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Old 11-18-2005, 08:51 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Gurthang
I suddenly find this point very interesting. Not because it's wrong, because I agree with it.
Excellent thoughts, Gurthang. My thinking is that the Gift is not something one just accepts on a whim - nothing on TV today, and so...Think that humans are proteced with a failsafe device that induces a strong sense of self-preservation. However, unlike the elves, when the body does run down or is cut down, men do not just go into nothingness, into stone or into some large waiting room, but elsewhere. A free place beyond Arda.

But think about it. You're some ME guy just hanging around. Never heard of Morgoth, but have seen people 'take the trip.' Where did they go? You've seen what happens to the part that gets left behind, and that ain't none too pretty. You know what kind of bird you have in your hand, but would you trade that - fall on your sword - for what's behind Curtain #2?

Now Aragorn was more aware of what was going on. He was done, life-wise, and think that he even promised to follow a certain path. His son was on his own, the Kingdom was prospering and in good hands, most of his dear friends had departed one way or another. There's Arwen, but Aragorn didn't want her to go from beloved wife to beloved nurse maid. Plus he had to set an example. And so he laid down and gave up the ghost as it were. Not a rash decision, and even at the end, even for this man who is a living legend amongst legends (could name-drop First Age elves, Ents, Maia, etc). Aragorn almost stumbles at the end of the Road because he too feared that first step into such a big unknown. Even if the lies of Melkor were just lies, still...

And if I walked up to you, asked you to put on a blindfold, get in a box and said that I was going to have you shipped 'somewhere,' via courier, would you take my offer? There's a prize waiting at the end...
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Old 12-01-2005, 08:41 AM   #42
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Tolkien Is the Gift of Death pagan or Catholic/Christian?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
And if I walked up to you, asked you to put on a blindfold, get in a box and said that I was going to have you shipped 'somewhere,' via courier, would you take my offer? There's a prize waiting at the end...
alatar's question here gets back to my initial quandary over Tolkien's choice of word to describe death, a gift. In part this is related to some of the issues which have arisen on Fordim's "Is Eru God?" thread.

Let me, for the sake of those of you who aren't Catholic, provide a link to at least a basic statement of the Catholic attitude towards death as something very much to be feared, from the online Catholic Encyclopedia.

Preparation for Death, Catholic Encyclopedia

A short few quotations, in case the link gets lost:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catholic Encyclopedia, Preparation for Death
No matter how carefully conformed to the law of God and the precepts of the Church one's life may have been, no Christian will want to enter eternity without some immediate forearming against the terrors of that last passage.

. . . .
We shall deal first with the case of those to whom the dread summons comes after an illness which has not bereft them of consciousness.

. . . .

It is, as far as may be, the conscious, deliberate employment of prayer; the forming or deepening of a special temper of soul and acceptance of such sacramental help as will fit the human spirit to appear with some confidence before its Judge.

. . . .

Of these the principal one seems to be the getting rid of that spiritual torpor and weakness which are the baneful output of actual sin, and which would be such a serious handicap in this supreme moment. From the viewpoint of the Christian, the struggle to be maintained with the devil is now more formidable than ever, and a special endowment of heaven-sent strength is necessary for the soul's final victory.

. . . .
As the hour of the agony approaches, . . . .

(bolding is mine)
Now, how do these words of fear and terror suit Tolkien's concept of death as a gift, which normally is presumed to be positively connoted? Was Tolkien attempting to provide a reimagining of the concept of death, not as a fearful summons to a harsh judge, but as something more in keeping with a positive sense of life's journey? Was Tokien aware of pagan attitudes towards death sufficiently that he would integrate them into his Legendarium? Or, in fact, had Tolkien not conceived of the theological consequences of this giftedness until, as davem suggests on [b]Fordim[/b']s thread, he was questioned about the canonicity of his ideas with his faith?
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Old 12-01-2005, 09:08 AM   #43
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I'm starting to think that death for Men in Middle-earth was gift precisely because it took them away from the 'long defeat'. Despite any efforts that anyone could make (Man, Hobbit, Elf or Dwarf), war would still go on. This is seen in Tolkien's abandoned tale of the Fourth Age, where Men start to take an interest in the darkness again; even Tolkien realised how fundamentally depressing this was and abandoned the tale. Though I think the message is pretty clear in his published work that despite everything, evil could only be dispelled for a time. The Elves knew this better than anyone, simply due to their long lives and lengthier experience of the world, and they were doomed to stay in that world. Men on the other hand can leave the world and maybe go to a better place, that's their 'gift'.

