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Old 02-25-2005, 03:52 AM   #41
davem
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Originally Posted by Neithan
The Ring did not have a spirit.
No. I said it was a 'locus' of spiritual evil. I was (probably not clearly enough) drawing an analogy between the Ring as a phyisical object with a 'spiritual/metaphysical' aspect & an Elf/Human made up of fea/hroa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
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've always understood the Light (as opposed to light) to be the Secret Fire, & so Saruman's breaking of it is a blasphemous rather than a 'scientific' act. The Light of the Trees is called 'Holy' which I think relates it to Eru rather than the Valar. All Holiness has its origin in Eru not in any of His subordinates. Besides, if they could produce the Light themselves why not just conjure up some more. The point is that the Light is limited & grows less & less from the Lamps to the Trees to the Sun & Moon. That implies that the Valar didn't have an endless supply - they couldn't just 'manufacture' it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyta
The power is in the desire of the thing, not native in the thing itself.
But the Jewels are not morally neutral. They are 'Holy'. They exert a 'pull'. If the Light they contain has its origin in Eru then that attraction would be intense & quite possibly overwhelming - as proved so often to be the case....

Perhaps Faramir would have used the Palantir. Certainly I don't believe he would ever have used the Ring - because he knew that was Evil. He may have used a Palantir on the other hand - if he hadn't known what had happened to Saruman.

Too rushed..

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Old 02-25-2005, 08:50 AM   #42
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I've always understood the Light (as opposed to light) to be the Secret Fire, & so Saruman's breaking of it is a blasphemous rather than a 'scientific' act.
To continue my path of providing a counterpoint to everything, I think that light is its own order of creation (for lack of a better way of explaining it). I think that it is something that would be strongly attached to the good and not especially malleable to evil. However, it remains a created thing below Eru. However, this is obviously an opinion that I cannot prove.

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All Holiness has its origin in Eru not in any of His subordinates.
Well, I agree with this to a certain extent. (It would be hard to flatly disagree with this statement and keep any mooring in the text). However...

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The Light of the Trees is called 'Holy' which I think relates it to Eru rather than the Valar.
I think that the Valar have been gifted by Eru for the task that they accepted. As part of this they have certain sanctifying power within the confines of Ea. This they can do with the power they have been given inside creation. So while the Valar can render things holy, this does not mean that the object receives a part of the Secret Fire.

Quote:
Besides, if they could produce the Light themselves why not just conjure up some more...The point is that the Light is limited & grows less & less from the Lamps to the Trees to the Sun & Moon. That implies that the Valar didn't have an endless supply - they couldn't just 'manufacture' it.
This is a very good point.

Perhaps the Valar were given a finite supply of power in order to bring about all the Music and then their task is done. This could mean that it is not given to them to do the same thing twice. It would also explain how the Valar grow weary of the world.
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Old 02-25-2005, 09:50 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
I think that light is its own order of creation (for lack of a better way of explaining it). I think that it is something that would be strongly attached to the good and not especially malleable to evil. However, it remains a created thing below Eru. However, this is obviously an opinion that I cannot prove.
I would consider the Light to be the embodiment or manifestation of Eru, much as in Christianity the theological line is that "I am the way and the Light". Arda does not have Christianity, but the similarities in using Light as a theological symbol are too alike to brush aside. And there is textual evidence when Gandalf says he is "A servant of the Secret Fire". Why would he be a servant of anything less than Eru?

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the Valar being able to render things holy. For Eru to be able to do this would seem right, but to enable a being which can take physical form to do this seems to pose too many potential problems. Would it mean, conversely, that Morgoth could render something divine? Yes, he does make Orcs and other evil or corrupt creatures, but are they the embodiment of evil much as the Two Trees might the embodiment of good? I'm more comfortable with the idea that there is only one source of divinity and that is Eru.

Of course, it is possible that the theological structure is different. After all, with a pantheon of lesser gods, and evidence that the Elves revered (worshipped?) other figures than Eru, it could have been a more pantheistic world. Yet this still does not 'fit' with events such as the wrongdoing of Saruman in breaking the Light; surely his actions could have been interpreted as trying to break down that essential 'whole', or all-encompassing divinity held by Eru.
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Old 02-25-2005, 10:34 AM   #44
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I would consider the Light to be the embodiment or manifestation of Eru
There's that word "embodiment" again.

