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Old 06-15-2005, 12:03 AM   #41
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Okay, I'm going to go back to explaining WHAT I was saying...

Let's imagine that I decide to write a political thriller, set in Washington D.C. of the present day. It will be based around my fictional hero, but because this is a politics-related story, there will be quite a few real life people in there. Naturally, there will be the President of the United States (Reagen, Bush, Clinton, Bush II, whoever...). He will have, in the book, as much of the "real" President's personality, power, and style as I am capable of putting into the book.

So someone comes along, reads my book, and makes an assumption about a plot thread based on what is known about the "real" President.

Is this assumption justified or not?



So, you see where I'm going? Although Eru can/should stand on His own in Arda, and should not need a translation for readers without a Christian background, it should be permissible for a reader who IS familiar with the Christian God, whom Eru is intended to be a "book translation" of, to assume that he will have all the personality, power, and style of the "real" God.

And while this understanding/belief is not necessary for understanding Eru and His role in the story, it should clarify for the curious reader how Tolkien (the "real" final arbiter of Arda) viewed Eru, and what powers Eru had.

As I recall, my original point was that Eru had the same powers (exercised or no) in Arda as God does in our world (according to Christian religion).
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Old 06-15-2005, 07:26 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Formendacil
So, you see where I'm going? Although Eru can/should stand on His own in Arda, and should not need a translation for readers without a Christian background, it should be permissible for a reader who IS familiar with the Christian God, whom Eru is intended to be a "book translation" of, to assume that he will have all the personality, power, and style of the "real" God.

And while this understanding/belief is not necessary for understanding Eru and His role in the story, it should clarify for the curious reader how Tolkien (the "real" final arbiter of Arda) viewed Eru, and what powers Eru had.

As I recall, my original point was that Eru had the same powers (exercised or no) in Arda as God does in our world (according to Christian religion).
This is applicability, & is an individual choice/reacction to the text. I do feel (personal opinion expresed here) that applicability can only happen when the enchantment has been broken or left behind - because I think that while one is caught up in the secondary world one would be experiencing the characters & their world in their own right.

My understanding of the process of 'applicability' is that having been in the secondary world we may bring out our memories of it & apply them to things in the primary world, which process may actually give the primary world an air or 'echo' of the enchantment we experienced in the secondary world. But, it doesn't work the other way - if we apply our 'memories'/knowledge of the primary world to the secondary world while we are 'in' there, the enchantment will not work. This is because the primary world, by its nature is not enchanted, but mundane. Experience of the secondary world may 'enchant' our vision so that when we look on the primary world again it will seem to have an enchanted air, but if we carry things from the primary world into the secondary they will make it seem mundane by association.
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Old 06-15-2005, 07:27 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Formendacil
So, you see where I'm going? Although Eru can/should stand on His own in Arda, and should not need a translation for readers without a Christian background, it should be permissible for a reader who IS familiar with the Christian God, whom Eru is intended to be a "book translation" of, to assume that he will have all the personality, power, and style of the "real" God.
I personally would not wish to deny you the right to 'see' God reflected in Eru. The problem arises when we take it as a given that Eru is the same as God. The nature of God in the real world is so varied that it is difficult to pinpoint the nature of God apart from in a personal sense; if a person is lucky enough to have faith in one religion then they find it easier to pinpoint God's nature, but even when this is the case, another person will have an equal level of conviction that God takes yet another, different nature. So it's a subjective comparison in that respect, that will not be universally accepted.

Where I also have a problem is when people of other faiths (and I don't mean different branches of the Christian faith) also 'see' their God reflected in Eru. Is it that God is universal or is it proof that Eru is yet another version of the variety of Gods? If that makes sense.
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Old 06-15-2005, 09:01 AM   #44
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Could it be that one of the down-sides of the waxing of democracy and individualism in the primary world is that we begin to assume that God is subject to our vote? Of course, that's assuming that God is real, and that God is above and beyond our puny minds' best attempts to comprehend said entity... (avoiding baaaaad pronouns )
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Old 06-15-2005, 11:44 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
My understanding of the process of 'applicability' is that having been in the secondary world we may bring out our memories of it & apply them to things in the primary world, which process may actually give the primary world an air or 'echo' of the enchantment we experienced in the secondary world. But, it doesn't work the other way - if we apply our 'memories'/knowledge of the primary world to the secondary world while we are 'in' there, the enchantment will not work. This is because the primary world, by its nature is not enchanted, but mundane. Experience of the secondary world may 'enchant' our vision so that when we look on the primary world again it will seem to have an enchanted air, but if we carry things from the primary world into the secondary they will make it seem mundane by association.
I'm going to set aside the God/Eru problem for now, since there's little more to be said about it. I've stated why I think one can make the connection of Eru=God, should the reader feel it necessary, and why it remains as a legitimate connection in regards to the author's own intentions.