I cannot recall any mention of death in Middle-earth as being in any way frightening, apart from to those mortals who had once been Elves, e.g. Arwen, to whom it must have been a fundamentally alien concept. She lingers on for some time after Aragorn's death, presumably until she has learned to accept her new fate. This view of death as something natural, to be welcomed is a very modern view, one shared by Christians, New Agers, and others, but it is wholly different to the terrifying notions of judgement and ideas of 'purgatory', not just in traditional Roman Catholicism but in other faiths.
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Old 12-01-2005, 09:27 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Bb
Or, in fact, had Tolkien not conceived of the theological consequences of this giftedness until, as davem suggests on Fordims thread, he was questioned about the canonicity of his ideas with his faith?
He did waver on this question when challenged - don't have the Letters to hand - but I seem to remember he said something along the lines of 'a divine punishment can also be seen as a gift if it is seen as being intended to reprove a beloved child' - something like that.

I think he always found the fact of to be something horrible, but tried to convince himself that if death existed in a universe created by a loving God there must be a 'loving' motivation behind it. This seems to have been yet another 'unorthodox' (but unquestioned by Tolkien himself till challenged on it) belief which he incorporated into his Legendarium.

It seems to me that he just wrote 'what really happened' & that stood until he was challenged on its 'orthodoxy' - only then would he attempt to justify it (mostly to himself).

Clearly, though, as he grew older he became more & more uncomortable with the differences between his Creation & the teachings of his faith, & so set out to 'iron out' the conflicts he percieved.

He never quite lets go of the idea of death as a divine Gift, but he certainly struggles to justify the idea (cf Athrabeth).
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Old 01-13-2006, 06:43 PM   #45
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I've always had a theory on what the gift of men is. Death is only part of it, I'm sure I read something in the Silmarillion about "desire to know what;s beond the world", the gift is an unquenchable thirst, and then quenching of it. I've always thought that if no-one could die, on-one could get excited, everyone would be complacent. We see , perhaps, some complacency in the later elves.
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Old 01-13-2006, 09:15 PM   #46
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If by complacency you mean something close to despair, for the Elves by the end of the Third Age had come to realize that their long life was trammeled with sorrows and the death of all that they loved in Middle Earth. ... and of course the "long defeat".
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Old 01-27-2006, 02:34 PM   #47
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Mark who grants death at the exact moment of the Fall. It is a Voice (of Eru)!
Well, he doesn't actually grant death, only a shortening of life:
Quote:
Ye have abjured Me, but ye remain Mine. I gave you life. Now it shall be shortened, and each of you in a little while shall come to Me, to learn who is your Lord: the one ye worship, or I who made him.
Quote:
When reading the Athrabeth, did you not get the impression that Andreth was reporting a belief that was not necessarily true?
I agree; moreover, it is pretty complicated to integrate the debate into the greater tale: for three ages Melkor is a prisoner in the halls of Mandos, and after he meets Ungoliant, he remains in dark form ever after (cf. Of the darkening of Valinor, Silmarillion) - how then could he appear to Men in a "great and beautiful" form (cf the debate)? Moreover:
Quote:
[Finrod] remains, nonetheless, in the opinion that the condition of Men before the disaster (or as we might say, of unfallen Man) cannot have been the same as that of the Elves. That is, their 'immortality' cannot have been the longevity within Arda of the Elves; otherwise they would have been simply Elves, and their separate introduction later into the Drama by Eru would have no function. He thinks that the notion of Men that, unchanged, they would not have died (in the sense of leaving Arda) is due to human misrepresentation of their own tradition, and possibly to envious comparison of themselves to the Elves. For one thing, he does not think this fits, as we might say, 'the observable peculiarities of human psychology', as compared with Elvish feelings towards the visible world.
...
For Melkor could seduce individual minds and wills, but he could not make this heritable, or alter (contrary to the will and design of Eru) the relation of a whole people to Time and Arda.
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There is Earendil, but he is fated to ride in his ship for ever - and he is half-Elven.
I know of two prophecies concerning Earendil (one in The names of Finwe's descendants, HoME XII, where Ulmo tells Tuor about his son becoming a great mariner and one in Of the severance of marriage, HoME X, where Mandos foretells the coming of Earendil to Aman) - yet nowhere is it stated that Earendil has this fate. Moreover, if, when answering Manwe, he chose to be man (instead of following his wife's choice) his rides among the stars would be rather short lived .
Quote:
If he did want all men to be swiftly drawn to him, would he not just bring them to him immediately? Rather, he put them in Middle-Earth for a reason, and them fearing death is what keeps them there until whenever they are supposed to leave.
I disagree (from Of the severance of marriage, HoME X):
Quote:
For Eru is Lord of All, and moveth all the devices of his creatures, even the malice of the Marrer, in his final purposes, but he doth not of his prime motion impose grief upon them.
I the light of this, I couldn't see Eru as imposing fear on his Children in order to achieve His end.
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Old 01-28-2006, 04:20 AM   #48
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for three ages Melkor is a prisoner in the halls of Mandos, and after he meets Ungoliant, he remains in dark form ever after (cf. Of the darkening of Valinor, Silmarillion) - how then could he appear to Men in a "great and beautiful
It is assumed that when Men appeared in Beleriand, it was many generations past their awakening. Therefore, Fall of Man happened before chaining of Melko.
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Old 01-28-2006, 05:01 AM   #49
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Therefore, Fall of Man happened before chaining of Melko.
I disagree:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the Sun and Moon and the hiding of Valinor, Silmarillion
These things the Valar did [the making of the sun and moon, after the escape of Melkor], recalling in their twilight the darkness of the lands of Arda; and they resolved now to illumine Middle-earth and with light to hinder the deeds of Melkor. For they remembered the Avari that remained by the waters of their awakening, and they did not utterly forsake the Noldor in exile; and Manwe knew also that the hour of the coming of Men was drawn nigh
...
for the Sun was set as a sign for the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves, but the Moon cherishes their memory.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of Men, Silmarillion
At the first rising of the Sun the Younger Children of Iluvatar awoke in the land of Hildorien

