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I have a question. Maybe you all can help me with it.
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noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 2 2017, 1:25pm

Post #26 of 40 (2128 views)
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Crazy, eh? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Gower's position boils down to "we cannot explain the nuances of the social rule that we nonetheless regard as the only orthodoxy, and by which we might judge you as inferior." The old style English class system in a nutshell.
I like the way Fraser sidestepped his own involvement. Maybe it's a similar issue that led Partridge (a New Zealander) to summarise Onions, rather than give his own advice.

I thought it was quite a fun cameo of English at Tolkiens time. I was also aware that someone consulting, say, a respected American usage guide would find different advise from what I'd posted, which might have confused the conversation.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 2 2017, 1:34pm

Post #27 of 40 (2124 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post

I suppose that's why I'm used to seeing 'shall' in legal contracts: 'the Author shall complete... according to the Schedule', because it denotes obligation, not just willingness.

I remember back when I first started in the 1980s the EPA lawyers kept emphasizing over and over that we use "shall" rather than "will" in all regulations, permits, orders, and notices, and of course "may" was right out.

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


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Aug 2 2017, 1:35pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 2 2017, 3:47pm

Post #28 of 40 (2111 views)
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Oops correction - Fowler, not Gowers [In reply to] Can't Post

Gowers is summarising Fowler's position, so it's Fowler who is basically 'you wouldn't understand, it's too English'.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 2 2017, 5:47pm

Post #29 of 40 (2117 views)
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Hmm - not sure I understand [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I'm wondering if Gollum's fate was sealed before they all reached Sammath Naur? When Smeagol (yeah, both involved ;) brought Frodo and Sam to the Black Gate, he was trying to cajole Frodo into giving the Ring back to him.


Quote


...In the last need, Sméagol, I should put on the Precious; and the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care, Sméagol..!


The command was spoken and empowered. If the Promise was broken and Gollum took the Ring, the Command was fulfilled.


I don't see the Command being issued, I'm afraid - I'm reading Frodo's words here as a future hypothetical.

If I try to paraphrase it so that the meaning I see is the explicit meaning, I get something like:

'You can never get it back Smeagol. As a last resort to stop you, I would put on the Precious and order you to destroy yourself. Now we both know, don't we, that if I did that you could not help but obey.'

Does that help? - I'm seeing Frodo as explaining what hypothetically he would do, and what the consequences would be. The conditions to be met would appear to be
It is Frodo's last need
Frodo has put on the Ring
Frodo, wearing the Ring, commands Gollum to suicide
As I'm seeing it, Frodo is just discussing what he might do not doing any of it....

These things can be maddening - once you've read a text one way, it can be very difficult to see the alternative meaning. Can you perhaps paraphrase Frodo's words to bring out the meaning that you see, which (if I've understood you) amounts effectively to a curse?

I agree this quote part of a matching set with "Begone and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.", but it's the latter one that has the fatal 'shall'. Interesting that the example way Frodo picks out in which he might order Gollum to kill himself turns out to be exactly right. Clever foreshadowing by Tolkien of course, but from inside the story, one wonders whether Frodo is already thinking about treachery on the slopes of Mount Doom...

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Aug 2 2017, 5:49pm)


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Aug 2 2017, 9:50pm

Post #30 of 40 (2108 views)
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I prefer Occam's Razor whenever possible [In reply to] Can't Post

  
The hypothesis that the simplest answer is usually closest to the mark, or KISS (keep it simple stupid).

Frodo's 'curse' is, to me, simply a threat to keep Gollum in line, although admittedly it can be ambiguous and interpreted in different ways. That's what makes Tolkien so exciting and keeps us all 'guessing' as to his true thinking. Personally, whenever possible, I choose to take the mystical (or fate, destiny, magic (a sentient talking ring) ect.)) out of the equation whenever possible giving chance or luck its fair due, as there are plenty of instances where this cannot be done and we must accept the mystical.

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 3 2017, 11:23am

Post #31 of 40 (2046 views)
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Glee, gravel and gravity? [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome back to the RR, Bracegirdle - nice to 'see' you.

Yes, I think the no-frills explanation works (Gollum is full of glee, slips on the loose footing, and down he goes). As noted, it's not the only viable explanation (not they I see you claiming that it is).

