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Old 10-27-2015, 06:10 PM   #1
Balfrog
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Tom Bombadil – An Intriguing Answer !

An interesting read that adopts a wholly different angle than any others out there, is provided per the link below. The writer is Priya Seth (author of Breaking The Tolkien Code) who explains Tom supposedly to the nth detail. The author states that the essay is broken into four sections – though only the first section is released thus far.


https://priyasethtolkienfan.wordpress.com/


It's certainly different – in particular I haven't seen anyone else suggest that Tolkien endowed Tom with a secret role. Nor have I seen anyone who has implied such a purpose or for that matter – such an interesting route to his assimilation and integration.

The conjectured 'answer' also has merits – as it explains a couple of conundrums – that of who was first to Middle-earth and how Treebeard can be the “oldest living thing” yet Tom is “Eldest”.

I think, for the moment, it is a good idea to respect the author's wishes and refrain from commenting negatively until the entire article has been published and digested . So far it is intriguing!

Any thoughts from others?
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Old 10-27-2015, 08:03 PM   #2
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I don't think that's a very controversial idea.

I've kicked around the possibility on this forum of Tom being an unaffiliated Ainu who came to Arda apart from those who became the Valar. He clearly does serve a purpose, as he himself recognizes when he tells the Hobbits his being there to help them with the Willow was "no plan of mine". That implies it was someone's plan though.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:14 AM   #3
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The writer is Priya Seth (author of Breaking The Tolkien Code)
Which is the most dreadful sort of tinfoil-hattery.
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:10 PM   #4
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Priya Seth’s article seems to me typical. The explainer explains that Tolkien really didn’t mean it when he wrote that Tom was a enigma, usually lying that an enigma must have an answer. But see the definition of enigma at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/enigma or elsewhere. Tolkien may have meant that Tom was an unsolved enigma, which is what most references to the word use it to mean.

Priya Seth writes:
Key or not – ultimately any solution claimed has to withstand rigorous examinations, leaving no room for inconsistencies. It must comprehensively address the more curious behavior, deeds and words spoken by Tom (or about Tom) in the novel. And to be viable, it must also embrace noteworthy remarks in Tolkien’s letters. It must be a unifying theory that explains it all – down to the least detail. Well what a challenge – but let’s see how far I can go!
In short, Priya claims that if there is any failure or ambiguity in Tolkien’s explanation, as explained by her, then the explanation fails as a whole. Yet Priya claims that Tolkien:
… neatly solves the paradox of the Ent being “the oldest living thing … in Middle-earth” and Tom being “Eldest”.
Tolkien never himself points out this supposed paradox. Treebeard can only be “the oldest living thing … in Middle-earth” if Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, Radagast, the Balrog of Moria, and the nameless things who gnaw the Earth and are unknown to Sauron because they are older than he are not counted. It is apparent that Treebeard may be the oldest of the kelvar still surviving in Middle-Earth at the end of the Third Age, but there are various other beings older than he. Her paradox does not exist.

Priya claims:
Tom pledged never to keep anything that belonged to another in the theater, for himself.
I don’t see Tom making such a vow. Priya is apparently referring to Tolkien’s suggestion that Tom role is to be compared to taking a vow of poverty. But this is only a comparison. Gandalf suggests that Tom would be an unsafe keeper for the Ring because such things do not interest him, not that Tom has vowed to abstain from them.

Priya claims:
At the point “Eä!” was uttered, the Universe was created and the Professor’s great drama could now be properly played out as a theatrical production.
Then does Priya claim that almost the entire “Ainulindalë” is not be included in Tolkien’s legendarium?

Priya notes:
We must take special care to heed how Tom said: “he remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn”. The Fellowship of the Ring text does not state: ‘felt’ the raindrop or ‘held’ the acorn. How believable would it be that Tom was physically in Middle-earth at coincidentally the exact places and times of these monumental scientific occurrences, and then accidentally witnessing them?
I don’t see what Priya is on about. My understanding is that Tom is referring to having witnessed the first raindrop in that part of the world, and having seen the first oak tree in that part of the world to sprout from an acorn. I don’t see that whether Tom actually ‘felt’ the raindrop or ‘held’ the acorn is thought important or that it is important that Fellowship does not tell us whether this happened or not.

Priya notes:
Unbeknownst to him, a beautiful yellow-haired nymph would emerge from water: Goldberry was awaiting ‘on stage’!
Now Tom forcibly seizes for himself another actor, not a member of the audience like himself, and takes her as his wife. Priya’s allegory becomes confused here. Or if Priya wants to imagine that Tom and Goldberry are supposed to only be acting, that is only her invention, not anything Tolkien wrote.

I could continue, but essentially I don’t find anything that Priya writes here convincing. She makes it clear that she thinks that Tom is Tolkien’s idea of an audience but her lack of any valid argument does not convince me.

Why did Tolkien not write this down instead of being coy, as she claims? Could Tolkien have actually meant what he did write down, that Tom was an Enigma‚ which I interpret to mean, and I believe this to be the normal meaning, unexplained enigma?

Priya Seth’s book Breaking The Tolkien Code was introduced to this forum by you and seems to have impressed no-one here but yourself favorably. At the time I posted in respect to a comment in which Nerwen suggested that you were possibly the author posting under another name, that you normally posted at The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza where you were credited with 139 posts, all but one pushing The Tolkien Code, which seemed normal. Now I find only the single post which is the lead to a thread on The Tolkien Code, which other than your lead article contains only 12 responses, most very negative. See http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread....hlight=balfrog. So have your earlier posts at The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza been deleted?

************************************************** ****

Oops! Have found the posts. See http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread....hlight=balfrog and http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread....hlight=balfrog. My error.

Last edited by jallanite; 10-31-2015 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 11-12-2015, 10:49 PM   #5
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Jallanite

Wow what hostility – and how unnecessary was the attempt at character assassination. Especially – when there is an article available that all can freely judge.

I see you didn't bother heeding the author's request, nor my echo, and refrain from criticism until the article is complete. A touch rude – in my opinion. A little apology would not go amiss.

If there were specific issues or points you did not understand – then you could simply have E-mailed the author and asked for clarification. That would have been a sensible choice. As to your critique, it is both disjointed and incoherent in parts. Clearly you have not digested the article carefully – though it could be beyond your comprehension.

One issue that I want to touch on right now – is that my association to Priya Seth is really none of your business. Be I friend, relative or have no link, is not of anyone's concern. The forum respects the rights of individuals posting here to remain anonymous. We are here to discuss Tolkien's works and our identities are irrelevant in that regard. I have no wish to know who you are – but I will tell you Priya Seth is a female and I am a male – so I most definitely am not the author of the Web Blog or Breaking The Tolkien Code.

For your future benefit, when someone points out that a new Tolkien related article is available – it is often a courtesy for the benefit of the community. No one, who is sensible, would regard one post out of 139 as being a sales push.

On to your criticism:

Priya Seth’s article seems to me typical. The explainer explains that Tolkien really didn’t mean it when he wrote that Tom was a enigma, usually lying that an enigma*must*have an answer. But see the definition of enigma*at*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/enigma*or elsewhere.
The only person that said Tolkien was “lying” is you. It certainly wasn't Priya Seth. Her essay seems to revolve around the the word 'enigma' being possibly related no. 3 of the various definitions provided in your link - i.e. a 'riddle'. In what context the Professor used it, no one can say for sure – not even you.
Tolkien may have meant that Tom was an*unsolved enigma, which is what most references to the word use it to mean.
What do you mean by unsolved enigma? Unsolved in Tolkien's mind or unsolvable by the reader? And please provide some substantiation for your last comment.
Why did Tolkien not write this down instead of being coy, as she claims?
Because that's what her theory revolves around. As an 'enigma' she believes Tom is an intentional riddle – that is the reason Tolkien was (as she says) “evasive”. However if you read the last section – her claim is that he got nervous about using allegory – and decided to instead keep him a permanent mystery.
Could Tolkien have actually meant what he did write down, that Tom was an Enigma‚ which I interpret to mean, and I believe this to be the normal meaning,*unexplained enigma?
Please provide substantiation and sources for your assertion. And while your at it – you might want to investigate the root and origin of the word 'enigma'. To a Professor whose hobby and profession were based on philology – perhaps you can explain how Tolkien could never have employed its usage in Letter No. 144 to mean 'a riddle'. I suspect you may fall flat on your back.
In short, Priya claims that if there is any failure or ambiguity in Tolkien’s explanation, as explained by her, then the explanation fails as a whole.
Again you are stretching matters. Priya is simply stating that the best explanation is one that entirely explains Tom from both the novel standpoint and Tolkien's private letters. By using “let’s see how far I can go” she has invited the reader at the end to be a judge.