But Davem's said something here that I wonder about... The bolded portion.

IS this primary world of ours not enchanted, but mundane? I, personally, feel that this is hardly the case. Our world is very much enchanted. I can look out at the Rockies from our house on a clear, sunny day, and see the sharp, snow-capped peaks rising into a clear blue sky. Or perhaps seeing the thrill in a young kid's eyes as he or she is looking at the animals in a zoo.

These enchantments are just as real to me, if not more real, than those found in a book. And they are the products of the real world. And is not the enchantment of the books a part of the enchantment of our own world? If we did not have this world to refer to, would the enchantment of the books be there?

Isn't the book a product of the mind of someone in this world?

Maybe for some people this is a world of the mundane, but for myself, it is a world with plenty of enchantment, just waiting for someone with the right frame of mind to walk around the corner and find it.
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Old 06-15-2005, 01:28 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
.IS this primary world of ours not enchanted, but mundane? I, personally, feel that this is hardly the case. Our world is very much enchanted. I can look out at the Rockies from our house on a clear, sunny day, and see the sharp, snow-capped peaks rising into a clear blue sky. Or perhaps seeing the thrill in a young kid's eyes as he or she is looking at the animals in a zoo.

These enchantments are just as real to me, if not more real, than those found in a book. And they are the products of the real world. And is not the enchantment of the books a part of the enchantment of our own world? If we did not have this world to refer to, would the enchantment of the books be there?

Isn't the book a product of the mind of someone in this world?

Maybe for some people this is a world of the mundane, but for myself, it is a world with plenty of enchantment, just waiting for someone with the right frame of mind to walk around the corner and find it.
I think what you say about 'the right frame of mind' is the key to what we're talking about. Mountains in & of themselves are not 'enchanted' - they're just very big rocks. Animals in the zoo are not 'enchanted', either, or 'enchanting'.

The enchantment they inspire in us comes from the 'story' we tell ourselves about them when we look at them. We are responding to something else, something 'other' - to what they 'symbolise' for us. Its about awe, about suddenly being open to the Other. I'd say what you're talking about is a sudden 'baggage-free' moment, when the mundane is seen through, & there is a glimpse of 'Joy, beyond the walls of the World, poignant as grief.'

So, in the instances you cite, I'd say that rather than experiencing an 'enchantment' inherent in the primary world, you are experiencing an enchantment that comes through the primary world, from another level of 'Reality'.

I find this happens in reading Tolkien works - when I read them as they are, without theorising or making connections with primary world contents. The Secondary world is a 'between place', between the mundane primary world, & somewhere 'Else'. When we enter 'Faerie' we move a step closer to a place or state beyond words. The 'enchanting' of the primary world that we experience is a result of seeing it 'through enchanted eyes', & that enchantment happens within the secondary world - when it is experienced as much as possible as a world/state in its own right.

I'd say that whether you are conscious of it or not, that when you look at those mountains, you are not enchanted by their size, or their age, or their sense of permanence, but by the 'story' behind those things. I think its something along the lines of Charles William's 'Beatrician experience'/Romantic Theology - an experiencing of the Creator, the Source, through other creatures. He called it the Way of the Affirmation of the Images. Rather than rejecting the creation as 'not-God' & following an ascetic lifestyle in order to find the Divine, we seek to experience the divine through the creation, through the 'Images', or 'Masks' of God.
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Old 06-15-2005, 02:20 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
IS this primary world of ours not enchanted, but mundane?
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I think what you say about 'the right frame of mind' is the key to what we're talking about. Mountains in & of themselves are not 'enchanted' - they're just very big rocks. ... The enchantment they inspire in us comes from the 'story' we tell ourselves about them when we look at them.
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'Halflings!' laughed the rider that stood beside Éomer. 'Halflings! But they are only a little people in old songs and children's tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?'
'A man may do both,' said Aragorn. 'For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!' - J.R.R. Tolkien in The Two Towers
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Recovery (which includes return and renewal of health) is a re-gaining -- regaining of a clear view. I do not say "seeing things as they are" and involve myself with the philosophers, though I might venture to say "seeing things as we are (or were) meant to see them" -- as things apart from ourselves. - Tolkien in On Fairy-Stories
Here Tolkien describes precisely what that "right frame of mind" is, as he understands it in On Fairy-Stories.