In that case, I think that Frodo's threat (or curse or whatever it is) become important literary effects. The story would become ridiculous if it looked as if Tolkien just made it up on the spur of the moment - he got Gollum to slip because he couldn't think of another way of getting out of a plot-hole. So it's essential to build up a head of steam - as soon as we've read what happens we need to feel it's fitting and satisfying. Whether it's doom, fate, curses, Eru, or just Occam, is another matter.

It seems to work - I don't remember coming across anyone who thought that bit was contrived or lame? Maybe they hang out in a different part of the Internet.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Aug 3 2017, 10:58pm

Post #32 of 40 (2022 views)
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Of Words and Stewed Thinking . . [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the welcome back noWiz. Appreciate it! I'v had some medical issues the last couple months and am only good for 5-10 minutes at a time on the computer, and find myself, for now, more a lurker than a contributer.

I reread the passage(s) in question again last night and can easily understand the varying opinions as to what's really taking place. It's Tolkien being Tolkien! and we loves it.
...Sam saw these two rivals with other vision.

...a figure robed in white ... wheel of fire.

...commanding voice.

(and) Then the vision passed...
Key words 'vision', 'robed in white', 'commanding voice'; all given (cleverly) from Sam's point of view (and point of hearing) which does seem to make the entire episode somewhat enigmatic, and Tolkien has achieved his purpose giving future generations yet another conundrum to ponder and debate. I have never been a fan of a 'sentient Ring', but must admit given the many instances throughout the entire tale, the possibility does seem to present itself over and over.

Cheers all. Smile

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




No One in Particular
Rivendell


Aug 5 2017, 2:25am

Post #33 of 40 (1988 views)
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Vision [In reply to] Can't Post

Mostly because of the way that it described as being some kind of "vision" afforded to Sam (who, it must be noted, has now borne the Ring himself, and so can dimly perceive the effects of the power on those whom have carried it far longer), I have always read that as less of a curse or an order, and more of a prophesy.

Gollum still has free will in the matter; he can still, even at this late date, walk away. Or even legitimately decide to throw in with Frodo and the mission. (Yes, I know, that's so unlikely as to be almost not even worth mentioning.) But, it still matters. If Gollum walks away, he doesn't die in the lava. It's his choice to make. The fact that he is nigh incapable of making that choice doesn't matter; it is still a remote possibility. And if he walks away, he lives to Gollum another day.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Aug 5 2017, 3:39am

Post #34 of 40 (1983 views)
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I love the many meanings of Tolkien's words :D [In reply to] Can't Post

   

Quote

I'm reading Frodo's words here as a future hypothetical.



For me, the way I've always been struck by Frodo saying this as a hypothetical... just him having the thought and uttering the words set everything into motion. For the fact that what Frodo said is precisely what happened put that theory in my head. Possibly the Ring itself gave it potency.

So I really don't have a paraphrase that could explain it. What Frodo says, the way he says it, and by Smeagol's reaction to it... it had power and was very real to Gollum. That's what made me think the seed was planted and Frodo spoke it again on the Mountain.

Quote

...this speech abashed and terrified. him. He grovelled on the ground and could speak no clear words but nice master...
......Gollum was in a pitiable state, and Frodo's threat had quite unnerved him. It was not easy to get any clear account out of him, amid his mumblings and squeakings, and the frequent interruptions in which he crawled on the floor and begged them both to be kind...



Sorry if I can't explain it better :D I love how Tolkien's story can be interpreted in so many ways :D



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6th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observations List - November 28, 2013
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TORn's Geeky Observations Lists for LotR and The Hobbit


CuriousG
Half-elven


Aug 7 2017, 8:14pm

Post #35 of 40 (1841 views)
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*hearty wave & hello to Bracegirdle* [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice to see you back here, Brace! And glad you're recuperating.

For myself, I think this is a deliberately ambiguous passage by Tolkien where the reader gets to read whatever they want into it. I would add another layer to those that you peeled back, and that's the extreme exhaustion/dehydration of all 3 characters. Is Sam hallucinating when he has this "vision?" Is Frodo so delirious that he has delusions of grandeur?

Or is the Ring speaking through a wheel of fire? And it's that very biblical to suddenly pop up this late in the story--shouldn't the Ring have shown more biblical signs of evil before now, or is this a flourish we get only when at the mouth of hell?

