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The Silmarillion discussion: Of Aulë and Yavanna
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noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 27 2013, 12:24pm

Post #26 of 40 (473 views)
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Fall, Mortalty and the Machine [In reply to] Can't Post

Some editions of the Sil include Tolkien's covering letter to Milton Waldman in 1951, part of Tolkien's attempt then to get the Sil published. Tolkien tries to summarise what the Sil is about, and comes up with "Fall, Mortality and the Machine": thoughts very relevant (I think) to our current chapter, and why Aule gets a reprimand for dwarf-making, in contrast to the treatment of Melkor.

First, I'll try to paraphrase Tolkiens argument briefly.

Fall (in the Luciferian sense) we've seen already in the Sil with Melkor and Sauron. I believe we see the same theme several more times before the book is done. Tolkien argues that Mortality is one route to Fall. That could be the case directly, I suppose, I that one might object to the limitations of being mortal and Fall in trying to overcome them. But Tolkien develops the argument a different way. He argues that Mortality is bound up with creativity. This can lead to trouble - for example the creative mortal becoming possessive and wanting to become "Lord and God of his private creation." That then leads, Tolkien says, to the Machine: plans and devices for domination (whether magical or science and engineering) "bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills". This thought leads Tolkien onto an ideas about magic, which I note he also explored in his essay On Fairy-Stories. The idea is that "Enchantment" - super-effective art- is distinct from Magic ( a technology for getting your way). [Some of us recently discussed that in this thread: http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=544821#544821 ]. This discussion of Elvish arty magic vs. domination magic leads us into a revealing comment about Mortality and the Elves.

Quote
"The 'Elves' are 'immortal' at least as far as this world goes: and hence are concerned rather with the grief and burdens of deathlessness in time and change, than in death."

So an immortal creature can still suffer the pains and temptations of Mortality- grieving for the impermanence of its creations, rather than its own transient-ness.

The Enemy, Tolkien notes, is very much about domination. But:


Quote
...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."


Ok, that's my paraphrase of Tolkiens letter (happy to discuss any points I missed or misrepresented!). The reason I raise it is as follows.

I see Aule fitting into this Mortality/creator trap (for all that, like the Elves, he is immortal). But he's quickly caught, and confesses, repents and is forgiven. Is there a Christian and especially Catholic parallel to be made here? Perhaps someone knowledgeable will comment, if it seems interesting.) of course, having bent the rules for one "child", Eru is promptly faced with "why can't I have one?" From the others. Perhaps it's a good thing that only 3 of the Valar know about this, or we'd end up with a veritable Narnia of talking creatures. Less flippantly, maybe this episode is showing us the acceptable limits of what sub-creators can do without Falling. Tolkien may be wanting to show us this to contrast with other episodes in his writing where characters overstep the line and "frightful evil" results.

I'd be interested in hearing what you think!


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 27 2013, 12:38pm

Post #27 of 40 (515 views)
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Begging dwarves beggar belief? [In reply to] Can't Post

Out of character though it may be, the dwarves begging not to be smashed is a really dramatic and immediate way of showing they've become intelligent independent of their creator. If they were automata or zombie- like, they'd just submit.

Or would they have to? For some reason I've just been thinking about how that would relate to a robot running Asimov's 3 laws of to robotics: I think that if you took up a hammer to destroy your robot it would be entitled to run or beg for mercy. But it would not be able to harm you in self defence; would have to stand still and be broken if you so commanded; or would have to destroy itself if you said so.

Anyway, it gets us quickly over the demonstration of Dwarvish intelligence without needi g a Turing Test (which Dwarves would probably fail, being too secretive to answer the questions....) Smile

Not sure that helps : if not, feel free just to admire my dust cloud as I zoom away off the edge of the Plateau or Relevance.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 27 2013, 1:30pm

Post #28 of 40 (466 views)
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An Ent and a Dwarf walk into a bar (it has to be tried :) ) [In reply to] Can't Post

OK, you did ask for it....
An Ent and a Dwarf walk into a bar, go into a corner and start an animated conversation. After a while, the Ent is heard to give the Entish battle-cry "Hoom! Hoom!" Pandemonium ensues, with everyone trying either to break up the imminent fight, or to get safely out of the way.

