View Single Post
Old 11-12-2015, 10:49 PM   #5
Haunting Spirit
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 86
Balfrog has just left Hobbiton.

Wow what hostility – and how unnecessary was the attempt at character assassination. Especially – when there is an article available that all can freely judge.

I see you didn't bother heeding the author's request, nor my echo, and refrain from criticism until the article is complete. A touch rude – in my opinion. A little apology would not go amiss.

If there were specific issues or points you did not understand – then you could simply have E-mailed the author and asked for clarification. That would have been a sensible choice. As to your critique, it is both disjointed and incoherent in parts. Clearly you have not digested the article carefully – though it could be beyond your comprehension.

One issue that I want to touch on right now – is that my association to Priya Seth is really none of your business. Be I friend, relative or have no link, is not of anyone's concern. The forum respects the rights of individuals posting here to remain anonymous. We are here to discuss Tolkien's works and our identities are irrelevant in that regard. I have no wish to know who you are – but I will tell you Priya Seth is a female and I am a male – so I most definitely am not the author of the Web Blog or Breaking The Tolkien Code.

For your future benefit, when someone points out that a new Tolkien related article is available – it is often a courtesy for the benefit of the community. No one, who is sensible, would regard one post out of 139 as being a sales push.

On to your criticism:

Priya Seth’s article seems to me typical. The explainer explains that Tolkien really didn’t mean it when he wrote that Tom was a enigma, usually lying that an enigma*must*have an answer. But see the definition of enigma*at**or elsewhere.
The only person that said Tolkien was “lying” is you. It certainly wasn't Priya Seth. Her essay seems to revolve around the the word 'enigma' being possibly related no. 3 of the various definitions provided in your link - i.e. a 'riddle'. In what context the Professor used it, no one can say for sure – not even you.
Tolkien may have meant that Tom was an*unsolved enigma, which is what most references to the word use it to mean.
What do you mean by unsolved enigma? Unsolved in Tolkien's mind or unsolvable by the reader? And please provide some substantiation for your last comment.
Why did Tolkien not write this down instead of being coy, as she claims?
Because that's what her theory revolves around. As an 'enigma' she believes Tom is an intentional riddle – that is the reason Tolkien was (as she says) “evasive”. However if you read the last section – her claim is that he got nervous about using allegory – and decided to instead keep him a permanent mystery.
Could Tolkien have actually meant what he did write down, that Tom was an Enigma‚ which I interpret to mean, and I believe this to be the normal meaning,*unexplained enigma?
Please provide substantiation and sources for your assertion. And while your at it – you might want to investigate the root and origin of the word 'enigma'. To a Professor whose hobby and profession were based on philology – perhaps you can explain how Tolkien could never have employed its usage in Letter No. 144 to mean 'a riddle'. I suspect you may fall flat on your back.
In short, Priya claims that if there is any failure or ambiguity in Tolkien’s explanation, as explained by her, then the explanation fails as a whole.
Again you are stretching matters. Priya is simply stating that the best explanation is one that entirely explains Tom from both the novel standpoint and Tolkien's private letters. By using “let’s see how far I can go” she has invited the reader at the end to be a judge.

Priya claims that Tolkien:
… neatly solves the paradox of the Ent being “the oldest living thing … in Middle-earth” and Tom being “Eldest”.

No she didn't claim Tolkien did that.
Tolkien never himself points out this supposed paradox. Treebeard can only be “the oldest living thing … in Middle-earth” if Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, Radagast, the Balrog of Moria, and the nameless things who gnaw the Earth and are unknown to Sauron because they are older than he are not counted. It is apparent that Treebeard may be the oldest of the*kelvar*still surviving in Middle-Earth at the end of the Third Age, but there are various other beings older than he. Her*paradox*does not exist.
Many have debated whether Tom or Treebeard is older. There are countless discussions on the Internet about this subject. And yes, when the author deliberately stated Tom is “oldest” and “Eldest” while Treebeard is “Eldest, and the oldest living thing”, at face value to the reader it is most definitely either a mistake or a paradox. Priya Seth, has simply shown a new way in which we can understand how, and in which context, Tom can be viewed as “oldest” and “Eldest”.
It is you that have brought in the Istari, nameless things, etc. That is a whole different discussion.
Priya claims:
Tom pledged never to keep anything that belonged to another in the theater, for himself. I don’t see Tom making such a*vow. Priya is apparently referring to Tolkien’s suggestion that Tom role is to be compared to taking a vow of poverty. But this is only a comparison.

The premise of the article is that Tom's secret role was to represent the 'audience' in the cosmogonic 'play'. The 'pledge' or 'vow' is a silent subconscious one. As she pointed out – it is one that we all unknowingly make when visiting a 'theatre'.
Priya claims:
At the point “Eä!” was uttered, the Universe was created and the Professor’s great drama could now be properly played out as a theatrical production.*
Then does Priya claim that almost the entire “Ainulindalë” is not be included in Tolkien’s legendarium?*

Look at this more carefully. The cosmogonical drama is that part of the cosmogony played out in the physical Universe. The Ainulindale is part of the overall cosmogony and indirectly referenced in the article (through using the terms Music, Vision). It is equated per the thesis as analogous to a 'pre-play' taking place outside of the Theatre. You are also using the term “legendarium” incorrectly.
Priya notes:
We must take special care to heed how Tom said: “he remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn”. The Fellowship of the Ring text does not state: ‘felt’ the raindrop or ‘held’ the acorn. How believable would it be that Tom was physically in Middle-earth at coincidentally the exact places and times of these monumental scientific occurrences, and then accidentally witnessing them?
I don’t see what Priya is on about. My understanding is that Tom is referring to having witnessed the first raindrop in that part of the world, and having seen the first oak tree in that part of the world to sprout from an acorn. I don’t see that whether Tom actually ‘felt’ the raindrop or ‘held’ the acorn is thought important or that it is important that*Fellowship*does not tell us whether this happened or not.

Read this again carefully. The writer is just communicating that in her opinion Tom was not in physical Arda at the time these primeval happenings took place. He was watching the drama from his own plane of reality as part of his function as the 'audience'. Indeed - what are the chances of someone in physical Arda amidst the rain, with certainty witnessing the first raindrop? By Tolkien not stating directly that Tom 'held' the acorn or 'felt' the raindrop lends credence to Priya's theory of his secret role and him watching the on stage 'drama' in a different plane of reality in ancient times .
Priya notes:
Unbeknownst to him, a beautiful yellow-haired nymph would emerge from water: Goldberry was awaiting ‘on stage’!
Now Tom forcibly seizes for himself another actor, not a member of the audience like himself, and takes her as his wife. Priya’s allegory becomes confused here. Or if Priya wants to imagine that Tom and Goldberry are supposed to only be acting, that is only her invention, not anything Tolkien wrote.

Here the author is just saying that at some point Tom entered onto the stage (the physical world) but little did he know that his fate would be to meet Goldberry – who would leave her watery home to become his companion. I am at a complete loss as to how you arrived at your interpretation.

Nowhere does the author say Tom forcibly seizes Goldberry. You are exaggerating.
I could continue, but essentially I don’t find anything that Priya writes here convincing. She makes it clear that she thinks that Tom is Tolkien’s idea of an audience but her lack of any valid argument does not convince me.
If I were you, I would take some time and read the essay again – very carefully. Moreover take some time to chew on what has been written. And if you still have questions why don't you send her an E-mail and perhaps she will address your concerns. If she doesn't – by all means list them on the forum and perhaps I or others can happily enlighten you.
Balfrog is offline   Reply With Quote