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Old 02-20-2005, 03:46 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Palantir-Green LotR -- Book 3 - Chapter 11 - The Palantír

This chapter closes Book 3 and ends the telling of this strand of the story. We leave Isengard with the Riders and Fellowship, and as the title suggests, the most important part is centered on Pippin, Gandalf and the Palantír.

What sparks Pippin’s restlessness? Is the stone itself working on him, is it just his inquisitive nature, or which other factors could be at the root of his wish to look into the stone? Did Saruman’s voice have an effect on him? Why Pippin and not Merry? This is one of the chapters that shows the difference between the two hobbits who have been together up till now and are perhaps difficult to discern from one another unless one reads carefully. Would Merry have reacted differently? Aragorn warns him against thinking so later in the chapter, but he does appear more cautious.

Though Pippin did wrong in taking the Palantír and looking into it, we find that good came of it; it saved Gandalf from temptation. There was no real harm done, and it seems to have had no further repercussions later on – or did it? Was this an experience that was important to Pippin’s maturing process?

We find out that Aragorn has a right to the Palantír, and Gandalf acknowledges his kingship in giving it to him.

The rather leisurely pace of events is quickened by the appearance of the flying Nazgűl, giving the story a sense of urgency just before it is paused.

It’s been awhile since there was poetry in a chapter; it doesn’t seem compatible with battles and action. We do have a few lines quoted by Gandalf in connection with the Palantír. Though they are brief, I find them very compelling.

It is chilling to hear Gandalf say, “There is nothing that Sauron cannot turn to evil uses.” The Palantíri were great and wonderful artefacts or devices, made by the Elves – is there a definite statement about their originating from Fëanor in one of the other works, Sil or UT? Innate power/authority/right (of ownership?) is vital to the ability to use them at any rate, as Gandalf says: “Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.”

One of my very favorite quotes comes from this chapter; it was my first signature way back in my early days on this forum:
Quote:
‘Mercy!’ cried Gandalf. ‘If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?’
‘The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and of the Sundering Seas,’ laughed Pippin. ‘Of course! What less? But I am not in a hurry tonight…’
Doesn’t that sound like a Tolkien geek nowadays?!

The close of the chapter is wonderfully evocative:
Quote:
…Pippin had a strange feeling: he and Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.
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'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
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Old 02-21-2005, 11:48 AM   #2
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The Seeing Stones

Several weeks ago we completed a Shire rpg dealing with the recovery of two of the lost Palantiri. While the story was fictional, it was based on historical data, especially that of UT. Here is the beginning of the prologue.

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The palantiri, or Seeing Stones, were fashioned by the Noldor, probably by Feanor. The Elves presented seven of these to Amandil as leader of the Faithful in the Second Age. The palantíri were crystal globes of power, black in color, that a person of strong will could use to communicate thoughts with someone using a similar stone or to see things from anywhere in the past or present. In the hands of a good ruler, the Stones were important tools for communication, but they were also capable of abuse. The evil ruler with a strong will could use the Stones for spying and domination. Sauron, for instance, projected images of despair in the Anor-stone to manipulate and destroy Denethor’s mind. There is even some indication that using the Stones, like the Ring itself, could be addictive to its owner, especially if misused.
Here is the link for the rest of it.

The Seeing Stones: Prologue

I think you've got to have some understanding of what the Stones were to be able to understand and interpret Pippin's response.
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Old 02-21-2005, 12:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
What sparks Pippin’s restlessness? Is the stone itself working on him, is it just his inquisitive nature, or which other factors could be at the root of his wish to look into the stone? Did Saruman’s voice have an effect on him? Why Pippin and not Merry? ........ Though Pippin did wrong in taking the Palantír and looking into it, we find that good came of it; it saved Gandalf from temptation. There was no real harm done, and it seems to have had no further repercussions later on – or did it?
These comments, and some similar ones in the last chapter have got me thinking. Was Pippin DESTINED to look into the Palantír?

Let's ignore for a moment the issues pertaining to freewill, and look at the other side of the coin.

First of all, it proved extremely providential that it was Pippin that looked into the Palantír. By doing so, he saved Gandalf from a contest with Sauron, one that Gandalf was anxious not to have. In doing so he provided Gandalf with valuable information concerning Saruman's ties to Mordor, before only guessed at. And he initiated some valuable misinformation, directed at the Eye.

Who knows what sort of things may have gone wrong if Gandalf had looked into the Palantír?

Then there's Pippin's extreme attraction to the Palantír. Is this normal? No one else seems to be affected by it in such an irrational way. True, Pippin handled it, but that was it. At least in the case of Denethor he used it many times. And neither Denethor nor Saruman seem to have become ADDICTED to it, although they both came to dominated by it. Or did they? Technically, it was Sauron using the Palantir that dominated them.

So could this attraction of Pippin's be a form of divine intervention? Akin to Frodo's being "meant to carry the Ring"? Of course, this skirts about the issue of free will. One could argue, of course, that Pippin wasn't FORCED to use the Palantír, but that he chose to, influenced of course by divine influence.

Which then begs another question be asked: would the divine intervene through an illegal means? Because Pippin had no right to use the Palantír. The Stone belonged to the King of Gondor (Aragorn), and those designated to act in his stead. Whatever else Denethor may have done wrong, his position as Steward gave him the authority to use the Stone, if not the wisdom not to. Pippin had no such right.

Anyway, those are the questions that I thought up.
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Old 02-21-2005, 01:36 PM   #4
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First thoughts:

Quote:
Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.
Quote:
"But I should like to know--' Pippin began.

'Mercy!" cried Gandalf. "If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?"

"The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and of the Sundering Seas," laughed Pippin. 'Of course! What less?”
Perhaps these quotes sum up the whole of this chapter. The Palantiri are dangerous things because they were the products of greater minds. Simply, Saruman was not smart enough - he didn’t understand what he was playing with:

Quote:
"Then it was not made, not made'--Pippin hesitated--'by the Enemy?" 'No," said Gandalf. 'Nor by Saruman. It is beyond his art, and beyond Sauron's too. The palantiri come from beyond Westernesse, from Eldamar. The Noldor made them. Feanor himself, maybe, wrought them, in days so long ago that the time cannot be measured in years. But there is nothing that Sauron cannot turn to evil uses. Alas for Saruman! It was his downfall, as I now perceive.
And neither did Denethor (or Pippin).

On the surface it would seem that Saruman’s & Denethor’s reasons are different from Pippin’s. Yet all three were seeking knowledge. Pippin isn’t driven by a desire to know the mind of Sauron, or to defend his people against the enemy’s onslaught, certainly, but he is seeking to increase his knowledge of the world. We’re given a very clear insight into Pipin’s character here - he’s driven by curiosity above all things. He wants to know how things work, where they came from, their names & their nature. Then how is he different from Saruman? Well principally, he doesn’t seek that knowledge for reasons of power or self aggrandisement. He simply wants to know & understand the world he lives in. Saruman wants to control the world. I think this is summed up in their approach to the Palantir itself. Pippin simply wants to know what it is. Saruman wants to use it. For Saruman it is a means to an end, for Pippin it is an end in itself.

