of the Song and Eru's plan...though the plan was marred, this was not unseen in Eru's mind and so cannot be considered an anomaly (to me.) What do you think of the idea that, though the Elves are portrayed in LOTR as such perfect beings, we (imperfect Followers) are the ones that inherit the aftermath of these Rings, perhaps their biggest folly?


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!





Terazed
Bree

Oct 11 2013, 7:15pm

Post #18 of 43 (120 views)
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What about illusion? [In reply to] Can't Post


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The key thing to understand, though, is that Morgoth was a vastly greater power than Sauron. As Sauron's One Ring radiates temptation and corruption, because it hold the greater part of Sauron's power, so too does the fabric of the earth, the vessel of Morgoth's power, do the same thing; all the world is Morgoth's Ring. This means that we are constantly under assault from evil impulses, and our perceptions are under the Shadow (so, for instance, we may even find fault with the Valar's governance of the world!). In effect, the essence of Morgoth becomes an external cause of what theologians call the Depravity of Man.

Because of the corruption of all matter, Elves' bodies will not last forever, as intended. This is a problem for their souls, which WILL last forever. Hence, elves in Middle-Earth will eventually 'fade' into something very like a wraith. Apparently the Elven-Rings can hold this effect at bay over a limited area. This is what it means when Elrond says that they have great power to preserve all things unstained - they can exclude the Morgoth-taint, so that places like Rivendell and Lorien give us a glimpse of what Arda Unstained should have been like. The failure of the Elven-Rings after the War of the Ring is why all the Elves who could HAD to sail west; to avoid fading.
And that should hold you for now. " -- Reverend's explanation of Morgoth's taint.


What about reviving an philosophic concept which would allow both the one and the three to spring from the same source? That source is illusion. Illusion is both the source of all creativity and art (the elves) and the route of all striving for power (Sauron/Morgoth). Illusion is at the root of being human in essence. Without it we would not be conscious beings. No society would be possible. Everything that we do is based on conceptualizations of reality. Without the concepts we would not be able to conceive of how to build a house or organize a society. For that matter philosophically language itself is a conceptualization of reality.

Let me return to my usual source of quotes for illustrative purposes. In this song Hans Sachs is ruminating on wahn (a German term meaning illusion, delusion, madness, mania, delirium, craze, or fad). He is a middle aged cobbler and also the greatest of the mastersingers of Nuremberg. He lost his wife and child to the plaque. He is in a position where he can either try to pretend he is young again and start a new family with the the person he cares for the most, a sacrifice for her but one she would gladly make (she willingly took over caring for him after the death of his family). Otherwise he can sacrifice his own dreams and her to someone else to make her truly happy.


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Wahn! wahn! Everywhere wahn! Wherever I look searchingly in city and world chronicles, to seek out the reason why, till they draw blood, people torment and flay each other in useless, foolish anger! No-one has reward or thanks for it: driven to flight, he thinks he is hunting; hears not his own cry of pain; when he digs into his own flesh he thinks he is giving himself pleasure! Who will give it its name? It is the old wahn, without which nothing can happen, nothing whatever! If it halts somewhere in its course it is only to gain new strength in sleep: suddenly it awakens, then see who can master it! How peacefully with its staunch customs, contented in deed and work, lies, in the middle of Germany, my dear Nuremberg! (He gazes before him, filled with a deep and peaceful joy) But one evening late, to prevent a mishap caused by youthful ardour, a man knows not what to do; a cobbler in his shop plucks at the thread of wahn: how soon in alleys and streets it begins to rage! Man, woman, journeyman, and child fall upon each other as if crazed and blind; and if wahn prevails, it must now rain blows, with cuts, blows, and thrashings to quench the fire of anger. God knows how that befell! A goblin must have helped: a glow worm could not find its mate; it set the trouble in motion. It was the elder-tree: Midsummer Eve! But now has come the feast of John the Baptist! Now let us see how Hans Sachs manages finely to guide the wahn so as to perform a nobler work: for if wahn won't leave us in peace even here in Nuremberg, then let it be in the service of such works as are seldom successful in plain activities and never so without a touch of wahn.


Notice how wahn (illusion/delusion) is inescapable. The best that one can do is to be cognisant of its existence and turn it to nobler uses or else become an aesthetic and try to pierce the veil of illusion by renouncing the world.

Could this be the difference between the elves use of the three rings and Sauron's use of the one ring? The differences in use would be the two poles of human nature. The elves use the rings to enhance the creative aspects of illusion. Sauron's ring emphasizes the illusion of power. All of the rings would be symbolic of the illusion that make human beings what they are.


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 11 2013, 9:09pm

Post #19 of 43 (108 views)
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Conjecture [In reply to] Can't Post

is all I have.

My gut instinct is that the One couldn't have been influenced by any lesser rings since it was meant to control them. You're certainly right that the One did a lousy job of getting back to its owner. I can think of a couple possible reasons:

1. The Ring is only partly sentient, which is a polite way of saying it's dumb and not good at its job of getting back home. It seemed to select Deagol as a new owner--bad move. Smeagol was more prone to corruption and came more easily under his influence, but foiled its plans at discovery for centuries. It had all those orcs it could have landed on the fingers of, but it passed them by. Wasted opportunity.

2. There may have been some sense of self-preservation about the Ring that it didn't want to be found by just anyone. At worst, it could enhance a rival to Sauron while he was still putting himself back together, before he was ready to crush that rival, so that would be bad. At best, those interfering Elves might hide it or drop it on the bottom of the ocean and make it wait for the right fish to come along. So, maybe it was trying to hide out until the right time came along. That right time was when Sauron was back to himself in Dol Guldur, not terribly far away, so it left Gollum then, intending to get picked up by an orc, who would be easy prey for Sauron. In that sense, it was being smart. With Gandalf saying that Bilbo was *meant* to find the Ring, and not by its maker, I take that as rare interference by Iluvatar to get the Ring to a hobbit instead of an orc. Hard for the Ring to contest with Eru.

