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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Letter #131 Discussion: Some Races in the Drama
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noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Oct 5 2013, 6:14pm

Post #51 of 75 (289 views)
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Similarly I don't think anyone could be half-Halfling … [In reply to] Can't Post

…because that would make you a Quarterling, which would be silly.

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 5 2013, 6:27pm

Post #52 of 75 (284 views)
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Hmm. on the other hand... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Similarly I don't think anyone could be half-Halfling … …because that would make you a Quarterling, which would be silly.




Having a Quarterling around could have helped the Fellowship make decisions.

Gandalf: Shall we take the road through Moria?
Aragorn: I am not easy in my mind about it.
Gandalf: How shall we decide?
Aragorn (looks around) I know...let's flip a Quarterling.

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!

















Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Oct 5 2013, 7:15pm

Post #53 of 75 (276 views)
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maiar as a species [In reply to] Can't Post

 
i don't think they qualify, really. they don the form of the species, but are not bound to it. while within that form they can operate within the corporeal rules of that species (e.g., have children), but that is not their native form, so they are not truly of the species.

this brings an interesting issue to mind.... did all maiar, while they were in the form of the first born, have the ability to procreate as the firstborn do? or was melain given some special dispensation?

also, re dwarves.... i think they probably would be able to have offspring with humans, as would hobbits with humans and hobbits with dwarves. i think it just didn't happen (to our knowledge) because the peoples of middle earth largely segregated themselves.


.


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


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 5 2013, 7:28pm

Post #54 of 75 (273 views)
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Not sure on the special dispensation [In reply to] Can't Post

question - interesting twist in the Melian/Thingol relationship. If it was special, then it implies a tacit encouragement by the higher authority. THAT open up quite an avenue of inquiry!

As for Dwarves and Men: you give me hope Telpemairo!!! LaughAngelicLaugh (Thank 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!

















(This post was edited by Brethil on Oct 5 2013, 7:28pm)


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Oct 5 2013, 7:42pm

Post #55 of 75 (260 views)
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ah [In reply to] Can't Post

 
always happy to make you happy, tengwadil. but, truly, this is my assessment of the biology of these races. if the physically immortal and eternally youthful firstborn can procreate with the secondborn, i don't see stronger biological impediments between the other races.

WARNING -- make sure you are sitting down with pillows all around you before you read further.
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so you may yet be queen under the mountain.

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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


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Oct 5 2013, 7:48pm

Post #56 of 75 (260 views)
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"And the 1/2-ling 1/4 will stand" // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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!"


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Oct 5 2013, 7:51pm

Post #57 of 75 (258 views)
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i get the vibe from tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

 
that, though there might not have been an official or unofficial prohibition against maiar coupling with firstborn or secondborn (or others), it really wasn't something that was thought of as a good idea. they are supposed to be teachers and guides, and that mission is compromised and complicated when a romantic relationship -- let alone marriage -- comes into play.

so, the vibe i get from tolkien is that he wanted a maia and a firstborn to get together, to help gift the line of the firstborn with the line of the maiar. this would mean that there are the equivalent of maiar "genes."

however -- tolkien already set up the notion that maiar only inhabit the forms of the firstborn (or whatever else). they are not that form. so...what was melian physically "gifting" with her physical union with thingol? was melian in the physical form of a firstborn? or some other physical form that +looked+ like a firstborn, but had different genes, special "maiar" genes?

i suspect there is no clear answer, because tolkien in many places just throws his hands up when the biology creates problems that must be resolved. biology wasn't the most compelling facet of this world, and he rather answered a lot of these problems with a short "who cares? it doesn't matter" kind of response.

so is lulthien 100% firstborn blood? or 50% firstborn blood and 50% something else -- because there was no native maia form, no universal maia form that was a thread through all maiar.

.


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


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 5 2013, 7:58pm

Post #58 of 75 (254 views)
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Sitting with pillows was good advice!!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Paging all the way down was a giddy reward! See? That's why I do LOVE reading your posts! Angelic (Aside form all the insight, humor and wisdom. There is that too.)


Aside from the (deeply) personal interest... the topic is quite involved. The differing fates of both Elves, Men and Dwarves suggest that the Dwarves are more closely tied to Arda (and more similar to in that sense) than Men, and so like the Elves - going to Mandos, but in another area. Also with the Rebirth option that - though limited - that Durin has. Men are dissimilar to both - yet can clearly procreate with Elves...?

