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Silmarillion, Chapter 14: Much, much more on the geography of Beleriand and its Realms
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telain
Rohan

May 25 2013, 3:08am

Post #51 of 62 (83 views)
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and some misty-headed responses [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder about the word "mist" as it applies to climate in Tolkien's (or should I say the Noldor and Sindar's imagination.) I don't recall any lands being called "the Rain-soaked land" or "the Dry land" or the "Windy land." Sure mist can be impenetrable and therefore dangerous and/or concealing, but I wonder if they are just getting at "damp". Or any other precipitation that is not ice, snow, or hail. Most places, in fact, seem to have vegetative names (Brethil, Dorthonion).

And something someone said (yes, very tired) reminded me that I didn't really talk too much about the names themselves. In historical and modern cultural geography, it is always interesting to discuss how places got named, by whom, and why.

I agree with your assessment of the character Tolkien gives to the landscape and to the features of the landscape. I am thinking now about a connection with the discussion about organized religion in Middle-earth a few weeks back -- is this how one understands the metaphysical and physical aspects of a tree, rock, river, as one and the same?

Sirion is excellent. And he has a pretty cool name (I do have a thing about names, don't I...) And as far as having a forest or river or mountain, I am sure there is a Taur-en-Randalf, Randalfion, or Orod Randalf in some lovely corner somewhere...

Which then brings me to another thought: -ion is usually "son of" (e.g., GIldor Inglorion is Gildor son of Inglor). Now my half-baked thought doesn't make much sense right now, and probably less so by tomorrow, but what if that -ion is meant as "son of Ulmo" in some way? Sirion, Gelion... Anyway... maybe nothing.

Also like your using Ulmo as a possibility for Noldor/Sindar mingling. If any beign was going to bring them together, I would like it to be Ulmo. As for Melian? I cannot predict anything she would do, nor explain it with any certainty. She remains a mystery to me (and sadly, not in the same way that other things are mysteries. Usually I like to find out more about mysterious things, but with Melian it seems that any new information still leaves me lost...)

Re: The Mists of Avalon: I have no real explanation for it, but I could not read that book. I think I read a chapter and then thought: "Why?"

Also: great thoughts! Worth waiting for.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 25 2013, 6:22am

Post #52 of 62 (65 views)
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I glimpse something here too Telain [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
that it very beautifully fits into what I believe Tolkien felt about nature/Arda being able to recover from the ills -- not only of Elf and Edain -- but of the Higher Powers that create and destroy it. There is something very powerful there that maybe needs to be explored when I am not half-asleep... I sense not only Varda but Eru having a hand in that and perhaps -- dare I drag this concept back -- the Light or Flame Imperishable?

For some of the ills, all it takes is the possibility of vegetation to bring some life back into a wounded land. For other ills, it takes a drowning of the land under Ulmo's sea, or the quaking of the earth itself to start the process of rejuvenation.




So that the initial tragic, violent event - in this case the murder of the Trees - leads in turn to a rejuvenation, defined as giving new vigor to life. (Evil event has unforeseen good outcome...)

I can't find much to support it, but its a very 'right-feeling' theory. I did find in Letter #347 (a very linguistic sort of letter) where JRRT describes the root words of Narsil (Nar = fire) and (thil = white light) and says "It thus symbolized the chief heavenly lights, as enemies of darkness, Sun (Anar) and Moon (in Q. Isil)." Interesting that the unsullied light of the living Trees, while considered Holy, did utterly nothing, complete zippo, to repel darkness: Ungoliant scuttled right up, easy as you please, and took a big bite. So I find it intriguing that changed into its second-best form, as 'the imperfect vision', that altered light IS the enemy of darkness. The living Trees also were things of beauty, but I don't think they gave or shared life; the Sun on the other hand does share its light and gives life to countless living things.

The distant, beautiful, perfect hologram of the Flame Imperishable (ie:the unsullied Light of the Two Trees) cannot nurture life on its own. Yet altered by the evil (which as JRRT holds axiomatic: evil will produce unintended good far beyond any expectation) of Ungoliant and Melkor, it can be changed in form to nurture all life in Arda...and become the blazing, strong enemy of the very evil-doers that brought about its being? (?????)

Maybe there is something in that. Or maybe I am VERY tired too! (Hope you get a good night's sleep Telain!)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 25 2013, 10:00am

Post #53 of 62 (64 views)
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Refuges [In reply to] Can't Post

Refuges- plenty of those in real life Europe: I read that the British Government commissioned a survey of the UK in 1939 to find defensible positions in case of Nazi invasion. Every one they found had evidence of earlier use.

Some of our fortifications were oppressive in function: e.g. the great Castles the English made to try to lock down their conquest of Wales. But usually it was where you and your folk would hole up from the raiders, until they gave up or help came.