Last edited by Raynor; 01-28-2006 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 01-28-2006, 10:30 AM   #50
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It is assumed that when Men appeared in Beleriand, it was many generations past their awakening. Therefore, Fall of Man happened before chaining of Melko.
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I disagree
This point depends upon the changing cosmology of the Legendarium.

In the earlier 'flat world' cosmology, Men awoke at the first rising of the Sun, which was after the chaining of Melkor (and indeed, after his release).

In the Myths Transformed 'round world' cosmology, the Sun and Moon existed from the beginning of the world. The awakening of Men was thus not tied to their creation, and it was moved back to before Melkor's chaining.
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Old 01-28-2006, 02:42 PM   #51
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There are some serious obstacles in accepting the version of the Sun and Moon as given in Myths Transformed. The opening salvo is: "At that point (in reconsideration of the early cosmogonic parts) I was inclined to adhere to the Flat Earth and the astronomically absurd business of the making of the Sun and Moon."

As Tolkien himself recounts, a minor loss would that of dramatic impact (no first incarnates walking in a starlit world, no unfolding of the elven banners at the first rising of the moon). More serious that this is the fact that the cosmological myth of the Silmarillion comes out as a "creative error". Moreover, in Christopher's words"

"As he stated it, this may seem to be an argument of the most doubtful nature, raising indeed the question, why is the myth of the Two Trees [as being created from the sun, not the other way around] (which so far as record goes he never showed any intention to abandon) more acceptable than that of the creation of the Sun and the Moon from the last fruit and flower of the Trees as they died? Or indeed, if this is true, how can it be acceptable that the Evening Star is the Silmaril cut by Beren from Morgoth's crown?"

The problem that seems to be at hand is that Tolkien considered the Sil. to be too "primitive" in nature; primitive, but not _absurd_. The here discarded myth cannot be excised as a "gratuitous element", since it is closely related to the two trees giving light to Valinor, while ME was in darkness - and it is in darkness that the elves had to wake, under the light of the stars (not of the sun).

Moreover, Tolkien concludes that Men should awake during the Great March - now this doesn't leave _that_ much weight to the stature of the elves as firstborn, does it?

