The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Announcements and Obituaries > Haudh-en-Ndengin
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-20-2002, 08:32 PM   #41
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Pipe

I have a hunch, Helen, that the "wonder" to which I refer and the "revelation" to which you refer are two closely related instances of recovery. Wonder brings me JOY, and glimpses of truth do the same for you. Are we talking about two sides of the same coin? Perhaps the same thing exactly? Is wonder the feeling, and the glimpse of truth the spiritual sister to it? As you can see, I'm very uncertain about this, it's just a hunch. Perhaps applying it to LotR might help.

Quote:
...Sam's glimpse of the star beyond the Ephel Duath.
This brings tears to my eyes every time I read it, for here we have hope in the face of despair. There, that ties the wonder to the revelation, right? While I do not call this eucatastrophe, because although a singular event, it is not a sudden reversal, but points to the one that will come.

Oh, and here's one on the character level: Boromir's death. Is it a personal eucatastrophe for Boromir that he died well? It certainly brings wonder to me, especially the way Aragron, Legolas and Gimli honor him. And then Faramir sees Boromir's bier as if in a dream - wondrous. A glimpse of truth? I say yes, for the river takes on the quality of myth and the hereafter in the dream, and Boromir is again seen to be honored, having died well. Is that the glimpse of truth, that he is somehow redeemed by dying in the defense of Merry and Pippin? As recompense for having tried to take the Ring? What a complicated weaving of threads! Okay, I'll be quiet now.
littlemanpoet is offline  
Old 08-20-2002, 09:51 PM   #42
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

lmp,

Quote:
Is wonder the feeling, and the glimpse of truth the spiritual sister to it?
Fascinating question; I've often wondered what people are referrring to when they use the word "wonder", and felt a bit left out! Maybe I'm not after all. That would be nice.

Quote:
...Sam's glimpse of the star beyond the Ephel Duath....
This brings tears to my eyes every time I read it, for here we have hope in the face of despair. There, that ties the wonder to the revelation, right? While I do not call this eucatastrophe, because although a singular event, it is not a sudden reversal, but points to the one that will come.
There I get confused; why is this not a sudden reversal? It's not the end of the quest, granted; but the sky was dark, Sauron's power was ascendant, and despair and worry predominated; but after this moment, the wind had blown, a weakness was shown in Sauron's power, Sam ceased to worry not only about his own fate **but also that of his master**. (And he lies down and sleeps unguarded and in peace.) That to me is a huge reversal, of the soul-- that he is able to trust not only himself, but **his beloved Master**, to Providence. Incredible.

Quote:
Is it a personal eucatastrophe for Boromir that he died well? It certainly brings wonder to me, especially the way Aragron, Legolas and Gimli honor him. And then Faramir sees Boromir's bier as if in a dream - wondrous. A glimpse of truth? I say yes, for the river takes on the quality of myth and the hereafter in the dream, and Boromir is again seen to be honored, having died well. Is that the glimpse of truth, that he is somehow redeemed by dying in the defense of Merry and Pippin? As recompense for having tried to take the Ring?
Yes!
Quote:
Okay, I'll be quiet now.
Nah.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-21-2002, 12:54 AM   #43
Belin
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Belin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: all the wide unfriendly pathways of the world
Posts: 330
Belin has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via Yahoo to Belin
Question

Quote:
It is THE sudden turn
I think this is right; eucatastrophe is presented in "On Fairy-Stories" as a structural element of the story. Tolkien calls it:

Quote:
the sudden "turn" (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale)
He's proposing it as an alternative to an ending, of which there can't be more than one. On the other hand, I agree with Maril's point-of-view argument as well, precisely because Tolkien points out that a fairy-tale doesn't end, but goes on beyond the borders of the picture into lots of things we don't know about. LotR is several (strongly interwoven) stories, and each one has (or should have, I haven't taken inventory of them just yet) its own mini-eucatastrophe.