I'm (more than) troubled by the subjectivity that seems to take over every discussion I observe on the BarrowDowns lately, such as here, regarding "the stories we tell ourselves". Tolkien is saying something different: To see mountains, or the green earth, with a clear view, is to see them as we are meant to see them. They are not mere stones nor mere dirt unless we tell ourselves otherwise. The mountains and earth don't need us to reinterpret them as something more. They are, to use Tolkien's words, "meant to be" the stuff of legends. Yes, here's story, but not "stories we tell ourselves". Rather, it's story that gives us the chance to regain the ability to see mountains and green earth the way they were meant to be seen. Meant to be? Who is purposing this "meaning to be"?

Of course, it could, and probably will be argued, that this was Tolkien's subjective opinion, and the "author is dead", and we all reinterpret not only his stories but also his essays as we will and must because we are who we are. Sigh.

I am troubled by Tolkien's paranthetical "or were", as if he is no longer sure that we are meant to see things with a clear view. There are perhaps many possibilities as to what could be meant by that. It could be that Tolkien believed that the Someone who "means" us to see things with a clear view is as distant as Eru seems to be (by some readers) in the Legendarium. It could also be that Tolkien knew that subjectivistic moderns like us are losing the ability to regain a clear view (this would not be a surprising view for him, considering his pessimism). Or it could be that Tolkien is referring here to the nature of language and the way in which it changes, which brings me back to Owen Barfield and Poetic Diction, which I've interpreted in the Mythic Unities thread. In short, the language we speak has been developed to such a point that we are no longer able to comprehend the wonder of things in the primary world; to which Tolkien would say we need Fairy-story to regain the clear view (which is done, I think, through the unities).

The 'Way of Affirmation' or 'Beatrician Experience' posited by Charles Williams is something I've given a lot of thought to over the years. It's interesting to me that Tolkien is known to have said that when it came to literature, he and Williams "had nothing to say to each other". Which suggests to me that Tolkien didn't have a very high opinion of the Way of Affirmation. Nevertheless, it could be argued that LotR is itself a Way of Affirmation. Anyway.

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Old 06-15-2005, 03:24 PM   #48
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But its this question of 'how we are meant to see them that intrigues me - are we 'meant' to see mountains as big rocks, or are we 'meant' to see them as physical symbols of spiritual things? Mountains may be 'meant to be the stuff of legends' but materially thay aren't that at all. If they are to be seen as the stuff of legends then there have to be legends about them. Legends are human inventions, stories we tell ourselves & each otherabout mountains. It is our stories about them that enable us to see them as something other than big rocks.

When we tell those stories we are giving to (or discerning) a meaning in them, but that meaning comes from our stories not from the mountains themselves.

Quote:
The 'Way of Affirmation' or 'Beatrician Experience' posited by Charles Williams is something I've given a lot of thought to over the years. It's interesting to me that Tolkien is known to have said that when it came to literature, he and Williams "had nothing to say to each other". Which suggests to me that Tolkien didn't have a very high opinion of the Way of Affirmation. Nevertheless, it could be argued that LotR is itself a Way of Affirmation. Anyway.
I think Tolkien's relationship with Williams was more complicated than that. Certainly Tolkien valued Williams as a friend, & as Carpenter has pointed out, Tolkien was to some degree affected by jealousy of Lewis close friendship with the man. A lot has been written about the Tolkien Lewis friendship but very little about Tolkien's relationship with Williams. There is work to be done on that.
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Old 06-15-2005, 03:47 PM   #49
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That you keep talking, davem, about mountains as "just material objects" points to how our language has developed into all the abstract distinctions that split off the abstract from substance. Not that this is bad, but it has come at a price.

What Barfield was saying, and what Tolkien built into the aesthetic experience that is LotR, is that we are meant to see mountains neither as big rocks, nor as symbols of spiritual things; rather, we are meant to see mountains as a unity. Think of Caradhras. No mountain has as much personality as Caradhras; but to say that Tolkien was using personification, severely understates the case. He was communicating that particular mountain to be perceived by (most) readers the way a pre-modern would perceive it, before all the abstract distinctions pulled away from the mountain all those things premoderns understood it to contain.

"Our stories" about mountains are quite a different thing than what individuals tell themselves. "Our stories" speaks to a communal experience that a culture, or part of a culture shares. There's a richness in that compared to the relative bankruptcy (pun not intended but I'll leave it there) of individualistic reinterpretations.

