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Old 03-12-2003, 10:46 PM   #23
Dininziliel's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: 3rd star from the right over Kansas
Posts: 108
Dininziliel has just left Hobbiton.

Re where Davem is going with the Elves [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] --I think I can help.

Here is the quote from Letters #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.
If we can determine what "hideous peril" and "true immortality" are, then we will understand Tolkien's tack on the Elves, Men, ME, and, well ... everything.

Galadriel/Lorien has been much romanticized (in classical sense). Perhaps this was Tolkien's intention in writing Galadriel/Lorien as he did. It provides an illustration of the very things the last several posts have been addressing.

Rivendell/Elrond, described by Tolkien, as wisest & repositor of lore in ME, has been able to see and to accept the natural course of things for a very long time. (This may be arguable in light of his attitude and behavior over Arwen's decision, however.)

Wish we knew more about Thranduil.

Galadriel, given her history, would logically come closer to falling victim to the "hideous peril," but re-chooses her path when she is able to see in a matter of minutes what Elrond has seen for who knows how long. I think this occurs when Frodo offers her the Ring. Not to create an "Elrond v. Galadriel" subthread, but Galadriel had an epiphany; Elrond simply discerned with wisdom. They are fully united and atoned in LotR as the music begun in Silmarillion plays out the notes of Iluvatar's will regarding the Ring and ME.

I think one of the most powerful attractions in LotR and Silmarillion is the melancholic grace of the Elves' acceptance of their inevitable passing from ME--"death." Tolkien employed such genius in evoking our own recognition of this passage without resorting to allegory or thinly veiled finger-wagging. A deep and instant resonance is struck when we read of the Elves' demeanor and mood as they travel to the Grey Havens.

Another anchor for the thread title and discussion of Elves is what Tolkien said in a rather portentous manner in Letters and other sources regarding how the Elves were doomed for attempting to usurp or mimic the power of Iluvatar.

LittleManPoet captured the essence of this thread for me:
As one whose faith harmonizes reasonably closely with Tolkien's, one thing that I see is that humans - in this life (presuming an acceptance of the above mentioned faith) - are both elves and men. We have received the gift of Eru to Men: we shall all die. We have also received the gift of the Elves (after a fashion): we shall continue to exist, always. This is a strange tension for me. And I think Tolkien did us a wonderful service in evoking the two different realities within one cosmos by separating them out and comparing them, not in thesis form (thank the gods), but in story. What is it like, what does it mean, what are the stumbling blocks of the Gift to Man? of the Gift to the Elder Children? It is no easy thing to be human; to be Elven.
Haven't we all felt the poignant wish for something never to end or change? Don't we all hold some snapshot of the past or cast a particular mental-emotional construct into a kind of internal floating amber? And haven't we all thought of how wearisome this world is? Isn't this strange tension brought about by confusion and fear about the nature of our existence? The Elves and Men may have gifts or enviable attributes, but they lack the relative peace of mind and seeming sure-footedness enjoyed by hobbits (no pun intended).

Back again, though, to just what is the "hideous peril" and "true 'immortality' "? I'm not saying I know the answer. Those questions just seem to me to be at the heart of Tolkien's tales.

And since I've re-read the opening quote from Letters several times now, it occurs to me to wonder how the death of Aragorn actually does compare with that of a ringwraith's.


[ March 13, 2003: Message edited by: dininziliel ]
"It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed."
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