Quote:
Is it a personal eucatastrophe for Boromir that he died well? It certainly brings wonder to me, especially the way Aragron, Legolas and Gimli honor him. ... Boromir is again seen to be honored, having died well. Is that the glimpse of truth, that he is somehow redeemed by dying in the defense of Merry and Pippin?
Maybe... I might choose, instead, the moment Pippin remembered him and committed himself to Denethor. Selfishness and altruism lost in love... Pippin is partly spurred by (selfish) pride to this arguably altrustic moment, because of his love for Boromir. Boromir's fall to the ring and the orcs and his (partial) responsibility for breaking of the Fellowship are not a failure, even though he failed to protect the hobbits, because Pippin is substituting for the hope that Boromir would have liked to have brought to his city.

On the other hand, this is a not really a moment of joy, but of deep apprehension, so perhaps it doesn't fit as well as yours, lmp.

--Belin Ibaimendi

[ August 21, 2002: Message edited by: Belin ]
__________________
"I hate dignity," cried Scraps, kicking a pebble high in the air and then trying to catch it as it fell. "Half the fools and all the wise folks are dignified, and I'm neither the one nor the other." --L. Frank Baum
Belin is offline  
Old 08-21-2002, 06:47 AM   #44
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Pipe

HelenMark:
Quote:
There I get confused; why is this not a sudden reversal?
Good point. Perhaps this is the real eucatastrophe for Sam, or at least one of them, depending on which Sam-story we're talking about. One eucatastrophe per story. Your good point leads me to a further extrapolation to the definition, and maybe this is only me realizing what's already there:

1) sudden reversal
2) never to recur
3) powerful ramifications for Good

I don't know quite how to say the last one, but that's my best try. According to these three elements of the definition, the Sam/star event does seem to function as a eucatastrophe in regard to the story of Sam's (not loyalty but) determination. It's really about Sam's ability to see the big picture despite his own circumstances.

Which brings me to something else that I have to take exception to: some of us have said that the Eagles saving Frodo and Sam from the doom of Mordor is a eucatastrophe (which it may be) because if they had died there, it would have been a terrible ironic ending. I take exception to that. Some of the most moving stories I've ever read are those where someone is willing to die for someone else, with NOTHING in it for the one whose life is to end. Just as an off-hand example, I think of the John Q. Archibald character in the recent movie, [SPOILER ALERT] who is willing to die and give up his heart for his son. Now THAT is moving.

Quote:
Nah.
[img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

Quote:
He's proposing it as an alternative to an ending, of which there can't be more than one.
[img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] A lightbulb just went on with that one. Thanks, Belin! This definitely fills out my understanding of the function of eucatastrophe in anybody's story.
littlemanpoet is offline  
Old 08-21-2002, 10:56 AM   #45
Marileangorifurnimaluim
Eerie Forest Spectre
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Buried in scrolls of fanfiction
Posts: 792
Marileangorifurnimaluim has just left Hobbiton.
Silmaril

Oh! Thank you littlemanpoet, Belin's insight went right past me in the first reading.

Yes, Belin! Very true. And one of the facts that writers point to as unusual about the LotR is that it continues beyond the climax and subsequent, hmm, for lack of a word I'll use a music term 'tonic note', or.. oh, here we go.. resolution. This is also one of the main aspects which identifies the LotR as a classic 'milieu'-type story where the world or milieu dominates. It's an excellent demonstration of Tolkien's theory that fairy stories never end, and may be why addicts such as ourselves can't just read it once and put it a shelf "Ah, that was a good book" and be done with it! Too much continues off the page and into the margins.

Helen/Mark12_30, my threshold for polite spiritual discussion is actually quite high, though in the past I've been very sensitive to appropriation of the LotR to the detriment of other perspectives, which you are not doing here. Using the LotR (or anything) as a diving board for ones personal spiritual path is excellent, and I applaud.

