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Old 07-08-2016, 08:32 PM   #1
Marwhini
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The Morgoth-element.

A comment I made on another thread recently got me to thinking about something concerning the Morgoth-element.

Melkor, in his rebellion adoring the AinulindalŰ (Music of the Ainur), poured forth his being into the Making of ╦a/Arda, in the same way that Sauron poured his being into the making of the Ruling Ring, the One Ring.

As Tolkien points out in Morgoth's Ring (pp. 399 - 400) Notes on Motivations in the Silmarillion (ii):

Quote:
Melkor 'incarnated' himself (as Morgoth) permanently. He did so as to control the hroa(2), the 'flesh' or physical matter, of Arda. A vaster, and more perilous procedure, though of similar sort to the operations of Sauron with the Rings. Thus, outside the Blessed Realm, all 'matter' was likely to have a 'Melkor ingredient' (3), and those who had bodies, nourished of the hroa of Arda, had as it were a tendency, great or small, towards Melkor: they were none of them wholly free of him in their incarnate form, and their bodies had an effect upon their spirits.

Tolkien also mentions in several points that Gold contained more of the Morgoth-element than did many other things, and that things like Silver, and Water had less of this 'element.'

This got me to thinking:

How much of this element was likely present in the different races (I am talking about on average, not as a fixed number that everyone in a race would have)?

And how much of it is likely present in the typical environment, or locations within Middle-earth.

As a few examples:

It would seem that the Shire was less afflicted by the Morgoth-element than was a location like Angmar, or Gundabad (or Mordor, especially).

It would seem that places like the roots of mountains would also be rather high in Morgoth-element concentration.


One other issue with the 'Morgoth-element' as Tolkien describes it:

It seems like the Morgoth-element can increase or decrease within a region (indicating that it is not a purely "Physical" 'element' as we would define 'Physical' in our Universe).

What then would it be, if it is Physical?

How would that work?

A warning here....

Saying "magic" is exactly what Tolkien never did as an explanation for Middle-earth.

This is why I place such great emphasis upon the comments of Tolkien's son Christopher on p. x of Morgoth's Ring, where he talks about his father's failure to complete the Silmarillion due to JRRT's concern over identifying/discovering/formulating the 'underlying postulates' and a 'coherent Theological and Metaphysical system' for Arda.

Those words mean "How it works, and by what specific mechanisms."

Tolkien admitted that his lack of knowledge in certain areas hindered him in many ways (I cannot recall if it was in a letter, or in HoM-e, where he speaks about his lack of knowledge of geology preventing him from creating a more accurate map of Middle-earth - having worked with a Geologist on detailing Middle-earth, Tolkien did quite well in assembling a Map that could realistically function geologically: i.e. with Plate Tectonics, and such), but he remained committed to the creation of a Metaphysics that would give rise to functional systems within Middle-earth that did not need to resort to Kluges or Deus ex Machina. . .

Remember, to Tolkien, Eru/God directly intervening in the operations or affairs of ╦a/Arda/Middle-earth was a gravely serious matter. Thus Tolkien did not wish that anything in ╦a/Arda should require ANY sort of 'Divine Intervention,' neither of/from the Ainur nor directly from Eru/Il˙vatar.

To that end, the world needed to operate by its own, internally consistent, natural laws, which would subsume both the Hroa and Fea of Arda itself, and the Hr÷a and FŰa of incarnate beings within Arda.

I hope that my extravagant exposition does not put anyone off the main point.

MB


(2) hroa: so written here and at the second occurrence below (and in text A), not as elsewhere always written hr÷a, where it means the body of an incarnate being. The word used for 'physical matter' in Laws and Customs was Hrˇn, later changed to korma (p. 218 and note 26): in the Commentary on the Athrabeth and in the 'Glossary' of names the word is erma (pp. 338, 349)
(3) On this sentence see p. 271
[Note]: p. 271 deals with the death of FinwŰ's wife MÝriel, and how it was such a shock to the Valar, because they had been deluded into thinking that the Hr÷a and FŰa of any "Immortal" being could not be separated while in Valinor. And that this was revealed to be the result of Arda Marred (the Melkor/Morgoth-element pervading existence). The Valar had managed to purge this element from Valinor when they alone inhabited it, but the Children of Il˙vatar were all products of Arda Marred, and thus their Hr÷a was tainted by the Morgoth-element, and thus so was their FŰa (although there exists a contradiction in this, as physical matter is JUST molecules, and the 'Morgoth-element' would thus need to be some sort of 'Spiritual Element' - but this is one of those things I tend to focus upon in looking at the 'underlying postulates' of Arda/╦a, and the 'requirement for a coherent Theological and Metaphysical system' for the same).

Last edited by Marwhini; 07-08-2016 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 07-08-2016, 08:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
How much of this element was likely present in the different races
With the exception of the corrupted races, Orcs, trolls, etc., none. Elves, Men (and Hobbits), Ents and Dwarves were not created by Morgoth. They could be "corrupted" by him and his influence, lies and direct attention, but they were not, as a matter of creation, influenced by his "element".

