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Old 03-29-2017, 02:28 AM   #41
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Ring

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Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
Since this thread has already been resurrected, I might as well add my two cents on the original subject matter.

Back in 2004, the user Gorwingel offered an interesting interpretation:



The observation that not all of the ever so powerful entities in the middle-earth mythos do indeed fall, seems important to me. We encounter many instances of supremely powerful beings that don't get corrupted and twisted. First and formeost there's Manwë and the rest of the Valar. They may err at times but they ultimately stay true to their path. The same can be said for less powerful beings like Gandalf or Galadriel. They key difference between those characters and evil characters lies in the willingness to oblige to their preordained roles in the cosmic plan. This difference in attitude marks a certain breaking point: Melkor, Sauron, Saruman, the Númenóreans, and so forth, all of them went astray in ther desire for things that were beyond their stature and standing. This insight bears the quiet depressing notion that everything and everyone ought to stay right where they belong, or else...!

I think this is why these fallen characters are able to claim a somewhat rebellious and free-spirited appearance for themselves which consistently attracts an entourage of less powerful but like-minded mortals. And this claim isn't solely a lie or a ruse to catch some minions. Its plausibility rests on the fact that it can be quite scarry to surrender one's own fortune and wellbeing to a largely unknown and vague but indisputable cosmic plan.
This is a good point, even though for example as far as those flocking to Sauron, Morgoth or Saruman as minions would not for most part think of themselves as "oh, I am going to join this one so that I can be in control of my own destiny". (That is, even setting aside the fact that it is always the way to make sure their destiny is controlled by someone else.) Take the Dunlendings, probably the best example of originally "free" people joining Saruman simply under the pretext of getting "what is their due".

It's the motivation that is the key in here, and where the "fallen ones" always miss the mark: the fall always depends on why you are trying to do what you do, not what. When Elven or Dwarven smiths make things of beauty for the purpose of beauty alone, it is fine. But when the purpose of control sneaks into it (and it is very subtle), that already ruins the deed.

So if Noldor or Númenorean kings or whoever try to be "rebellious", but what they actually mean is usurping power or domain over something for themselves in one way or another, that is already a fall.

And not every deviation from the perceived "plan" means fall. I think there is one nice positive example: Aulë and his creation of Dwarves. It was also a "rebellion" - in this way, any "invention" is a rebellion. However, Ilúvatar approved of this rebellion exactly because Aulë didn't make the Dwarves to exert his control over something (which he showed not only by words, but by action in his willingness to let go of the thing he just had created - which he, at that point, still thought was just a "thing", an object he could claim ownership of).

The Music of the Ainur, too, is actually from its own logic innovative and inventive, and on top of it, even it is not the final border for what can or cannot be done, because new things arise in Arda in every Age, things which weren't perceived by the Ainur.

But that said, and to return a bit closer to the original topic of the thread, I think there might be something about the desire for power and the structures that are built with the aim to dominate others that they are doomed to fail. I think that might be a kind of inherent "law" of the world, if you will. If you build, make or do something with the desire to dominate, it is a fall, and it is also going to fall apart, eventually. If you do it with a good aim, without the aim to control, it will last.

Lord of the Rings is all about power, and the whole story of Arda just as well. That's why the Ring is the cutting edge, and that's why Ring would be a kind of "exception to the rule" to what I just said about intention being the criterion for whether your deed is "a fall" (and thus destined to fall) or not. Because we know that everything done with the Ring is going to fall (even if you are Samwise the Strong and use the Ring to make Mordor a garden, or become Galadriel the Great Unitor and bring people together with the Ring), and I believe that is because the Ring itself is Power, sort of "Power made flesh" (resp. "Power made gold"). That's why everything you do with the Ring is "a fall", because everything you do using (coercive) power is "a fall", and the Ring is (coercive) power made solid. And that is also why, once the "power" - the Ring - is destroyed, all the structures (Barad-Dur, Mordor, Sauron's current body, the powers that keep the Nazgul "alive" etc) break as well.
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Old 05-31-2017, 07:38 AM   #42
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But that said, and to return a bit closer to the original topic of the thread, I think there might be something about the desire for power and the structures that are built with the aim to dominate others that they are doomed to fail. I think that might be a kind of inherent "law" of the world, if you will. If you build, make or do something with the desire to dominate, it is a fall, and it is also going to fall apart, eventually. If you do it with a good aim, without the aim to control, it will last.~Legate
Indeed. In his story Tolkien says the worst evil of all is what he called the "domination of others wills."

Quote:
The supremely bad motive is (for this tale, since it is specially about it) domination of other ’free’ wills.~Letter 155
Sauron is the prime example of this, but most of the great and mighty fall in LOTR, because they become motivated to bulldoze other free wills. There is an interesting dynamic between Saruman and Gandalf.

Saruman tells Gandalf:

Quote:
"As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means."~The Council of Elrond
Saruman no longer concerns himself with the "means" only the end to what he feels are now the "high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order."

In contrast there is Gandalf, who has essentially already rejected the motivation to dominate other wills. In Bag End, Gandalf makes clear he could "make" Frodo give up the Ring by force:

Quote:
Gandalf laughed grimly. 'You see? Already you too Frodo, cannot easily let it go, nor will to damage it, And I could not "make" you - except by force, which would break your mind.~The Shadow of the Past
Gandalf does not seek control over anyone's free will. To do so, even if it would serve the "greater good" would be a supremely bad motive, and it's that motive which lead to the fall of the great and mighty. It makes you wonder, if push came to shove, and Gandalf was with Frodo in the Sammath Naur. Would he still reject "making" Frodo destroy the Ring? Would he bulldoze Frodo's will (although by this time you could say the Ring had already bulldozed Frodo's will) for the "greater good?"
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Old 05-31-2017, 07:55 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Sauron is the prime example of this, but most of the great and mighty fall in LOTR, because they become motivated to bulldoze other free wills.
It's also worth remembering the desire of Melkor before even Eä was made:
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he desired rather to subdue to his will both Elves and Men, envying the gifts with which Ilúvatar promised to endow them; and he wished himself to have subjects and servants, and to be called Lord, and to be a master over other wills.
(Ainulindalë)[Emphasis mine.]
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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Gandalf does not seek control over anyone's free will. To do so, even if it would serve the "greater good" would be a supremely bad motive, and it's that motive which lead to the fall of the great and mighty. It makes you wonder, if push came to shove, and Gandalf was with Frodo in the Sammath Naur. Would he still reject "making" Frodo destroy the Ring? Would he bulldoze Frodo's will (although by this time you could say the Ring had already bulldozed Frodo's will) for the "greater good?"
I doubt anyone willing to "bulldoze" the will of another would be capable of even wishing harm upon the Ring at the Sammath Naur, for the greater good or otherwise.
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