My knowledge of Christian spiritual practice is both limited and superficial I'm afraid. But starting with the theory that spirituality of all types have in their ethics and ultimate basis a commonality, while in philosophy differ, I'd like to point out the validity of starting with purgation or confession. I think that in those cases where the revelation comes first, they have already had some form of preceding purgation that has brought them to that place where they are open to the revelation. Even if it was not intentional (or perhaps especially if it was not intentional), for example, Sam's back-breaking service to Frodo across Ephel Duath was not for the sake of some spiritual gain, and he had reached of point of understanding that... he just couldn't do it. He had also become aware that Frodo, whose resilience and will he'd relied upon, couldn't either. They had neither the strength nor the will nor the courage to complete their task.

I argue that this humbled mindset was the basis from which Sam rose above it all. Else in the parting of the clouds of Ephel Duath, he would have only seen a star.
__________________
Deserves death! I daresay he does... And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them?
Marileangorifurnimaluim is offline  
Old 08-21-2002, 11:38 AM   #46
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

Maril,

Quote:
I'd like to point out the validity of starting with purgation or confession.
I tried to say both were valid, was I unclear? Sorry;
Quote:
I think that in those cases where the revelation comes first, they have already had some form of preceding purgation that has brought them to that place where they are open to the revelation.
Good point, Maril. And your point about Sam's backbreaking-- yet in the end, "insufficient"-- labor is well taken.

I wonder, then, if we were to backtrack, and look at all the places where Frodo opened himself to revelation, whether we'd find that he had been first purified. Glancing back superficially, he'd been at least terrified by black riders (Gildor, Rivendell) or half-drowned by Old Man Willow (Goldberry) or marched thru Moria (Galadriel.) Interesting. Deserves further thought.

--Helen
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-21-2002, 09:07 PM   #47
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Sting

Helen -

This is a delightful thread, and I am sorry that I did not come to it sooner. I did read it through, but don't feel qualified to add much more to many of these insightful comments.

Except ......... I did want to draw attention to one point, and suggest another way of looking at it. First, there was a comment by Maril:

Quote:
I think in those cases where the revelation comes first, they have already done some form of preceding purgation that has brought them to that place where they are open to revelation.
I totally agree with this general statement.

Helen responded by saying:

Quote:
I wonder, then, if we were to backtrack, and look at all the places where Frodo opened himself to revelation, whether we'd find that he had been first purified. Glancing back superficially, he'd been at least terrified by black riders (Gildor, Rivendell) or half-drowned by Old Man Willow (Goldberry) or marched thru Moria (Galadriel). Interesting. Deserves further thought.
Here is where I see a problem. I think that it is not the event itelf which leads to purification, but rather the response of the particular person to that event. Let's think about this. Frodo was not the only one of the company who went through some rather hair raising experience in terms of Moria or Old Man Willow or the Black Riders, or for that matter the Barrow Wight. It is true that the terror was directed more to him than to any other in the company. But I don't think that is the central issue. Another individual could have gone through these same experiences and come out corrupted rather than purified or purged.

Take a look what Gandalf has to say about Frodo in Rivendell and you'll get a sense of the process which is going on inside him.
Gandalf looks closely at the recovering Frodo. He sees transparency about him and especially in his left hand. This is the product of the morgul blade and the wraith's attack on Frodo. If it were merely the event at work on Frodo, this is all Gandalf would have seen.

But Gandalf saw much more than this. He saw another process going on within the hobbit, and this is how he described it:

Quote:
"Still that must be expected," said Gandalf to himself. "He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not een Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.
The reference to "a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can" was, I believe, the internal response by Frodo to those terrible precipitating events. And what is this response? Take a look at the first description, and then take a look at the description of the phial of Galadriel:

Quote:
She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand. "In this phial," she said "is caught the light of Earendil's star, set amd the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out."
If you look at these two descriptions, I think you can see a definite similarity between the phial and the description of Frodo which Gandalf gives us. This means that, internally, Frodo is becoming like the Phial of Galandriel. This, in turn, reflects Earendil's Star which is the light of the Silmarilli itself. So Frodo is becoming like a little splinter of the Silmarils, which themselves are a reflection of the Two Trees. And the latter is itself the product of the song of power of Yavanna and the tears of Nienna.