I'm afraid my reading of the quotes I cited above won't allow me to accept that Eru is present in any way that the Children can perceive. They can see the light, so I just don't think that light can be anything other than a created thing.

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And there is textual evidence when Gandalf says he is "A servant of the Secret Fire". Why would he be a servant of anything less than Eru?
Well, I don't think he would...but I'm not too clear on what you mean by this.

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I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the Valar being able to render things holy. For Eru to be able to do this would seem right, but to enable a being which can take physical form to do this seems to pose too many potential problems. Would it mean, conversely, that Morgoth could render something divine? Yes, he does make Orcs and other evil or corrupt creatures, but are they the embodiment of evil much as the Two Trees might the embodiment of good? I'm more comfortable with the idea that there is only one source of divinity and that is Eru.
I don't see rendering something holy as being the same thing as making it divine. Holiness to me means making something pure (or something being pure) without any sort of taint whatsoever. Being divine means...being divine. I don't think it is the same thing.
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Old 02-25-2005, 12:32 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Well, I don't think he would...but I'm not too clear on what you mean by this.
I'm working from the premise that the Secret Fire and the Light are the same thing. The imagery of both are similar; the Secret Fire may be another way of expressing Light, or possibly where the Light comes from. If Gandalf would not be a servant of any being less than Eru then being a servant of the Secret Fire must mean Eru is the Secret Fire.

I think I need a theologian to draw up the exact links with Christian ideas here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
I don't see rendering something holy as being the same thing as making it divine. Holiness to me means making something pure (or something being pure) without any sort of taint whatsoever. Being divine means...being divine. I don't think it is the same thing.
The only problem with this definition is that if being holy also means being pure and without taint, then many of the Ainur fail, even the 'good'. Surely if holiness is allowable where moral/spirtual failures or mistakes have happened, then what we might see as bad traits or behaviours are actually allowable for 'holy' figures? That seems tangled to me. Or is it a case of 'God's will'? Even if what is done by God seems wrong or cruel to us?

Maybe it is that anything less than Eru can never be as divine or pure. And that would include such items as Palantiri. If so, then there is a message in the creation of and the lust for the Silmarils, almost as if they are 'graven images'; and they do, after all, contain the Light within and as such are representations of it. But I think I need some Christian input here before I draw any more parallels!
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Old 02-25-2005, 01:55 PM   #46
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I don't see the Light as being Eru Himself but as proceeding from Him. It is not His manifestation in Arda but rather his 'power' manifesting there. The Light is the Light which the Secret Fire produces. So, I don't have a problem with the Light being visible to the Eruhini, as it is not the Secret Fire itself which would be visible to them, only the 'effect' of it.

This would show that Saruman has misunderstood, or lost touch with, the truth. The Light may be broken, but not the Secret Fire itself. Saruman seems to have conflated the two. Hence, he has 'left the path of Wisdom'. In the same way, Sauron could (mis)use the Light, as could Feanor, because none of them would actually be (mis)using the Secret Fire itself, only the 'effect' it produces...

I know I'm 'qualifying' my earlier statements in saying this. I can only say that Kuruharan's points have forced my to think more deeply about this question, for which I'm grateful. Also I would refer my fellow Downers to my new sig.....
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Old 02-25-2005, 02:08 PM   #47
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I think it is oversimplistic to think of the fires of Orodruin as the Secret Fire. As with most, it would seem apparent that the Secret Fire is not to found in something so mundane as a volcano. (Let's face it, Melkor couldn't find it in the Void, could he?)

And while bringing this up does stray a bit from the topic (ie. the Chapter) at hand, the original question that brought it up comes back to my mind: What was it about Orodruin that made it so dangerous to things like Rings and Palantiri?

In the case of the Ring, the fact that it was the place of its creation would seem to be reason enough. A sort of a full-circle effect. It was made here, so it can be broken here.

But why was Orodruin selected as the place of the Ring's in the first place? Sauron seems to have definitely had a reason. Furthermore, how does it figure in as being destructive to the Palantiri?

So here's my hypothesis:

In Morgoth's Ring, in the part that gave the book it's title, it tells of how Melkor suffused his power into the hroa of Arda, how Arda became his Ring, prefiguring Sauron's later act with the Ring.

In this part, it says that there is a Melkor-element in all the physical matter of Arda, but that it is there in varying degrees. Silver and water are singled out as being almost unstained by the Melkor-element, whereas gold seems to have been much more heavily concentrated with it, hence Sauron's use of gold to create the One Ring.