As to Tolkien and Williams, the Letters speak to the fact that they had a great frienship and quite enjoyed each other during Inklings meetings. Still, their creative imaginations ran along decidedly different paths. If not for Lewis, there never would have been a Tolkien/Williams friendship.
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Old 06-15-2005, 04:06 PM   #50
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But Caradhras is not a primary world mountain. LotR is a legend - a story told us by a storyteller, which affects the way we see mountains in the primary world. So, it is legends - either traditional ones or modern ones like LotR - that enable us to see Mountains as more than big rocks. Without human minds to create & tell stories about mountains they would be simply big rocks. Only humans create/experience these stories. Only when those 'pre-moderns' made their stories did mountains become 'magical'. Before there were stories about mountains there were just big rocks. Caradhras is a 'story' about a mountain, not a mountain. Secondary worlds are collections of stories about things, not the things themselves. Mountains are big rocks in the primary world, only in the secondary world (the world of the human imagination) do they become 'Mountains', Mountains, Gandalf!'
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Old 06-15-2005, 04:19 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Before there were stories about mountains there [sic] were just big rocks.
How do you know that? You weren't there. What myth are you espousing in holding forth about something you never experienced? In other words, what story are you presuming was true?

I said nothing about "magical". The word is entirely too limiting. Tolkien used his Elves to communicate this.

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'For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean'
says Galadriel to Sam, in The Mirror of Galadriel. Consider, all she does is pour whater from a pitcher into a basin. What's magical about that? It is Elvish, because she's an Elf who has lived for perhaps more than ten thousand years, but that is saying much more than "magical".

Quote:
Mountains are big rocks in the primary world.
Again, how do you know this? It's akin to saying that stars are just hot balls of exploding gas. That's not what a mountain is, it's just what it's made of, to borrow a very good phrase from C.S. Lewis. Be careful about dragging in the (rather bankrupt) myth of mere materialism.
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Old 06-15-2005, 04:29 PM   #52
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I'm sure before there were stories about mountains there was 'awe' felt in their presence, or 'participation mystique', or whatever, but as soon as the aweful thing became a 'Mountain' there was a story about it, to account for its existence, to define it.

Edit: No, the two things, the identification of the 'Aweful thing' as a mountain & the story would have been simultaneous events. A story is an account of 'Aweful things', an attempt to make sense of them, to understand them, to see them as they are.

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Old 06-15-2005, 05:43 PM   #53
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I fail to see how any "enchantment" cast by a book (where it is 'seen' through our reading) is any different than the "enchantment" cast by real life (where it is 'seen' through our physical eyes.

With regards to the frame of mind, it is necessary for both book enchantment and real world enchantment.

Indeed, what I was endeavouring to say, is that real and book enchantment are one and the same.

When Bilbo says that he wants to see "mountains again", I never once got the feeling that he would find the Rockies or the Alps to be any less "mountains" than the Misty or the Blue.

Perhaps the problem is that Davem's "real world" enchantment regarding mountains is broken by realising that they are "just rocks" in the same way that LMP's "book" enchantment is broken by realising that Gandalf's speech is "just narrative".

If one goes about looking for enchantment, one will find a great deal more than if one goes about looking for cracks in the enchantment.
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Old 06-16-2005, 03:21 AM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
I'm (more than) troubled by the subjectivity that seems to take over every discussion I observe on the BarrowDowns lately ...
This is inevitable, surely. What troubles me more is that every Book discussion these days seems to end up focussing on the same issues ...
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Old 06-16-2005, 03:55 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
Perhaps the problem is that Davem's "real world" enchantment regarding mountains is broken by realising that they are "just rocks" in the same way that LMP's "book" enchantment is broken by realising that Gandalf's speech is "just narrative".
I think this is a rather keen insight, Formy. Spot on I daresay.
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Old 06-16-2005, 05:07 AM   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
If one goes about looking for enchantment, one will find a great deal more than if one goes about looking for cracks in the enchantment.
Truly so. But I'd say if one just goes not looking for anything particular, the chance of finding enchantment among numerous things else is soaring high
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Old 06-16-2005, 02:27 PM   #57
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Boots

dare I say it?

STOP!

PLEASE!

Has no one here a concept of what constitutes a discussion? We are NOT here to wander aimlessly in search of nothing. As the introductory post on this thread stated, this is meant to be a sort of Theology of Middle-Earth. Forgive me for attempting some level of direction , but I believe the last 20+ posts have been completely (or nearly so) irrelavent to our discussion. I hoped to stand by and wait for the storm to pass, but it seems that if I do, any hope of intelligent inquiry will end up like the little hobbits on the face of Caradhras. What we need is direction. Commonly, I belive that it is useful for the initiator of a discussion to direct its flow to a degree, and I see that I have neglected my duties in that respect.