Priya claims that Tolkien:
… neatly solves the paradox of the Ent being “the oldest living thing … in Middle-earth” and Tom being “Eldest”.

No she didn't claim Tolkien did that.
Tolkien never himself points out this supposed paradox. Treebeard can only be “the oldest living thing … in Middle-earth” if Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, Radagast, the Balrog of Moria, and the nameless things who gnaw the Earth and are unknown to Sauron because they are older than he are not counted. It is apparent that Treebeard may be the oldest of the*kelvar*still surviving in Middle-Earth at the end of the Third Age, but there are various other beings older than he. Her*paradox*does not exist.
Many have debated whether Tom or Treebeard is older. There are countless discussions on the Internet about this subject. And yes, when the author deliberately stated Tom is “oldest” and “Eldest” while Treebeard is “Eldest, and the oldest living thing”, at face value to the reader it is most definitely either a mistake or a paradox. Priya Seth, has simply shown a new way in which we can understand how, and in which context, Tom can be viewed as “oldest” and “Eldest”.
It is you that have brought in the Istari, nameless things, etc. That is a whole different discussion.
Priya claims:
Tom pledged never to keep anything that belonged to another in the theater, for himself. I don’t see Tom making such a*vow. Priya is apparently referring to Tolkien’s suggestion that Tom role is to be compared to taking a vow of poverty. But this is only a comparison.

The premise of the article is that Tom's secret role was to represent the 'audience' in the cosmogonic 'play'. The 'pledge' or 'vow' is a silent subconscious one. As she pointed out – it is one that we all unknowingly make when visiting a 'theatre'.
Priya claims:
At the point “Eä!” was uttered, the Universe was created and the Professor’s great drama could now be properly played out as a theatrical production.*
Then does Priya claim that almost the entire “Ainulindalë” is not be included in Tolkien’s legendarium?*

Look at this more carefully. The cosmogonical drama is that part of the cosmogony played out in the physical Universe. The Ainulindale is part of the overall cosmogony and indirectly referenced in the article (through using the terms Music, Vision). It is equated per the thesis as analogous to a 'pre-play' taking place outside of the Theatre. You are also using the term “legendarium” incorrectly.
Priya notes:
We must take special care to heed how Tom said: “he remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn”. The Fellowship of the Ring text does not state: ‘felt’ the raindrop or ‘held’ the acorn. How believable would it be that Tom was physically in Middle-earth at coincidentally the exact places and times of these monumental scientific occurrences, and then accidentally witnessing them?
I don’t see what Priya is on about. My understanding is that Tom is referring to having witnessed the first raindrop in that part of the world, and having seen the first oak tree in that part of the world to sprout from an acorn. I don’t see that whether Tom actually ‘felt’ the raindrop or ‘held’ the acorn is thought important or that it is important that*Fellowship*does not tell us whether this happened or not.

Read this again carefully. The writer is just communicating that in her opinion Tom was not in physical Arda at the time these primeval happenings took place. He was watching the drama from his own plane of reality as part of his function as the 'audience'. Indeed - what are the chances of someone in physical Arda amidst the rain, with certainty witnessing the first raindrop? By Tolkien not stating directly that Tom 'held' the acorn or 'felt' the raindrop lends credence to Priya's theory of his secret role and him watching the on stage 'drama' in a different plane of reality in ancient times .
Priya notes:
Unbeknownst to him, a beautiful yellow-haired nymph would emerge from water: Goldberry was awaiting ‘on stage’!
Now Tom forcibly seizes for himself another actor, not a member of the audience like himself, and takes her as his wife. Priya’s allegory becomes confused here. Or if Priya wants to imagine that Tom and Goldberry are supposed to only be acting, that is only her invention, not anything Tolkien wrote.

Here the author is just saying that at some point Tom entered onto the stage (the physical world) but little did he know that his fate would be to meet Goldberry – who would leave her watery home to become his companion. I am at a complete loss as to how you arrived at your interpretation.

Nowhere does the author say Tom forcibly seizes Goldberry. You are exaggerating.
I could continue, but essentially I don’t find anything that Priya writes here convincing. She makes it clear that she thinks that Tom is Tolkien’s idea of an audience but her lack of any valid argument does not convince me.
If I were you, I would take some time and read the essay again – very carefully. Moreover take some time to chew on what has been written. And if you still have questions why don't you send her an E-mail and perhaps she will address your concerns. If she doesn't – by all means list them on the forum and perhaps I or others can happily enlighten you.
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:01 PM   #6
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A more balanced summary (instead of pure criticism) about what Priya Seth's article is about is briefly provided below:

The essay hinges around a little discussed letter about Tom sent in 1964 by Tolkien to a Mr. P.M., of which only a portion is available for viewing.

It is focused on a few statements in discussing Tom, namely:

(a) This is like a 'play'
(b) Different planes of reality
(c) Chinks in the scenery. Glimpses of another different world outside – that of the producer, stagehands, author.

Priya Seth has like a detective, connected the dots with both these statements along with the mention of allegory in Letter No. 153. She has put together a coherent, elegant and persuasive argument that Tom was Tolkien's much needed allegorical representation of 'the audience' for his book-form Faerian drama.

She provides reasoning for why Tom is an immortal, why Tolkien gave him such a secret role and provides a path to his integration into the mythology in terms of a theatrical analogy.

She explains why Tom left his own parallel world to enter the physical world and engage himself as a minor actor for this 'play' which is conducted in an allegorical sense on the stage of a theater (which in turn – represents the physical Universe).

Priya then goes onto explain why Tom in the physical world has to secretly keep his assigned role. And goes on to behave like a typical audience member of this 'cosmogonical drama'. This supposedly explains why he can:

(a) only interact with the actors in a minor way
(b) spends most of his time watching and observing – keeping interference to a minimum
(c) cannot take ownership of anything 'on stage'.

Also explained is some fairly logical conjecture as to why Tolkien declined to disclose Tom's role.

All of the above is contained within Part I of Priya's essay. I have found nothing that strikes me as poor scholarship. The author's use of quotes to back-up her theory – are not employed whereby they are blatantly out of context.

Part II of the essay is now released.


https://priyasethtolkienfan.wordpres...cks-and-power/


My comments on this Part II are going to be even briefer:


For the first time in researching Tom anywhere (be it articles on the Internet or publications), I find a detailed, lengthy and engaging attempt to explain how Tom performed his seemingly magical tricks.

The pictures of the disappearing ring trick, and rain only touching Tom's boots - are particularly persuasive to her argument. This section considerably augments Priya's theory in Part I.
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Old 12-15-2015, 09:15 PM   #7
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Before moving on – its probably worthwhile re-visiting Tolkien's very mysterious letter to P. Mroczkowski – that appears to be the backbone behind this new theory.Why its full contents have never been disclosed is disappointing – for it may directly and unequivocally hold the key (or at least other essential clues). Priya obviously thinks though, that there enough clues to solve Tom with what we know right now. Gathering the info. together - this is what we have:
the simultaneity of different planes of reality touching one another ... part of the deeply felt idea that I had ... Beyond that too I feel that no construction of the human mind, whether in imagination or the highest philosophy, can contain within its own "englobement" all that there is ... There is always something left over that demands a different or longer construction to "explain" it ... This is like a "play", in which ... there are noises that do not belong, chinks in the scenery', discussing in particular the status of Tom Bombadil in this respect.
A viewing at auction led to the following being additionally noted:

Here Tolkien uses the analogy of a theatrical performance, where as well as the play that is being performed, there are chinks in the scenery which give glimpses of another different world outside - that of the producer and stagehands (and the author!). TB does not belong to the main pattern of the Legendarium, as can be deduced from the fact that the Ring has no effect on him whatsoever - he is outside the problems of power that involve the other characters. Tolkien says that he was tempted to 'tinker' with him to bring him into line, but (most unusually for Tolkien) he resisted that temptation.

