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Old 03-08-2003, 11:26 PM   #7
Dininziliel's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: 3rd star from the right over Kansas
Posts: 108
Dininziliel has just left Hobbiton.

Here is a slight twist on the matter, turned by Tolkien himself in Letters #86:
The real theme for me is about something much more permanent and difficult; Death and Immortality: the mystery of the love of the world in the hearts of a race 'doomed' to leave and seemingly lose it; the anguish in the hearts of a race 'doomed' not to leave it.
and #203:
But I should say, if asked, the tale is not really about Power and Dominion: that only sets the wheels going; it is about Death and the desire for deathlessness. Which is hardly more than to say it is a tale written by a Man!
and, #207:
Death is not an Enemy! I said, or meant to say, that the 'message' was the hideous peril of confusing true 'immortality' with limitless serial longevity. Freedom from Time, and clinging to Time. The confusion is the work of the Enemy, and one of the chief causes of human disaster. Compare the death of Aragorn with a Ringwraith. The Elves call 'death' the Gift of God (to Men). Their temptation is different: towards a faineant melancholy, burdened with Memory, leading to an attempt to halt Time.
I don't know what "faineant" means (and it should have an accent above the e), but it must be a nonessential adjective.

All grammatical nonessentials aside [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] there is a lot here with which to work.

(1) What, exactly, is "the hideous peril"?

(2) Can we infer Tolkien's feelings about his own death? If so, what were they?

[This is more a thesis statement and not an answer to the above question] Tolkien is saying that Death is not to be feared, and that the Enemy (Melkor? Sauron? I can't recall right now & don't want to spend the time looking it up) is reponsible for creating that fear. I am subsituting "fear" for confusion because fear is the outcome.

This would account for the somewhat inscrutable sadness of the Elves and their attempts to control (read "usurp Iluvatar's role") reality by immersion into the past and manipulating events. Tolkien has stated that the Elves' inevitable plight was the result of their trying to create/control.

This also accounts for the downfall of Numenor. Why should one be greedy for anything if one has not the fear of Death? Especially if one could see it in the true light of Iluvatar's intentions in giving it to Men.

I'll say just one more thing and then I'll end.

I remember where I was and what I was doing when I first apprehended what Tolkien was saying during the part of the creation when Iluvatar gave Death to Men. I was listening to The Silmarillion in my car, going east on Johnson Drive about 4:00 in the afternoon. It simply stopped time in my mind for awhile. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] Much was revealed and instantly resolved. And though my powers of articulation are unequal to the task of expounding with clarity, there is a paradox in that the Elves, immortals, try to stop Time, thus dooming themselves to a perpetual melancholic perception while Men (not those who see Death in its proper light such as Aragorn) end up killing and defaming life out of fear of Death. This is an expansion of the first quote above.

If someone has been able to tease out what I am trying to say there, I'd be mighty glad to hear it!

Peace, Love ...
"It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed."
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