Just questions with no answers. I personally like the more mystical aspects of the Ring because it makes it scarier for me, but on one of my reads over the years, I thought they were all suffering from delirium, so it's back to reader's mood and reader's choice. Unless Tolkien said something definitive in Letters that someone knows about.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Aug 7 2017, 8:21pm

Post #36 of 40 (1839 views)
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Prophecy vs curse [In reply to] Can't Post

Two very different things. On my first read, I believe I thought it was a prophecy because I thought it was Frodo speaking, and I couldn't believe that, having previously shown so much mercy to Gollum, he would do anything so terrible to him. So, it was just a warning of what would happen, as if he were not wholly responsible. Such as if I warn someone not to stick their finger in an electric socket--I don't control the electricity. (As Saruman says to Frodo: "That is not my doing. I merely foretell.")

But I'm more inclined to think the Ring is taking over, or possibly fusing itself with Frodo's psyche, and being essentially evil, it would be prone to curses. Which makes me think it's a curse. But unlike Gollum, I wouldn't stake my life on it.

I'm not sure myself if Gollum even theoretically has any free will left. We may like to think so, but within the spirit of the book, I think his free will ended with that last gasp on the Stairs when he almost repented of his Judas-like treachery of Frodo & Sam but was treated harshly by Sam. After that, I think he was wholly corrupted.


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Aug 8 2017, 2:20am

Post #37 of 40 (1830 views)
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The Magic 8-Ball says Try again later!" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Two very different things. On my first read, I believe I thought it was a prophecy because I thought it was Frodo speaking, and I couldn't believe that, having previously shown so much mercy to Gollum, he would do anything so terrible to him. So, it was just a warning of what would happen, as if he were not wholly responsible. Such as if I warn someone not to stick their finger in an electric socket--I don't control the electricity. (As Saruman says to Frodo: "That is not my doing. I merely foretell.")

But I'm more inclined to think the Ring is taking over, or possibly fusing itself with Frodo's psyche, and being essentially evil, it would be prone to curses. Which makes me think it's a curse. But unlike Gollum, I wouldn't stake my life on it.

I'm not sure myself if Gollum even theoretically has any free will left. We may like to think so, but within the spirit of the book, I think his free will ended with that last gasp on the Stairs when he almost repented of his Judas-like treachery of Frodo & Sam but was treated harshly by Sam. After that, I think he was wholly corrupted.


For all practical purposes, I agree. He was wholly corrupt. But even up to the end at the Sammath Naûr, he still (theoretically, at least) could have walked away.

I still favor the prophesy interpretation; or at least prediction, even if not full on prophesy. I still don't see it as a curse. I think this is a combination of Frodo and the Ring, together and in accord on this matter, since neither entity wanted Gollum to have the Precious back. It was the one thing that seemingly all parties agreed about. Smile

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


sador
Half-elven


Aug 8 2017, 6:09am

Post #38 of 40 (1832 views)
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For whatever it's worth [In reply to] Can't Post

I've seen this explanation of the voice before, and have liked it.

One of the cases in which I am in the minority at the RR, is that I tend to believe that free will is supreme, and that a truly pure Frodo would have been able to cast the Ring in the Fire. It seems clear that Sauron does fear it (he did not fear Frodo would be able to cast him down, and Gollum as an unwitting agent of the Valar did not occur to him) - and even if resisting addiction becomes nearly impossible over a period of time, it is possible to postpone it for long enough to make a momentary decision, like flinging the Ring to the Fire. Maybe Grace is needed - but Tolkien fully believed in Grace, and a truly pure Frodo would be granted it.
The way I see it, is that Frodo failed because he got used to using the Ring to intimidate Gollum three times already - in The Taming of Sméagol, in The Black Gate is Closed, and in The Forbidden Pool. Three times do have a meaning - they mean that Frodo has succumbed to temptation, and at the Sammath Naur he has already fallen - so he uses it to dominate Gollum (however, not fully enough to keep up the domination when his back is turned), and then he goes to the Sammath Naur to emerge as the new Ring-maker (symbolically - but after all, he could have destroyed it but rather saved it, so he gave it a new existence), and claim it for his own.