What else could Tolkien have had in mind if he stated “this is like a play”. Could there have been any other reason than Priya's hypothesis that he was thinking analogously or allegorically?

And if a play – surely there must have been a theatre involved?

And why would the world outside have off-stage characters such as: “stagehands”, the “producer” and the “author”?

And if Tom didn't truly belong in the play – could it be that instead he belonged to the world outside?

Doesn't this questioning and logic path reasonably lead us to suspecting that Tom might have been thought of as an off-stage character too?

Could Tolkien think and write allegorically? We shouldn't be hasty to dismiss such an idea. Tom Shippey in The Road to Middle-earth devoted a few pages to discussing this – and the answer was most definitely yes. So I guess in relying on this renowned scholar's wisdom – I would say Tolkien could have done this for Tom. Perhaps this is why no one has been able to figure him out?
Perhaps our own aversion to thinking of Tom allegorically – because we have been conditioned to think that way knowing Tolkien's dislike – has stymied progress.

One remark Tolkien made I feel has great synergy with the proposed theory can be interpreted as that we will never able to understand Tom unless we think unconventionally. Taken from Priya's work (original source Hammond & Scull's 2014 editing of The Adventure's of TB) :

“Tom Bombadil … won’t be explained, because as long as you are … concentrated on the Ring, he is inexplicable.”
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Old 12-18-2015, 02:10 AM   #8
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Wow what hostility – and how unnecessary was the attempt at character assassination. Especially – when there is an article available that all can freely judge.
Cannot people still freely judge? My post is not stopping them. I only commented honestly, in my opinion, on the article. You are angry because I didn't appreciate what I honestly see as crank pseudo-scholarship. Should I lie because I don't agree with your opinion. I won't do that. Why should I?

Quote:
I see you didn't bother heeding the author's request, nor my echo, and refrain from criticism until the article is complete. A touch rude – in my opinion. A little apology would not go amiss.
It was not a matter of bother. I purposely chose not to heed the author's request or your request.

Quote:
If there were specific issues or points you did not understand – then you could simply have E-mailed the author and asked for clarification. That would have been a sensible choice. As to your critique, it is both disjointed and incoherent in parts. Clearly you have not digested the article carefully – though it could be beyond your comprehension.
I could have e-mailed the author but chose not to. I believe and still believe that the scholarship was crank and thought that my opinions might have had some interest to at least some of the other forum members. I believe that my critique was neither disjointed or incoherent and that I had digested the article carefully. I gather that any disagreement with Priya Seth you would wish to consider out-of-bounds. But your wishes on that matter are not part of the regulations of this forum. In theory parts of the article might be beyond my comprehension. Also in theory you, not seeing the flaws in Priya Seth's research, may be the one who does not comprehend what she is trying to do.

Quote:
One issue that I want to touch on right now – is that my association to Priya Seth is really none of your business.
I quite agree. Your quarrel on that point is with Nerwen, not with me, if you wish to quarrel.

Quote:
I have no wish to know who you are – but I will tell you Priya Seth is a female and I am a male – so I most definitely am not the author of the Web Blog or Breaking The Tolkien Code.
Fair enough. I never posted otherwise.

Quote:
For your future benefit, when someone points out that a new Tolkien related article is available – it is often a courtesy for the benefit of the community. No one, who is sensible, would regard one post out of 139 as being a sales push.
I don't regard it so and never said I did. For your future benefit try reading what the poster you are commenting on actually posted.
Quote:
The only person that said Tolkien was “lying” is you.
I never said that Tolkien was “lying”. Try reading what the poster you are commenting on actually posted.
Quote:
It certainly wasn't Priya Seth. Her essay seems to revolve around the the word 'enigma' being possibly related no. 3 of the various definitions provided in your link - i.e. a 'riddle'. In what context the Professor used it, no one can say for sure – not even you.
I don't see Priya's article revolving at all. Do you even know what revolve means? I think you ought to have posted something like "be concerned with the word enigma". One may certainly give the context of any word by any author by printing out the surrounding material. That often does not reveal the exact meaning intended but does show the context in which the word is found.
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What do you mean by unsolved enigma? Unsolved in Tolkien's mind or unsolvable by the reader?
I might mean either or both.
Quote:
And please provide some substantiation for your last comment.
I meant that when referring to an enigma, unmodified, that it is understood to mean unsolved enigma. A solved enigma could he said to no longer be an enigma.

I will provide two cases which seem to me to be pertinent here. Tolkien wrote to Naomi Mitchison on 25 April 1954:
And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).
The second, which uses the word mystery instead of enigma, is found on page 154 of Ted G. Hammond and Christine Scull's The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion:
In an unpublished draft letter in 1968 Tolkien wrote: I do not know his [Tom Bombadil's] origin though I might make guesses. He is best left as he is, a mystery. There are many mysteries in any closed/organized system of history/mythology'.
Priya Seth knew of this letter and was in correspondence with Ted G. Hammond and Christine Scull over it at https://wayneandchristina.wordpress....da-corrigenda/. Priya attempts to explain this letter at https://priyasethtolkienfan.wordpres...-of-the-rings/. Maybe Tolkien changed his mind and did not actually send the letter. Or maybe the reference to Tom's origin concerned the unknown question in the letter Tolkien was answering and had to do with Tom's origin before The Lord of the Rings was ever thought of.

I find these explanations weak as everything else I am aware of that Priya Seth has written.
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Because that's what her theory revolves around. As an 'enigma' she believes Tom is an intentional riddle – that is the reason Tolkien was (as she says) “evasive”. However if you read the last section – her claim is that he got nervous about using allegory – and decided to instead keep him a permanent mystery.
I'm very dubious about any theory in which there is no backup evidence. That Tom was an intentional riddle is only a personal belief of Priya's and she presents no evidence that her belief is true. Her claim that Tolkien got nervous about using allegory doesn't sound like Tolkien to me.
Quote:
Please provide substantiation and sources for your assertion. And while your at it – you might want to investigate the root and origin of the word 'enigma'. To a Professor whose hobby and profession were based on philology – perhaps you can explain how Tolkien could never have employed its usage in Letter No. 144 to mean 'a riddle'. I suspect you may fall flat on your back.
I don't know what you are talking about at all. I did not find anything in Letter 144 that at all surprised me.

Quote:
Again you are stretching matters. Priya is simply stating that the best explanation is one that entirely explains Tom from both the novel standpoint and Tolkien's private letters. By using “let’s see how far I can go” she has invited the reader at the end to be a judge.
As a reader I judge she fails miserably.