So the idea that fates parallel speciation doesn't work to confirm or suggest it, but certainly doesn't rule it out.

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 5 2013, 8:01pm

Post #59 of 75 (262 views)
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Tolkien: the Numerical Tales (?) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
"And the 1/2-ling 1/4 will stand"







"1 O 2 rule 100%"

Not sure if it has the same...ring to it. Laugh (Ouch.) Crazy

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 5 2013, 8:07pm

Post #60 of 75 (256 views)
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True: the "I do not care" line [In reply to] Can't Post

After things got complicated...he didn't want to too-fully explore the biophysical I suppose, once the tales were in place.

On pure fun speculation though...so let's do it anyway! I wonder, if we theorize that the critters Melkor kept as pets, like Dragons. were potentially spirits and Maiar that descended into Arda and became incarnate - they did have offspring which followed in their physical (hroa) forms. So I wonder if once incarnate, and 'bound' if the gene per se of that form become the inheritance of offspring?

So gifting Firstborn 'genes' per say...but considering the fea having something extra, more inherent power? (Which could be part o the reason Luthien 'burns out' wearing the Silmaril: if it added force to her already strong fea the hroa might be spent sooner).

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!

















noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Oct 5 2013, 8:36pm

Post #61 of 75 (257 views)
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It would be thoroughly understandable if "make Middle-earth consistent with Real life genetics" was not high on JRRTs to-do list.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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 6 2013, 3:02am

Post #62 of 75 (237 views)
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Very true Furincurunir! [In reply to] Can't Post

And having constructed such an involved realm would it be possible to reconcile all the aspects? I doubt that it would without doing the legend some harm.

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!

















noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Oct 6 2013, 9:17am

Post #63 of 75 (231 views)
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Just having fun, anyway [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And having constructed such an involved realm would it be possible to reconcile all the aspects?[eg credible genetics, or plate tectonics or whatnot ] I doubt that it would without doing the legend some harm.


Very true: fun to try applying those things (genetics in this Subthread) & see where you get to; even though clearly the results are nonsense. Nonsense that I've been generating a lot if, so my sudden "of course we can't expect…" May have been a bit surprising.

There's probably also a cautionary tale in there about how you can seem to get results- almost certainly by "overfitting " the data.

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!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Oct 6 2013, 10:00am

Post #64 of 75 (232 views)
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There's something more parental than godlike about the Valar [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
gods who need faith?…because it's not always clear what the big E wants?



I *do* think so - and it is a unique pantheon in that way. Its divinity is not all knowing.

And at times their faith fails (like ours). But then they can change, move forward, regain that faith in the Big E's (Laugh) plan. And sometimes slide backwards again - still like us. But their cardinal focus never does seem trivial, or mundane, or patently self-serving. It always does seem like JRRT structured their journey to keep trying to get better at being in line with the divine plan.

Which is where I see the mirror effect...

Cool


Because they are fallible but (probably) doing their best, There's something more parental than godlike about the Valar. It's easy to imagine a parallel story…

Concerned about the unsavory types about in the Big City, Mom and Dad move the family to the nice small town of Valinor. All is well for a while, until things are catalysed by a burglary. One of the kids wants to pursue the burglar back to the city. Another wants to go along for the independence if the big city and the bright lights. Far from being disuadable, they beat up their brother and steal his car when he can't be persuaded to drive them. Mom and Dads reaction that this is a last straw ("well, screw you too then" and change the locks) is perhaps understandable if not laudable. Luckily Uncle Ulmo is not too proud to keep some contact, and maybe this little soap opera will end up in reconciliation one day.

So we're somewhere between the old pagan gods on the one hand. - more ruling class than parents - and endlessly wise and compassionate deities on the other. The old gods would have blasted Fëanor out of his sandals for the hubris of not handing over those silmarils (if they hadn't blasted him for making them in the first place; for being some other god's lover or client, or for being too darned good at crafts, because of other concerns). An endlessly wise and compassionate deity or set of deities wouldn't relapse into a sulk for the best part of an age, I think - it's not very godlike, after all.

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!"