Before the making of Utumno (and the waking of the elves) Melkor ravishes Arien - and it is thus burned and "his brightness darkened" - how then could he appear in fair form to the Men he would later corrupt? [Another problematic idea presented in M.T. is that Fionwe was son of Manwe, which is pretty much against my understaing of his Legendarium.]

To conclude with Christopher's words concerning this particular theory of Sun and Moon: "It seems to me that he was devising – from within it – a fearful weapon against his own creation".
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Old 01-28-2006, 04:08 PM   #52
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There are some serious obstacles in accepting the version of the Sun and Moon as given in Myths Transformed.
Perhaps. But that seems to be quite beside the point; apparently Tolkien had the Myths Transformed chronology in mind when he wrote the Athrabeth. Whether this text (and Andreth's myth) could be reconciled with the flat earth version is a quite separate (though interesting) discussion.
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Old 01-29-2006, 01:21 AM   #53
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apparently Tolkien had the Myths Transformed chronology in mind when he wrote the Athrabeth.
I don't think so; Tolkien dates the debate around year 409 - which is in accordance with the chronology of the Years of the Sun (i.e. between the emergence of Glaurung (260) and the Dagor Bragollach (455)). According to the Silmarillion, in year 1 Fingolfin's host reaches Middle-Earth "at the first rising of the moon"; if the moon didn't indeed first rise then but much sooner (and if the Men didn't awake in that year), why would anyone reffer to that year as year 1?

Moreover, it is stated by Christopher in Atrabeth's notes that: "It was of course fundamental to the whole conception of the Elder Days that Men awoke in the East at the first Sunrise, and that they had existed for no more than a few hundred years when Finrod Felagund came upon Beor and his people in the foothills of the Blue Mountains" - which is in accordance with his comments on the Myth's Transformed revised astronomy.
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Old 07-16-2007, 08:16 PM   #54
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I think he always found the fact of to be something horrible, but tried to convince himself that if death existed in a universe created by a loving God there must be a 'loving' motivation behind it. This seems to have been yet another 'unorthodox' (but unquestioned by Tolkien himself till challenged on it) belief which he incorporated into his Legendarium.

It seems to me that he just wrote 'what really happened' & that stood until he was challenged on its 'orthodoxy' - only then would he attempt to justify it (mostly to himself).
Been thinking about this issue again. Did Tolkien's - and all of ours - feelings about death get stamped into his brain in childhood? Is that when we learn that Death is the Enemy to be feared? What would it be like if he, or we, learned from early on that although death is something to be avoided, it is part of the natural process, unavoidable, and like the animals, to be accepted?

Is there a culture where this happens?

Or are we all tainted by the lies of Morgoth? Did Tolkien, hearing about Hell and damnation, think that if it remained a possible location for his soul for eternity, regardless of his piety, consider this, whether consciously or subconsciously when writing about how men learned to fear the Gift? Do Christians fear death (if they do) for this reason?

This got sparked by reading this article where towards the end it states

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale McGowan
My feeling about death is pretty straightforward: I am opposed to it. Yet there it is. And once my kids have fallen in love with reality, part of my job as a parent is to help them grasp and accept the less lovable parts along with the easier bits.

Fortunately, death is no big deal.

Let me be clear. From this side of the turnstile, death appears to be an enormous deal. But I've nursed at the teats of Epicurus and Montaigne long enough to know that the dead themselves surely aren't all that impressed with it. While I exist, Death does not. When Death exists, I will not. Why should I fear something I will never experience? That doesn't entirely feed the bulldog, but it's a Milk Bone. My life is bounded by two eternities of nonexistence. Why should I fear the nonexistence after my life if I didn't fear the one before it? Another Milk Bone. And since our reckless family conversations often intersect with death, I've had several occasions to serve up some version of each of those to all three of my kids. There's real consolation there.
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:16 AM   #55
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Tolkien

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Originally Posted by alatar View Post
Been thinking about this issue again. Did Tolkien's - and all of ours - feelings about death get stamped into his brain in childhood? Is that when we learn that Death is the Enemy to be feared? What would it be like if he, or we, learned from early on that although death is something to be avoided, it is part of the natural process, unavoidable, and like the animals, to be accepted?

Is there a culture where this happens?