So much for motives; the consequence of using the Palantir seems to be the same in each case. Saruman, Denethor & Pippin look into the stone & sooner or later (or instantly) they are caught by Sauron. But here again there is a difference. Saruman & Denethor are caught & held, Pippin is caught & breaks free - with Gandalf’s aid & this is significant I think, because Gandalf offers that same aid to both Saruman & Denethor, but they reject it. I wonder if this has to do with the three’s motives for looking into it in the first place. Saruman & Denethor use ‘their’ Palantirs in an attempt to make themselves more powerful, they are driven by egotism - Denethor may wish Minas Tirith to be saved, but he wants to be the one to do it. Pippin, on the other hand, is driven only by an insatiable curiosity about the world he lives in. Saruman & Denethor would have to humble themselves & admit they were less strong, less wise, than they believed themsleves to be, Pippin only has to admit he was a bit stupid...
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Old 02-21-2005, 02:05 PM   #5
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I think that this incident is one of those wonderful moments where something essential to the plot is nevertheless completely in character for the person who does it. I think in the circumstances it was inevitable that Pippin would want to have a look, also that he was much more vulnerable to this temptation than Merry.

Pippin's style is to do first and think later if necessary, he chucks stones down wells just because there is a stone and a well and he is curious .. . This does not always casue harm - it is the same part of his nature that guides him to leave the traces that Aragorn will find.

Although in many ways they are a "pair" , Merry is more of a thinker, he does not rush in so much. He was the mastermind of the conspiracy, he thought to research their journey in Rivendell whereas Pippin clearly assumed there would always be someone to take care of him. For so much of the time he has been almost "going along for the ride", this is a crucial point for him, he has to grow up and separate from the older Merry who has been in a bit of an "older brother " role. When they meet again, it wil be Pippin who is in the protecting role.

This is also one of those interesting points when a "wrong" action is crucial.
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Old 02-21-2005, 02:16 PM   #6
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Boots To boldly look at something completely different

Kudos once again to Estelyn for providing an excellent introduction to our discussion. The Princess is tenacious as well!

That is a very timely link, Regin Hardhammer. It shows how role plays can provide interpretations of the books and not simply be fanciful fan recreations of Middle earth. (not meaning to raise any ire with that statement)

I like Formendacil's way of considering Pippin's peek into the Palantir. It is a fortuitous fall of sorts, rather a small kind of eucatastrophe, is it not, that out of Pip's error, good happens.

Yet I have some slightly different questions--questions which no doubt will raise some hackles. It certainly makes sense to conclude Book III with a chapter which focuses upon the hobbits, because that provides a link to the other strand of the story, which has been held in abeyance while we followed this part of the Fellowship. Did we ever discuss why Tolkien did not twine his two narrative threads? What did he gain by devoting Book III to the Aragorn line and Book IV to the Frodo line?

For that matter, what is the effect of bringing in another 'magical' elven tool halfway through the story? Is it a way to explain Saruman's complex behaviour and a way to handle Denethor, whose presence, like that of his heir, would be a great complication to Aragorn's ascension to the Throne of Gondor? Is it more a plot device than an essential aspect of the story, the way the Ring is essential?

On the other hand, Book I ends with Frodo's succumbing to the Ring and wounding by the Morgul blade. Book II ends with Boromir's temptation by the Ring. Here, Book III ends with Pippin's temptation with the Palantir. Book IV has Sam making an important choice. I suppose it is fitting that each section concludes with a reminder of how serious and powerful is the evil which the Fellowship faces.

Well, before I raise any more hackles, perhaps I should close and leave other items for others to bring up.

EDIT: cross posting with davem and Mithalwen
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Old 02-21-2005, 02:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mithalwen
Pippin's style is to do first and think later if necessary, he chucks stones down wells just because there is a stone and a well and he is curious .. . This does not always casue harm - it is the same part of his nature that guides him to leave the traces that Aragorn will find.
Pippin does remind me of Perceval in the Grail Quest. He is the innocent 'child' who acts before he thinks. Its almost as if he (have I said this before?) has a deep trust in the Universe, & that life is a 'game' to be enjoyed, so he doesn't have to worry too much & he can play happily. Even when he feels his life is over, in the battle before the Black Gates:

Quote:
Then Pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of Westernesse pierced through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his black blood came gushing out. He toppled forward and came crashing down like a falling rock, burying those beneath him. Blackness and stench and crushing pain came upon Pippin, and his mind fell away into a great darkness. 'So it ends as I guessed it would,' his thought said, even as it fluttered away; and it laughed a little within him ere it fled, almost gay it seemed to be casting off at last all doubt and care and fear. And then even as it winged away into forgetfulness it heard voices, and they seemed to be crying in some forgotten world far above: 'The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming!' For one moment more Pippin's thought hovered. 'Bilbo!' It said. 'But no! That came in his tale, long long ago. This is my tale, and it is ended now. Good-bye!' And his thought fled far away and his eyes saw no more.
He reminds me of no-one so much as the Fool on Tarot, stepping off the edge of a cliff without realising because he is distracted by a brightly coloured butterfly fluttering in front of him. He feels perfectly safe, no matter what happens to him because its all a jolly big adventure & nothing really unpleasant can happen to him after all.

But that said, he does a little growing up, becomes more serious, throughout the tale - yet he never grows up entirely. He never loses his childlike innocence. He grows up just enough to be useful to his fellow creatures, rather than remaining a nuisance who needs looking after & who keeps getting in the way.

Perhaps he was 'chosen' - by 'fate' or Eru - to look into the Palantir, but if that is the case it must be because he was the one who would take the least hurt in doing so. Pippin was the one who could be trusted to come face to face with Sauron & come away, if not unchanged by the experience, then certainly with the capacity to smile again.
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Old 02-21-2005, 02:52 PM   #8
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I find it interesting (and a little spooky ) that you quote that passage since, prompted by Bethberry, I took a look at the other "book" endings - and of course that is one. Pippin again...... It occurs to me that while Frodo is officially Bilbo's heir financially and a s ringbearer, Pippin is Bilbo's heir in temperament - Pippin is much more like the Bilbo of the Hobbit where his "Tookish element" is in the fore. Both are caught up in journeys of which they do not fully appreciate the significance, both are impulsive, observant & loyal to their friends. Bilbo who could not resist the Arkenstone would not have resisted the Palantir either....
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Old 02-21-2005, 03:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithalwen
Pippin is much more like the Bilbo of the Hobbit where his "Tookish element" is in the fore. Both are caught up in journeys of which they do not fully appreciate the significance, both are impulsive, observant & loyal to their friends. Bilbo who could not resist the Arkenstone would not have resisted the Palantir either....
That makes me think of the way the Grail legends developed. Originally it was Perceval (or Peredur) who achieved the Quest. Later he was replaced by the more saintly Galahad & turned into a kind of 'also-ran'. Yet he still remained in the later version of the story, hovering around.