Just my guesses.


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 11 2013, 9:12pm

Post #20 of 43 (102 views)
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*Calls forth Boromir as witness* [In reply to] Can't Post

He believed he could do good with the Ring. That was all he thought of. Similar to Gandalf, that was the Ring's way to corrupt his heart with a false promise that that's how it would go. Ditto Galadriel. "That's how it would begin, but it wouldn't end there, alas."


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 11 2013, 9:36pm

Post #21 of 43 (99 views)
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As were mine [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien probably never thought that the One would be affected by any of the others.(remember there were many that the Elves destroyed before Sayrin got to them, or were lost, as Gandalf first thought that Bilbo's was.) There weren't just the 20 we know about(1+9+7+3=20), so once we allow the rings a little pull, the collected psychological pull in different directions might just make people mad!!! Just a Hollywood style plot twist, kind of thought.


It is also said that Sauron kept the Nine rings, (in a letter I believe)and as such, his domination was not over the rings themselves, but the men. Any thoughts here? Is this a parallel to Melkor 'daunting' Maglor and others?


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 11 2013, 9:37pm

Post #22 of 43 (98 views)
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Beautiful thoughts, Terazed [In reply to] Can't Post

"Could this be the difference between the elves use of the three rings and Sauron's use of the one ring? The differences in use would be the two poles of human nature. The elves use the rings to enhance the creative aspects of illusion. Sauron's ring emphasizes the illusion of power. All of the rings would be symbolic of the illusion that make human beings what they are."


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 11 2013, 9:41pm

Post #23 of 43 (99 views)
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Rings as conduits [In reply to] Can't Post

My understanding of the Rings is that they enhanced one's power, as they Nine did, but were a conduit for Sauron's mind control over the bearer. So once he completed his control of the Nazgul, he could take their rings back, and they'd remain his thralls. Which in a way seems unfair, since it seems with the rings gone, they should go back to normal, which even Gollum did a little bit, and it was beneficial to Bilbo to get rid of his ring. But unfair it is, and who said Tolkien was fair, anyway?

I'm sure Melkor kicked himself for never thinking up the Ring of Power scheme for ensnaring other races! Sauron accomplished that Melkor was never able to do.


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 11 2013, 9:49pm

Post #24 of 43 (104 views)
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Dated morality [In reply to] Can't Post

I personally think murder and all acts of violence should be legalized because they are indeed based on an outmoded sense of morality that thinking, civilized beings should leave behind.

But beyond that, I think Tolkien's strict good vs evil is the more traditional variety, whereas good people slipping into evil is more modern, so he got to fuse the two in his story, and seamlessly, I will add.

I'm trying to think of myths and legends where good people became evil by trying to do good. I'm sure there are examples, but I'm having trouble finding any. It seems more often the case that someone is tricked into thinking they're doing good which turns out evil. Such as: Hero A wishes to save his beloved damsel's life before she dies of plague, and jealous Hera tells him to cut off her head and sew it on again, so he did, but she died, of course. [I just made that up, but it reminds me of Greek plots.]

Or maybe Hero A leaves his damsel in a cave for safe keeping to protect her from the ravenous Zygorax monster, but the irony (which tragedy is full of) is that he left her in the Zygorax's lair, and she was eaten. So he does something harmful, and maybe crazed with grief in either example he goes on a murderous rampage, and in turn is torn apart by wild dogs at the command of Artemis. But it's still not the same as Sauron or Saruman wanting to make ME a more orderly place and slipping into torture, murder, endless warfare, ecological destruction, and industrial tyranny. Just not the same.


Escapist
Gondor


Oct 11 2013, 10:15pm

Post #25 of 43 (98 views)
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Hmmm [In reply to] Can't Post

It isn't the good root itself - but rather the combination of that good root with something that misses being good, no?
A preoccupation with "ones' own plans" is probably always a path to evil no matter the intentions because of the way it locks so much good out.

I feel like there is an added element of arrogance, self-aggrandizement, and an attempt to become as god over others at work in the works of evil as depicted in LotR - I guess that's that "lusting for complete power" part - sort of. I don't think helping to maintain some amount of order within reason for a limited time and purpose is very evil, but attempting to absolutely force it on another sentient being might be. That might be where the line gets crossed. It might be better to think in terms of choices and invitations rather than dominance and power.

I guess I don't see "benefiting others" and "speedily according to ones' own plans" as being as much the same root as they are two separate roots that intermingle. I'm not saying that this is what I assume Tolkien intended, though. It's just my take on it.

I think Tolkien's world view is easy for me to get skewed since it is a bit removed culturally and socially from myself. But if I were to take a guess, I would say that the progression from good intention to evil is heavily wrapped up in loyalty, station, and duty so that maybe having power is not an evil in and of itself - but that Sauron owed allegiance to certain of the Valar and to Eru and that is where he failed leading to his fall?

I wouldn't consider this a dated morality but I would suggest that it gets sadly warped when people adopt it in the absence of an "Eru figure" and end up substituting themselves or something else for that figure - possibly even the ideal of "loyalty" itself in some twisted dogmatic form that makes certain orcs into the most moral creatures possible.

I also think that the very concept of "a morality" is quite dated and not-in-fashion-at-all these days and happily count myself amongst the outmoded (although I am far from perfect, really ... I try and acknowledge that there is a gap between what I am and ought to be and that there is an "ought to be" that matters enough to try for it).

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