"No, no," says the Ent. "No one was getting hasty. Dashi here asked me 'to who do the Ents owe the power of speech?' And I said 'to Whom! ....Whom!' "

Alternative punch line:
"Do not be concerned, " says the Dwarf. "We were just debating dragons. But I still don't see why Treebeard here thinks he knows what it sounds like when a dragon breaks wind!"

[if you can have a Dwarf called Nori, you can surely have one called Dashi: son of Saki, I think, and admirer of the lovely elf-lady Mirin]


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 27 2013, 2:45pm

Post #29 of 40 (467 views)
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Counterfeit creatures [In reply to] Can't Post

Treebeard tells the hobbits in Lord of the Rings:

Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves.


Ought we to be on the lookout for eagle-mockeries and counterfeit Dwarves?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 28 2013, 3:37am

Post #30 of 40 (438 views)
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I like the 2nd one best./ [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 28 2013, 3:38am

Post #31 of 40 (448 views)
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I suspect counterfeit Dwarves are hobbits--beware!/ [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 28 2013, 3:50am

Post #32 of 40 (480 views)
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Insights from "Arda Reconstructed" [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't want to give away too much from this book by one of our own, or no one will buy it (and it's worth getting). (And sorry I'm late in consulting it.)

Key points:
1. "This chapter is completely manufactured by Christopher, though using his father's own writings."
2. Christoper Tolkien assembled it from separate writings and made the connection between Dwarves and Ents; his father did not.
3. Annoyed by the "thou" 's? JRR debated between "you" and "thou" and settled on the former, but his son chose the latter.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 28 2013, 4:24am

Post #33 of 40 (465 views)
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Creativity gone amiss [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, you make me wonder if we've all missed something really big in this chapter. Why is Aule able to make Dwarves, even if they have no free will, and Melkor is not? Or to ask it another way, does Melkor have creations like the Dwarves? Aule "began to instruct the Dwarves in the speech that he had devised for them," so apparently they could talk. Iluvatar tells him they would move when he thinks to move them and be idle when his thought is elsewhere. Wouldn't Melkor have the same results?

Otherwise, one thing I'd say about repenting is that Aule does it immediately and without encouragement. He was keeping his creation secret from the blame of other Valar, so he knew it wasn't quite right, but he was willing to sacrifice the Dwarves to his father/god to make amends, though Eru stopped the killing at the last instant with a blessing. This reminds me of the story of Abraham, who is told that to prove his love to God, he has to sacrifice his son, and he obeys, but God says at the last minute to stop, so Abraham has proven his obedience to God and gets to keep his son, so everyone is happy, except the ram that gets sacrificed instead. (The Hebrew Bible says the son was Isaac; the Koran says Ishmael; both have a sheep getting killed in place of the son.) Not that Abraham was creating anything, but the parallels of obedience, father/son, and last-minute life-saving are there.

Thinking about frightful evil coming from a good root has Silmarils written all over it--that was an act of creation gone wrong.

I keep laughing out loud when I read this!

Quote
Perhaps it's a good thing that only 3 of the Valar know about this, or we'd end up with a veritable Narnia of talking creatures.



noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jan 28 2013, 5:26pm

Post #34 of 40 (444 views)
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Saruman! [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman is the figure I mostly recalled when reading that "frightful evil" quote (here it is again - I've succumbed to fixing the annoying comma splice!):


Quote
...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."


[the original has "...root, the desire..." but I think the comma really should have been edited to be a semicolon.
So obviously it would be to everyone's benefit if I speedily fixed it the way I think it should be.
My semicolon. Mine! Bwahahahah!!
Oh.
Evil
]


I think that at some point before we see him Saruman began to tinker with evil things as "regrettable necessities". "Well, that is how the game is played," he probably thought. Obviously it will be better for all if he gets the Ring, not the Elves, or the other wizards. And thoughts about omelettes and eggs. By the time he captures Gandalf and gives that speech about how the Wizards need to rule and moderate Sauron's excesses, its no longer clear whether he truly believes that's all for the best, or is fooling himself, or is only trying to fool others. By the time of his death, he's reduced to dog-in-the-manger if yo spoil my plans I'm going to spoil your homeland.

