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Old 03-13-2003, 03:23 AM   #25
Illustrious Ulair
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.

Well, LMP, I finally found the quote about embalming I wanted. Its from letter 154 to Naomi Mitchison.
''But the Elves are not wholly good or in the right. Not so much because they had flirted with Sauron; as because with or without his assistance they were 'embamlmers'. They wanted to have their cake & eat it; to live in the mortal historical Middle Earth because they had becaome fond of it (& because they there had the advantages of a superior caste) & so tried to stop its change & history, stop its growth, keep it as a pleasaunce, even largely a desert where they could be artists, & they were burdened with sadness & nostalgic regret''
As I said, they seemed to want to turn the whole of Middle Earth into a sterile museum piece, which would have effectively made the whole of existence into one 'perfect' frozen moment, where nothing could evolve or move on.
What the Elves lack, it seems to me, is a personal experience of death - ie death as something which is of their own nature. They can only relate to 'Life' as a concept. So they seek to 'perfect' it & freeze it.
This leads to the Rings in a way. The One isn't really different to the Three. In effect it is just 'more so'. They all give 'endless serial longevity', its nature controlled & determined by the will of the wielder. I think in (on)the hand of a mortal the effect of an Elven Ring would have been the same as the effect of the One. The Problems of the Elves right from the start were caused by their inability to understand what it is to die, to lose something permanently - The loss of the Silmarils, of the Trees, of their power & influence, their superiorty over other races. For them, everything should be permanent & unchanging - unless they will it to be different. Unavoidable, inevitable loss is alien to them. Its perhaps the lesson they have to learn.
But at the end of the Third Age it seems some of them have realised what Death actually means, that its of the nature of Arda. Perhaps the 'gift' of Death is not just hard for men to accept, maybe its hardest of all for the Elves, who don't (naturally) experience it personally, but who experience it in everything around them. It seperates & alientes them from what they most love - Arda - & gives them only two options - to leave it, which can only be heartbreaking (are there any Mallorns in the Undying Lands?), or to stay & 'Fade' to ineffectual 'ghosts'. As Tolkien says 'death' is a gift which , as time wears, even the Powers shall envy.
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