So the refuges seem a fitting part of the dark age/ medieval feel to Middle-earth.

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

"nowimė 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!"


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 25 2013, 1:38pm

Post #54 of 62 (61 views)
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light and subcreation -- and letter #131!!!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

 
brethil, so true! the unsullied light of the silmarils did +nothing+ to ward off evil -- instead, it invited evil, to either destroy it, consume it, or possess it (to be fair, it also drew in the good folk as well).

i absolutely love your observation that there's irony in that, only through its transformation (it's +subcreation+) that it gives life, becomes a protector, and unexpectedly thwarts the evil intentions of those who would have destroyed its progenitors.

i' thinking back to our discussions on another thread... in one of my posts i was talking about the light of the silmarils being the reflected light of the flame imperishable -- and that all were drawn to it, because it was, essentially, a mirror for subcreation. perhaps that is fitting. in letter #131tolkien writes that this spirit of subcreation can be used either for evil (dominating wills, forcing organization and structure on things and people at the expense of the rhythm of the song) or good (the desire to just create... ars gratia artis, thereby enriching all).

so, while the silmarils themselves, as a composite of the reflected flame imperishable, do nothing in themselves... they are an example of pure subcreation -- which can inspire good or evil.

i think it's also important to note that in letter #131 tolkien writes that the valar are not creators in that sense, bur rulers and judges. they govern. manwe, varda, yavanna and all the rest bring into being and tend +eru's+ creations. the silmarils were a composite of the reflection of eru's thought (the light of the trees) and feanor's subcreative input, which was enacted (many, including myself think) purely because he wanted to do it. he was inspired, he saw a vision in his mind, and he did it. ars gratis artis.

perhaps that's why they were so potent. they were the purest form of subcreation in arda to that point (perhaps ever), thus having megapower to inspire action -- whether good/subcreation, or evil/domination of wills, in a vain attempt to be an upper-tier creator, rather than subcreator.

so, as the purest distillation of subcreation, the simarils do not repel from evil. but when they are "diluted" through subcreation (the sun, the phial of galadriel) they do have protective powers.

note, the sun is not the only example of the light of the silmarils being transformed to become more powerful -- galadriel's phial also does this. can anyone think of more examples?

i think the sun is still a slightly troublesome example... because it can be viewed as +not+ an example of subcreation, because it was the work of yavanna and nienna, and other ainu. no child of eru, who are innately endowed with the possibility of subcreation, were involved. in letter #131 tolkien states that the valar are not creators, but judges, nurturers, rulers, and shepherds.


curious.


cheers --

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo

(This post was edited by Maciliel on May 25 2013, 1:39pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 25 2013, 3:37pm

Post #55 of 62 (55 views)
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The joy of #131! [In reply to] Can't Post


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brethil, so true! the unsullied light of the silmarils did +nothing+ to ward off evil -- instead, it invited evil, to either destroy it, consume it, or possess it (to be fair, it also drew in the good folk as well). i absolutely love your observation that there's irony in that, only through its transformation (it's +subcreation+) that it gives life, becomes a protector, and unexpectedly thwarts the evil intentions of those who would have destroyed its progenitors.
i' thinking back to our discussions on another thread... in one of my posts i was talking about the light of the silmarils being the reflected light of the flame imperishable -- and that all were drawn to it, because it was, essentially, a mirror for subcreation. perhaps that is fitting. in letter #131tolkien writes that this spirit of subcreation can be used either for evil (dominating wills, forcing organization and structure on things and people at the expense of the rhythm of the song) or good (the desire to just create... ars gratia artis, thereby enriching all).
so, while the silmarils themselves, as a composite of the reflected flame imperishable, do nothing in themselves... they are an example of pure subcreation -- which can inspire good or evil.
Agree with all you have written here Telpemairo! Indeed one of the essential mechanisms for the falls of Melkor and Sauron both was their desire to enforce order in their own desire at the expense of the greater picture. I love your equation here, Silmarils = pure subcreation.

i think it's also important to note that in letter #131 tolkien writes that the valar are not creators in that sense, bur rulers and judges. they govern. manwe, varda, yavanna and all the rest bring into being and tend +eru's+ creations. the silmarils were a composite of the reflection of eru's thought (the light of the trees) and feanor's subcreative input, which was enacted (many, including myself think) purely because he wanted to do it. he was inspired, he saw a vision in his mind, and he did it. ars gratis artis.
perhaps that's why they were so potent. they were the purest form of subcreation in arda to that point (perhaps ever), thus having megapower to inspire action -- whether good/subcreation, or evil/domination of wills, in a vain attempt to be an upper-tier creator, rather than subcreator
. *Excellent* point - that was Melkor's first mistake, to seek the Imperishable Flame himself in the Void to create (NOT subcreate) his own visions

so, as the purest distillation of subcreation, the simarils do not repel from evil. but when they are "diluted" through subcreation (the sun, the phial of galadriel) they do have protective powers.
note, the sun is not the only example of the light of the silmarils being transformed to become more powerful -- galadriel's phial also does this. can anyone think of more examples?
Yes, that dilution...the step into sub-creation as the mandate of Eru...thus the use of the Flame as intended for Arda? The altered state of the Light seems to be a critical part of its ability to work against evil - maybe because as you say in its pure form it has no 'alliance' and is outside of reason and philosophy?