I'm hoping this time will be my first complete Silmarillion read-though (it defeated me in my teens) so I'll read on with interested, looking for this theme to come out in the silmarils.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


telain
Rohan

Jan 28 2013, 5:38pm

Post #35 of 40 (440 views)
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Interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

that does help, not only with some of the "inconsistencies" of the chapter, but with an impression I am starting to develop re: Christopher Tolkien.

I'm not sure if it is the enormous amount of detail in HoME, or if it is the way in which the detail is presented, but I have the hardest time staying with it. Funny enough, I do enjoy J.R.R.'s letters, which leads me to believe there is something about how the information is presented in HoME that is the bigger problem. Though, to be fair, I am also one of those people who have limited patience with "making-of-documentaries" and behind the scenes footage that often come with DVDs. Sometimes I just like to believe the arty-Elf-magic happens.

That Christopher cobbled some of this together does allow doubt to creep in here and there, but I still think The Silmarilion has much to offer regarding discussion (the last few discussions are evidence of that.)

Now, to find a copy of Arda Reconstructed!


CuriousG
Valinor


Jan 28 2013, 5:49pm

Post #36 of 40 (438 views)
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Don't stop there with the editing [In reply to] Can't Post

I think we could improve on Tolkien in other ways. First, he needs acronyms for everything to catch up with 2013, whether we recognize them at first or not. So TLHHEOTS is The Last Homely House East of the Sea--look how much less typing is involved!

Then there's his needless repeition. We can condense
"One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to bind them" to
"1 Ring rules," which is what I'm sure Sauron said anyway, or 1RR, which he texted to Celebrimbor just to taunt him.

Just joking around. But I did read a critic who abhorred Tolkien's flowery descriptions and said, with a straight face, that he should have merely said things like "The Shire is a pleasant place" and "Moria is dark and scary" rather than burden us with needless and tireless expostion. It says something that this critic remains unknown, and Tolkien will be remembered, or TWBR.


telain
Rohan

Jan 28 2013, 5:57pm

Post #37 of 40 (446 views)
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"creativity gone amiss" and sadly... [In reply to] Can't Post

... I am relieved that someone else sees the "interesting" ways in which Tolkien (mis)uses commas! And semicolons... and.. nevermind!

Yep, Saruman is the poster child for this, isn't he? Melkor isn't because he was sort of evil-from-the-start (at least from the time when Varda dismissed him). Aulë repented immediately and vehemently, therefore doesn't succumb to the evilness and doesn't get his picture on the poster, either.

So, evil coming from good intentions -- which seems to be the way in which The Ring works -- is the perhaps the larger point. This brings me to...

CuriousG's point -- did we miss a bigger question: "How is it that Aulë makes his own creatures and Melkor does not?"? Is Melkor so beyond the goodness of the rest of the Ainur/Valar that Eru does not see what he is doing (and therefore we can't know what he has tried to make, either successfully or unsuccessfully?) Is he unable to make things because he is no longer of the "good root"? Or are the counterfeit, perverted things his creation in some way we are not recognizing? Trolls, orcs, dragons? What about the fell beasts?

Or, have we already said all this, but just in some really convoluted way? (I feel like the answer is 'yes', but then I can't seem to stop asking questions...)

Actually, one more question and then I will double-click on "Post Reply": is this piece of the discussion re-asking the question of morality and the Valar -- is Melkor evil because he wants to create something, because he wants to destroy something, or because he wants to create something so disharmonious with Eru's Grand Plan?

Ok, then!


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Feb 3 2013, 5:08pm

Post #38 of 40 (390 views)
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and on to the next chapter... [In reply to] Can't Post

Starting the next chapter does not mean we have to stop this one, but here's a link to the next discussion Of the Coming of the Elves

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


sador
Half-elven


Feb 7 2013, 2:51pm

Post #39 of 40 (379 views)
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A long post went down the cyber-drain! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll try again. This will probably be part 1.