Perhaps the Melkor-element in Arda is not only stronger in certain elements, but also in certain places. My theory is that Orodruin was home to a very strong concentration of Melkor-element, which made it very destructive (hence the ability to destroy things otherwise close to unbreakable, eg. the Palantiri), as well as logical place for Sauron to seek out. After all, if he deliberately chose gold as the material for the Ring because of its strong Melkor-element, then it surely stands to reason that he would chose to forge it in a place with a strong Melkor-element.
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Old 02-25-2005, 04:33 PM   #48
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Quote:
The only problem with this definition is that if being holy also means being pure and without taint, then many of the Ainur fail, even the 'good'.
I didn't mean that they could not make errors of judgment. However, they are free of evil will. In his superlative creation of the Dwarves, Aule erred in judgment but he did not have an evil will in doing so. (Evil will seems to ultimately boil down to desiring domination for one's self).

Quote:
That seems tangled to me. Or is it a case of 'God's will'? Even if what is done by God seems wrong or cruel to us?
I think it is considerably less tangled than trying to explain why Sauron was able to harness the Secret Fire...

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If so, then there is a message in the creation of and the lust for the Silmarils, almost as if they are 'graven images'
I don't think this is an inappropriate comparison.

davem

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I don't see the Light as being Eru Himself but as proceeding from Him. It is not His manifestation in Arda but rather his 'power' manifesting there. The Light is the Light which the Secret Fire produces. So, I don't have a problem with the Light being visible to the Eruhini, as it is not the Secret Fire itself which would be visible to them, only the 'effect' of it.
I believe this is closer to what Tolkien wrote regarding Eru's presence in Arda. I don't entirely agree with it, but it would be difficult to argue against on the basis of Tolkien's writing.

Quote:
This would show that Saruman has misunderstood, or lost touch with, the truth. The Light may be broken, but not the Secret Fire itself. Saruman seems to have conflated the two. Hence, he has 'left the path of Wisdom'.
I think this could be compelling.

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And while bringing this up does stray a bit from the topic (ie. the Chapter) at hand
psssst...we've abandoned the Chapter to fend for itself...

Quote:
Perhaps the Melkor-element in Arda is not only stronger in certain elements, but also in certain places. My theory is that Orodruin was home to a very strong concentration of Melkor-element, which made it very destructive (hence the ability to destroy things otherwise close to unbreakable, eg. the Palantiri), as well as logical place for Sauron to seek out.
Well, that is an interesting theory...however, Mount Doom may not have existed at the time when Morgoth was rampaging freely about the lands. It was submerged under the Inland Sea of Helcar.
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Old 02-25-2005, 05:08 PM   #49
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good and ill

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But I think I need some Christian input here before I draw any more parallels!
Mind if I give it a shot...?

Strider on Good Versus Ill:
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....said Éomer. ‘It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’

‘As he ever has judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
I don't see rendering something holy as being the same thing as making it divine. Holiness to me means making something pure (or something being pure) without any sort of taint whatsoever.
IMO you're on the right track. "Holiness" is to be set apart, to be set aside, to be dedicated, consecrated to a purpose-- the purpose of worship, of being led to the divine. It is not the same thing as the divine.

For example, an Old Testament illustration: the Tablernacle was holy, but it was not divine; God , who indwelt it, is divine.

Everything in the Hebrew Tabernacle was holy-- but the Tabernacle was not in itself divine. It was a place set apart so that God could manifest himself there in the Holy of Holies. In other words the Tabernacle was dedicated to the worship of God, and ONLY the worship of God. You didn't use it for anything else. So it was holy; set apart; dedicated. And (in the course of that process) everything that was going to be used there had to be pure or purified (simply because God said so.) He ordered that the utensils would be made of pure metals, the flours and oils were to be untainted, the incense was of a specified mixture and none other, the priests wore special dedicated linens which they donned on entry and removed on departure, In this way the entire Tabernacle was set apart from common useage and dedicated (always and only) to the worship of God.

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Being divine means...being divine. I don't think it is the same thing.
Very true.