i think the sun is still a slightly troublesome example... because it can be viewed as +not+ an example of subcreation, because it was the work of yavanna and nienna, and other ainu. no child of eru, who are innately endowed with the possibility of subcreation, were involved. in letter #131 tolkien states that the valar are not creators, but judges, nurturers, rulers, and shepherds. True, although here in the mix we do have the hand of an Elf subcreator: Feanor. Would the Valar have come to the idea of trapping the remaining light of the fruit and the flower in the vessels without the inspiration of Feanor having come first? So are they a sort of once-removed creation in the tradition of Feanor?
curious. (Is he about yet?) Cool Wonderful post!!!!


Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


elaen32
Gondor


May 25 2013, 4:18pm

Post #56 of 62 (47 views)
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Refuges [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree- there were many refuges in medieval times, with varying uses and sizes etc. In the wars with the Norman kings, the Welsh used their geography as a refuge, often fleeing into the mountains especially in the north. The terrain was too difficult for the organised armies of the Normans to negotiate. The Welsh could later ambush them. The Welsh later built castles in the mountains as more permanent refuges. Unfortunately, later the Normans hemmed them in with huge fortifications , and thus defeated them. However, I see parallels with the Rohirrim in Helm's Deep , the Gondorian Rangers in Henneth Annun etc in this set up

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


Brethil
Half-elven


May 25 2013, 4:45pm

Post #57 of 62 (52 views)
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Another real-world parallel? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I agree- there were many refuges in medieval times, with varying uses and sizes etc. In the wars with the Norman kings, the Welsh used their geography as a refuge, often fleeing into the mountains especially in the north. The terrain was too difficult for the organised armies of the Normans to negotiate. The Welsh could later ambush them. The Welsh later built castles in the mountains as more permanent refuges. Unfortunately, later the Normans hemmed them in with huge fortifications , and thus defeated them. However, I see parallels with the Rohirrim in Helm's Deep , the Gondorian Rangers in Henneth Annun etc in this set up




that JRRT ties real world history into ME histories during similar periods of political and identity unrest - I wonder if in the First Age he specifically identified the Moriquendi with the Saxons at all - a 'native' and more rustic people beset on all sides (in a way) by physical invasion (Orcs) and cultural invasion (Noldor.)

I know linguistically the Saxon / OE tradition is a large part of the Rohirric language...it just struck me with what you posted Elaen that those strongholds and refuges would be needed if the map and the borders of the world changed so dramatically (as they did!)

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 1:07pm

Post #58 of 62 (35 views)
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Still getting caught up [In reply to] Can't Post

I fall behind and never seem to catch up. All these great posts to read, and never enough time to write in reply.

Thanks for the info, Wiz, which is a helpful explanation, especially that modern refuge sites had been used historically. From an American perspective, the only thing I can think of are bomb shelters during the Cold War, but those were usually small and not intended to hold masses of refugees, and they were usually underground bunkers, not defensible positions that could allow a counterattack. There was never talk of "retreat to the Rocky Mountains when the Russians overrun the Great Plains and California!" But in European terms, I suppose the refuge idea isn't so novel after all.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 1:15pm

Post #59 of 62 (34 views)
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And that makes sense too [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess we can't have drama in the Rdg Room if I keep agreeing with people, but I really like your observation, Breth:


Quote
that JRRT ties real world history into ME histories during similar periods of political and identity unrest - I wonder if in the First Age he specifically identified the Moriquendi with the Saxons at all - a 'native' and more rustic people beset on all sides (in a way) by physical invasion (Orcs) and cultural invasion (Noldor.)

I think so much of The Silmarillion is framed like a more sophisticated invasion (the Noldor/Normans) in a more rustic society (the Sindar/Saxons). It says so much that the Sindar didn't even use Daeron's runes, but the Dwarves did, and the Noldor wrote as well, and Quenya became a language of learning while Sindarin was the everyday language. Menegroth originated as a refuge before the first wars even came, then got another layer of refuge protection with the Girdle--those rustics thought more about defense than fighting. Later Finrod will reveal his ideas of a refuge to Thingol, who encourages him rather enthusiastically (this is Thingol, remember--wow). Even Ossiriand is a refuge of sorts, another hidden realm (or place where everyone hides, even if the land can be found).