Do you like this style? Is it a welcome departure from all the description and lists, or does it feel inconsistent?
Well, this was the only of the first chapters I have felt from the beginning that I somehow understood, so yes, I like it.
I don't feel The Silmarillion is at all consistent in style; I won't single this chapter out for criticism.

Why do think Tolkien wrote it this way?

As CuriousG mentioned, he didn't. Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay did, based on some late notes.
This might be the reason this chapter is far more readable than some of the others.

How do you think Tolkien envisioned this chapter being written?
In Arda Reconstructed, Voronwe mentions the image of Pengolod seeing Yavanna as a tree, and complains about its omission from the published Sil. He even reproduced a fan-art picture of this scene!
Personally, I don't feel this description would have added much to the book; but being semi-canon, perhaps I would be justified in suggesting that this was the time in which this Guardian of the olvar revealed this strange history.
Although, as masinger pointed out, in the Lhammas Pengolod was conceived of as perptrating the story of soulless dwarves. Maybe the Lhammas needs to be retrofitted as well.

did Yavanna sit down with one of the Vanyar and say “Ever wonder how the Dwarves were made? Well, do I have a story for you!”
The Vanyar were out of Middle-earth long before any elves met dwarves. I can't imagine them bothering.

Why these two Valar before, say, Manwë and Varda?
Powerful enough to interfere with Eru's plan, not great enough to refrain from doing so.

In what ways were the Dwarves similar to Elves and Men? In what ways different?
I think the biology is similar if not the same. Aesthetically, however, they are supposed to be far less pleasing ("hot dwarves" being unthought-of in the 70s).
Typical male: get the function correctly, but have only a hazy notion of form.

Do the differences lie in Aulë’s vague interpretation of the coming Children, or do they arise from his own characteristics (or both?)
Let's say that his vague interpretation arises from his own characteristics.

How does this (does this?) affect your reactions to Dwarves in TH and LoTR?
It might have informed them in some subtle way. But I'm not sure.

What do you make of this statement?
Man can imitate, but only G-d can imbue with life.

A further association between Aulë and machinery/technology/craft?
Not necessarily. Frankenstein was a sceintist, but Pygmalion an artist.

Are the Dwarves at this stage more like machines or more like slaves?
Before Iluvatar gave them life? Machines.

Is this an explanation for an ability for evil to “create” beings, (i.e., could orcs really be just “mindless rabble”?)
According to the published Sil, orcs were not created by evil.

or does it imply the importance of intent (i.e., machines are evil if you do evil things with them)?
Well, some machines are designed for evil purposes. What else would you manufacture machine-guns for, if not for killing?
Intent is important; but even if killing is justified in certain cases, I can't percveive it as an inherently good deed; a necessary evil at best.

A bit cheeky, no?
I don't think so. The feeling is true humility, and the saying so to Iluvatar is a sign of honesty. And I'm sure Iluvatar knows it.

Why do you think Ilúvatar gives the Dwarves life?
Why did G-d give us the power to choose?
It's the mystery of Divine benevolence.

Is his statement above regarding strife prophetic or decreed?
What's the difference?
But note the word "oft" which means "not always". Again, a wide margin is given to choice - at least as far as we can perceive.

Why does he say “children of my choice” instead of “children of my making”?
Because they were in the third theme He introduced. Later, He granted life to the choices of others (as will be seen below regarding Ents, although Manwe did not understand it even while he sang).

Surely it was also his choice to save the Dwarves and to give them life?
I think it is the other way round: it was Iluvatar who actually made them - without the life He gave them they were nothing.

What is she saying?
"Eru is merciful" - instead of spanking you properly, he let you get away with the cake! "thou hast received not only forgiveness but bounty".

What are/is her emotions here?
You are asking me to interpret the heart of one of the Queens of the Valier?
Sorry - I'm a mere male.

Jealousy?
I hadn't thought of this until elostirion74 mentions it, but you know - until now, Yavanna was the one who had made the most impressive sub-creative effort...

Fear? Worry?
Of what?

Anger? Something else?
Resentment.

Why does she seek out Manwë?
Comfort, and support.
As is seen in his response, they had sang together quite a bit before.

What is meant by his response to her?
He is trying to draw her out, by deliberately acting obtuse (the alternative is saying he is dumb, which we can't really do).

