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Old 03-13-2003, 02:13 PM   #29
littlemanpoet
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Very powerful and thought provoking, everyone.

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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.
dininziliel:
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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.
True immortality versus limitless serial longevity. Limitless serial longevity shakes me to my core like nothing else. It is the void. Trust me. I have thought long and hard about this, trying to shake it out of my mind; more often, trying to shake my mind off of it. :P True immortality is, to use a Christian metaphor/definition, eternal life; a life that is not bound by time, but is a constant present tense having complete fulfillment and contentment by virtue of the sustainment of Eru. We canít even comprehend it, but it has to be better than limitless serial longevity (the stuff of which insanity is made).

So the hideous peril could be, in my point of view, anything from insanity to being cast into the void, and every nightmarish prospect inbetween. Is this what the Elves had to look forward to? I envy them not.

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Galadriel had an epiphany; Elrond simply discerned with wisdom.
This is a very interesting point. Could it be that Elrond had gained this wisdom, which Galadriel had not, up to this point, because he was Half-Elven, and had to choose his destiny?

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Öit occurs to me to wonder how the death of Aragorn actually does compare with that of a ringwraith's.
The Ringwraiths sought to escape death and ended up with a serial longevity limited only by the longevity of the Ring. Aragorn accepted his death as a gift, and received it well.

Tolkien said:
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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 'embalmers'. They wanted to have their cake & eat it; to live in the mortal historical Middle Earth because they had become 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.
This strikes me as rather appropo of Western modernism. At the risk of creating a huge tangent on this thread, do you suppose Tolkien was making such an unintentional commentary regarding modernism? Think of Eliotís Wasteland, for example.

davem:
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What the Elves lack [Ö] is a personal experience of death [according to] their own nature. The One [Ring] isn't really different [from] the Three [Ö] just 'more so'. They all give 'endless serial longevity' [Ö]
I would have to agree that there is a qualitative difference as well as the quantitative one about which you speak. The One Ring was designed to be used to break wills, whereas the Elvesís Three were designed to bend wills; a corollary to that: this bending of wills as good or evil was dependent upon the wielder, whereas with the Ring, any breaking of wills was evil. (I had better account for Frodoís use of the Ring to bind Gollum to his oath: Gollum chose freely to be so bound; Frodo didnít bend or break his will to it.)

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The Problems of the Elves right from the start were caused by their inability to understand what it is to dieÖ
I think itís simpler than that: their problems were caused by their inability to Ė die.

Warning! Tangent! Which brings to my mind the unique situation of the Half-Elves: Luthien, Elrond, and Arwen. By being half human and half elven, they have a unique place compared to their elven kindred: the ability to choose their fate. This seems especially important in terms of ďitís all about the inevitability of deathĒ, but I donít have time to go into it right now.

Davem:
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Unavoidable, inevitable loss is alien to them. Itís perhaps the lesson they have to learn.
Yes.

Davem:
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Perhaps the 'gift' of Death is [Ö] hardest [Ö] for the Elves [Ö] who experience it in everything around them. It separates & alienates them from what they most love Ė Arda
Yes.

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& gives them only two options - to leave [Arda], which can only be heartbreaking (are there any Mallorns in the Undying Lands?), or to stay & 'Fade' to ineffectual 'ghosts'.
A moving and haunting way to put it, davem.

Tifo gcs:

I agree with most of what you say, Tifo. Just a couple comments:

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The majority of [the Elves] were led out by the Valar, taken to a land where everything was like them, pretty much unchanging.
Itís more complicated than that. There were the Elves of the Light, and the Moriquendi. Most Elves never made it as far west as Beleriand, due to the machinations of Morgoth, as well as their love of Middle Earth. Only three houses made it to Beleriand, and of those, perhaps half got as far as Tol Eressea. Thus, most Elves actually never saw the light of the Trees. This seems to be important to me, in terms of the inevitability of death for Middle Earth. For there are possible fates for Elves that do not sail west: first, to fade as has been described; but second, as Tolkien said, to become a place-bound, quaint (I canít think of his word so I must substitute) gnome-like creature that has become so tied to nature and its natural setting that it has forgotten what it was. Deathless, but living such an elemental life that it could hardly be called conscious. Thus, a kind of sleep. Perhaps Iím reading more into Tolkien than he meant, but thatís what his description brings to my mind.

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[The Elves] always wanted to [go] back, and did so when they got the chanceÖ
Only the majority of the Noldor went back, to fulfill their oath. My sense is that but for Morgothís theft of the Silmarils, the Noldor never would have left. The Vanyar and Teleri, and the remnant of the Noldor were content to remain in the West.

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I do not see why [the Elves who remained in the Third Age] should have feared [Sauron].
The Elves were greatly weakened by the end of the Third Age. Elrond the wise says that Sauron could not be defeated. I do not quibble that the Elves still felt a sense of responsibility, considering that the Noldor were in part responsible for Sauronís power. (???) Now how did I decide that? I don't know. Heck, I'll leave it and see what kind of reaction I get.
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[ March 14, 2003: Message edited by: littlemanpoet ]
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