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Old 01-05-2017, 04:23 PM   #1
Mithadan
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Ring Sauron's Great Miscalculation

Gandalf, at one point, refers to Sauron as a "wise fool." Wise because he is one of the Maiar and had achieved much and was steeped in lore and knowledge. A fool because he did not understand the motivations and minds of Men and Elves. Indeed, at times, Sauron may have been more foolish than wise.

We have discussed elsewhere that the making of "magical" things by Elves and the Ainur, to some extent, requires that the maker sacrifice some of his or her own individual "power" by placing it into the thing that is made. Perhaps, in some cases, the power derives, in part, from an outside source. The Silmarils had some of the essence of the light of the Two Trees in them. The Phial of Galadriel has the light of the Star of Earendil. The Three Elvish Rings may have derived some of their power from air, fire and water.

Tolkien states in Letter 131 that the chief power of all the Rings of Power was "the preservation or slowing of decay." He describes this as an "Elvish motive", namely the desire to preserve the beauty of their lands and avert the fading that they are doomed to. In the same letter, he suggests that the Elves remaining in Middle Earth wanted to create an image of Valinor in the mortal lands, and that this was an error, partly conceived by Sauron as an attack upon the Valar. The Rings of Power had other aspects resulting from Sauron's involvement. They caused invisibility (except for the Three he notes in the letter). And their tendency to slow decay made them a powerful temptation to Men, JRRT says in another letter; a way to avoid or delay death. I believe that even the lesser rings were never intended for Men or Dwarves. Sauron seized the Seven and the Nine, and possibly other lesser rings in the war upon Eregion.

So Sauron makes the One Ring and imbues it with a large part of his own native strength. JRRT says in Letter 131 that the One "contained the powers of all the others, and controlled them, so its wearer could see the thoughts of all those that used the lesser rings, could govern all that they did, and in the end could utterly enslave them." Note Tolkien's use of the word "could" rather than "would" in this quote.

Wise fool. Nice idea. Control and enslave the lords of the Elves that were "using" the Rings. Now I will quote a bit from earlier in this post. "A fool because he did not understand the motivations and minds of Men and Elves." Sauron puts on the One, the Elves perceive him, and what do they do? They take the Rings off and don't use them. Sauron apparently did not expect this.

I posit that Sauron was a fool in creating the One. It did not succeed in its purpose. The creation of the One placed a large portion of his strength in an OBJECT that could be lost or destroyed. If he had not created the One and invested time and effort into trying to fool the Elves, he could have retained all his strength in himself and would have been no worse off. And ultimately, what happens? He loses the Ring when it is cut off his finger by Isildur, and eventually it is destroyed, also destroying him. The creation of the One Ring was a colossal miscalculation.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:47 PM   #2
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Nice thread, sir.

I agree with your position.
The inability of Evil to understand Good seems to be a common happening.

Morgoth was unable to foresee a situation when the Valar could ever again help the Eldar and Edain, thinking them as merciless as he. A special emissary to plead for their cause was not on his radar.

Sauron, I think, later could not imaging the Valar taking any sort of pity on any of the Númenóreans; indeed he'd done his best to make them abhorrent in their pride and greed.

As Galadriel noted:

Quote:
'I perceive the Dark Lord and know his mind, or all of his mind that concerns the Elves. And he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed!'
FOTR The Mirror of Galadriel

If we take it a step further and consider Saruman, it seems he was utterly amazed by Gandalf's offer to let him go free from Orthanc, wither he wished. The inability to perceive mercy, coupled with hate and envy of Gandalf, led to his rejection of a last chance to put aside his devotion to self.

So it seems to me Sauron's blindness was to be expected. He'd had a long time to be immersed in Morgoth's own self-absorbing delusions, and, maybe, seeing the success of Morgoth with fomenting such strife among the Elves with Fëanor and his sons, thought he might be able to accomplish something similar, not understanding that the Elves had actually learned from their mistakes.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:30 AM   #3
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Boots Two things...

...one of them relatively narrow and slightly off the main path.

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Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
I believe that even the lesser rings were never intended for Men or Dwarves. Sauron seized the Seven and the Nine, and possibly other lesser rings in the war upon Eregion.
I'd never really thought about that.

When you say "never intended" I assume the implication is "the elves never intended."

Why did the elves make so many rings, or perhaps, how did Sauron persuade them to make so many? I assume handing out the Seven and the Nine was always his intention. Or rather, did Sauron just make use of the number of rings that he was able to get his hands on? He handed out seven to the dwarves because there were seven dwarf houses and then the Nine were the ones left over from that.

Point Two:

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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
The inability of Evil to understand Good seems to be a common happening.
But neither is this conception inability unique. Tolkien represents Good as being unable to comprehend Evil as well. Manwe was unable to understand Melkor and the changes that had happened in Melkor, which is why Melkor got off so lightly with the Chaining.
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Old 01-06-2017, 04:53 PM   #4
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Making the Ring was certainly a mistake, but I think it's a mistake completely consistent with Sauron's character:
Gandalf describes Sauron's policies thus:
Quote:
he that strikes the first blow, if he strikes it hard enough, may need to strike no more
As we know Professor Tolkien also says the following:
Quote:
it had been his virtue (and therefore also the cause of his fall, and of his relapse) that he loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion and wasteful friction
Given Sauron's nature, I think that such a "master plan", while certainly a miscalculation, was one he was practically bound to make, especially when coupled with his inability to comprehend the motives of good and altruistic people. This characteristic I think is another byproduct of his obsession with order, as his belief in the fundamental truth and logic of his own worldview made him incapable of believing that anyone could perceive the world differently.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:04 PM   #5
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Tolkien played with the idea of Sauron's single-mindedness, his monomania, leading to his grand miscalculation. Tolkien pictured Sauron as a single, lidless eye who was blind to all else but the One Ring, In many ways, Sauron was just as addicted to the Ring as Gollum or any other ringbearer, intent upon its reacquisition, much to his own folly.
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Old 01-09-2017, 08:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan View Post
Tolkien represents Good as being unable to comprehend Evil as well. Manwe was unable to understand Melkor and the changes that had happened in Melkor, which is why Melkor got off so lightly with the Chaining.
That's true. But Evil's blindness seems to be more consistent.