Why does Manwë have to consider Yavanna’s thoughts in order for them to be heard by Ilúvatar?
He doesn't; of course they are heard.
But Eru can't be summoned - perhaps not even by Manwe himself (the Akallabeth was a special case, for which the Valar actually "lay down the government of the world"). Yavanna seeks Manwe as the best available recourse.

Is it something in Yavanna’s nature that others must hold dominion over her (i.e., like the Children will hold over the plants and animals of her making?)
If so, I don't quite see it.

Ilúvatar, Manwë, and Aulë seem, in varying degrees, to be rather dismissive of Yavanna -- do you agree?
I concede Aule, and perhaps even Manwe - but Iluvatar? I disagree.
This is just a rebuke to the Valar's hubris in general, assuming that if they suddenly think of something as necessary, He has ot recognised it long before them and prepared a remedy - within the very song.
It was Manwe who said the thought was strange, and only after Iluvatar speaks reembers that he was involved in this very strange thought long before the world came into existence.

If you do agree, why would they be so dismissive of her?
Aule and Yavanna seem to misunderstand each other. I'm not sure about Manwe.

Furthermore, why would Tolkien set up this relational hierarchy -- especially since he was such a great lover of nature and trees?
His misoginy got the better of him.

Okay, not really; but Manwe, Ulmo and Aule seem to share a fraternity-like affinity. Yavanna is unfortunately out of it.

Are the Ents “Shepherds of the Trees” a worthy compromise?
Hrum, hoom... (as CuriousG would have me say)

Well, the Ents seem to be underachievers in a way, don't they?
But anyway, I'm not sure they are.

Quote

Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence

Can this be compared to Aule's bounty in having life actually granted to the creatures he has made?

Is this passage in reference to “Of Aulë and Yavanna”?
Definitely not, as this chapter was not in existence yet.

Is it evidence of some kind of peace offering, Aulë to Yavanna, that the dwarves love and tend stone as much as gardeners love and tend Yavanna’s olvar?
Will Yavanna perceive it as such?
Rocks are inanimate, and do not grow, feel or interact.

At least, it seems so. But recently, we've seen that this assertion is not so clear-cut in Tolkien's mind.

To what is she referring?

Quote

The pines were roaring in the night...


Orc? Trolls? Flies? Slime-mould?
All of them at once.

But even his extreme fires and colds would slay many of both kelvar and olvar.

Are the Dwarves particularly resistant to Melkor, either in battle or otherwise?
They seem to be less corruptible than Elves and Men. But I'm not quite sure.

Hopefully one or two of my comments or questions will spark your imagination
Thank you!
This was an excellent chapter discussion, and it should have received an earlier and fuller repsonse, but RL got in the way again. However, according to Eomer's old saw, "late is better than never". I hope it was!


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Feb 7 2013, 3:55pm

Post #40 of 40 (1200 views)
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The writing is still very much JRRT's [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Why do think Tolkien wrote it this way?
As CuriousG mentioned, he didn't. Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay did, based on some late notes.
This might be the reason this chapter is far more readable than some of the others.

Although this chapter never existed in any version of 'The Silmarillion' that Tolkien was working on, the writing is very much his. It consists of two separate late pieces that are both included with only minor editorial changes, combined together in a way that I find a bit awkward. I don't find this chapter more readable than some of the others. Quite the contrary, actually.

In Reply To
How do you think Tolkien envisioned this chapter being written?
In Arda Reconstructed, Voronwe mentions the image of Pengolod seeing Yavanna as a tree, and complains about its omission from the published Sil. He even reproduced a fan-art picture of this scene!

Personally, I don't feel this description would have added much to the book; but being semi-canon, perhaps I would be justified in suggesting that this was the time in which this Guardian of the olvar revealed this strange history.
Although, as masinger pointed out, in the Lhammas Pengolod was conceived of as perptrating the story of soulless dwarves. Maybe the Lhammas needs to be retrofitted as well.


One of the consistent complaints about the published Silmarillion is that it lacks the descriptive scope of LotR. So any place where descriptive images were removed is a shame, from my point of view. And I really love this particularly imagary.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire

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