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Old 06-30-2016, 10:26 PM   #9
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 144
Marwhini has just left Hobbiton.
At this point I cannot even begin to count the number of things that make me go "Hmmmm!" within Tolkien's works.

When I studied with Joseph Campbell in the Early-1980s, Campbell was only tangentially aware of Tolkien's works, and did not pay much attention to them. But I did, and when I began to explore Anglo-Saxon and Norse Myth, it caused me to suddenly discover hidden things everywhere in the names of things.

And when I began to explore Christianity, its origins, heresies, philosophies, and theologies I began to uncover even more surprises within Tolkien's works. Such as the Manichean Influences of the Two Trees of Valinor, and Good/Evil, Light/Dark. Or that Gandalf/Olorin was himself a "Spirit of Fire" (like the Maia Arien, who became the Sun), such as those Morgoth corrupted to become Balrogs/Valaraukir. And thus the fight between Gandalf and the Balrog was really Gandalf fighting his Spiritual Sibling (if Gandalf had been corrupted by Morgoth, he himself would have become a Balrog).

But it was not until I read Tom Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth that I realized that seemingly innocent words could also contain a lot of meaning. Things like the word choices Tolkien uses to describe things...

Like the Orcs, Haradrim, or Easterlings using "Bent" swords. Why did Tolkien use the word "Bent" and not "Curved?" It turns out the reason is both philological, and philosophical/theological (having to do with a concept called Physiognomy). Bent has an Anglo-Saxon/Old English/Germanic root (Beonet - Binse), whereas Curved has a Latin root (Curvus - Curvare).

So not only was Tolkien using a word that had an explicit Saxon/Goth/Germanic origin, but he was also stating that the swords were "Corrupted" (note that when Tolkien uses a Capitalization, the word is IMPORTANT!!! and carries with it a grave significance) and "Evil." This has to do with the philosophical concept of Physiognomy. Physiognomy is from the Greek "Physios"(body) and "Gnomon" (to know). Physiognomy is thus "If you know the body, then you know the soul." Or: Things look as they seem. So a beautiful, or "fair" thing should both "seem" to be fair, and will be Good rather than Evil (of course... Tolkien does invert this with a few characters, most obviously Morgoth and Sauron, who could appear Fair, yet remain Evil - note that in both cases those who were attuned to looking beyond appearances could easily see the reality of both despite their appearances. And, on the opposite side, we have Gimli, or, indeed, any Dwarf, who is supposed to be rather "ugly" appearing, when compared to an Elf, yet who is "Good")... Thus... The choice of words Tolkien uses can often carry more information than just their meaning.

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