To me, this is totally awesome! For a little hobbit to have this within him the light of the Valar, is indeed unimaginable. It is the ultimate purification and purging. But it is the process, not the precipitating event which is the critical thing, I think.

Sam is a wonderful hobbit, and he goes through many horrifying experiences. Sam, for example, sees Frodo injured and thinks that he is dead. He too undergoes purification, but the process by which he is purified is much different than Frodo. His own purification rests on the grounds of sacrifice for his fellow man.

Frodo is the seer and prophet, and Sam is the one called to the service of man. Both are wonderful spiritual routes and both individuals have been through terrible experiences which tranform them. But, in each hobbit, the process is different because of what's inside them. And ultimately, I would argue that means that it is not the events which dictate the transformation, but rather Eru.

sharon, the 7th age hobbit
Again
__________________
Multitasking women are never too busy to vote.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 10:03 AM   #48
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Pipe

Sharon: Your contributions always bring something new and deep. You even got me thinking about certain personally choices in terms of spirituality or lack thereof, but enough about that.

Quote:
Frodo is the seer and prophet, and Sam is the one called to the service of man. Both are wonderful spiritual routes and both individuals have been through terrible experiences which tranform them. But, in each hobbit, the process is different because of what's inside them. And ultimately, I would argue that means that it is not the events which dictate the transformation, but rather Eru.
I acknowledge seer in Frodo, but where in LotR is he prophet?
In any case, the distinction you are making seems to me to be "spiritual man" and "man of the earth who is nonetheless good". I want to ask what if Frodo had chosen not to accept the spiritual side of his life, but to be a man of the earth who is nonetheless good? Or didn't Frodo have a choice in that? Was that at Eru's dictate?

This clearly has implications in terms of real life, and you got me curious...
littlemanpoet is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 10:48 AM   #49
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Sting

Littlemanpoet, aka Imp-----

It's good to see you again. By the way, I haven't forgotten what I need and want to do to help with the writing. My life should improve drastically when both my children return to school by next week!

About Frodo the prophet. Do you remember the last scene at the Grey Havens? Frodo talks to Sam and tells him something of the years to come. He mentions the names of five of his children who are not yet born, and "perhaps more that I cannot yet see." The names are all correct, although he does get the birth order switched on two of them. That point is mentioned in Tolkien's unpublished epilogue in Sauron's Defeat. Frodo also tells Sam he'll be mayor as long as he wants to and the most famous gardener in history. Finally, in terms of going to the West, he also predicts "Your time may come."

This isn't a "prophet" in the biblical sense, but it certainly involves true telling of the future. I think there are one or two other points in the LotR where Frodo does this, but my mind won't dredge those up right now.

About your other question regarding paths in life. Imp, if I knew the true answer to that, I would have to be Eru!! But I will take a guess. And this applies not only to the characters in the book, but ourselves as individuals as well. No, I truly believe that there is no way that Frodo could turn into someone like Pippin or Sam. And the same goes for the reverse. I think we are each given certain gifts inside ourselves. We have the choice to develop those gifts or not, but we don't really have the ability to pick any path at random and go on it. I guess the proponents of the "American dream" would dispute this, but I truly feel this is part of the bittersweet nature of life.

Frodo could have chosen to ignore what was inside himself. He would have ended up corrupted and a puppet of Sauron. But he couldn't will himself into becoming like Pippin, for example, a good and decent fellow who became a leader in the hobbit community. That's not to say he couldn't have developed certain minimal talents in those areas. We could all use a general sharpening of our overall skills, e.g., learning to do more good deeds for our neighbors, becoming more aware of our community's needs etc. but there's a limit to this process. There are certain gifts and certain limitations that Eru built into us, and we have to respect those.