I have to agree - Bilbo's spirit runs through LotR, carried by Pippin - they both signal the eucatastrophe of the Eagle's appearance in the same words.

Both Bilbo & Pippin seem to have run off on adventure in the same unprepared way - psychologically at least. Both were chasing butterflies. Now I think about it, I wonder if Pippin is as much of a link between the two books as the Ring. Pippin is Bilbo off on another adventure. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd forgot his pocket handkerchief too, & had to cadge one off Merry (who probably had a stack of neatly ironed ones in the bottom of his pack )
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Old 02-21-2005, 03:37 PM   #10
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Since reading of osanwe I have often thought that there could be a link between thought transference and the palantiri.

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The palantiri come from beyond Westernesse, from Eldamar. The Noldor made them. Feanor himself, maybe, wrought them, in days so long ago that the time cannot be measured in years
They have allegedly been made by the most infamous craftsperson in Arda, a long time before the Rings of power, and by one of those who would have known of osanwe, and known the uses of it. Whether the palantiri themselves were made to aid osanwe or simply to record memories is debatable, but they certainly were capable of both these things. Then they were given to Men, and Men who would have known about and no doubt had some skill in osanwe themselves.

The evidence that they were used for osanwe is stated by Gandalf and earlier, by Pippin:

Quote:
"To see far off, and to converse in thought with one another,"
Quote:
Then he came. He did not speak so that I could hear words. He just looked, and I understood.
Pippin also seems to have been trapped by the use of osanwe, something the Hobbit is unaware of, and he certainly would not know of unwill, let alone how to exercise it, so it is indeed good fortune that he does not reveal more than he ought.

Osanwe does involve conversing in thought, and it is a skill which all sentient beings are capable of, if they are not necessarily aware of. And the palantiri possibly showed more than mere osanwe could allow, as they were also visual, and they appear to have stored memories. One factor in osanwe is that deception can come into play, and unwill, the closing of one mind to another. The palantiri could have solved some of these problems, a benefit to the user with good intentions no doubt, but also ultimately a failing, as one user with bad intentions could spoil the effective working of the other stones. Which is what happened when Sauron managed to get a palantir.

After being saved from the drowning of Numenor, they appear to have been sited with some kind of 'network' in mind:

Quote:
Each palantir replied to each, but all those in Gondor were ever open to the view of Osgiliath.
This has then been lost to time. Perhaps the 'network' ceased to be safe to use once some stones had gone missing, and this is why the remaining stones were then kept secret. From what Gandalf says in this chapter, they were certainly not to be used lightly in any case, let alone when some had gone missing. It seems that the 'wise' knew and understood the potential failings of the stones.

Quote:
But alone it could do nothing but see small images of things far off and days remote. Very useful, no doubt, that was to Saruman; yet it seems that he was not content. Further and further abroad he gazed, until he cast his gaze upon Barad-dur. Then he was caught!
Quote:
'Easy it is now to guess how quickly the roving eye of Saruman was trapped and held; and how ever since he has been persuaded from afar, and daunted when persuasion would not serve. The biter bit, the hawk under the eagle's foot, the spider in a steel web! How long, I wonder, has he been constrained to come often to his glass for inspection and instruction, and the Orthanc-stone so bent towards Barad-dur that, if any save a will of adamant now looks into it, it will bear his mind and sight swiftly thither? And how it draws one to itself! Have I not felt it? Even now my heart desires to test my will upon it, to see if I could not wrench it from him and turn it where I would--to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Feanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!" He sighed and fell silent.
Saruman must have looked into the stone to see the memories stored within, surely something which would tempt anyone, even Gandalf, who dreams of looking at the golden days of Valinor, maybe going back to times which he personally remembers. These would have been fair things to look at through the palantir, but Saruman sought more and so looked deeper. Perhaps, at first, Saruman sought only that which Pippin dreamed of:

Quote:
"The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and of the Sundering Seas,"
Knowledge, a noble enough aim, surely. But knowledge can indeed be dangerous, as proven by Saruman, who sought to forge his own path within Arda, who sought to break the Light. Perhaps in all innocence, Saruman sought deeper knowledge and opened his mind to what was within the palantir, and did not exercise unwill, and so Sauron caught him there. This has echoes of Faust.

How sad it is that these palantiri which contain so much potential, knowledge and memory cannot be used. Saruman must have used it at first through curiosity, and who would not think that one of the Istari could not safely look into a palantir? Even Aragorn who by right is entitled to use this stone, is urged not to use it hastily by Gandalf. Perhaps in the end it is Pippin's innocence which saves him, or does it teach him a valuable lesson in unwill?
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Old 02-21-2005, 04:14 PM   #11
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Eye random comments and observations

I love the exchange between Merry and Gandalf at the beginning of the chapter. That’s one of my favorite bits of dialogue in the entire book.

There is also this exchange between Gandalf and Aragorn-
Quote:
'But if I may counsel you in the use of your own, do not use it- yet! Be wary!'
'When have I been hasty or unwary, who have waited and prepared for so many long years?' said Aragorn.
'Never yet. Do not then stumble at the end of the road,' answered Gandalf.
This brings to my mind the incident with Anduril in Edoras. Aragorn's pride is showing through a bit. I got the feeling that Aragorn did not like being warned by Gandalf. If you are warned about something it means that you need to be influenced to make a wiser decision. In other words, you might not make the right decision yourself. It insinuates a lacking or shortcoming. Even if Aragorn's pride was not insulted by Gandalf, I imagine he was at least annoyed a bit, like a driver being pestered by a "back seat driver". There is little that I find more annoying than being warned about something when I don't feel I need the warning, like being warned of a sharp right turn on a road I've driven hundreds of times already.
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it would be disastrous for him to see me
Why did Gandalf say that (about Sauron spotting him)? Surely Sauron knew of him.
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It is beyond his art, and beyond Sauron's too.
Wow! Sauron and Saruman were both talented Maia of Aule, were they not? You'd think that if anyone had the skills to make things and understand such things, it would be Aule or his helpers.

But the stones are beyond their arts? That just blows my mind. It makes me believe that, despite the text saying "Feanor...maybe", they must have been made by Feanor himself.

And speaking of Feanor, I think it's interesting that Gandalf says if he mastered the stone he would... spy on Sauron? no... get instructions from Manwe? no... but that he would view "the unimaginable hand and mind of Feanor at their work". I just love that.

(as everyone who's been here for a while knows, Feanor is as dear to me as his father and Silmarils were to him )
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Old 02-21-2005, 04:49 PM   #12
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Why did Gandalf say that (about Sauron spotting him)? Surely Sauron knew of him.
Sauron did not know he was Gandalf the White.
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Old 02-21-2005, 05:03 PM   #13
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He didn't know that he was white? Well yeah, okay. So what? Why would Sauron knowing that Gandalf had bleached his robes be "disastrous"?