Quote:
No she didn't claim Tolkien did that.
Priya claims:
At some historically unknown point, after Treebeard’s ‘awakening’, Tolkien further integrated Tom into the drama by an incarnation into physical Middle-earth. There he could enjoy ‘the play’ more closely and fulfill a small role ‘on-stage’. This embodiment (birth through union of spirit and flesh) neatly solves the paradox of the Ent being “the oldest living thing … in Middle-earth” and Tom being “Eldest”.
So Priya does claim it. You are wrong. And Priya is also wrong. The Ents, including Treebeard, are prophesied in The Silmarillion, chapter 2 to first awaken while the Firstborn are in their Power. There is no paradox. Tolkien is not making Gandalf claim that Treebeard is older than Manwë or Varda or Eru himself, or any of the various divine beings who still dwell in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age, including himself or the nameless things. That would be like a fundamentalist Christian claiming that Methuselah was older than the angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael or Satan, or even God himself.
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It is you that have brought in the Istari, nameless things, etc. That is a whole different discussion.
Doesn't matter. That such beings are not included among the category of living things but are older than Ents is data provided by Tolkien and has also been long discussed on the web. You don't like it perhaps because it provides a far simpler solution.
Quote:
The premise of the article is that Tom's secret role was to represent the 'audience' in the cosmogonic 'play'. The 'pledge' or 'vow' is a silent subconscious one. As she pointed out – it is one that we all unknowingly make when visiting a 'theatre'.
And Tolkien presents Tom with a home, wife, honeycomb, dairy products, vegetables, and a pony. Tom is shown by Tolkien to have possessions in the same way as mortals.
Quote:
Look at this more carefully. The cosmogonical drama is that part of the cosmogony played out in the physical Universe. The Ainulindale is part of the overall cosmogony and indirectly referenced in the article (through using the terms Music, Vision). It is equated per the thesis as analogous to a 'pre-play' taking place outside of the Theatre. You are also using the term “legendarium” incorrectly.
And where do we find correct usage defined. See www.google.ca/search?q=legendarium&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=IKhzVpqjIYKveLyBqMgK. Must one now use the term legendarium only where it agrees with the unproved assumptions of a crank author? I think not.
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Read this again carefully. The writer is just communicating that in her opinion Tom was not in physical Arda at the time these primeval happenings took place. He was watching the drama from his own plane of reality as part of his function as the 'audience'. Indeed - what are the chances of someone in physical Arda amidst the rain, with certainty witnessing the first raindrop? By Tolkien not stating directly that Tom 'held' the acorn or 'felt' the raindrop lends credence to Priya's theory of his secret role and him watching the on stage 'drama' in a different plane of reality in ancient times.
Again it is only one person's theory, which I reject. I don't see any evidence that Tom must be in a separate plane from Middle-earth to make the passage credible.
Quote:
Here the author is just saying that at some point Tom entered onto the stage (the physical world) but little did he know that his fate would be to meet Goldberry – who would leave her watery home to become his companion. I am at a complete loss as to how you arrived at your interpretation.

Nowhere does the author say Tom forcibly seizes Goldberry. You are exaggerating.
I arrived at it from the poem "The Adventures of Tom Bombdil":
But one day Tom, he went and caught the River-daughter,
in green gown, flowing hair, sitting in the rushes,
singing old water songs to birds upon the bushes.

He caught her, held her fast. Water-rats went scuttering
reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering.
Said Tom Bombadil: 'Here's my pretty maiden!
You shall come home with me! The table is all laden:
yellow cream, honeycomb, white bread and butter;
roses at the window-sill and peeping round the shutter.
You shall come under Hill! Never mind your mother
in her deep weedy pool: there you'll find no lover!'
Quote:
If I were you, I would take some time and read the essay again – very carefully. Moreover take some time to chew on what has been written. And if you still have questions why don't you send her an E-mail and perhaps she will address your concerns. If she doesn't – by all means list them on the forum and perhaps I or others can happily enlighten you.
But I am not you, and you are not me. I don't feel any need of enlightening. You have accused me of things of which I am not guilty. You don't understand why I find a crank writer offensive. You don't even understand that she is a crank writer. I do not need permission from you to post as I wish, any more than you need permission from me to post as you wish. Imagine being badgered in argument by a flat-earther who desires to enlighten me. What the flat-earther calls enlightenment I see as brainwashing. That said, this is an open forum and any member has a very wide latitude on what he or she posts. The poster may even push flat-earth in the present day, if the poster can relate it to Tolkien.

I have freely judged Priya Seth, and you. You have the same privilege of judging me. I don't accept Priya's explanations for Tolkien's evasiveness or coyness or that Tolkien was even trying to be evasive. Your attempts here to enlighten me, as you define it, have failed horribly.

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Old 01-10-2016, 11:48 PM   #9
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Priya Seth's argument has many holes, some have already been pointed out by jallanite, and I've been contemplating on whether I want to post a fully explained criticism or just say this is quack scholarship and leave it at that. From what I've gathered on Priya Seth's work is she seems to be of the belief Tolkien placed elaborate hidden clues and deliberately misleads people asking for answers about his books. And that there are only a privileged few who hold all the keys and are deliberately evasive to keep everyone, except the privileged few, in the dark. It's frankly absurd and I'm not sure it deserves any more of a response, but I can't resist...

I wouldn't say Priya Seth's argument hinges on one specific definition of an enigma over another. I do think she tries to make the argument that Tolkien was fond of theater, and was therefor crafting a play with different planes of existence. An interesting interpretation, but I agree with jallanite, that argument falls apart and she offered very little evidence to support her interpretation. She goes through great lengths to argue Tom represents "the audience," but at one point in Part II claims that Tom and Goldberry's near constant singing and poetry plays the part of the orchestra. So, which is it? If this were, as Priya argues, a theater performance is Tom the audience or the orchestra?

I read nothing to convince me that Tolkien was being coy and evasive when answering questions about Tom's origins. I'm not an author, but I do have a few friends who are and I've talked to them about writing. I'll never fully understand what they mean, but in one form or another I've heard the same confession from them...As an author, they are not in charge of the story. They are not in control of which characters live, or die, or what happens. Tolkien wrote about being a "recorder," and about writing in the unconscious. Unless it's some grand ivy tower in-joke amongst all authors, I've never had a reason to think my friends were deliberately misleading me when saying they are not in charge of the story. I've never had a reason to doubt Tolkien writing in the unconscious, in which case Tom being an enigma, a mystery, makes the most sense to me. Tolkien's Letters should be approached as additional insight into the thoughts of a brilliant author, not as containing hidden clues to unanswered riddles.

It's tricky using Tolkien's Letters to form the backbone of any argument because it was his conscious thoughts and reflections after (sometimes long after) writing the story, as Norman Cantor argues:

Quote:
“The LotR exists, apart from what Tolkien said at one time or another it was supposed to mean. It was largely a product of the realm of fantasy in the unconscious: that was the ultimate source. Therefore, what Tolkien later consciously thought about it is interesting, but not authoritative as to the work’s meaning”
And as Tolkien admits in Letter 211:

Quote:
I do not ‘know all the answers’. Much of my own book puzzles me; and in any case much of it was written so long ago (anything up to 20 years) that I read it now as if it were from a strange hand.
For whatever reason Tolkien inserted Bombadil into the Lord of the Rings. But Bombadil has no concern for The Ring and therefor is a character outside the story of the Ring. In revision (now talking about the conscious part of writing), Bombadil's left in the story, and as Tolkien responds in Letters was left (intentionally) as an enigma and mystery. This doesn't mean Tolkien was being coy and evasive in answering friends' questions about Tom's origins. To me, it's actually Tolkien being remarkably straight forward in answering that in the story of the Ring, Tom's origin is inexplicable. Tom's origins weren't seriously contemplated to fit the story of the Ring, because the matter of the ring would never be seriously contemplated by Tom. He gets left intentionally as an enigma, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing to be studied and "solved."

I just had an amusing thought...Bombadil would drive Saruman nuts.
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Old 01-11-2016, 08:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
I read nothing to convince me that Tolkien was being coy and evasive when answering questions about Tom's origins. I'm not an author, but I do have a few friends who are and I've talked to them about writing. I'll never fully understand what they mean, but in one form or another I've heard the same confession from them...As an author, they are not in charge of the story. They are not in control of which characters live, or die, or what happens. Tolkien wrote about being a "recorder," and about writing in the unconscious.
Bombadil existed for Tolkien before LOTR, and whatever Tom meant to him when he appeared in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil could certainly have carried over into the newer book without Tolkien's conscious purpose.
I have no authors I can personally ask about the subject, but Stephen King as one example has often said he wrote books without the faintest clue how they were going to end.