I'll give you a few personal examples. I have two children, both raised in the same family and community and spiritual heritage. Yet they are so different that it is unbelievable. I have a very academic son who, I suspect, may some day make some scientific or medical discovery that will benefit many people. I have a daughter who is far less oriented to school (in fact, she has a mild learning disability), but who has a very unusual gift with people. She is very much like Sam. Now what if I try to change my daughter into my son, or vice versa. The only thing I will do is drive them both away from what they were meant to become. Yes, I make sure that my son does volunteer work in the summers so he learns to be more sensitive to people, and I also have my daughter tutored so she will see more of the beauty of words. But I can't change what they will, or should, become.

And frankly I'm no different. I would most like to be a Frodo I think, but that is not me. Yes, I can focus on certain improvements in that area, but no one is ever going to mistake me for a seer! Neither am I a Sam or Eowyn or Faramir or Gandalf, even though those characters appeal to me.

At best, I'm afraid I'm a lowly Bilbo. I'm definitely a teacher and a bit of a historian. Like Bilbo, I've adopted a young one (my daughter) and also like Bilbo, I'm a bit of an eccentric given the community that I live in. If I were to go around and moan about the fact that I'm not Frodo, and never will be Frodo, I'd only turn myself into a frustrated, angry person instead of doing the best job at what I actually can manage to do and be. So if I can't be Frodo, I guess it's not too bad to be the person that Frodo most loved in his life.!

sharon, the 7th age hobbit

[ August 22, 2002: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
__________________
Multitasking women are never too busy to vote.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 11:06 AM   #50
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

lmp,

One could argue that Frodo prophesied with paper and pen rather than crying in the town square or on the hillside. It is one method. And many prophets recorded, not just what would be, but what had been. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and others, recorded chapters of history along with chapters of futuristic prediction. Moses, regarded as one of the greatest prophets, wrote mostly law and history (The Pentateuch). Prophesying is not only about speaking God's will for the future, but about presenting God's viewpoint in the present, and also presenting God's interpretation of the past.

But... maybe "seer" might be the safer word.


Edit-- on third thought, I think for Frodo I prefer the word "mystic"-- one who pursues union with God out of desire and longing, instead of one who is driven by a burning inner message. Frodo always displayed desire for elvish things long before he had any knowledge of mission or calling, and I think he retained that desire and longing after his mission was over-- and that's what led him to the West.

[ August 22, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 03:49 PM   #51
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

Oops, cross-posting with Sharon again.

Sharon, you've hit on one of my favorite concepts of "goal in life"-- fulfilling, aka not missing out on, one's design and destiny. How disappointing to get to the end of one's life and find that, instead of being designed to be (for instance) a mediocre software engineer, I was supposed to be (for instance) a good musician. I'd rather find what I was designed to do and be, and let that mature, rather than fighting the current of my own spirit all the way.

I do think Frodo was designed to be a mystic and Sam was designed to be a family man. I also think Aragorn was designed to be a king.

Regarding eucatastrophy-- are these connected at all? We've been discussing Sam's star over the Ephel Duath; how would that fit into his destiny of being a family man? Or does it only fit into the quest, and not his life afterwards?

I'm more and more fascinated by those moments when Tolkien tears a gap in the fabric of "what we see today" and shows us "what really is" or "What will be." Sam sees Frodo shining; Aragorn revealed in his kingliness to a hobbit (was it Pippin, I forget?); Gandalf revealed to Bilbo in Bag End. What do these glimpses tell us?

And I also just love the moments when Sam surprises Frodo... Maril, thanks for bringing that up a long time ago, I think in a post about men-servants, you mentioned that & it's fascinated me ever since.

[ August 22, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 03:59 PM   #52
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

Belin,

You mentioned lmp's choice of Boromir's death as a eucatastrophe and then replied
Quote:
Maybe... I might choose, instead, the moment Pippin remembered him and committed himself to Denethor.
One, I really liked your analysis and hadn't thought Pippin's actions through that far before; and two, you're illustrating how varied interpretations can be of which point is the "one' climactic eucatastrophe in the story.