We must ALL realize that what is (99+% percent of the time) important in intelligent discussion has almost nothing to do with personal feelings about a subject. Who cares if your Atheist (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Agnostic, Buddhist, Taoist, Animist, hippie) upbringing causes resent (or not) when you read about a Judeo-Christian (see above) Eru? Certainly not anyone interested in the growth of understanding on this subject. Arguments in this forum are intended to deal with solid refrence from Tolkiens works, not our personal responses to others' personal responses to shadowy references to the books. Consequently, please move your discussions to where they are (A) welcome and (B) appropriate, and I'm sure they will flourish.

(that is to say, in the words of Mr. Bilbo Baggins:
"This is the END. You are going. You are leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!"

Alas, I am so very frustrated. First this, and then twice when I attempt to continue discussion, the text of my post is deleted in some freak accident.

I wished to continue (very much) with a list of events that take place directly inloving Eru, during the Ainulindale, but that will have to wait now.


Hating blasted Compaq computers,
Iarwain

P.S. In rewriting my post, I left out the primary request of this post: Please, remove all discussions of Enchantment, "claiming Eru" the nature of Cahadras and other objects, symbolism, allegory, the nature of Fiction, etc. from this thread. They do not belong here, and should not be here, they should cease to be active within this thread. I belive the words of Mr. Baggins as quoted above apply perfectly. Good day.
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Old 06-16-2005, 03:52 PM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iarwain
dare I say it?

STOP!

PLEASE!

Has no one here a concept of what constitutes a discussion? We are NOT here to wander aimlessly in search of nothing. As the introductory post on this thread stated, this is meant to be a sort of Theology of Middle-Earth. Forgive me for attempting some level of direction , but I believe the last 20+ posts have been completely (or nearly so) irrelavent to our discussion. I hoped to stand by and wait for the storm to pass, but it seems that if I do, any hope of intelligent inquiry will end up like the little hobbits on the face of Caradhras. What we need is direction. Commonly, I belive that it is useful for the initiator of a discussion to direct its flow to a degree, and I see that I have neglected my duties in that respect.
Conversations, be they normal, spoken ones, or be they thought-out, typewritten online ones evolve. Some stay on the topic they were started for (many telephone conversations of a shorter nature do). Some do not, but move quickly to other matters- including those that are the "hot topics" of the current time.

Of course, having attempted to establish law and order here, I predict that you will will see a flowering of a third topic: "what is on topic", which is likely even farther away from what you think THE topic is.

Look at it as a sign of the "interconnectedness" of Middle-earth. All subjects are related. And, personally speaking, as long as the broad topic is Tolkien and Middle-earth, I am not personally averse to an amount of wandering.

Keeps things interesting.
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Old 06-16-2005, 07:06 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
Of course, having attempted to establish law and order here, I predict that you will will see a flowering of a third topic: "what is on topic", which is likely even farther away from what you think THE topic is.
That should not be necessary, as Estelyn Telcontar kindly provided chapter and verse here:

Guidelines for Forum Posting

Formendacil is right. As long as they remain Tolkien-related, threads can, and often do, wander into a variety of related issues. If you wish to direct the discussion in a particular way, Iarwain, you are free raise the issues which you which to discuss (and I appreciate that you would have done so, but for your computer problems ). But I am afraid that you cannot really prevent people wandering of at tangents if that is what they want to do (particularly after such a long absence - although it is good to see you back ).
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Old 06-20-2005, 01:41 PM   #60
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Boots The Question:

It is good to be back (to the small degree that I am) among such a worthy community, and I apologize for my forwardness.

I'm now going to embark on the process I thought of nearly a week ago, and hopefully others will be somewhat enthusiastic.

In order to better understand anyone or anything, it is sometimes best when we are denied a view of its psyche or essence, to glimpse it through its involvement in various scenarios which, in fact, we do have access to. In this case, we are discussing Eru and questioning his nature. Now, of course, it is just as easy for me to look at Tolkien's divinity and suggest that he is a reflection of Tolkien's own beliefs. This seems too easy, though, and is likely subject to fallacy. For example, Tolkien created Frodo as the protagonist for LotR, does this mean that he heroized Frodo's character? Perhaps it does, but I think we all have enough insight to realize that there is (was) more to Tolkien's view of the hero than Frodo, so similarly we should realize that there is more to his personal theology than is contained in Eru. Well, what of it? If this is true, then we must admit that since Tolkien is not directly replicating A) his ideal hero in Frodo, or B) his personal theology in Eru, neither of these characters are limited by his holdings on these matters. That is to say that just as there was certainly more to Tolkien's personal theology than he put into Eru, it is very likely that there is more to Eru than can be found in Tolkien's personal theology.