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 4 2013, 1:45pm

Post #60 of 62 (33 views)
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Beehive buzzing with points [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey Mac, where do I start with this harvest of so many fruitful ideas? Please don't be so conventional as to suggest at the beginning.


Quote
note, the sun is not the only example of the light of the silmarils being transformed to become more powerful -- galadriel's phial also does this. can anyone think of more examples?

One place that a Silmaril is protective is in the island that Beren & Lulu settle when they come back from the dead. It's said that even the Sons of F won't attack them, but they threaten to attack Thingol (not clear how they'd get pass the Girdle, unless it's getting threadbare over time), and they do attack Dior while he has the jewel. Ditto their assault on the Sirion havens. But what is it about Luthien wearing it that no one attacks her even though it seems people know where she is? Couldn't Morgoth have launched a focused invasion to get it back? It's not like the Green-Elves could hold off a regular army. But somehow, that Silmaril protected her and Beren. But it didn't protect his hand when the wolf bit it off. Oh, those jewels weave a tangled web.

There's the case of the Noldor returning to MEarth with the light of Aman still in their faces (from the Trees, not the Silmarils), and that gave them an advantage in battle against Morgoth's forces.

Aside from the Silmarils, what's curious (and inconsistent) about the Three Rings and protection is that two of them (Vilya and Nenya) help protect Lorien and Rivendell. But Narya doesn't seem to protect Gandalf when he fights the Balrog. So do the Three protect geographical entities more so than individuals?


Quote
in letter #131 tolkien states that the valar are not creators, but judges, nurturers, rulers, and shepherds.

Tolkien seems to venerate the idea of shepherds as much as creators. Ents are shepherds of the trees, and the two most virtuous races, Elves and hobbits, are shepherds of their lands, enriching them through their nurturing of them, but not ordering them in ham-fisted way. The Three are the non-corrupting rings because they seek to heal and preserve, not acquire wealth or power. It says something about Gimli's rapturous fascination with both Galadriel's hair and the Glittering Caves that he wants to shepherd them in a way, as a caretaker, not refashion them dramatically. Men and dwarves are more industrial, and industrial societies create things, but those creations aren't as appealing as the Shire and Elven realms.

How often do Tolkien's creations backfire? Silmarils--enough said. Rings of Power? Tell Celebrimbor's corpse they were a good idea. The palantiri? They contributed to the downfall of Saruman and Denethor. Not everything backfires, but plenty do. The Phial with the Silmaril's light and Galadriel's influence never backfires. It doesn't suddenly burst out in light and expose the hobbits when they're hiding. It almost seems to know when it's needed. Galadriel's box of soil for Sam doesn't backfire either. Do hordes of orcs or other creatures descend on the Shire to chop down the only mallorn in Eriador? It seems shepherding never goes wrong, but creation can.


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 8:05pm

Post #61 of 62 (27 views)
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Hmm - interesting about Narya... [In reply to] Can't Post

I always took for granted that's why Gandalf, in his incarnate form, was able to battle the Balrog at all...but I don't know if that is written anywhere or if it's one of those interpretations.

I wonder if Narya would have worked differently if in the hands of an Elf who was in possession of a kingdom - since they would fear the decay. Gandalf had no such concerns...I wonder, what would it have done for preservation as the Ring of Fire? Filled the land with augmented sunlight..?

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


Jun 4 2013, 8:46pm

Post #62 of 62 (53 views)
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All this agreement [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I guess we can't have drama in the Rdg Room if I keep agreeing with people, but I really like your observation, Breth: We do have that bad habit of agreeing often...Wink


Quote
that JRRT ties real world history into ME histories during similar periods of political and identity unrest - I wonder if in the First Age he specifically identified the Moriquendi with the Saxons at all - a 'native' and more rustic people beset on all sides (in a way) by physical invasion (Orcs) and cultural invasion (Noldor.)

I think so much of The Silmarillion is framed like a more sophisticated invasion (the Noldor/Normans) in a more rustic society (the Sindar/Saxons). It says so much that the Sindar didn't even use Daeron's runes, but the Dwarves did, and the Noldor wrote as well, and Quenya became a language of learning while Sindarin was the everyday language. Menegroth originated as a refuge before the first wars even came, then got another layer of refuge protection with the Girdle--those rustics thought more about defense than fighting. Later Finrod will reveal his ideas of a refuge to Thingol, who encourages him rather enthusiastically (this is Thingol, remember--wow). Even Ossiriand is a refuge of sorts, another hidden realm (or place where everyone hides, even if the land can be found).




I think the difference in language and the divergent evolution of them is more important of course on JRRT's work than in someone else's...and I do see a parallel a bit between the Latin and the English uses back in he day.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."

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