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
For whatever reason Tolkien inserted Bombadil into the Lord of the Rings. But Bombadil has no concern for The Ring and therefor is a character outside the story of the Ring. In revision (now talking about the conscious part of writing), Bombadil's left in the story, and as Tolkien responds in Letters was left (intentionally) as an enigma and mystery. This doesn't mean Tolkien was being coy and evasive in answering friends' questions about Tom's origins. To me, it's actually Tolkien being remarkably straight forward in answering that in the story of the Ring, Tom's origin is inexplicable.
Perhaps when T. said that he (like Eru with Aulë's Dwarves?) his thought was that he had written that part of the story with no conscious awareness of Bombadil's 'purpose' and place in the story, but now that he was there, he would be left as a sign that some things in Middle-earth, as in RL, were just not immediately congruous with the world in which they existed.

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Tom's origins weren't seriously contemplated to fit the story of the Ring, because the matter of the ring would never be seriously contemplated by Tom. He gets left intentionally as an enigma, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing to be studied and "solved."
I go back to the thought that Tom got into 'the story' when he saved Frodo and Co. from the Willow and invited then to his house. He was not of their world, but to affect their parts in the tale as written by Tolkien/Eru he had to be part of it. For that brief moment Tom pushes 'fate' forward, the Ring toward its doom. He recognizes he has an appointed role.

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'Just chance brought me then, if chance you call it.It was no plan of mine, though I was waiting for you.'
(emphasis mine)

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
I just had an amusing thought...Bombadil would drive Saruman nuts.
I like the picture of Saruman standing in front of Tom fuming, asking if he'd seen Frodo, lusting for the Ring, and Bombadil just singing "Ring a dong-dillo!" over and over again.
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:10 AM   #11
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Boots If Sauron and Bombadil met on a battlefield

I was interested in what Boromir88 and later Inziladun said might happen if Saurman and Tom Bombadil met.

Someone has put on YouTube what might have happened if Sauron and Bombadil met on a battlefield:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZouiWmzWoY

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Old 01-13-2016, 07:11 PM   #12
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Boots He is

Alas, Faramir, I am not allowed yet to give you more rep for this, but this is wonderful. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:27 PM   #13
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Ditto. Great find, Faramir. And it's not hard to imagine Saruman in Sauron's place, because we all know Saruman was just a cheap copycat of Sauron.
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:28 PM   #14
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I was interested in what Boromir88 and later Inziladun said might happen if Saurman and Tom Bombadil met.

Someone has put on YouTube what might have happened if Sauron and Bombadil met on a battlefield:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZouiWmzWoY

Classic. The wait for Sauron to join in at the end was agonising, but the payoff was worth it.

Battle for Middle-earth II was a fun game but things like summoning Bombadil were pretty bizarre. I think the evil forces (Mordor, Isengard and Mountain Goblins) could summon giant burrowing worms in much the same way, perhaps foreshadowing Peter Jackson...

The thing I find odd about these efforts to "solve" what Bombadil is that they seem to show an incomprehension of the possibility that the meaning of some things is that they don't have a clear or obvious meaning.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:20 PM   #15
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Battle for Middle-earth II was a fun game but things like summoning Bombadil were pretty bizarre. I think the evil forces (Mordor, Isengard and Mountain Goblins) could summon giant burrowing worms in much the same way, perhaps foreshadowing Peter Jackson...
I'm rereading The Hobbit now and I'm never surprised there's still so much to learn every time I pick up the books again...or maybe I'm just a forgetful person and I'm actually just relearning each time I read something again. Anyway, there is a reference to were-worms in The Hobbit:

Quote:
"Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert~Bilbo; An Unexpected Party
It sounds like one of those "Sasquatch/chupacabra" type tales...some mysterious and nasty monster in a far away land, but Jackson had to go and take away all the mystery.

Quote:
The thing I find odd about these efforts to "solve" what Bombadil is that they seem to show an incomprehension of the possibility that the meaning of some things is that they don't have a clear or obvious meaning.
Well, this admirer of history loves the unknown and unsolved mysteries. I agree with Tolkien, every story needs their Tom Bombadils and I'm glad Jackson left him out of the movies.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:27 PM   #16
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I'm rereading The Hobbit now and I'm never surprised there's still so much to learn every time I pick up the books again...or maybe I'm just a forgetful person and I'm actually just relearning each time I read something again. Anyway, there is a reference to were-worms in The Hobbit:
Yes I know. It was this line from The Hobbit that they turned into an entire special unit/ability in the game. My point was that, like PJ, they extrapolated a single line of dialogue which is very seemingly a reference to some kind of legend into an entire element of battles.

Bombadil's inclusion in the game seemed like the biggest stretch, however, because they turned him into a character whose dances damage the enemy.

Even though Tom could free the Hobbits from Willow-Man and break open the Barrows, he doesn't seem like a violent character to me, or one who would have much power against enemies outside his own land. In this case it was, of course, just a game, but even so it seems like they were stretching the narrative to breaking point with that inclusion.
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Old 01-14-2016, 09:19 AM   #17
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Ditto. Great find, Faramir. And it's not hard to imagine Saruman in Sauron's place, because we all know Saruman was just a cheap copycat of Sauron.
I don't know...Sauron is known to have more of a sense of humor.
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:16 PM   #18
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Jallanite

The rhetoric is becoming unnecessarily belligerent. It is disappointing that you are using ad hominem attacks against an author who certainly doesn't deserve such treatment. By repeatedly calling her a “crank” switches me off in continuing to try to engage in intelligent discourse.

The fact remains that you slammed this writer even before seeing her work based on speculation from others in a different forum who also had never read her work. It's a shame you were not prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt and refrain frpm attacking her essay with only a quarter of it being available. In short – we can all see the mindset was already formed and that she didn't receive a fair hearing.
Can we really see you as an adequate juror – let alone judge?

If you want to continue this discussion in an academic way – then please try to provide balance and objectivity. Your posts to date are so extreme they are beginning to possess an air of desperation.
Some of the arguments you are bringing in to justify your position of Priya Seth's essay being technically unsound, are very poor. For example:

(a) Using hobbit-lore in the form of poetry to buttress your arguments is highly questionable. Seasoned academics recognize the danger behind the 'truth' of that rhyme and refuse to consider its accuracy in understanding the origins or nature of Tom Bombadil (e.g. see S. Jensen on TB per slimy.com).

(b) Being fixated on the word 'enigma' being only interpretative in the way you want to think of it, is again not academically sound. Given as Priya Seth points out, the word's origin does lie in Greek and its root in 'riddle', then it behooves us to listen. We cannot absolutely preclude that Tolkien wasn't thinking that way. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to acknowledge that.

(c ) As Priya Seth stated in the Preface to Part II - she did not pull her theory out of thin air.

https://priyasethtolkienfan.wordpres...cks-and-power/

There is logic to her proposal and she outlines its path. I can both follow it and understand it too. I'm not sure why you cannot acknowledge that the theory is a neat one and deserving of consideration rather than instantaneous dismissal.

Given the above – I will leave it to others to decide who is the real “crank”.
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:42 PM   #19
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For those who want a more balanced and positive opinion of Priya Seth's essay – I personally found Part I:

(a) Well written and easy to read and follow.
(b) Logically laid out.
(c) The sub-divisions were helpful.
(d) The Summary was helpful.
(e) The usage of quotes from Tolkien's books and letters to bolster her theory is in line with other similar academic works.
(f) Not one quote has been mistakenly transposed.
(g) The avoidance – in general - of using quotes other than 'canon' is a plus.
(h) The avoidance of using material from hobbit-lore poetry and LotR drafts is a big plus.
(i) The fact that her theory is founded on two of Tolkien's letters (No. 153 & the 1964 one to Mr. Mroczkowski) means the grounding is solid. If Tolkien himself said that TB is an 'allegory' twice and emphasized it – then I see no reason why Priya cannot build on that. This is really no different than S. Jensen's theory that TB was a 'Nature spirit' because Tolkien strongly implied that in Letter No. 19. In my opinion, Priya Seth's theory has a little more weight because it was based on TB's character after LotR was published, while Jensen's is based on pre-LotR correspondence.
(j) Nothing different about Priya fitting her theory to include observations about TB and aligning them with Tolkien's quotes to bolster it, than other academics have done.