Now what if there were a reader who found lmp's choice the first time through the trilogy, your choice the second time through, and the third time through picked Faramir's vision as the eucatastrophe? Same person, three different eucatastrophes about the same character.

I don't think that that is invalid.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 07:40 PM   #53
Mister Underhill
Dread Horseman
 
Mister Underhill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Behind you!
Posts: 2,738
Mister Underhill has been trapped in the Barrow!
Tolkien

I have to confess that I came into this most splendid thread having a conception of “eucatastrophe” as meaning something more akin to “revelation”, but after reading some of the posts I went back to check the primary sources – the letter and the essay. It seems to me that the prof uses the word as a substitute for “happy ending” – that is, as a more meaningful, resonant, and mature alternative to the cleaned up happy endings for which Disney has become so famous. So, “...and they lived happily ever after” becomes, “...and they caught a brief glimpse of divine grace, and kept on living.” The joy of the moment of eucatastrophe is all the more poignant because it’s only a glimpse, a preview, not a guarantee of happily ever after, and the characters must carry on in the field of the imperfect world afterwards.

Just breaking the word down a bit –

“euc” suggests “Eucharist”, which in its simplest form implies communion with God. Its etymological roots all seem to suggest gratitude, grace, rejoicing.

“catastrophe” has one meaning I’d never quite come across before: “the final event of the dramatic action especially of a tragedy”.

Tolkien contrasts “eucatastrophe” with “dyscatastrophe” (“dys” – bad). So, happy ending – though suggesting more than simply “happy”, suggesting happy in a sense of having the joyous revelatory quality of ultimate divine grace and victory – versus an unhappy, tragic ending.

Of course, the caveat here is that “eucatastrophe”, also unlike “happily ever after”, isn’t a true ending. But it does seem that its application does require an ending of sorts, a climax which may or may not lead to a new beginning somewhere down the line.
Mister Underhill is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 07:54 PM   #54
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

**standing ovation for mr underhill**

I've been wondering why "euc". Does he spell that out in the essay? or worse, the letters?... (Blushes)

euc => eucharist-- that's huge. Having communion was so key in Tolkien's life that he went to confession, if I'm not mistaken, almost every Saturday. Magnificently old-school catholic. (this said by a wildly charismatic evangelical, ROFL-- but no, I'm serious.) Point being he took communion very seriously. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

(I love that about the proffessor. And I can't help believing that he paints that into the story. I think that's why C7A sees Frodo as a prophet; shining face and all; because Tolkien was that hungry for God.)

In terms of ending-- yes, but-- then he says that no fairy tale ever really ends. There my brain gets seriously fuzzed. Why am I so stuck on that? Maybe because I think that parts of the story have an end; that a day can have a happy ending, and sometimes should; or that the story can have compartments that end while the main story continues.

Eucharist, eucharist. Yes. Yeah yeah yeah. Thanks, Mr. Underhill.

--Sleeping on that one!
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 07:57 PM   #55
Frodo Baggins
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Bag-End, Under-Hill, Hobbiton-across-the Water
Posts: 606
Frodo Baggins has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Eucatastrophe?? So THAT's what it's called! I call it (as Samwise could tell you) "Suspended between laughing and weeping". I did not experiance it until I read LOTR.
__________________
"I'm your huckleberry....that's just my game."
Frodo Baggins is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 08:05 PM   #56
Nar
Wight
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 228
Nar has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

LMP: 'bitter irony' was my phrase... but I didn't quite mean it that way. I didn't mean it would have been a bitter turn had Frodo and Sam laid down their lives for Middle Earth-- it would have been bitter because their deaths were not necessary. Once the quest was accomplished, it was a relief to have providence, Gandalf and the eagles adjust events a little so those who did not NEED to die did not HAVE to die. Bitter is when characters are killed off for effect or pathos or because they're minor characters the author can't be bothered to care about, not because the story or the quest requires it.