Disastrous is a very strong word. Why did Gandalf use it?
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Old 02-21-2005, 05:06 PM   #14
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Because Gandalf the White was a lot stronger and a lot different than Gandalf the Grey. He'd had his kid gloves taken off.

You don't want to take the element of surprise away from that. That's why Gandalf probing the palantir could have been disastrous.
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Old 02-21-2005, 05:25 PM   #15
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Because Gandalf the White was a lot stronger... You don't want to take the element of surprise away
Ahh... in other words, meeting Sauron through the palantir would likely give away not only Gandalf's identity but also his changed nature (the power-boost he was given when sent back by Eru).

I suppose this might encourage Sauron to change his strategy a bit? I suppose that wouldn't be a good thing, since who knows how Sauron would alter his plans. Perhaps he'd focus on capturing Gandalf and pull back from the war for a bit? He would figure that capturing Gandalf would give him information about his Ring and rid his opponents of a great weapon.

And concerning the surprise element- that does make sense. If you know that the other team has a Michael Jordan all-star type guy playing for them, you would alter your strategy in an attempt to limit the ways he can hurt you. If you don't know ahead of time then you get caught off guard and get burned a bit by him before you can adjust.

Thanks for the answer, Kuru. I needed someone to help my wheels start turning.
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Old 02-22-2005, 04:51 AM   #16
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I've always found the separation of Merry and Pippin to be one of the crucial elements for the develoment of the rest of the story. From a sense of strict practicality, it's a clever move by Tolkien to get them both to the heat of battle in Gondor, while if they had remained behind together I think they would have been much less likely to get to Minas Tirith at all.

Consider, Gandalf would not have borne Pippin South on Shadowfax had he not been in imminent danger; though he would, I think, have gone there straightaway had he (or Aragorn) looked into the Palantir instead of Pippin. With Gandalf gone alone and Aragorn gone on the Paths of the Dead, it is unlikely (read: almost impossible) that anyone else would have made a case for including the hobbits in the Rohirrim army. Eowyn as Dernhelm managed to get Merry there in secret, because between the two of them they only made the bulk of a normal rider; but she would not have been able to take them both, nor was there anyone else willing or able to hide Pippin. So the separation of the two was really one of the only feasible strategies for making sure both of the hobbits made it into the thick of things.

As far as the character development goes, I agree with all that has been said about the benefits of seeing the hobbits independently and the way this sharpens the distinctions between their personalities. I think the change of company actually has more effect on Merry's characterization than on Pippin's. Pippin's lovable-recklessness has been evident since before leaving the Shire (his antics in the bath spring immediately to mind), and I think Merry is rather overshadowed by him because he is a much less flamboyant character. When separated from Pippin we get to see what he is like with a little, just a little, responsibility removed from him. His real love for and loyalty to Theoden, our acquaintance with his interest in history (and old ties between men and hobbits), and his somewhat rash decision to go with Eowyn to the battle are things that likely would have been different if Pippin had been there. He almost certainly wouldn't have had to become so involved in Rohan's culture if he had had one of his own countrymen to associate with.

But I'm getting somewhat ahead of this chapter.

Thanks davem, for the references to "Peredur"/Perceval. I've always been somewhat curious about ties between the Grail legends and Tolkien, even though they are later than the "truly British" myths he wanted to draw from.

Sophia
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Old 02-22-2005, 10:00 AM   #17
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And speaking of Feanor, I think it's interesting that Gandalf says if he mastered the stone he would... spy on Sauron? no... get instructions from Manwe? no... but that he would view "the unimaginable hand and mind of Feanor at their work". I just love that.
That gets to me too. Feanor made the Silmarils which were so notorious, and in a certain way addictive; if he also made the palantiri then he must have possessed some craft which also made them addictive, or at least, made their properties addictive. It's interesting that Gandalf would reject the One Ring, as he does not desire power, but he seriously considers looking into the palantir as he does desire knowledge. Is this something put here by Tolkien to throw into relief the need to pity Saruman? He must have originally used the palantir to seek knowledge, the same thing Gandalf considers using it for.

I also like to think of what Gandalf says as some kind of yearning for Valinor, for a place he has seen with his own eyes. Maybe in his words we can see that the place is his home, and that we ought not to be sad when he returns there at the end of the story.
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Old 02-22-2005, 02:44 PM   #18
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I've been wondering about Mount Doom in the light of something said in The Palantiri in UT. There its stated that it was believed by the wise that he Palantiri were indestructible by any power that men had - unless they were thrown into the fires of Orodruin, when the heat might cause them to shatter.

So, like the Ring, the Palantiri could only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. My question is, what is it about Orodruin that makes it such a destructive force. It existed before the fall of Numenor certainly as Sauron chose Mordor as his seat of operations & began building Barad dur in 1000 (S.A.). Did he choose Mordor principally because of Orodruin?


Encyclopedia of Arda implies this is the case:

Quote:
When Sauron chose the land of Mordor as his dwelling-place in the Second Age, Orodruin was the reason for his choice. He 'used the fire that welled there from the heart of the earth in his sorceries and his forging' (from Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age); the most famous result of his forging, and in fact the only one we know of for sure, was the One Ring, made in about the year II 1600. So powerful was the sorcery used in the making of the Ring that it could not be unmade, except by casting it back into the same fire that had forged it.
But I'm not sure whether this is speculation as they don't give a source for this statement.

Is Orodruin an 'ordinary' volcano, or is it a source of much greater, even 'magical' power? EoA again:

Quote:
Orodruin was far more than a natural volcano - Sauron seems to have extended his own power into it, and was able to control its fires. It seems to have lain dormant when Sauron was away from Mordor, and sprung into life when his power grew.
This seems more in line with what Morgoth did - suffusing his malice into the stuff of Arda.

Its interesting to speculate on the significance of Tolkien's statement 'He used the fire that welled there from the heart of the earth in his sorceries and his forging' .

What kind of 'fire' is at the heart of Arda, & is it simply magma? Is it simply extreme heat that destroys the One & could potentially destroy the Palantiri, or is there more to it. Is it the 'Secret Fire'? And if it is, what does that tell us about Sauron's ability to make use of it?

I've also been wondering about whether there's any significance in the locations of the Palantiri - Orthanc-Minas Anor-Osgiliath-Minas Ithil are almost in an east-west line & so are Mithlond-Annuminas-Amon Sul. Is that coincidence, or is there some symbolic (or even some practical ) reason for it? Certainly orientation seems to play a part in the operation of the stones....
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Old 02-22-2005, 05:51 PM   #19
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What kind of 'fire' is at the heart of Arda, & is it simply magma? Is it simply extreme heat that destroys the One & could potentially destroy the Palantiri, or is there more to it. Is it the 'Secret Fire'? And if it is, what does that tell us about Sauron's ability to make use of it?
While I think the bulk of the discussion about Mount Doom should wait for its own chapter, I think it is safe to say now that it was not the Secret Fire. That is "with" Eru and we know that Eru does not physically appear in Ea.
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Old 02-23-2005, 08:16 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
While I think the bulk of the discussion about Mount Doom should wait for its own chapter, I think it is safe to say now that it was not the Secret Fire. That is "with" Eru and we know that Eru does not physically appear in Ea.
I wonder how 'safe' it is to say that?