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The only problem with this definition is that if being holy also means being pure and without taint, then many of the Ainur fail, even the 'good'.
Wrong angle, I think. The point to the Ainur is that they were "set apart" to the service of Eru. They were fallible (else they would be divine.) But they were dedicated. Their mistakes were made with good intent, not in rebellion. Melkor by contrast indulged in rebellion, wanting to usurp Eru's place. Aule was dabbling in sub-creation looking for an outlet for his own fatherly heart. Big difference; and it's all in who you are serving. Aule-- wants to be like more like Master Eru, more fatherly, caring, having children to look after. Melkor-- wants to replace Eru and be his own master.

(Gollum, gleefully waving clenched fist: "Then We be the master!" )

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Surely if holiness is allowable where moral/spirtual failures or mistakes have happened, then what we might see as bad traits or behaviours are actually allowable for 'holy' figures? That seems tangled to me.
It's all about allegiance of the heart, both on the large and small scale. "Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!" Yet Strider would not dismiss a man who sought to aid him but made a mistake.

Quote:
Or is it a case of 'God's will'? Even if what is done by God seems wrong or cruel to us?
Oh, here's a can of worms. Maybe this should go to another thread. But it's hard to be a casualty in the grand scheme of things, isn't it? We see Eru's mercy and grace at the Sammath Naur when Gollum participates in the destruction of the Ring, but those who fell during the war never saw that moment, and may have asked "why me?" What about those who fell as the Westfold burned, those who were cut down by orcs as they fled? Doubtless to them their death seemed cruel, wrong, and pointless. Is their death the fault of Eru? Or someone else? Going back further, what about the journey across the Helcaraxe? Some of the travellers, especially women and children, must have been following loved ones, and been essentially disinterested in the oath and the Silmarils. Is Eru at fault for letting them freeze to death?

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Maybe it is that anything less than Eru can never be as divine
True
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or pure.
Purity of intent, of devotion, of allegiance, is different than perfection of action and behavior. Aragorn made mistakes, but we think of him as pure-hearted. Likewise Sam, Faramir, etc.
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And that would include such items as Palantiri. If so, then there is a message in the creation of and the lust for the Silmarils, almost as if they are 'graven images'; and they do, after all, contain the Light within and as such are representations of it.
Yes, I agree with you (and with Kuruharan).
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Old 02-27-2005, 04:18 AM   #50
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I suppose in a way I 've been running with some ideas, not necessarily because I'm committed to them, but because I got caught up in exploring them. I'm not sure we've strayed too far from the events of this chapter, though, because I feel that the Palantiri, in their effect & in their nature (as well as in what is 'fatal' to them) are so similar.

One point I would like to throw in, though, is that the presence of Eru, the clearest manifestation of his power, is seen in the events at the Sammath Naur, where the Fires well up from the heart of the earth, the very place where Eru sent the Secret Fire into Arda....
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Old 02-27-2005, 01:27 PM   #51
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One point I would like to throw in, though, is that the presence of Eru, the clearest manifestation of his power, is seen in the events at the Sammath Naur, where the Fires well up from the heart of the earth, the very place where Eru sent the Secret Fire into Arda
Uhhh...made manifest by the Secret Fire in the form of eruptions laying waste to the surrounding area?

I find that a bit much to swallow.
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Old 02-27-2005, 01:41 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Uhhh...made manifest by the Secret Fire in the form of eruptions laying waste to the surrounding area?
Made manifest in the destruction of the Ring. Perhaps Eru allowed Sauron to use the power of the Secret Fire to make the Ring there as the most effective way to bring about his destruction. If Sauron hadn't poured so much of himself into the One he wouldn't have been so vulnerable. Maybe Eru simply decided to give him enough rope to hang himself......
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Old 03-10-2005, 12:10 AM   #53
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Maybe Eru simply decided to give him enough rope to hang himself......
A universal truth about evil, one might say!
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'Strange powers have our enemies, and strange weaknesses,' ' said Theoden, 'But it has long been said: oft evil will shall evil mar,'
Interesting that this quote comes at this precise time in the storyline, isn't it?
Quote:
One point I would like to throw in, though, is that the presence of Eru, the clearest manifestation of his power, is seen in the events at the Sammath Naur, where the Fires well up from the heart of the earth, the very place where Eru sent the Secret Fire into Arda....
This would seem to point to Morgoth's inability to alter the plan of Arda, though he might throw his greatest of evil efforts into the endeavor. All would redound to the glory of Eru's design for Arda (even if the acts themselves are evil). Morgoth was unable to alter anything in Eru's despite, for Eru is all. Thus it only makes sense that Eru's influence would be found in strength even in the heart of the realm of Sauron. This seems to be a universally recognized pattern, pointed up in the yin-yang symbol, also, strangely enough, in fractal geometry, where even in the smallest conceivable cross-sections, one might find infinite variety of color changes based on the outcome of iterated equations. Thus, I wouldn't be surprised if one found the heart of Light inside the Mountain of Fire; but I would expect it to be present everywhere in such measure and not limited to that one location, even though it be an important focus at the end of the Third Age.