Of course, one can discuss the nature of Arda Marred (which is, at root, a Hebraic concept; there is a specific phrase relating to the act of attempting to cure the ills of the world) that could be deemed to affect all creative (or sub-creative) acts following Morgoth's original corruption of Arda. However, Tolkien emphasizes that the origin of Elves and Men and his adoptive children, Dwarves and Ents (odd that they were devised by spouses; never thought of that) was of his own thought.
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Old 07-08-2016, 09:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
With the exception of the corrupted races, Orcs, trolls, etc., none. Elves, Men (and Hobbits), Ents and Dwarves were not created by Morgoth. They could be "corrupted" by him and his influence, lies and direct attention, but they were not, as a matter of creation, influenced by his "element".
None of the races were "created" by Morgoth.

The Point is that all of the races were products of the Music, and thus the whole of Arda contained the Morgoth-Element (including Elves, Humans, Hobbits, Ents and Dwarves).

This is the nature of the quote I listed from Morgoth's Ring (pp. 399 - 400 ľ I should go edit my last post to reflect that): That everything within Arda (and, technically, within ╦a) contains a portion of the Morgoth-element.

It is the presence of this element that allows for the "corruption" of Arda.


Quote:
Of course, one can discuss the nature of Arda Marred (which is, at root, a Hebraic concept; there is a specific phrase relating to the act of attempting to cure the ills of the world) that could be deemed to affect all creative (or sub-creative) acts following Morgoth's original corruption of Arda. However, Tolkien emphasizes that the origin of Elves and Men and his adoptive children, Dwarves and Ents (odd that they were devised by spouses; never thought of that) was of his own thought.
That they are of his own thought does not negate that they were constructed of the "stuff of Arda:"

Quote:
. Thus, outside the Blessed Realm, all 'matter' was likely to have a 'Melkor ingredient' (3), and those who had bodies, nourished of the hroa of Arda, had as it were a tendency, great or small, towards Melkor: they were none of them wholly free of him in their incarnate form, and their bodies had an effect upon their spirits.
The bodies of the Children of Il˙vatar were themselves "matter" from Arda. Thus they would have a Melkor/Morgoth-element.

And, in addition to being "made of the stuff of Arda," they were 'nourished of the hroa of Arda,' and 'had as it were a tendency, great or small, towards Melkor: they were none of them wholly free of him in their incarnate form, and their bodies had an effect upon their spirits.'

Being solely "of the Mind of Il˙vatar" means that their design was only of his thought, but that their instantiation (being made Physical) was a product of the AinulindalŰ (the Music). Seeing as ╦a itself was wrought of the Music, as was everything within it, the Children of Il˙vatar were also wrought of that Music.

There is a difference in having been designed by someone, and being brought into being (built, constructed - we use the word "Instantiated" in the Sciences).

An Architect might be the only person who "designs" a house.

Yet the materials might be provided by several different people. And the construction might be performed by hundreds of others.

The Architect might even control the order of Construction, and what type of Materials he wishes to go into the House.

But if one of his Materials Contractors Rebels, and provides concrete, nails, lumber, insulation, windows, and paint that are all tainted by asbestos.... This does not negate that the Architect was solely responsible for the design of the House (or the means of its creation).

It just means that the House contains elements he did not intend himself to put into it, due to the rebellion of a Contractor.

We have the same thing with the AinulindalŰ.

Eru Il˙vatar conceived of the themes of the Music, expounding to each of the Ainur their part, some greater, some lesser. And he allowed them to expound upon his Themes at some points in their own natures each according to their gifts.

This means that somewhere within that Music is the design for the Creation of Elves, Men, Ents, Hobbits, Dr˙adan, and even a new theme of AulŰ designing the Dwarves (the product of AulŰ as he recalled the Music).

And... Within that Music is the Rebellion of Melkor, which introduces the Morgoth-element into creation. But that element remained largely inert until Melkor went into ╦a, and Arda, and then incarnated permanently into physical form, so that he might retain permanent control over that Morgoth-element.

But only by having the Valar drive out that Morgoth-element by Hallowing something would the substance of Arda be freed of the Morgoth-element. This was one of the motivations for wishing to bring the Elves to Valinor: so that they could be freed from the Morgoth-element. But this turned out to be a false-hope of the Valar, for they learned upon the "death" of MÝriel, FinwŰ's wife, that the Morgoth-element could not be wholly removed simply by relocating to Valinor.

Tolkien seems to be suggesting that the Morgoth-element is what allows the corruption of things in Arda to begin with.