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"Therefore Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World and it was called Eä." ('Valaquenta')
Quote:
He 'used the fire that welled there from the heart of the earth in his sorceries and his forging' ('Of the Rings of Power & the Third Age')
Assuming 'the heart of the world' & 'the heart of the earth' mean the same thing, then I think its entirely possible that the fires of Orodruin are more than just simple volcanic fires. They seem to have a greater power in them than extreme heat...
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Old 02-23-2005, 08:40 AM   #21
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I wonder how 'safe' it is to say that?
About as safe as this…

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there is no embodiment of the One, of God, who indeed remains remote, outside the World.

There is no “embodiment of the Creator anywhere in this story or mythology.
Letter 181

The One does not inhabit any part of Eä.
Letter 211
Any part of Eä would include inside it.

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Therefore Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World and it was called Eä.
Here we have a statement that can be interpreted metaphysically, where the above statements can only be interpreted physically.

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think its entirely possible that the fires of Orodruin are more than just simple volcanic fires.
I’m not sure about this. It was the only volcano in that region of Middle earth. That in and of itself is enough to make it a unique source of power. That Sauron harnessed and tampered with that power for his own use I have no doubt, but other than that I don’t see a need to make the fires of Mount Doom any more than just that.
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Old 02-23-2005, 09:51 AM   #22
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Kuruharan:

The quotes you give are surely important; but we also have:

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'They say,' answered Andreth: 'they say that the One will himself enter into Arda, and heal Men and all the Marring from the beginning to the end. This they say also, or they feign, is a rumour that has come down through years uncounted, even from the days of our undoing.'
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He is already in it, as well as outside,' said Finrod. 'But indeed the "in-dwelling" and the "out-living" are not in the same mode.'
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But they speak of Eru Himself entering into Arda, and that is a thing wholly different.
All from the "Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth" in HoMe X.

So either:

1. Andreth's story of the "Old Hope" is without basis in fact,
2. Tolkien changed his mind at some point, or
3. The statements in Letters are to be taken to refer only to the time of the action of the stories, and there is to be an incarnation of Eru in a later age.

But in any case this has little to do with the question of the Secret Fire and less to do with Mount Doom.

But I think you are right here:

Quote:
Quote:
Therefore Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World and it was called Eä.


Here we have a statement that can be interpreted metaphysically, where the above statements can only be interpreted physically.
I have always thought that the Secret Fire/Flame Imperishable was the part of Eru that embodies creativity (i.e. not just the ability to think of things but the power to make, to generate something out of nothing). Cf. Ainulindale:

Quote:
'Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will.'
Quote:
' . . . And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be'
I do not, then, see the Secret Fire as a great pool of magma beneath the earth's surface; rather, it seems to be the metaphysical power behind Arda's existence.

It also doesn't feel quite right to say that Sauron was harnessing, especially through such mundane means, the Secret Fire - that which Melkor could never find, and which Gandalf names in opposition to the flame of Udun.
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Old 02-23-2005, 10:18 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Aiwendil
It also doesn't feel quite right to say that Sauron was harnessing, especially through such mundane means, the Secret Fire - that which Melkor could never find, and which Gandalf names in opposition to the flame of Udun.
This is the hinge, I think.

As far as Eru and Arda-- in Tolkien and the great war scroll down and look for "In letter 192". There's a long discourse about a likely catholic interpretation of Tolkien's own statements regarding whether Eru was "in" Arda or not.
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Old 02-23-2005, 02:06 PM   #24
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And speaking of Feanor, I think it's interesting that Gandalf says if he mastered the stone he would... spy on Sauron? no... get instructions from Manwe? no... but that he would view "the unimaginable hand and mind of Feanor at their work". I just love that.
Yes the skills of Feanor have always interested me. It is natural for us to think of the Valar as "superior beings", but are they? Sure they have more brute power. And they were wiser and had more knowledge of the world. But Elves (and Men) are the children of Iluvatar and they have their own abilites, and it is possible for them to grow greater in certain skills than the Valar. Feanor is the prime example of this, the Silmarils were beyond the skill of any of the Valar including Melkor. The Noldor, under the instruction of Feanor, also made gems greater than the natural ones made by Aule.
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It is chilling to hear Gandalf say, “There is nothing that Sauron cannot turn to evil uses.”
Yes, and this is a very interesting statement about the nature of good and evil. Remember that the Ring can not be used for good, it can only do evil. Good things can be used for evil purposes but evil things cannot be used for good purposes.
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Old 02-23-2005, 03:18 PM   #25
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I accept that the statement about the Secret Fire in Valquenta is intended metaphysically, but I still can’t help wondering about the nature of the Fires of Orodruin. They clearly have the capacity to destroy objects of a magical or metaphysical nature. What is the exact nature of those fires. Are we dealing with the physical manifestation of the Secret Fire, in some kind of fea/hroa sense. We could almost think of the creation of Arda as being the prototype of something that reached its perfect expression in the Eruhini.

The Ring has its birth & death in those fires. It is born there & dies there. I’m reminded of the Ouroboros, the serpent with its tail inits mouth. It consumes itself & its ‘motto’ is ‘In my end is my beginning’. It is a circle, like the Ring itself. I’m also wondering about the Ring of Barahir in this context - the twin serpents upholding & consuming a crown of flowers.

We are told the One is drawn back to Sauron, its maker, but is it not also, or rather, drawn back to its place of origin? Is there not some kind of ‘pull’ back to the Fires of its birth? Does the Ring seek some kind of ‘consumation’?

Perhaps Sauron was making use of the spiritual aspect of those fires, so that, without truly realising it he had built into the ring a kind of ‘self-destruct’ mechanism. Does all magic in Middle earth have as its power source the Secret Fire - Eru implies that all the Music will be seen to have its origin in Him - even the themes of Melkor.

This is all specualtion, admittedly, but the Fires of Orodruin, with their source in the heart of the Earth, seem to be more than merely a source of intense heat. They do not merely destroy magical/metaphysical objects - they unmake them. Once it enters into the Fire the Ring is unmade. everything done with it is undone. Sauron loses his being, the Barad dur falls into ruin. It is as though once it ceases to be everything it caused also ceases to be.

The Ring enters the Fire & is unmade. If the Palantiri entered the Fire their fate would be the same - even though no other power in Middle earth could do that to any of those things.