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


Oct 6 2013, 3:10pm

Post #65 of 75 (227 views)
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i think i may be the only one [In reply to] Can't Post

 
in all of our discussions of the valar, posters have made regular analogies of the valar as parents to the firstborn.

i think i may be the only one who thinks this analogy (though it is certainly bendable in this fashion) is entirely wrong-fitting and facile for the relationship between the valar and the firstborn.

the valar are absolutely +not+ the parents of the firstborn, either literally or figuratively. the firstborn are literally and figuratively the firstborn of eru. it is the charge of the valar not to be parents, but be teachers, guides, and judges. parents (though an understandable leap) sets up a lot of unfortunate and unwarranted frames, suggestions, and expectations. it infantilizes the firstborn. the valar, the maiar, the firstborn, the secondborn, the adopted race of the dwarves -- all are children of illuvatar.

it is in their complex role of teachers, guides, and judges that the valar must be viewed to fully understand the very difficult nature of the charge they have been given by eru. they are set up to govern and guide the children, but these children belong to another. how far to intercede? how far to hang back? they know much of the plans of the music, but not all, and not all at once. they must proceed in faith and make their decisions as best they can. and the decisions around the first- and secondborn are so gravely considered, because these are not their children, but the children of their own maker.

perhaps, in this charge of guiding and governing the firstborn and secondborn, eru has deliberately set up challenges through which the valar can grow in wisdom and experience, just as even as the first- and secondborn do.


.


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 Oct 6 2013, 3:11pm)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Oct 6 2013, 5:46pm

Post #66 of 75 (213 views)
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Not-parents…but… [In reply to] Can't Post

Maciliel wrote:

In Reply To
in all of our discussions of the valar, posters have made regular analogies of the valar as parents to the firstborn.

i think i may be the only one who thinks this analogy (though it is certainly bendable in this fashion) is entirely wrong-fitting and facile for the relationship between the valar and the firstborn.

the valar are absolutely +not+ the parents of the firstborn, either literally or figuratively. the firstborn are literally and figuratively the firstborn of eru. it is the charge of the valar not to be parents, but be teachers, guides, and judges.

it is in their complex role of teachers, guides, and judges that the valar must be viewed to fully understand the very difficult nature of the charge they have been given by eru. they are set up to govern and guide the children, but these children belong to another. how far to intercede? how far to hang back? …
.


That's quite right of course- the firstborn aren't infants. They were not created by the Valar. (The latter is perhaps an interesting difference from other legendaria? )

When I was thinking of parent analogies though, I was thinking precisely of the dilemmas maciliel lists:
How to discharge the complex role of teachers, guides, and judges?
how far to intercede? how far to hang back?

True, one faces such dilemmas in non-family circumstances (for example, being a manager). But not so intensely.

I can only say that those questions have caused me a lotof hear-searching as a parent, and I don't think I'm unusual in that. Perhaps that is why this analogy is so tempting. But I completely agree about its perils.

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!"


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 7 2013, 12:10pm

Post #67 of 75 (194 views)
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LMHO (Laughing my half off!) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 7 2013, 12:19pm

Post #68 of 75 (190 views)
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Agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

Books where *everything* is explained are tedious, even if they satisfy our desire to have everything explained. It's just as well he didn't perfect the biology of MEarth. Just let us know how your own biological experiments with a certain Dwarf-king work out, and if you have any goblins or dragons as a result, or just pretty Dwarf children, and we'll fill in the blanks that Tolkien left open.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Oct 7 2013, 1:50pm

Post #69 of 75 (186 views)
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Well there's parents and then there's parents, see? [In reply to] Can't Post

True, Eru never gave them this commission. He wanted them to be teachers, helpers, guides, and etc..., but the isn't this what some parents do? They were perhaps closer to the "older sibling" figure. They could play the part of a parent in the advising, teaching, and guiding aspect, but had no authority to enforce punishments. They couldn't be parents because Eru was. I think that maybe they and the Elves had a mish mosh of this idea. The Valar tried to act like parents, but couldn't enforce anything that went against thier advice. The Elves might have fully expected them to do so, acting like rebellious children, and just went on because they had nothing to really push against. They didn't know Eru personally, and so fastened in to the closest thing. They might have even wanted the Valar to stop them, thinking that "good parents" would, but the Vakar knew this limit and don't act to stop them. Maybe that is why they were so remote? They had overstepped thier bounds of authority, in good intention, and bad things happened when no authority was behind it?