Or are we all tainted by the lies of Morgoth? Did Tolkien, hearing about Hell and damnation, think that if it remained a possible location for his soul for eternity, regardless of his piety, consider this, whether consciously or subconsciously when writing about how men learned to fear the Gift? Do Christians fear death (if they do) for this reason?
My brain must be foggy from all the smog and humidity of the heat wave, 'cause I'm not quite following this. Are you asking of we are all tainted by Original Sin or are you suggesting that the idea of Hell and damnation is one of Morgoth's lies?

My theology is a bit fuzzy, but I think in Tolkien's time even the Just did time in at least Limbo if not Purgatory before getting through the Pearly Gates, so death wasn't a one-stop destination. But the Fall definitely did close off the Pearly Gates until Christ provided the key. I'm not sure what happens to all those people between Adam and Eve and 70 AD, if they got retroactive access or if they had to wait.

Maybe this is why Tolkien omitted a Fall in his mythology?
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:50 AM   #56
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My brain must be foggy from all the smog and humidity of the heat wave, 'cause I'm not quite following this.
alatar asks Manwë, Lord of Air, Heating and Cooling (See Ulmo with plumbing problems) to send Bęthberry some cool conditioned air.

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Are you asking of we are all tainted by Original Sin or are you suggesting that the idea of Hell and damnation is one of Morgoth's lies?
Must have been one of those days when I got too much sleep, as today even I'm not sure what I was thinking. Anyway, think that my question is: Did Tolkien's inclusion of the Lie of Morgoth (Gift is bad; join Morgoth and stick around like the elves) come from his early childhood and tales of hell and damnation? If he were raised in a culture (should it exist) where death was not celebrated but accepted as a natural end - you die and that's it; no yelling and screaming or pushing boulders up hills for eternity - would his writings about the rejection of the Gift been different? If there were no concept of Hell in his mind, would the entire Gift and Ban been written differently, if at all?

Quote:
My theology is a bit fuzzy, but I think in Tolkien's time even the Just did time in at least Limbo if not Purgatory before getting through the Pearly Gates, so death wasn't a one-stop destination.
Just like in Arda, with the Hall of Mandos.

Quote:
But the Fall definitely did close off the Pearly Gates until Christ provided the key. I'm not sure what happens to all those people between Adam and Eve and 70 AD, if they got retroactive access or if they had to wait.
As I understand it, they waited in a place called 'Abraham's Bosom,' or the 'Limbo of the Fathers' until the death and resurrection of Christ (Luke 16:19-31)

Quote:
Maybe this is why Tolkien omitted a Fall in his mythology?
That would be another thread.
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Old 07-22-2018, 06:44 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by alatar View Post
Did I miss something in the Silmarillion in regards to the 'Fall' of mankind?

And, to be a bit silly, Eru allows humans to escape the confines of Arda in order that they might escape the fate of being the subject of a movie sequel by Peter Jackson and company; something that in time even the Powers may envy ("Hmmm, just how can we make this Silmarillion story more exciting...let's make it 10 jewels, add a back story of a romance triangle between Manwë, Varda and Melkor, leave out that Eru guy as he's not really important to Tolkien's main theme, add a few belching Dwarves and we might just have a hit! ").

And now back to the serious discourse.
Dredging up a VERY old (but timeless) thread to note how 100% spot on alatar's assessment of Peter Jackson's adaptation methods were: he just didn't know it would be The Hobbit!

Since I'm here, I'll add to what Bęthberry says in the second to last prior post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Maybe this is why Tolkien omitted a Fall in his mythology?
Namely, I'll clarify that Tolkien omits showing the Fall in his mythology. That Men have some dark, shameful past is quite clear in the Silmarillion texts showing the arrival of the Edain in Beleriand--it's just that Tolkien doesn't dwell on what that was, at least not there.

The Athrabęth does the exact opposite of that, which is why though I find it fascinating, it's a text that I'm wary of. In other words, the Athrabęth is Tolkien doing for Middle-earth's theology what the Myths Transformed texts would do for Middle-earth's cosmology: attempt to make it more consistent with the world as we know it (well, with the world as Tolkien would claim to have known it, anyway).

Given Tolkien's claim that The Lord of the Rings is "about Death and the desire for deathlessness," this is a theme likely to be ever fruitful, not least because Death and the desire for deathlessness are ever in tension in reality as in fiction. And while fiction may be a way of understanding reality, Tolkien's fiction is certainly not a simplistic way of trying to work out this particular issue.
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