Well, then, since we have decided here not to limit Eru to Tolkien's theology, we ask what scenarios are available to us. In listing these, it is easiest to move chronologically. Thus, we begin:

1. Eru Supreme
2. Eru Creates Ainur: "offspring of his thought"
3. The Great Music, composed of three themes:
i. Beautiful, Harmonious, turned into "a sea of turbulent sound" by Melkor, (Eru smiles)
ii. Gathers Power and "new beauty" Melkor's discord prompts some Ainur to be silent (Eru stands with "stern" countenance --BoLT he weeps)
iii. At first soft and sweet, yet unquenchable, absorbs the most triumphant notes of Melkor's discord.
4. Eru Stands, raises both hands "and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Iluvatar, the Music ceased."
5. Eru prepares the Ainur for the revelation of the vision, and explains to Melkor that "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite"

I could continue here with the revelation of the vision, but I believe that there is already an abundance of discussable material above, and by doing so I would just drown it out, and I fear we would loose some of the subtleties revealed above. I recommend all to first read the opening pages of the Ainulindale, and then to comment.

Note-- As the title implies, this post serves merely as a question. It provides almost no relevant argument or discussion. But, having the question is (as the saying goes) being halfway to getting an answer. If no one takes up the offer perhaps I will continue, but I have sufficient faith that there are many here who will be willing (if not eager) to share their thoughts.


Best to all,
Iarwain




PART II: A CONTINUATION

The truth is that I'm quite surprised that no one has taken me up on my offer yet. So, I suppose I'll have to write some more. The idea here is to take the givens and reach a conclusion, and that is what I'll try to do. I think that the key part of the above is Eru's quote to Melkor: "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite." A few days ago, I was thinking about what I might say if I posted again and I realized the implications of our interpretation of that quote. I believe that almost the entire theology of ME is wrapped up in it. So I ask you all a question:

What is Eru saying?

If he is saying that all creation is a part of him and that nothing can be done outside his will, then we have a middle-earth with a destiny. If he is saying that there is no pure evil and that evil actions will ultimately (and unintentionally) bear good fruit, then we have a fascinating world to discuss. Both of these have tremendous ethical implications and will play into our outlook on the lives of characters like Turin and family, Maeglin, Gollum, and especially Morgoth himself. I think that the best way to answer this question is to find instances in the books which point to the answer to our question, so that we can better see who Eru is, and better understand the ethical system inherent in TCE.

I hope that is sufficient to elicit a response.
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Old 07-12-2005, 02:51 AM   #61
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Quote:
The truth is that I'm quite surprised that no one has taken me up on my offer yet.
I suppose you scared people off shouting, and we know Bombadil's mighty voice is a good signal for fleeing

But kidding apart, you haven't postulated real question in the first part of the post, it was rather list of material.

Part II, now, is another matter:

Quote:
If he is saying that all creation is a part of him and that nothing can be done outside his will, then we have a middle-earth with a destiny. If he is saying that there is no pure evil and that evil actions will ultimately (and unintentionally) bear good fruit, then we have a fascinating world to discuss
I cast my vote, if that's what you expect, that he says both.

Option 2 (the one underlined in the quote above) presents quite perfect clothing for the thought, but its very perfection does not leave room for discussion per se (in my case, at least), and the only thing you'll elicit from me would be agreement

Option 1 (italics) is equally true, but let me point that concept of destiny does not cancel out individual freedom of will and equally does not cancel out second part of your statement

So, there is no real dichotomy there, as far as I'm concerned

I would not argue the point right here and now in order of not repeating myself and due to lack of time right now, but leave you for the time being with the promise of digging up links to places where the point was previously argued by yours truly

cheers
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Old 07-12-2005, 10:05 AM   #62
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Before any response can be intelligently given to "What is Eru saying?", I think it has become necessary to define (according to the Legendarium, if possible) the following terms:

evil

pure evil

source

uttermost source

and most importantly:

Eru

After all, if we have not given ourselves a sufficiently exacting understanding of what and who Eru is, all discussion of said entity will be dashed upon the rocky shoals of misunderstanding.
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Old 07-13-2005, 01:00 AM   #63
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Evil - self infested with pride, arrogant, putting its own self/the good of its own self above good of other selves, in fact, above anything else, and ready to pursue such good at the expense of good of other selves. Not necessarily 'irredeemable' - that is, unable of selfless action at a moment. In short - self in worship of its own self, harming other selfs deliberately. Not independently arisen, but parasite on the body of Good, as to be evil means to desire some good, or good in general but wrongfully. (I.e power and well-being are things good, and to pursue the power and well-being is not bad in itself, but to seek them at the expense of others is bad)