The thing I find most interesting is not speculating on what such a tool as the palantir might make someone do, but in the way that it is used and/or viewed by the individual user. Sauron, who has great mental power, has very short sight, and his focus is mainly himself and what the palantir can do to heighten his own power over others (for the greater glory of himself alone). Saruman, whose proximate cause of fall to darkness is murky, but perhaps attributable in part to his dabblings with the palantir, seemed to begin with mere curiosity, but this curiosity was accompanied by greed, thus he hoards the palantir to himself and a new fear is born that it might be discovered and taken away. Personally, I think this weakness was inherent in Saruman's character, and just as Smeagol began as "a mean sort of thief" in Tolkien's words, even before his path crossed that of the One Ring, so Saruman fulfills his character's weakness when the temptation presents itself to him.

Pippin, on the third hand (why do I have three hands? The world may never know!), is driven by a nebulous 'urge' to look into the Stone. Does this urge come from its link to Sauron (active evil), or the nature of the Palantir itself (addictive-amplifying a personal weakness), or is it the Hand of Eru working through our hero Pippin (divine will)? I'm inclined to think the third thing, because I'm firmly convinced that Pippin is God's Fool, or perhaps like an avatar of Eru that simply loses himself from time to time (those curious 'urges'!) and acts beyond logic and reason and enters the realm of serendipitous, unforeseeable fortune. Of course, someone let me know if you think I'm just too Pippin-centric about this whole episode...


Cheers!
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:29 AM   #54
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In contrast to the majority of the posts on this thread, which got swept up into speculation about the palantiri, I'm going to consider more how Tolkien places this chapter, so that after a period of resolution, we get the introduction of new excitements. I don't think there is a point anywhere in Book III where I am less interested in leaving the thread of this side of the story and going back to Frodo! Who cares about Frodo? I want more Gandalf, more Aragorn and his testy rights to mysterious stones, more about the stones themselves, more Pippin, more Merry!

And yet, we get a cliffhanger. The Nazgul are streaming over Rohan toward Isengard, Gandalf is madly dashing to Minas Tirith, no one knows what Sauron knows. It's a fantastic chapter pointing the plot forward.

I didn't mention it last chapter, but I should have: Wormtongue throwing the Orthanc-stone out the window is one of my least favourite moments in the books. If anything feels just a little too coincidental, that's the moment. I bring that up here because, by contrast, the action in this chapter fits together perfectly. It may be a narrow escape for Pippin--even divine providence, as a younger me once remarked--but it is also completely in accord with his character, and everything that follows clatters after it like dominoes.

Not given much emphasis in the thread above, though it really struck me during this reread, is the fact that Pippin's encounter here is the only direct experience of Sauron that we get as readers in the whole book--and Pippin is the only hobbit that actually faces the great enemy. It's simultaneously a crime and a great relief that the change in the movies of Sauron to a great eyeball means that this scene is rendered unfilmable in a book-true fashion, because I find it to be a passage that grows in horror for me each time I read it, and whether that's just imagination or the cumulative effect of knowing more and more who Sauron is (say, pondering the Akallabeth or the Lay of Leithian) really doesn't matter so much as the fact that I truly enjoy reaching this scene.
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:48 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Not given much emphasis in the thread above, though it really struck me during this reread, is the fact that Pippin's encounter here is the only direct experience of Sauron that we get as readers in the whole book--and Pippin is the only hobbit that actually faces the great enemy.
I agree that this is a very striking moment and one that I think is often overlooked. We know Aragorn later confronts Sauron through the Orthanc-stone, but Aragorn does not speak to him: "I spoke no word to him, and in the end I wrenched the Stone to my own will." Even Pippin's brief conversation is reported, albeit word-for-word, after the fact, keeping the Dark Lord aloof and mysterious to the reader even when he directly converses with one of the heroes.
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