The more I consider it the more of a problem I have with the Ring being destroyed by a merely physical force - a very hot fire. Perhaps the physical aspect of the Ring was destroyed by the physical aspect of the Fire & the ‘spiritual’ or metaphysical aspect by the Secret Fire which is its ‘Fea’.

Orodruin is a place of great significance in that it is the place where the single greatest object of evil comes into being & is brought to nothing. The Ring follows a circular path from the Fire to the Fire. Who or what is the ‘Lord of the Rings’? Sauron, or the One Ring itself - is it not the Ruling Ring - the One Ring to rule them all. In so many ways LotR is the story of the Ring, of its birth & death. If Sauron is its ‘father’ (in a symbolic sense) are not the Fires of Orodruin, arising out of the heart of the earth, its ‘mother’? Is the Ring itself the ‘anti-hero’ of LotR, like Milton’s Satan.

Does Sauron have an inkling of this? Does he really fear that one of his enemies would have the strength to cast the Ring into the flames, or does he really fear that his Ring might have its own motives & desires & be seeking the flames itself, for its own ends?

The Fires from the heart of the earth are the antithesis of all magic. they take it in, consume it, unmake it - whether Rings or Palantiri. That Fire has a power over magic, in fact, over all things that enter it. It consumes magic as Ungoliant consumes Light & vomits forth it’s opposite. It is a mystical place not merely a ‘volcano’. Yet, when its ‘child’ dies it too ‘dies’, blasting itself apart - is this merely a result of the destruction of the Ring or has the Ouroboros finally consumed itself, swallowed itself?

Consumatum est?
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Old 02-23-2005, 06:27 PM   #26
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Boots ...and Sauron held out the Ring and said, "Mount Doom, will you marry me?"

Quote:
Are we dealing with the physical manifestation of the Secret Fire, in some kind of fea/hroa sense.
For me, the quotes I cited above preclude this possibility. I don't believe that Eru was accessible in any manner (for Aiwendil: at least not yet).

Quote:
We are told the One is drawn back to Sauron, its maker, but is it not also, or rather, drawn back to its place of origin?
Well, I guess I never really thought of it like that...

Quote:
If Sauron is its ‘father’ (in a symbolic sense) are not the Fires of Orodruin, arising out of the heart of the earth, its ‘mother’?
So the Ring is like a wedding ring between Sauron and Mother Arda?

(I think I may hear Underhill laughing...)

Quote:
Does Sauron have an inkling of this? Does he really fear that one of his enemies would have the strength to cast the Ring into the flames, or does he really fear that his Ring might have its own motives & desires & be seeking the flames itself, for its own ends?
Uhhhmmmm...

Quote:
The more I consider it the more of a problem I have with the Ring being destroyed by a merely physical force
Back to something a little less radical...

I don't have a problem with the Ring being destroyed by physical force. It has to do with the way I view "magic" in Middle earth. I view it as being a built in part of the system, and it can be affected by other things in that system. Volcanoes are so incredibly hot that I find it credible that the heat alone could overcome the power of Sauron's spell and destroy the Ring. (Citation: Gandalf says that the door to the Chamber of Mazarbul still being breakable by strength even after he put a spell on it.)

However, I never doubted that Sauron had put his power into the volcano, which undoubtedly increased its potency.
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Old 02-23-2005, 09:14 PM   #27
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Orodruin was far more than a natural volcano - Sauron seems to have extended his own power into it, and was able to control its fires. It seems to have lain dormant when Sauron was away from Mordor, and sprung into life when his power grew.
If this is true, then Sauron definitely missed a chance to make himself a bit more difficult to kill. He should've told Mt Doom to cool off once he had forged the Ring. Duh. No super hot fires = a very safe Ring.

Just think about it. If the only way to unmake the Ring was in Mt Doom then what would Gandalf and company have done if Sauron "killed" Mt Doom?
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Old 02-24-2005, 02:43 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Quote:
Are we dealing with the physical manifestation of the Secret Fire, in some kind of fea/hroa sense.

For me, the quotes I cited above preclude this possibility. I don't believe that Eru was accessible in any manner (for Aiwendil: at least not yet).
Ok. because we've strayed into the metaphysics (if not the theology) of Middle earth, I'll throw out a few of my own speculations - for what they're worth...

The Secret Fire is not Eru Himself, it is the Middle-earth equivalent of the Holy Spirit. It procedes from Eru Illuvatar & burns at the heart of the created World. I see no problem with the idea that it is, in that sense, equivalent to the 'fea' of Arda.

What the Athrabeth refers to is Eru entering physically as well as spiritually into Arda, & becoming a full part of it. The Secret Fire is what animates all things in Arda & is, in essence, what constitutes the individual's fea - like the breath of God which He breathed into Adam.

Quote:
I don't have a problem with the Ring being destroyed by physical force. It has to do with the way I view "magic" in Middle earth. I view it as being a built in part of the system, and it can be affected by other things in that system. Volcanoes are so incredibly hot that I find it credible that the heat alone could overcome the power of Sauron's spell and destroy the Ring. (Citation: Gandalf says that the door to the Chamber of Mazarbul still being breakable by strength even after he put a spell on it.)
Indeed. The physical door could be destroyed by physical force. The physical aspect of the Ring - its 'hroa' - could be destroyed by the intense physical heat of the Fires. But how could the evil which it embodies - its 'fea' - be destroyed? On entering the Fire it is 'unmade' ie it is totally destroyed. The Ring has this 'dual' aspect - it exists as a physical object & as a locus of spiritual evil. The physical fires destroy the gold, the spiritual fires unmake the evil. I would also speculate that this would be why only those Fires could shatter (unmake) the Palantiri - also physical objects imbued with a 'magical/'spiritual' aspect.
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:40 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by the phantom
If this is true, then Sauron definitely missed a chance to make himself a bit more difficult to kill. He should've told Mt Doom to cool off once he had forged the Ring. Duh. No super hot fires = a very safe Ring.

Just think about it. If the only way to unmake the Ring was in Mt Doom then what would Gandalf and company have done if Sauron "killed" Mt Doom?
I think that's easily explained because Sauron never even considered that anyone would ever think of destroying the Ring. This is in itself emblematic of Sauron's nature, he was so self-assured that he believed the One Ring would never be destroyed, that nobody would be able to resist it and consider destroying it.

But getting back to the Palantiri and the Ring, why can they only be destroyed in Orodruin? Surely it is not a case of the heat itself? With a slew of smiths working in Middle Earth, coupled with Gandalf's own mastery of and fascination for fire, and the existence of gunpowder, a fire hot enough to destroy a Ring would surely be easy to create?

It must therefore be something else, not just the heat of the fissures, which makes it the only (known) place where this unmaking can happen. The concept that the Ring can be unmade here is easy enough to grasp, because it was also made here, but why should this be the one place where the Palantiri can be destroyed? They were not made there, so what's so special about Orodruin?