Pure evil (sense 1) - self as described above which is already unable to change the mode of its perception, i.e. worshipping its own self and nothing else at all times, harming other selfs and finding delight in the process at all times. (possible)

Pure evil (sense 2) - such a self creating its own existence independently (impossible - existence as such is a good thing, so by the mere fact of existences such an Evil denies its Evilness - i.e. - if evil is opposite of good, and existence is good, than to be 'pure' - i.e. equal and opposite of good in all things, such an evil can not exist - it must 'non-exist', i.e. - exist not.)

Source - primal cause of some existence, some chain of events or mode of being, having no previous cause of its own in relation to the chain of events (though may be an effect of some other chain of events - i.e as each wave is a cause of the following and the effect of the preceding, but finds its source not in some 'first wave', but in the wind and gravity of the moon)

Uttermost source - primal cause of everything, having no cause of its own in relation to everything

Eru - Active ('and he made') Intelligent ('offspring of his thought'), Omniscient and Omnipotent ('no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me') Benevolent ('in all His designs the issue must be for His Children's joy') Free ('elves held that Eru was free at all times') Uttermost Source ('In the beginnig was') of Everything.

Also, not the One to withdraw Himself from the creation once it is created but actively guiding its way through ('He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves'), but grunting freedom to His creatures as well ('discover all the secret thoughts of thy mind') but able to work that freedom into the integrity of the design of the whole perfectly ('and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory')
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Old 07-13-2005, 03:42 AM   #64
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Thank you very much, Heren Istarion. Well thought out. I appreciate the two senses of "pure evil". That was one of the more difficult shoals I had been concerned about. Sense Two is dualism, and has no place in Tolkien's Legendarium. I'm glad that's cleared up. So Sense One is Pure Evil within the context of the Legendarium. But you didn't really distinguish between Evil and Pure Evil-sense one. That's another shoal.

As for Eru, I think you've set an excellent basis on which to consider Iarwain's question. Will give more thought to this.
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Old 07-13-2005, 04:18 AM   #65
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Thanks, lmp

Quote:
But you didn't really distinguish between Evil and Pure Evil-sense one
Redeemable evil - evil
Irredeemable evil - 'pure' evil (where sense 2 is concerned, let pure stand in quotation marks)

I.e - Gollum is evil up to a point - there is a chance of him turning around, and that is what Frodo is trying - to actually redeem him. After Sam's rebuke, Gollum goes over to 'pure' evil state - there is no chance of his coming back. Mark the sign of the transfer a little before - Gollum the Great, Lord Smeagol etc he starts to call himself, though there are yet signs the transfer is not total - he wishes for fish in between. In the beginning he is after knowledge - he wishes to learn 'secrets under the mountains' at the early stage of being in possession of the ring.

Sauron likewise - by the end of First Age he's evil, but able to repent. Mark the sign of the transfer to 'pure' evil - self proclaim of being the god in Numenor and open self-worship

Roughly - evil is when self pursues some good but does so in crooked way. (Saruman - order and knowledge he's after are good, but the way he seeks them is bad. But pure evil seeks nothing that is good, but only worships its own self - once he switches from order as the final goal to the Saruman the Lord as the final goal, here is transition)

Mark how 'do not judge' principle is woven into the story - Gandalf does not give up trying to bring Saruman back. He is not trying to make Sauron repent not only because it is obvious Sauron is beond recall, but also as Sauron is the mentally stronger, and essey is more likely to pull Gandalf to the 'dark side' rather (personally, I sometimes wonder if Tolkien could write in Gandalf/Sauron stand-up by Palantir with Gandalf trying to make Sauron repent)

That's why the most 'purely' evil beings are orks - there was not a state from where they 'slipped' into evil ways, but they were so originally (at least, most of them, leaving aside elven theory and inbreeding of men). Self worship here is expressed in their urge to indulge they every wish. (hungry - bite at the one nearest, feel like tearing something apart - tear whatever you find 'tearable' etc)

Did I just repeat myself? Well, I suppose yes, but with samples this time

Here, I've found a good illustration:

Quote:
In all the deeds of Melkor the Morgoth upon Arda, in his vast works and in the deceits of his cunning, Sauron had a part, and was only less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself. But in after years he rose like a shadow of Morgoth and a ghost of his malice, and walked behind him on the same ruinous path down into the Void.
The 'walking to the Void' starts as Sauron turns to self-service
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Old 07-13-2005, 02:00 PM   #66
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Pipe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iarwain (modified)