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Old 07-08-2016, 10:10 PM   #4
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I found the relevant quote dealing with the Ents, Dwarves, elves, etc.:


Morgoth's Ring, pp. 394 - 395, Notes on Motives in the Silmarillion:
Quote:
To gain dominion over Arda, Morgoth had to let most of his being pass into the physical constituents of the Earth ľ hence all things that were born on Earth, and lived on and by it, beasts or plants or incarnate spirits, were liable to be 'stained'.
This quote precedes the quote in my OP by one page, with an intervening comparison of the older and newer mythology, and the relationship of Morgoth and Sauron's means of domination.

But it eventually reaches the point where it describes this 'stain' AS the 'Morgoth-element', which is incorporated into the very fabric of existence in ╦a.

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Old 07-09-2016, 07:51 AM   #5
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I did not mean to imply that Orcs and Trolls were "created" by Morgoth, though Tolkien wavers on this point, both in Letters and, to a lesser extent, in Morgoth's Ring. In particular, Tolkien debated whether Trolls were a creation of Morgoth, though he appears to lean towards the view that if a being can speak and make choices of his or her own, the implication is that they have "souls" and would therefore derive their existence from the "thinking peoples," Elves, Men, Dwarves or Ents. Of course, Treebeard says that Trolls were made in counterfeit of Ents. Presumably, he would know if numbers of his race had been taken by Morgoth. I do note that while the three Trolls in The Hobbit can speak, the Trolls in LoTR do not. This could be the subject of a separate thread.

Yes, Elves, Men, Dwarves and Ents entered into Arda after it had been marred by Morgoth, both from the Music as well as from his direct intervention into the world's development (which, as a matter of strict construction if one is so inclined, derived from the Music). Yes they were made of the stuff of Arda and were sustained by it. But I do not think that they were, ab initio, fundamentally corrupted as their essence and nature were derived solely from the thought of Eru. Certainly once they arrived they were susceptible to being corrupted, both in mind and in form.

Yes, because they were made of the stuff of Arda Marred, they were less at the time of their creation than they would otherwise have been. The Athrabeth speaks to this, at least in the form of speculation. Finrod seemingly rejects the notion that Morgoth could have corrupted the nature of Men either at the time of their creation or later so that they became mortal and Andreth, who was wise for a Man but not in a position to "know", takes the opposite view. That such deeply divergent views are present within Tolkien's writings only serves to underscore the depth of his work.

Your interest in fitting Arda into the framework of science is intriguing and refreshing. Others have voiced similar views here over the years. Tolkien certainly thought of the potential disconnect between modern scientific views and his subcreated world, considering whether it could be explained by tales of the Elder Ages being the imperfect interpretation by the silly Men of Westernesse, who lacked to knowledge to distinguish between myth and reality, of Elvish stories. I never liked this way of looking at things. In my view, Tolkien generally thought of Arda as being Earth, subject to the rules of physics and science but with added rules that either faded or disappeared with the departure of the Elves and the distancing of the Valar from the world of Men.
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Old 07-09-2016, 12:12 PM   #6
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It would seem that the Shire was less afflicted by the Morgoth-element than was a location like Angmar, or Gundabad (or Mordor, especially).
Proximity is the point here, rather like disease where the affliction is more virulent at its epicenter then weakens as it spreads. I would say the Shire was no different than anywhere else, save that it was a backwater spot unhindered and unnoticed by greater powers (really, Gandalf was the only one who paid it any attention for centuries). Places like Angmar or Harad had centuries of malign influence, whether by Sauron or a surogate like the WitchKing.

The Shire went to hell quite quickly under the corruptive influence of Sharkey, and plenty of Hobbits went wholeheartedly along with the change in leadership. Had Frodo and Company not returned and scoured the Shire, within a year or two the place would not be recognizable, sort of a Mini-Mordor.

Another thought regarding this is Tolkien's conception of vestigeal wickedness or goodness remaining in an area long abandoned. Legolas recognized this in Eregion, and then there was the inviolate sanctity of Meneltarma, the irremediable corruption of the Dead Marshes and Dol Guldur, the later cleansing of Ithilien, etc.
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:50 PM   #7
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I am a little confused as to how the quote of Tolkien could mean anything other than all inhabitants of Arda, other than the Ainur, as not having some component of the "Morgoth-element" given the quote I gave:

Quote:
To gain dominion over Arda, Morgoth had to let most of his being pass into the physical constituents of the Earth ľ hence all things that were born on Earth, and lived on and by it, beasts or plants or incarnate spirits, were liable to be 'stained'.
This seems to indicate a pervasiveness of the Morgoth-element as a rule, rather than an exception.

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Old 07-09-2016, 07:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Marwhini View Post
I am a little confused as to how the quote of Tolkien could mean anything other than all inhabitants of Arda, other than the Ainur, as not having some component of the "Morgoth-element" given the quote I gave:



This seems to indicate a pervasiveness of the Morgoth-element as a rule, rather than an exception.

MB
Who exactly are you replying to and in what context? Your confusion need not spread like Morgoth's Ring.
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Old 07-10-2016, 01:32 PM   #9
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Oh! That was to Mithadan.

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