In my opinion, Priya Seth has not unreasonably extrapolated from the 1964 correspondence to P. Mroczkowski and rightfully explored the possibility of an 'allegory'. We must ask ourselves:

Why is this like a 'play'?
Why did Tolkien place emphasis on the word 'play'?
Why is it that the world outside contains off-stage characters such as 'stagehands, the producer and author'?
Why is it that Tom does not belong on-stage?
What precisely are the 'chinks in the scenery'?
Why are there simultaneous planes of reality that involve Tom?

Until now – as far as I can tell – Priya Seth has been the only person to offer up a solution that connects everything together. Kudos to her for having a go!

And to add substance to her theory, Priya has somewhat uniquely linked in and explained in Part II how TB performed all of those extraordinary 'tricks'

https://priyasethtolkienfan.wordpres...cks-and-power/


. How many theories after 60 years can do that!!!!
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Old 01-18-2016, 06:59 AM   #20
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Jallanite

The rhetoric is becoming unnecessarily belligerent. It is disappointing that you are using ad hominem attacks against an author who certainly doesn't deserve such treatment. By repeatedly calling her a “crank” switches me off in continuing to try to engage in intelligent discourse.
I agree jallanite is overly aggressive, and that this tends to move things away from discussion and towards conflict.

However, calling someone "a crank writer" after dissecting her actual arguments is not what is usually understood by "ad hominem".

Quote:
The fact remains that you slammed this writer even before seeing her work based on speculation from others in a different forum who also had never read her work.
What are you referring to here? Has something been edited out of earlier posts?

Quote:
It's a shame you were not prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt and refrain frpm attacking her essay with only a quarter of it being available. In short – we can all see the mindset was already formed and that she didn't receive a fair hearing.
Can we really see you as an adequate juror – let alone judge?
But you were the one who started the topic, asking for "any thoughts from others", regarding the then largely-unpublished essay. If it was too incomplete for anyone to be able to assess it fairly... maybe you should have waited?

And from that point on you essentially seem to be saying, "yeah, well, *I* agree with her", which is all well and good, but doesn't exactly give us much with which to engage.
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Old 01-22-2016, 03:59 AM   #21
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I have read Ms Seth's earlier book, as well as her latest writing on Tom Bombadil.

In the book, she spends several chapters trying to puzzle out whether the Balrog had wings, as if this was a particular puzzle that Tolkien had left us. However, there is NOTHING whatsoever in The Lord Of The Rings to indicate that the matter of the Balrog's wings was anything other than unintentional ambiguity. The great debate about the wings really only started after Tolkien died, as far as I can tell, so looking for coded answers in the text seems like a fool's errand. Of course, Ms Seth finds three anagrams that supposedly reveal the hidden truth. I won't spoil the surprise.

Her argument that Tolkien "must" have left a coded message about the Balrog is based on Tolkien being familiar with codes - both through his work in the First World War and also because he sent coded messages to Edith during that war to tell her where he was (something that was forbidden). He must have been pretty good because the military censors never noticed. However, just because Tolkien could encode a "secret message" in a text proves nothing whether there is one or more "messages" about the Balrog hidden in the text, and frankly it is quite easy to find all sorts of unintentional anagrams in a given piece of text.

I thought her Tom Bombadil essay showed more promise. The idea of the theatre/audience was interesting. However, before Part IV I thought to myself "I bet there's going to be another bloody anagram!" and, of course, there was. The anagram itself only reveals what most people assume about Tom - that he is a Maia. So hardly an "intriguing answer" is it?
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Old 01-22-2016, 08:29 AM   #22
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Her argument that Tolkien "must" have left a coded message about the Balrog is based on Tolkien being familiar with codes - both through his work in the First World War and also because he sent coded messages to Edith during that war to tell her where he was (something that was forbidden). He must have been pretty good because the military censors never noticed. However, just because Tolkien could encode a "secret message" in a text proves nothing whether there is one or more "messages" about the Balrog hidden in the text, and frankly it is quite easy to find all sorts of unintentional anagrams in a given piece of text.
People who expect to see secret signs and codes tend to find them, whether they really exist, or not.

Honestly, I've never gotten why the wings question merited the apparent controversy around it. To me it's just an interesting side issue. And they did not have wings, of course.

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I thought her Tom Bombadil essay showed more promise. The idea of the theatre/audience was interesting. However, before Part IV I thought to myself "I bet there's going to be another bloody anagram!" and, of course, there was. The anagram itself only reveals what most people assume about Tom - that he is a Maia. So hardly an "intriguing answer" is it?
Yeah, the Maia argument is pretty shopworn. That's the go-to answer it seems, for any seeming immortals in Arda who can't be otherwise classified.
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Old 01-22-2016, 10:37 PM   #23
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Has anyone ever read The Rule of Four (2004) by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason? It's a Dan Brown-ish novel in which the plot revolves around the idea that the obscure 15th century text Hypnerotomachia Poliphilli is actually a coded message which, if decoded, reveals the location of a number of Renaissance treasures saved from the Bonfire of the Vanities.

Pretty ridiculous stuff, as you can imagine.

The idea that Tolkien left anagrams in his work to reveal secrets always reminds me of that novel. It's notionally an intriguing premise for a narrative, but not very consistent with what happens in real life.

By the way, Balrogs did not have wings and Tom was not a Maia
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Old 01-23-2016, 05:14 AM   #24
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Has anyone ever read The Rule of Four (2004) by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason? It's a Dan Brown-ish novel in which the plot revolves around the idea that the obscure 15th century text Hypnerotomachia Poliphilli is actually a coded message which, if decoded, reveals the location of a number of Renaissance treasures saved from the Bonfire of the Vanities.
Yes! There were a whole lot of those secret-message-historical-conspiracy yarns published around then, and my aunt bought *all* of them. If that's the one I think it was, it's better written than most, but also more pretentious and *much* whinier. Sort of "The Da Vinci Code" as narrated by Holden Caulfield.

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By the way, Balrogs did not have wings and Tom was not a Maia
What have you done???
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Old 01-23-2016, 08:53 AM   #25
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Has anyone ever read The Rule of Four (2004) by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason? It's a Dan Brown-ish novel in which the plot revolves around the idea that the obscure 15th century text Hypnerotomachia Poliphilli is actually a coded message which, if decoded, reveals the location of a number of Renaissance treasures saved from the Bonfire of the Vanities.

Pretty ridiculous stuff, as you can imagine.
Have you read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum? It makes these other Dan Brown-type novels look like child's play. Perhaps that's because Eco is actually a professor of semiotics, and the satiric story is about three publishers who become bored with their work and decide to invent a conspiracy just for intellectual fun; fun until other conspiracy groups believe their crackpot plot.

In a world without PCs (1989), I had to read this with encyclopedias on standby for the amount of allusions, citations, quotes, etc. In certain parts it's completely mind-boggling.

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The idea that Tolkien left anagrams in his work to reveal secrets always reminds me of that novel. It's notionally an intriguing premise for a narrative, but not very consistent with what happens in real life

By the way, Balrogs did not have wings and Tom was not a Maia
Interestingly enough, did you know that if you played the original tape of Tolkien reciting the "Bridge of Khazad-dum" chapter looped backwards, it says:

Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies...

Some researchers suggest this was during Tolkien's White Album period.
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Old 01-23-2016, 12:24 PM   #26
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Interestingly enough, did you know that if you played the original tape of Tolkien reciting the "Bridge of Khazad-dum" chapter looped backwards, it says:

Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies...

Some researchers suggest this was during Tolkien's White Album period.
That's a new one.