The Question: What does Eru mean when he says to Melkor "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite."
Looks to be a very interesting discussion. I just realised what I've been missing in my time away from the 'Downs. (yes, H-I, LMP, and Iarwain, I'm an oldster like you, just back under a different name. Eruhen I was in my youth in the Barrows which are forgotten. )

Regardless, Iarwain's posed a stimulating topic and I concur with LMP: while H-I laid a very good groundwork for a discussion, I'm going to need some time to think about this. It's getting too late in the day for me to worry about such things, but don't worry, I'll be back tomorrow with a post contemplating Eru, evil, sources, and their relationship within the Legendarium. I'll try my best to keep it limited solely to the Legendarium, but I can't make any promises that the primary world won't creep in.

Peace,
-LR.

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Old 07-15-2005, 02:28 AM   #67
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It is tomorrow
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Old 07-15-2005, 10:24 AM   #68
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And I only have internet access at work. Give a guy a break, H-I!

I'll try and get one typed up this afternoon, but no promises!

-LR.
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Old 07-15-2005, 02:09 PM   #69
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Didn't manage to write one this afternoon, folks. I'll try to get one done this weekend, though.


-LR.
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Old 07-21-2005, 02:10 PM   #70
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Pipe An Answer: Part I

And here's the promised post.

The Question: What does Eru mean when he says to Melkor "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite"?

The Answer: It's simple, really. Since Eru made all things from his thought, especially the Ainur themselves, anything the Ainur or anything else created does has its ultimate source in him, since he gave them the powers and very existence which permitted them to do whatever it was that they did.

-LR































No, that's not all of my answer. I'm just being a jackass (something I'm very good at ).

I had promised to use H-I's definitions of evil, pure evil, source, uttermost source, and Eru in this answer. His definitions of evil and pure evil seem especially true, particularly in a monotheistic system, which Eä most certainly is. In addition, Iarwain's hypothesis about what Eru is saying:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iarwain
If he is saying that all creation is a part of him and that nothing can be done outside his will, then we have a Middle-Earth with a destiny. If he is saying that there is no pure evil and that evil actions will ultimately (and unintentionally) bear good fruit, then we have a fascinating world to discuss.
serves as very fertile ground for a discussion of Eä's destiny and the places of free will and (dare I say it?) predestination in it. I'm going to address Iarwain's two hypotheses in order.

First, this one:

Quote:
If he is saying that all creation is a part of him and that nothing can be done outside his will, then we have a Middle-Earth with a destiny.
For all intents and purposes, I agree with this statement. However, it's time to flesh out my logic for agreeing with it (as well as a caveat or two). First, I would hesitate to say that Eä, the Timeless Halls, and their inhabitants are part of Eru. I definitely think that he has control of them (as exhibited most dramatically by the Downfall of Númenor and the Bending of Arda), but that they are seperate from him. The Ainulindalë speaks of his 'making first' the Ainur, how they 'each comprehended only that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he came', and how, after the Music ended, 'he went forth from the fair regions that he had made for the Ainur'. None of this seems to speak of his creations being a part of him. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding Iarwain when he speaks of this, but it seems that he is positing a type of pantheism? Or am I misreading this when he's actually describing a type of panentheism? Speaking of which, what does anyone think about the possibility of Eru's omnipresence? I'm not sure if it's mentioned anywhere in the Legendarium.

I certainly agree that nothing can be done outside of Eru's will, however, this also needs a modifier. It is important to note that he seems to exist outside of time; indeed, it seems that Time is a part of Eä, since the places where the Ainur dwell are called "The Timeless Halls". If that's so, then Eru's will does not necessitate an immutable destiny for his creation. It is extremely probable that though the Music contained the plan and destiny of creation, it nevertheless allowed for personal choice by Ainur and Eruhini which shape the very course of Endor. The fact is that if Eru is outside of time and upholds his creation and illuminates it with the Secret Fire, then he can shape his creation's destiny at all times in response to the actions and requests of his creatures (assuming he can hear the requests of the Eruhini). To make a reference to the primary world (damn! I was trying to avoid these!), Lewis makes the point in his book Miracles that God can and does shape all of creation back to the beginning and forward to the end in response to prayers.

I'm going to have to wait till later on to discuss the second point and the actual statement by Eru, but this should suffice to serve as good discussion material. I'm certainly open to criticism about this and I hope that this will waken this thread up just a little.

Later, fellow deadites.

-LR.
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