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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Tolkien played with the idea of Sauron's single-mindedness, his monomania, leading to his grand miscalculation. Tolkien pictured Sauron as a single, lidless eye who was blind to all else but the One Ring, In many ways, Sauron was just as addicted to the Ring as Gollum or any other ringbearer, intent upon its reacquisition, much to his own folly.
I think that's something else Sauron didn't count on when hatching the rings plot: that he himself would be consumed by lust for his own One Ring. Why would that be so? The power and will it contained was his own. Was it turned into an external force when imparted into the Ring, independent of his own fea?
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Old 01-09-2017, 08:51 AM   #7
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Was it turned into an external force when imparted into the Ring, independent of his own fea?
Thematically I would say yes. Within the logic of the narrative I would say that it probably had much the same effect upon him psychologically as other bearers.

I note this from "Myths Transformed" as well about Sauron's situation after the Ring's destruction:
Quote:
[Sauron] was said to have fallen below the point of ever recovering, though he had previously recovered. What is probably meant is that a 'wicked' spirit becomes fixed in a certain desire or ambition, and if it cannot repent then this desire becomes virtually its whole being. But the desire may be wholly beyond the weakness it has fallen to, and it will then be unable to withdraw its attention from the unobtainable desire, even to attend to itself. It will then remain for ever in impotent desire or memory of desire.
It seems to me that it was because the Ring was so crucial to Sauron's ambitions, especially after he lost it, that it became such an object of obsession. When he had it, he needed it, and when he lost it he desperately wanted it back. Perhaps that's the source of how the Ring engendered obsession in all of its bearers, because by its nature it was an object that was utterly essential to the fulfilment of its maker's fixations and to his survival; perhaps it influenced others in the same way because that was what it was: a thing essential to Sauron, and thus essential to anyone who bore it for any length of time.

The thought also occurs that the creation of the Ring was an inevitable mistake for Sauron because it was the technological implementation of his god complex; it gave him fake omniscience and omnipotence (over other Ring bearers) and allowed him to bestow counterfeit immortality upon his servants. He wanted to be a god and the Ring (and Rings) seem to have been quite an effective (if ultimately rather pathetic) way that he could pretend to be one.
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Old 01-09-2017, 09:26 AM   #8
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That's true. But Evil's blindness seems to be more consistent.
Either that or the points in the stories where Good had the advantage and initiative where such insights matter more are fewer and further between.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:43 AM   #9
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Sauron was also a victim of very mundane poor intelligence. After the Ford of Bruinen he lost track of the Ring and never got a good fix on it again, even though he came very close at times. At best he learned - days after the fact - that it had been at Sarn Gebir; and it would have been entirely natural for him to assume that it was headed for either Rohan or Gondor (especially after Pippin's fortuitous blunder on Dol Baran). Aragorn then had the wit and the will to reinforce this misconception.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:55 PM   #10
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By "poor intelligence" I assume that you mean lack of strategic or military intelligence, i.e. where is the ring, as opposed to pure stupidity. Or maybe I am wrong.

The lack of "intelligence" relates to the efforts of Gandalf in concealing the path of the Ring, and, candidly, Sauron's failure to perceive that his opponents might seek to destroy the Ring rather than use it against him. So, perhaps, Sauron's "poor intelligence" was really a lack of understanding. The Ring was not being brought to Imladris to be wielded. It was not being brought to Lothlorien to be wielded. It was not being brought to Gondor or even Rohan to be wielded. it was not to be wielded at all, but rather destroyed.
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Old 03-22-2017, 02:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithadan View Post
By "poor intelligence" I assume that you mean lack of strategic or military intelligence, i.e. where is the ring, as opposed to pure stupidity. Or maybe I am wrong.

The lack of "intelligence" relates to the efforts of Gandalf in concealing the path of the Ring, and, candidly, Sauron's failure to perceive that his opponents might seek to destroy the Ring rather than use it against him. So, perhaps, Sauron's "poor intelligence" was really a lack of understanding. The Ring was not being brought to Imladris to be wielded. It was not being brought to Lothlorien to be wielded. It was not being brought to Gondor or even Rohan to be wielded. it was not to be wielded at all, but rather destroyed.
The phrase "poor intelligence" also covers poor assumptions since in intelligence complete information is rare so assumptions are part and parcel of the thing.

So Sauron's poor intelligence was many-layered.
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:13 PM   #12
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One thing that Tolkien was very aware of, as a former Army signals officer,* is that it takes time for information to be relayed. Reading through Tolkien's detailed chronologies, one is struck by how carefully he tracked when Sauron, Saruman, the Witch-king etc actually learned a significant piece of intel- and the time-lag was significant, usually significant enough to make it "non-actionable."

One thing I hate about the movies is that PJ pretty much assumes that everything is known instantaneously across Middle-earth. Everyone knows way too much about what is going on, whereas the books are notable for how much most characters don't know.

*In 1916, realtime communication on the battlefield was restricted to field telephones, which only extended to your own front lines and even then were often knocked out, by shells, damp or just plain unreliability. Wireless was confined to divisional radio stations communicating in Morse code with higher headquarters. At the battalion level, it was still flares, carrier pigeons, and foot- or horse-borne couriers just like Waterloo. No wonder the commanders had no idea what was happening once the Tommies went over the top!
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