My emerging understanding of eucatastrophe is that it's a sudden turn that pulls an underlying pattern taut so that it can be perceived throughout the story. Like Belin, I would call it structural. Gollum's unexpected role in the grace that grants sucess to the quest is the best example, thank you, LMP, for reminding me. The pattern there is not so much one of 'don't kill even slimy creatures, they may come in handy later' but more one of 'mercy requites mercy'. Ultimately the pattern indicates the character of providence: of all the ways to grant this grace, acts of pity for this revolting creature are what is chosen. The foolishly sentimental actions of Bilbo and Frodo towards this creature are chosen to enable grace. What does this say about providence, and incidentally the author? What I love best is that this grace that saves middle earth from Sauron is thriftily used to knit Gollum, lost though he may be, back into the saving themes of Arda. If Gollum can't be saved, even by throwing a vessel of the living light into his power, at least he's granted a useful death-- that might help him somewhere down the line. Good thinking, providence! Sometimes I think all of LotR from Eru's point of view is about trying to get Smeagol back somehow, and saving Middle Earth from Sauron is just a welcome side effect. He's a hobbit. The author's got a soft spot for them.

Boromir's decent death which retrieves his honor just as he's run out of time and Pippin's tribute in service, which eventually saves Boromir's little brother from death by (someone else's) despair, could be part of another pattern in the story-- all the same eucatastrophe-- 'if you can't serve one way, another may be found.' I can't however, settle on one single point where the eucatastrophe occurs and the pattern becomes clear. Maybe we're talking about Maril's nesting eucatastrophes in their nesting stories. By Tolkien's definition, eucatastrophe is an event that flips the story from despair to hope; I'm adding that the effect is so profound because that flip pulls a pattern taut throughout the story and gives us a sudden and complete understanding of what that pattern was-- and that this pattern reflects the character of providence, or the author.

Going on with the pattern idea, I think of purgation not as a single suffering event but as a review of a life (confession to a guide) or trial of one's character and abilities (by enduring/overcoming an ordeal).
Child of the Seventh Age ideas may bear on this:
Quote:
I think that it is not the event itelf which leads to purification, but rather the response of the particular person to that event.
The review or the trial works not because of suffering or abasement, those are just means to an end, but because it exposes the underlying pattern of a life or character. The review does this through close examination in the presence of wisdom, the trial by pulling the pattern of character taut under stress, making it clear once again: 'more about him than you guess!' This preparation is not a eucatastrophe but it prepares the way for one by revealing an existing pattern -- if a eucatastrophe occurs the pattern's suddenly pulled taut in the flipping of a knot(an unexpected event that connects to the rest of the pattern) to reveal the pattern in all its glory. So, am I saying that we have story-bound eucatastrophe and character-bound eucatastrophe and that they can be the same thing or overlap?

I found this idea of preparation/revelation convincing, Maril:
Quote:
I think that in those cases where the revelation comes first, they have already had some form of preceding purgation that has brought them to that place where they are open to the revelation.
Some kind of subtler review, a series of coincidences granted by providence, or slowly moving insights spreading unaware in the back of the conscience might preceed even apparently unexpected revelations, Helen-- it seems to me that the seeker must be somehow prepared to accept them, or the same ones would work for everyone the same way all the time, and they don't. Sadly. Sam might have been prepared to understand the significance of that star not only by his service, as you say, Maril, but also by Aragorn's story of Beren and Luthien at Weathertop and Bilbo's song about Earendil at Rivendell-- and by his earlier recognition that he and Frodo are in the same story.