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 7 2013, 7:14pm

Post #70 of 75 (182 views)
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Siblings [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Mac makes a good point about us blurring the lines about the Valar as parents, though as Wiz says, it's easy to do. "Guardians" is more precise, I suppose, and guardians as older siblings. Though "siblings" has a rough edge to it also, since the Ainur were present at the Great Music and have seen Eru in person and know what life is like outside Arda, which puts them way beyond the Elves, and they have superhuman powers and immortality, which put them way beyond humans. They all have the same father, but are vastly different as his children. Maybe that's why they have such trouble as Big Brother/Big Sister to these lesser siblings they're supposed to nurture. There's a lot of common ground that's lacking for understanding:

"Clean up your room."
"I will in a million years."
"OK. Oh, wait, you're mortal, and you won't be here in a million years. Quit trying to fool me and do it now."

Along the lines of being siblings, Elves are "the middle child." Is that why they feel so restless? Tongue


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 7 2013, 7:22pm

Post #71 of 75 (182 views)
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Dispensation and family planning [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien gives no explanation for it, but do you suppose Melian originally held Elwe in her gaze for many years because either:

1. She was trying to figure out if becoming wife and mother was the right thing to do, or
2. She was consulting the other Ainur for advice?


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 12:24am

Post #72 of 75 (173 views)
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Yes, I will sacrifice myself in the experiment. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Books where *everything* is explained are tedious, even if they satisfy our desire to have everything explained. It's just as well he didn't perfect the biology of MEarth. Just let us know how your own biological experiments with a certain Dwarf-king work out, and if you have any goblins or dragons as a result, or just pretty Dwarf children, and we'll fill in the blanks that Tolkien left open.




In the interests of furthering our understanding of MIddle-earth biology. You all owe me.

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

















CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 8 2013, 12:31am

Post #73 of 75 (171 views)
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Well, now I feel silly [In reply to] Can't Post

How did I miss this sub-thread, you subversive minx?!

Yes, the equation works, but only if you take the square root of (corrupted men) x (bad snake) + (forbidden fruit). [Hint: the forbidden fruit is a metaphor for the temptations of human actors playing Dwarves who corrupt otherwise virtuous wives.]

Anyway, I suppose when you write a novel on an epic scale, you have to make some place "the great unknown," but why the East, unless you're English and resent all the hordes of Asian invaders for the last 2,000+ years? Maybe you don't have to go that far east: Britain was invaded by Danes, Angles, Saxons, and Vikings from the northeast. The Normans came from the south, but the South is never as dreadful as the East. Fighting Morgoth while he was in the North did not make the North a permanent source of apprehension. One could argue that Angmar was northern, but it was really northeastern, like Scandinavia. Or history had no meaning at all in this, and as I suggested, Tolkien had to pick a direction, and the East won (or lost).

What seems odd is that when you venerate light, it arises in the east. The sunrise heralds a new day (= hope) and turns trolls into stone and makes goblins giddy and wobbly. In Minas Tirith it was the sunrise that heralded the arrival of Rohan and Sauron's defeat, and Helm's Deep ended with the sunrise. How many more dang sunrises do I have to point out to make my case that the East = Hope?! Meanwhile, "sunset" usually means decline, as in "the sunset of the Roman Empire." Sunsets can be red and gold and glorious, but they're the end of the day, and like Frodo, it means you feel like falling asleep again. I'm never sure why Tolkien reversed some basic imagery for his world and made the West the beacon of hope when ordinarily it's the end of things.

Whatever his motivation, Tolkien puts Eden in the East twice, for both Elves and Men. The Elvish birthplace starts out innocently enough, but those who remain there become the most primitive of Elves. Men who stay too long in the East come under Morgoth's influence and seem corrupted almost from the beginning. As you point out, the East swallows the Blue Wizards and spews out Easterlings and Wainriders whose only hobby seems to be destroying Gondor. Dunedain, Men of the West, are the best Men ever. It's hard to imagine Men of the East having decent table manners and being nice to their mothers.

Do you suppose it's not so much about the imagery of sunrise/sunset, as about the journey? While having a quest is not unique to Tolkien, the sense of the journey building up one's character is as deep or deeper than Ulmo's influence. Maybe it's not the direction you go in, it's the fact that you're willing to go. The Elves who go West become progressively wiser and more talented, even the left-behind Sindar. The Men who go West escape their sordid past (and acquire table manners, but don't ask about their mothers). The Hobbit is about Bilbo growing on his journey, and ditto for The Fellowship of the Ring, who all grow in their journey, even poor Boromir. If it's about the journey, then it makes sense to follow the trajectory of the sun: it starts in the east (big deal), and when it ends in the west, it's become older, wiser, and a more fulfilled part of Eru's plan. It may technically "set" and go lower in the sky, but its journey has made it grow in unseen ways, and it's the better for it. Hence the Downfall is reversed if you mimic the sun.