The one I always liked, the great Rings of power...1, 3, 7, and 9. Tolkien died in 1973. Coincidence? Actually, yes, yes it is.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:12 AM   #27
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Have you read Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum? It makes these other Dan Brown-type novels look like child's play. Perhaps that's because Eco is actually a professor of semiotics, and the satiric story is about three publishers who become bored with their work and decide to invent a conspiracy just for intellectual fun; fun until other conspiracy groups believe their crackpot plot.

In a world without PCs (1989), I had to read this with encyclopedias on standby for the amount of allusions, citations, quotes, etc. In certain parts it's completely mind-boggling.



Interestingly enough, did you know that if you played the original tape of Tolkien reciting the "Bridge of Khazad-dum" chapter looped backwards, it says:

Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies. Balrogses have Wingsies...

Some researchers suggest this was during Tolkien's White Album period.
If you play the Tolkien tape of The Ring Verse backwards you can clearly hear him saying "Nazgul Nine ... Nazgul Nine ... Nazgul Nine..."
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Old 01-25-2016, 12:58 PM   #28
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a number of Renaissance treasures saved from the Bonfire of the Vanities.
Especially ridiculous if one is aware that the artworks etc destroyed in Savonarola's little festivals were tossed in by their own owners, overcome by fundie guilt; it's not like there were mobs of Roundheads rampaging through people's homes and grabbing their stuff.
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Old 01-25-2016, 04:45 PM   #29
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Especially ridiculous if one is aware that the artworks etc destroyed in Savonarola's little festivals were tossed in by their own owners, overcome by fundie guilt; it's not like there were mobs of Roundheads rampaging through people's homes and grabbing their stuff.
Depending on whether or not you wish to depend on Giorgio Vasari's account (some of his biographical information is dubious), the great painter Botticelli (The Birth of Venus, Primavera, Adoration of the Magi, etc.), an adherent to Savonarola, burned some of his own paintings in the bonfires, causing himself great financial distress.
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Old 01-25-2016, 09:39 PM   #30
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I had heard that. Fortunately for posterity, Botticelli's major works tended to be too big to haul down the stairs and over to the Piazza della Signoria very easily........
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Old 02-14-2016, 11:01 PM   #31
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To be fair – the author did specifically request the reader hold of on criticism until the article was finished (see end of Intro in Part I). Yes the article is very long. Having been broken into four sections – I can understand why the the author might have wanted some restraint given the amount of new stuff to digest. In this instance, I think it's only natural that the author would want to be given an honest trial.

PrinceOfTheHalflings

Yes lol - “not another bloody elf” or in this case not 'another bloody anagram' ! Sounds just like Tolkien!

I certainly sympathize with the OTT thing on the anagrams. The only one I felt was 'good' was the “wag” one related to the cut-out. Nevertheless – in trying to be balanced – hiding stuff in literature is pretty difficult – and if Tolkien did so (as Priya Seth contends), then I can see there being at least one anagram in the novel. It's interesting that the most of the anagrams had some sort of signaturization involved – which does help credence a little bit!

In my mind there is definitely something suspicious about the 'Balrog cut-out'. The author seems to strongly suggest that Tolkien thought a lot more about his monster than many give him credit for. As for Tolkien's monogram – her point is well taken – if some of it's a puzzle then perhaps the rest of it is too!

I was kind of surprised that you didn't think that the allegory revelations and all that ensued from them was 'intriguing' enough. After all, there is an awful lot of stuff in Parts I, II & III that is 'new' – even without considering the anagram angle in Part IV.
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Old 02-14-2016, 11:02 PM   #32
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To be fair to Jallanite – I did take a step back and reconsider whether this theory was not up to par with others. I've posted something very similar on the 'Plaza' but in my opinion – it is.

One of the points I want to make is that after pondering the legitimacy of Priya Seth's article – I have come to the conclusion that it is pretty well grounded. In comparing it to two of the most well known theories about Tom Bombadil – I think that it actually has a better foundation than those. The one's that I am thinking of are:

(I) Gene Hargrove's - Who is Tom Bombadil?
(II) Steuard Jensen's - What is Tom Bombadil?

Hargrove's theory revolves around Tom being a Vala – namely Aule. Yet he freely admits all “the evidence is circumstantial”. For there is nothing in Tolkien's writings that explicitly links Tom to be a Vala let alone Aule.

Similarly Jensen admits that Tolkien does not ever define a class of beings as explicitly Nature Spirits.
He quite honestly points out that any evidence pre-Lotr is shaky, including Tolkien's mention of “Sprites” in the Lost Tales and the “spirit of the … Oxford and Berkshire countryside” per Letter #19.

In contrast Priya Seth's theory of Tom being an allegory of the 'Audience/Orchestra' of a mentally conceived play, to me, is more solid because of:

(a) Letter# 153, which was written after FotR and where Tolkien explicitly states that Tom “is an allegory”
(b) Tolkien stressing 'allegory' in Letter # 153 through the use of quotation marks.

W can argue what type of allegory (and whether Tolkien left it vague deliberately) later because I can sympathize with Priya that Tolkien was reluctant to play his full hand. I certainly don't want to argue with the man from his grave. But if he himself said that Tom was an 'allegory' then that should be good enough to be able to construct a theory around.

Moreover Priya's theory is further enhanced because of usage of quotes from the 1964 Mroczkowski letter. We should not forget that there are at least a couple of letters involving Tom that both Hargrove's and Jensen's theories have not been updated for.

Given all of the above, I do not really see how anyone can reasonably argue that Priya Seth's theory is not valid, and doesn't deserve to stand alongside others.
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Old 03-30-2016, 09:13 PM   #33
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There is a very good chance that the 1964 Mroczkowski letter contains more about Tom. Indeed it may fully confirm (or for that matter entirely negate) Priya Seth's theory. The fact that only partial contents have been revealed (with respect to LotR information) seems a bit weird.

I could find very little more about the letter and who purchased it on the Internet apart from 'The LotR Plaza' and the 'Tolkien Gateway' sites.

From the 'Tolkien Gateway':

"The letter continues with a detailed discussion of The Lord of the Rings, considering Mroczkowski's suggestion as to 'the simultaneity of different planes of reality touching one another ... part of the deeply felt idea that I had ... Beyond that too I feel that no construction of the human mind, whether in imagination or the highest philosophy, can contain within its own "englobement" all that there is ... There is always something left over that demands a different or longer construction to "explain" it ... This is like a "play", in which ... there are noises that do not belong, chinks in the scenery', discussing in particular the status of Tom Bombadil in this respect."*

It is stated that: "This work is copyrighted and owned by the*Tolkien Estate."

If that is the case I would hope that one day soon the contents will be fully revealed. Any other information as to its content or confirmation as to whether it truly is/isn't in the hands of the Estate would be much appreciated.
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Old 03-31-2016, 07:27 AM   #34
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What, this is still going?
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Nerwen

To be fair – the author did specifically request the reader hold of on criticism until the article was finished (see end of Intro in Part I). Yes the article is very long. Having been broken into four sections – I can understand why the the author might have wanted some restraint given the amount of new stuff to digest. In this instance, I think it's only natural that the author would want to be given an honest trial.
Of course, but the fact remains that you- not the author- started this thread in order to ask for our "thoughts" on the then-incomplete article. But that is beside the point now, except that I'd say that the rest of the article is anyway much as I might have expected from the first part.

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PrinceOfTheHalflings

Yes lol - “not another bloody elf” or in this case not 'another bloody anagram' ! Sounds just like Tolkien!

I certainly sympathize with the OTT thing on the anagrams. The only one I felt was 'good' was the “wag” one related to the cut-out. Nevertheless – in trying to be balanced – hiding stuff in literature is pretty difficult – and if Tolkien did so (as Priya Seth contends), then I can see there being at least one anagram in the novel. It's interesting that the most of the anagrams had some sort of signaturization involved – which does help credence a little bit!

In my mind there is definitely something suspicious about the 'Balrog cut-out'. The author seems to strongly suggest that Tolkien thought a lot more about his monster than many give him credit for. As for Tolkien's monogram – her point is well taken – if some of it's a puzzle then perhaps the rest of it is too!