[ August 22, 2002: Message edited by: Nar ]

[ August 22, 2002: Message edited by: Nar ]
Nar is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 08:26 PM   #57
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Pipe

This thread is deep, deep, and I feel like I'm being bathed in fresh spring water by all the varied insights and (dare I say it) revelations. I'm no longer concerned with who's right and who's wrong in terms of the definition; it just goes to show the power of the reality behind the concept, and God bless Tolkien for having subcreated it.

I need to go back and read this whole thread through to figure out how we moved toward revelation and spirituality. Suffice it to say that I feel something churning deep inside that wants, perhaps, to come back to life after lying dormant for so long. My thanks to each of you, my friends.

Please take note of my updated signature; I think that it bears somehow on our discussion.
littlemanpoet is offline  
Old 08-22-2002, 08:45 PM   #58
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

lmp, when you're ready, tell us, where do we find the rest of "The Incarnate Dream"?
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-23-2002, 07:11 AM   #59
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Pipe

Thanks for asking, Helen/Mark. I fear it's two years (at least, probably) from being submitted for publication. The first three chapters can be found at an on-line writers group, but its access is restricted. You can learn a little bit about it (but only in a general way) on the "Are You Writing Serious Fantasy?" thread.

[ August 23, 2002: Message edited by: littlemanpoet ]
littlemanpoet is offline  
Old 08-23-2002, 07:17 AM   #60
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

Okay. But I'm glad of the signposts. I'll snoop thru the thread a little, and wait. Thanks.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
Old 08-24-2002, 01:58 PM   #61
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Pipe

I still haven't read through this entire thread over again, but the attempts at etymology were bugging me, so I did a little research. From the Greek:

A "strophe" is a Greek dramatic musical device such that the chorus (think of Shakespeare) turns from one side to the other.

A "cata-strophe" is therefore, in Greek drama, the down-turn in the plot, that is, the final disaster, so to speak.

cata-pult = down-throw
eu-calyptus = good-cover
eu-reka = good-find
eu-genics = good-genes
Eu-clid = good - what? geometer? - I don't know what 'clid' is - there are no Greek derived words in English that I know of, having this particular root.

Hmmm, I wonder about "european"? eu-rope = good - earth/land (I think) - which makes sense from a Greek's point of view.

And now for the big one that we all find so fascinating:

eu-cata-strophe = good-down-turn. It's a kind of contradiction in terms, and I'm sure Tolkien fully intended it that way; a good culmination.

What I find strange, however, is his (I think) subcreation of the other new word, 'dys-catastrophe':

dys = bad, so dys-cata-strophe = bad-down-turn.

What Tolkien has done is taken a former negative, 'catastrophe', and turned it into a neutral: 'down-turn'. By the way, neither eucatastrophe nor dyscatastrophe are to be found in my dictionary.

Well, I did all that for the sake of accuracy. But I'm interested in why Tolkien felt the need to do it. I think we've answered it in part already by talking about the alternative to the happy ending in fairy stories, on one hand, and the alternative to tragedy, ironic pessimism, and other things of that ilk. Why do you suppose one can't find the two words in a dictionary? (tongue firmly in cheek)

There is another piece of eucatastrophe that we have talked only indirectly about:
Quote:
the denial (in the face of much evidence) of universal final defeat that catches the breath and lifts the heart...it depends on the whole story which is the setting of the turn, and yet it reflects the glory backwards.
This piece of Tolkien's definition (more accurately the explication of his definition) gives me pause in opening the concept up as widely as some on this post have. Okay, I get the sense that I'm beating a dead horse, but darn it, this concept is one that I treasure deeply and I don't want to think about it flabbily, nor am I willingly going to sit idly by and say nothing while others do (if they do). By the way, I'm still working on that end to dormancy thing - these things take time, do they not?
littlemanpoet is offline  
Old 03-21-2003, 02:01 PM   #62
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Sting

Quote:
the denial (in the face of much evidence) of universal final defeat that catches the breath and lifts the heart...it depends on the whole story which is the setting of the turn, and yet it reflects the glory backwards.
Has anyone caught a glimpse lately?
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline  
 

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:15 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.