Brethil
Half-elven


Oct 8 2013, 1:04am

Post #74 of 75 (180 views)
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Using my *middle names* again I see... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
How did I miss this sub-thread, you *subversive minx*?! LaughWinkLaugh (Nice ring to it...Brethil Subversive Minx Tengawadil.)
Yes, the equation works, but only if you take the square root of (corrupted men) x (bad snake) + (forbidden fruit). [Hint: the forbidden fruit is a metaphor for the temptations of human actors playing Dwarves who corrupt otherwise virtuous wives.] I can really grasp this metaphor.

Anyway, I suppose when you write a novel on an epic scale, you have to make some place "the great unknown," but why the East, unless you're English and resent all the hordes of Asian invaders for the last 2,000+ years? Maybe you don't have to go that far east: Britain was invaded by Danes, Angles, Saxons, and Vikings from the northeast. The Normans came from the south, but the South is never as dreadful as the East. Fighting Morgoth while he was in the North did not make the North a permanent source of apprehension. One could argue that Angmar was northern, but it was really northeastern, like Scandinavia. Or history had no meaning at all in this, and as I suggested, Tolkien had to pick a direction, and the East won (or lost).

What seems odd is that when you venerate light, it arises in the east. The sunrise heralds a new day (= hope) and turns trolls into stone and makes goblins giddy and wobbly. In Minas Tirith it was the sunrise that heralded the arrival of Rohan and Sauron's defeat, and Helm's Deep ended with the sunrise. How many more dang sunrises do I have to point out to make my case that the East = Hope?! Meanwhile, "sunset" usually means decline, as in "the sunset of the Roman Empire." Sunsets can be red and gold and glorious, but they're the end of the day, and like Frodo, it means you feel like falling asleep again. I'm never sure why Tolkien reversed some basic imagery for his world and made the West the beacon of hope when ordinarily it's the end of things.

Whatever his motivation, Tolkien puts Eden in the East twice, for both Elves and Men. The Elvish birthplace starts out innocently enough, but those who remain there become the most primitive of Elves. Men who stay too long in the East come under Morgoth's influence and seem corrupted almost from the beginning. As you point out, the East swallows the Blue Wizards and spews out Easterlings and Wainriders whose only hobby seems to be destroying Gondor. Dunedain, Men of the West, are the best Men ever. It's hard to imagine Men of the East having decent table manners and being nice to their mothers.

Do you suppose it's not so much about the imagery of sunrise/sunset, as about the journey? While having a quest is not unique to Tolkien, the sense of the journey building up one's character is as deep or deeper than Ulmo's influence. Maybe it's not the direction you go in, it's the fact that you're willing to go. The Elves who go West become progressively wiser and more talented, even the left-behind Sindar. The Men who go West escape their sordid past (and acquire table manners, but don't ask about their mothers). The Hobbit is about Bilbo growing on his journey, and ditto for The Fellowship of the Ring, who all grow in their journey, even poor Boromir. If it's about the journey, then it makes sense to follow the trajectory of the sun: it starts in the east (big deal), and when it ends in the west, it's become older, wiser, and a more fulfilled part of Eru's plan. It may technically "set" and go lower in the sky, but its journey has made it grow in unseen ways, and it's the better for it. Hence the Downfall is reversed if you mimic the sun.
I am so glad you found this question - it is a very stealthy one and seemed to hide out there this week...I love your comparison here of the 'journey' aspect of the East to West direction of the Sun. As the symbol of marred Arda and the coming of Men, it makes sense that this journey could bee seen as 'our' journey. And with the prize at the end, the sought after dream of light - art undivorced from reason - as the goal, it fits beautifully with what I think was JRRT's view of the spiritual journey of life...and interesting in the terms of your metaphor that Men have the longest and most perilous journey. Compared to dodging Eastern menaces and making the hard trip on long roads, the Elves were practically of born into the cradle of the Divine, so to speak. Fantastic summation of the journey idea CG. 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!

















Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Oct 8 2013, 3:24am

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They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.

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