I was kind of surprised that you didn't think that the allegory revelations and all that ensued from them was 'intriguing' enough. After all, there is an awful lot of stuff in Parts I, II & III that is 'new' – even without considering the anagram angle in Part IV.
The trouble with these "anagrams": if you're a fantasy author, you don't need to construct your anagrams out of pre-existing words and names- why, then, the tortuous grammar of "Warn Bilbo and Frodo I be a Maia – Mr Ronald T"?

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To be fair to Jallanite – I did take a step back and reconsider whether this theory was not up to par with others. I've posted something very similar on the 'Plaza' but in my opinion – it is.

One of the points I want to make is that after pondering the legitimacy of Priya Seth's article – I have come to the conclusion that it is pretty well grounded. In comparing it to two of the most well known theories about Tom Bombadil – I think that it actually has a better foundation than those. The one's that I am thinking of are:

(I) Gene Hargrove's - Who is Tom Bombadil?
(II) Steuard Jensen's - What is Tom Bombadil?

Hargrove's theory revolves around Tom being a Vala – namely Aule. Yet he freely admits all “the evidence is circumstantial”. For there is nothing in Tolkien's writings that explicitly links Tom to be a Vala let alone Aule.

Similarly Jensen admits that Tolkien does not ever define a class of beings as explicitly Nature Spirits.
He quite honestly points out that any evidence pre-Lotr is shaky, including Tolkien's mention of “Sprites” in the Lost Tales and the “spirit of the … Oxford and Berkshire countryside” per Letter #19.

In contrast Priya Seth's theory of Tom being an allegory of the 'Audience/Orchestra' of a mentally conceived play, to me, is more solid because of:

(a) Letter# 153, which was written after FotR and where Tolkien explicitly states that Tom “is an allegory”
(b) Tolkien stressing 'allegory' in Letter # 153 through the use of quotation marks.

W can argue what type of allegory (and whether Tolkien left it vague deliberately) later because I can sympathize with Priya that Tolkien was reluctant to play his full hand. I certainly don't want to argue with the man from his grave. But if he himself said that Tom was an 'allegory' then that should be good enough to be able to construct a theory around.

Moreover Priya's theory is further enhanced because of usage of quotes from the 1964 Mroczkowski letter. We should not forget that there are at least a couple of letters involving Tom that both Hargrove's and Jensen's theories have not been updated for.

Given all of the above, I do not really see how anyone can reasonably argue that Priya Seth's theory is not valid, and doesn't deserve to stand alongside others.
Meaning those two only? Isn't this basically what the Wikipedia lot call an "other stuff exists" argument?
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:44 PM   #35
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What, this is still going?

Yep – Bombadil is interesting for sure! But part of the issue is my abysmal delays in responding or posting 'evidence'. Unfortunately I have only been able to spare odd moments once in a while.


Of course, but the fact remains that you- not the author- started this thread in order to ask for our "thoughts" on the then-incomplete article. But that is beside the point now, except that I'd say that the rest of the article is anyway much as I might have expected from the first part.


Agreed. I had hoped that some courtesy would have been extended as the author requested.


The trouble with these "anagrams": if you're a fantasy author, you don't need to construct your anagrams out of pre-existing words and names- why, then, the tortuous grammar of "Warn Bilbo and Frodo I be a Maia – Mr Ronald T"?


Good point and question. I don't know the answer for sure – but perhaps its something individual to his psyche. I can only re-iterate two quotes that stand out in Priya's essay from Tolkien's grandchildren that are:

He played endless word games with me and did the Telegraph cross.

He loved riddles, posing puzzles and finding surprising solutions.



I must say that 'the anagram' doesn't seem too 'tortuous' to me.


Meaning those two only? Isn't this basically what the Wikipedia lot call an "other stuff exists" argument?


Not sure what you are getting at here???? Yes, for sure different theories on Bombadil abound. In terms of what Priya Seth has produced, its definitely 'other stuff'. Because I can't find anything like it elsewhere.




Anyway getting back to Tolkien and lateral thinking: an interesting piece of information I dug out that highlights that Tolkien's could imagine his world allegorically - is the very early sketch of a Viking Ship:




This idea appears to have been rejected, but in light of this - the world imagined as a theater in a which a play is conducted doesn't really seem that far-fetched!
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Old 04-28-2016, 04:28 PM   #36
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What, this is still going?
Yes, and I believe the anagram for "What, this is still going?" can be translated into Sindarin with a translation back into Westron as "Wash, rinse, repeat."
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Old 04-28-2016, 07:14 PM   #37
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Yes, and I believe the anagram for "What, this is still going?" can be translated into Sindarin with a translation back into Westron as "Wash, rinse, repeat."
And it's all so unnecessary. Here is the clear answer to the Bombadil conundrum.
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Old 04-29-2016, 01:32 AM   #38
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And it's all so unnecessary. Here is the clear answer to the Bombadil conundrum.
hahahahah *high five* - no, Inziladun, he wasn't the Witchking, he ate the Witchking. It's foretold in the Second Prophesy of Ungoliant, when Galadriel's daughter, Celebrian is proved to be an Orc. After Ungoliant vomits up the Silmaril and Sauron's eye is restored (by Unsight). Thence Ezellohar will spring for forth Morgoth, who shall vomit up the poison Ungoliant left behind.

--serious--

I've joined this late, but have been reading. It's an oldie but a goodie. Some say, even Bombadil was Eru (I've never bought that theory). Maia seems most likely. An immunity to the Ring seems to mean of greater Stature than Sauron, hence comments at the Counsel "he wouldn't understand the need".

Three words:

Immunity
Enigma
Nonchalance

And Deus Ex Machina. Why? Just an idea, Frodo's dream of Valinor near to Tom, who is Eldest.....And I'll suffix "yet in Middle Earth". Seemed to have been around when the Kelvar and Olvar were fashioned. The first acorn and raindrop thing.

Interesting article, in the opening post.
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Old 05-23-2016, 12:58 AM   #39
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Meaning those two only? Isn't this basically what the Wikipedia lot call an "other stuff exists" argument?
Not sure what you are getting at here???? Yes, for sure different theories on Bombadil abound. In terms of what Priya Seth has produced, its definitely 'other stuff'. Because I can't find anything like it elsewhere.
My apologies if I wasn't clear. What I was meant is that at #32 you are, seemingly, trying to deflect criticism of Priya Seth's theory by pointing out that other, unrelated theories have flaws.
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Old 06-06-2016, 10:01 PM   #40
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Nerwen – possibly that was the case.

Anyway - let's face it will be an uphill struggle to change mindsets in relation to 'Tolkien and allegory'. However I must say that I sympathize with Priya Seth - for as she states in the preface to Part II, we all may have been misled:

“The many self-mentions of Tolkien’s aversion to allegory have been a linchpin in our comprehension of Tolkien’s thought process to creationist writing. Yet for Bombadil researchers – it has in effect – drowned out two direct and indisputable remarks linking allegory to Tom. It is categorically the main reason why these two remarks in*Letter #153*get so little scholastic attention.”

Another interesting point on allegory that she makes is that:

“Tom is the only character in*The Lord of the Rings*ever referred to as an ‘allegory’ within any of the Professor’s correspondences. For that matter such an observation extends beyond*The Lord of the Rings*to also include*The Hobbit*and Silmarillion tales. On top of this, Tom is the only fictional being whom Tolkien stated never properly fitted into his sub-created world. He was the one individual he actively thought about tinkering with to bring into line with all the others.”*

That actually is quite remarkable.

I note that the Tolkien strongly implied on several occasions that the tale didn't contain conscious allegory. Yet nevertheless he was quite happy to bring in the poem of Fastitocalon into Middle-earth lore in the 1962 Adventures of Tom Bombadil. It is supposed to have been attributed to Sam Gamgee with its ultimate source unknown but from earlier times.

With the character Fastitocalon allegorized as Satan (maybe effectively Morgoth) per Letter #255 – without a shadow of doubt, his myth touched upon allegorical ideas.
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