However, this position is usually attacked - because of the incident in Bag End when Frodo balked at casting the Ring into his fire place (but a moment lately gave it to Gandalf for this very purpose), but mostly because of some of Tolkien's letters, in which he himself explained that Frodo was unable to resist the Ring.
But I still disagree - even with the author himself. For one thing, he very often had changed his mind (one need just read through HoME a bit and will encounter many such occasions), so this does not necessarily reflect the book as written; and also, at the same time he wrote those letters, he was working of the tale of Turin - in which Hurin did resist for a long time a far greater pressure by a far stronger adversary than Sauron.
Also, in the Manichaean-Boethian dichotomy (for which nowizardme cited Prof. Shippey upthread - and lest you think me wise or learned, I hasten to admit I got from the same source Smile) - the idea that Frodo would be unable to destroy the Ring is strictly Manichaean. So it diminishes the story; and moreover (as Shippey himself notes), Tolkien as a Catholic would know it is condemned as a heresy. If confronted, he would agree that free will with Grace can overcome even the Ring. And even had he been an atheist materialist, I would personally refuse to read the book this way.

As it turned out, Frodo was neither pure nor resisted the temptation of the Ring; so Grace did work, but not through him - rather by the crazed and thoroughly corrupted Gollum.
And all this is not to condemn Frodo: I make no claim that I, or anybody I know, would be able to do any better than him.


However, I fully agree with Prof. Shippey that much of the power of LotR is in the dichotomy. In a way, this is like the real world - one can see in it the hand of G-d, or a struggle between Him and the Devil, or as bereft of the influence of any supernatural Powers. And LotR clearly reflects it - which is why agnostics can relate to the book, while The Silmarillion will always be a work of fantasy for them.
Therefore, the Manichaean-Boethian dichotomy needs to be valid - i.e., I contend that both readings need to be (as near as possible) equally plausible: that Frodo simply failed, or that he was overcome by too strong a power.to resist.

However, if we want to follow the Manichaean reading to its utmost conclusion, I think your reading of the shining figure in white with a wheel of fire in its midst is the correct one - the Ring has taken over the Frodo-husk, and is threatening Gollum itself. Ironically, that would lead to its own destruction.

And this is not the first time such a thing happened. On Amon Hen, Frodo

Quote
heard himself crying out: Never, never! Or was it: Verily I come, I come to you? He could not tell.


And in the next paragraph

Quote
Suddenly, he was aware of himself again. Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose and with one remaining instant in which to do so.


As Prof. Shippey points out, the words Verily I come, I come to you seem to be not Frodo's own, but somehow of a foreign will, reflecting a response to the command of the Eye. Assuning a Manichaean framework, that foreign will is most simply identified as that of the Ring.

However, even in this reading, Frodo did receive help by the second voice (which Gandalf later declares was his).
And his own free will triumphed.

But at this stage he was not yet worn down by thirst, weariness, physical harm (was he tortured in the tower of Cirith Ungol and how? Tolkien does not tell) and the sheer psychological burden of resisting constant temptations - both to take up the Ring, and to just give up.
And at this stage he had not really used the Ring yet. He had arguably exposed both Galadriel and Boromir, and at the very least he had used it to escape the latter - but he had not used it as a threat, to beat others to submission. However, in book IV he had done this three times already - which left him unable to resist to the end.


I hope all of this makes sense.


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Aug 9 2017, 3:15am

Post #39 of 40 (1809 views)
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Perfectly clear! [In reply to] Can't Post

And I agree with a couple of your points. Particularly this point:

"So it diminishes the story;"

I had always interpreted the story to be that there were certain individuals who, if they claimed the Ring, could have mastered it. Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel seem like excellent choices. I know in the Letters JRRT says no, that they would fail, but I just always thought it increased the sense of personal sacrifice for those who refuse the Ring if they are truly rejecting the Power to defeat Sauron. Yes, they will fall to evil in the end, but it would be a different evil.

In the end, however, your point stands; the story, as written, can be interpreted in different ways with equal validity depending on the applicability to the reader, and the story does not suffer for it. It is truly brilliant.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


Plurmo
Rohan

Sep 3 2017, 9:13pm

Post #40 of 40 (1594 views)
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That was the voice of Mandos. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Rings of Power, all of them, invoke Valar magic. That is what was hinted in sador's reply. The One Ring, as an object of the fate of Arda, is under Morgoth and Mandos. Sauron being as much its earthly owner as its first slave.

The underlying power of the Ring comes from Morgoth. Beyond the games played by elves, Sauron and the peoples of Middle Earth, lies the fate of Arda under the will and power of the Valar as they perform the Music of Eru.

Morgoth cannot be really understood by humans, that's why his agency is so often discarded. But Arda is his Ring, gold is his substance of malice, the dark fire of Orodruin his living rage and petty betrayal, including of his own followers, his delight. If he wanted to make a fool of the pretentious Sauron, so he would. Mandos says when, then Morgoth devours.

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