It could indeed be a place where something of the secret fire is manifest within Middle Earth, whether by intent or accident. It does not have to be Eru who has made this possible, if it was there all along, within the physical structure of Arda. Heresy! Maybe... but as we have seen, the White Light can be broken, other things are possible, even if they are not 'right', such as finding a way to 'tap into' something of the Secret Fire.
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Old 02-24-2005, 06:32 AM   #30
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Does anyone know how many Palantiri there were in total? Of course, there were seven brought to Middle Earth, but I would assume there were more left in Aman - the Elves surely would not have given all their Palantiri to Elendil. Would they have the range to communicate with each other across the Sea? Is that why Gandalf is so taken with the idea of using the Orthanc stone to look into the West? Perhaps he thought if he could establish a two way communication with the West it would aid in the struggle with Sauron.

Of course, it seems that the stones in M-e were aligned with each other as an aid to communication so maybe they were not in alignment with the ones in the West - perhaps the changing of the World affected them. Gandalf could certainly have looked 'back' & reviewed the history contained in the stone - in the essay in UT its stated they retained images of what had been viewed through them. I can't help wonder about this idea - they seem to be a combination of 'videophone' & VCR. I wonder what their memory capacity was! The implication seems to have been that the Orthanc stone was linked so strongly with Barad dur that it would take a great effort of will to break that link (UT again). Also we know what would be seen if anyone looked into the Minas Anor Stone after the death of Denethor. The implication seems to be that what could be seen was a matter of will - ie it required a very strong will to change a stone's orientation once it had been fixed through constant use - & that any intense 'emotional' outburst in a user could cause an event witnessed in a stone to be repeated ad infinitum.

Clearly this would make it increasingly difficult for Saruman to break his stone free of its link with Barad dur. One would assume that it became harder & harder to see anything else in the stone once the contact with Barad dur had happened. And Gandalf does say that the stone draws one to itself. This combination - being drawn to use it & being increasingly unable to use it to percieve anything but Sauron must be what lead to his downfall.

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How long, I wonder, has he been constrained to come often to his glass for inspection and instruction, and the Orthanc-stone so bent towards Barad-dur that, if any save a will of adamant now looks into it, it will bear his mind and sight swiftly thither? And how it draws one to itself! Have I not felt it? Even now my heart desires to test my will upon it, to see if I could not wrench it from him and turn it where I would--to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Feanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!" He sighed and fell silent.

So it seems that, like the Ring, the Stones have a kind adictive quality to them. Bearers of the Ring keep wishing to put it on & disappear, keepers of the Stones keep being drawn to look into them. Perhaps it is this very adictiveness which ultimately overwhelms the capacity for unwill.

Of course, Tolkien did speculate on the similarity between the Rings & the Palantiri - in the early drafts he is uncertain about both of them being in contact with Mordor & whether its a good idea to have them work in such a similar way. The Ring draws its bearer to Mordor physically, the Palantiri, once the link is made, draws its user to Mordor psychically. Its interesting that the one place both objects draw the individual to is the one place those objects can be destroyed.....
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Old 02-24-2005, 01:07 PM   #31
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The Secret Fire is not Eru Himself, it is the Middle-earth equivalent of the Holy Spirit. It procedes from Eru Illuvatar & burns at the heart of the created World. I see no problem with the idea that it is, in that sense, equivalent to the 'fea' of Arda.
Well, there really isn't a whole lot to say about this that would not get us waaaaay off the original subject.

However, I will say that I prefer my view because, among other reasons, it saves me from having to explain away the knotty (and unanswerable) question of how Sauron was able to harness and abuse something so intimately tied to Eru when Melkor had not been able to find it at all.

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But how could the evil which it embodies - its 'fea' - be destroyed? On entering the Fire it is 'unmade' ie it is totally destroyed. The Ring has this 'dual' aspect - it exists as a physical object & as a locus of spiritual evil. The physical fires destroy the gold, the spiritual fires unmake the evil.
When the evil of the Ring lost its physical house it was dissolved because it had no place to go. It could not return to Sauron because, while it was closely tied to him, it was not quite the same thing anymore. The evil in it had been bound to that form and it stood or fell (metaphorically speaking) with that form. Once the form was gone, so was all of its former power.

I am unclear as to why it is insufficient for the presence of Sauron's own power in Mount Doom to render this destruction possible.

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the Stones have a kind adictive quality to them...keepers of the Stones keep being drawn to look into them
This does seem to contradict Tolkien's statement that...

Quote:
Their use involved no peril, and no king or other person authorized to survey them would have hesitated to reveal the source of his knowledge of the deeds or opinions of distant rulers, if obtained through the Stones.
He also says that the Ruling Stewards did not use the Stones until Denethor II.

I think it is more the insidious influence of Sauron more than an inherent quality of the Stones themselves.
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Old 02-24-2005, 01:29 PM   #32
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This does seem to contradict Tolkien's statement that...

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Their use involved no peril, and no king or other person authorized to survey them would have hesitated to reveal the source of his knowledge of the deeds or opinions of distant rulers, if obtained through the Stones.
And that statement of Tolkien's seems to be contradicted by Gandalf's statement:

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And how it draws one to itself! Have I not felt it? Even now my heart desires to test my will upon it, to see if I could not wrench it from him and turn it where I would--to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Feanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!" He sighed and fell silent.
Gandalf is drawn to the Palantir not because of Sauron but in spite of him. He is drawn by the possibilities it offers. Again like the Ring it attracts & ultimately adicts by what it can offer.

In short, Tolkien did have a tendency to make contradictory statements - if we take them at face value. Of course, it could be that the statement about their use involving no peril was the theory, while Gandalf's own experience was the fact.

The more I think about them the more similar the Stones & the Ring seem.

Also, I begin to wonder how very different Sauron (mis)using the Secret Fire at the Heart of the Earth would be from Feanor (mis)using the Holy Light (if there's a difference between the two) of the Trees in his creation of the (highly 'addictive') Silmarils....

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Old 02-24-2005, 02:21 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by davem
Gandalf is drawn to the Palantir not because of Sauron but in spite of him. He is drawn by the possibilities it offers. Again like the Ring it attracts & ultimately adicts by what it can offer.
I think that this is true; Gandalf was thinking of the possibilities of the Palantir, and showing some of his longing for what ultimately is his home, Valinor. But it is almost a double edged statement, because while he might be yearning to look into the palantir through good motives, all too soon he too could be looking into it for selfish motives once Sauron had 'captured' him. And is the yearning to see Valinor and Feanor at work entirely unselfish? There is something dangerous in these stones, something inherently perilous. Could the answer lie in the fact that this stone does not belong to him? It is not his right to use it?

Looking at the quote Kuruharan uses:

Quote:
Their use involved no peril, and no king or other person authorized to survey them would have hesitated to reveal the source of his knowledge of the deeds or opinions of distant rulers, if obtained through the Stones.
This is also true, in that those allowed by right to use the stones ought to come to no danger. But they do come to danger. Perhaps it is that no stone is safe once one is lost, revealing them to be a fragile 'system', wide open to possibilities of corruption. If Feanor did make them, then like the Silmarils they have caused trouble. I wonder if all magical items in Middle Earth have this potential for misuse, if all of them are 'unstable' in some way, even the Mirror of Galadriel?
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Old 02-24-2005, 02:53 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Lalwende
But it is almost a double edged statement, because while he might be yearning to look into the palantir through good motives, all too soon he too could be looking into it for selfish motives once Sauron had 'captured' him. And is the yearning to see Valinor and Feanor at work entirely unselfish? There is something dangerous in these stones, something inherently perilous. Could the answer lie in the fact that this stone does not belong to him? It is not his right to use it?
Perhaps the danger with the Palantiri is the same as with the Ring - the individual is tempted to use it to do good, but if they do, as Shippey has pointed out, they soon start to 'cut corners', bend the rules, in order to achive that good. It quickly becomes a matter of the end justifying the means & they become more & more corrupted till, realising they can do anything, they do just whatever they want.

In the same way, as Sauron has demonstrated, the Palantiri also can be used to spy on others & dominate their wills. How much of a temptation would that prove to one in posession of a Stone? I think that in reading LotR we do form a very negative view of the Palantiri. We come very quickly to view them as evil - or at least as objects with great potential for corruption & as things best left alone.
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Old 02-24-2005, 04:22 PM   #35
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Also, I begin to wonder how very different Sauron (mis)using the Secret Fire at the Heart of the Earth would be from Feanor (mis)using the Holy Light (if there's a difference between the two) of the Trees in his creation of the (highly 'addictive') Silmarils.... (davem)
There does not seem like much of a difference to me -- in the end, everything goes back from whence it came, or "back to the earth" in a bigger scheme of things. The Ring melts back into Orodruin's fires, and the Silmarils find their places in the air, the water, and "the fires of the heart of the world" (the Sil). Makes me wonder if that fire-destined jewel was destroyed as well, since it seems that the "heart of the world" is the only thing that can unmake otherwise indestructible things.

The "addiction" of the Palantir is that while it reveals the truth, the user's interpretation of what he sees could very well be his downfall. Denethor and Saruman fall victim to the powers of the Stones, and even Gandalf is not immune. The first two become disillusioned -- would Gandalf have been as well? If he looked into the Stone for the sake of viewing the glory of Valinor, it's likely that he would have become distracted from the task at hand and wanted only to see more of that which he could not have at present. I'm reminded of the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter (apologies to those who dislike or disdain HP ).
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Old 02-24-2005, 04:58 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by davem
Also, I begin to wonder how very different Sauron (mis)using the Secret Fire at the Heart of the Earth would be from Feanor (mis)using the Holy Light (if there's a difference between the two) of the Trees in his creation of the (highly 'addictive') Silmarils....
IMO-- very different. The Silmarilli started out, and remained, works of art, not tools of domination. They were objects of beauty, sub-creative art. The fact that continents were sunk over them does not make them less beautiful and it does not make them evil.

The Ring, on the other hand, had no other purpose but evil from its creation.
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:11 PM   #37
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The Silmarilli started out, and remained, works of art, not tools of domination. They were objects of beauty, sub-creative art. The fact that continents were sunk over them does not make them less beautiful and it does not make them evil.

The Ring, on the other hand, had no other purpose but evil from its creation.
I didn't say the Silmarilli were evil. I said they were 'addictive' - or worse:they inspired desire in all who saw or heard of them, & their possessors (in most cases) were filled with obsessive thoughts of them to the extent that they were often lead to commit evil. So, even though they were not made with the intention of inspiring domination & evil action they often caused it...
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:17 PM   #38
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I don't think that the Orodruin had anything to do with the secret fire, Eru would not have allowed that. It was more than just a volcano, it was the hottest place on earth. The Ring was so indestructable partly because it had been made there.
Quote:
The Ring has this 'dual' aspect - it exists as a physical object & as a locus of spiritual evil. The physical fires destroy the gold, the spiritual fires unmake the evil.
The Ring did not have a spirit. It is a tool used for a specific purpose, powered by 'magical' energy, and given an AI-like consciousness. Thus there is no need for spiritual destruction and it makes perfect sense that it could be destroyed at Orodruin. As far as the Palantiri are concerned I think you are overthinking it. Mount Doom was the most destructive place in ME so if they could be destroyed anywhere it would be there and they were just not made to withstand that kind of punishment.

As for the 'addictiveness' of the stones I think that it was Sauron. Sauron took the stone originally because it allowed him to do something that he could not do before. It allowed him to see afar, this became his 'eye'. There was another benefit that he gained from the stones however, through the 'network' of the Palantiri each stone was connected to him. It is through this connection that the temptation comes (beyond the natural temptation of being able to spy on everyone of course).
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Old 02-24-2005, 06:09 PM   #39
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I don't recall ever reading anything that equated the light of the Trees with the Secret Fire.

I view the Trees as being a creation of the Valar, which they were able to hallow and fill with light by their own power.

I believe the Secret Fire belonged to Eru and Eru alone.

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Perhaps the danger with the Palantiri is the same as with the Ring
But I don't think this was always the case. I don't think the palantiri were always dangerous.

At least, we don't have a story about some vision-hooked royal functionary being dragged away from the palantir screaming, "Just one more peep show, that's all I ask!!"
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Old 02-25-2005, 12:44 AM   #40
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Secret Fireworks, or the Palantir Rolls Too Far...

Good evening, all! I have very much been enjoying the discussion of this chapter, one of my favorites! As an interlude, may I offer these tidbits:
My Favorite Pippin and the Palantir Artwork
A whole page of artwork from Book 3, Chapter 11--The Palantir

On a point made above:
Quote:
davem: I didn't say the Silmarilli were evil. I said they were 'addictive' - or worse:they inspired desire in all who saw or heard of them, & their possessors (in most cases) were filled with obsessive thoughts of them to the extent that they were often lead to commit evil. So, even though they were not made with the intention of inspiring domination & evil action they often caused it...
I must say that this seems to be the backwards way around view to me. The Silmarilli were superior works of art, but the cause of all the trouble is Morgoth and the particular characteristics of Fëanor, as amplified through the tendencies and channelling of the energies of the Noldor as a group. The power is in the desire of the thing, not native in the thing itself. Beren thought it a trifle next to his Tinuviel, did he not?

Another question on the addictive nature of objects--would Faramir have used the Palantir if he were in the position that Denethor was in? I think rather it is Denethor's nature that inclined him to use the Seeing Stone, and his worldliness and lore was deep, thus he was prey to all sorts of snares set by Sauron. He was strong but unbalanced. Pippin, on the other hand, being an innocent, could not be tempted by these things and did not fall into the traps of Sauron, instead unconsciously and inadvertently tricking him into thinking as evil will, of "expedience," and thus Sauron is hoist upon his own petard and misreads the situation. You've got to love Pippin!

Cheers!
Lyta
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