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Old 03-15-2003, 11:35 PM   #33
Dininziliel's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: 3rd star from the right over Kansas
Posts: 108
Dininziliel has just left Hobbiton.

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 ...
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.
Thank you -- not only has this helped me sharpen my thoughts on the matter, I think I share your sense of void (it's an ineffable, permeable experience and one that compels a desperation to escape it by any nearby means should it last a half second longer). However, this is a digression I am content to let pass.

What your post helped me to see more clearly is that the "hideous peril" mentioned by Tolkien is separation, or perhaps perceived separation, from Iluvatar and from joy. [True joy, in my experience, is one of the most poignant experiences possible.]

I agree with you about what true immortality is. This is also something I have experienced--being completely in the present moment and in wonder is to lose time and also place. In reading Letters, Tolkien has said as much. There is always a sense of bereftness upon "returning" to the "real" world. And, it is odd that it is fear that always brings me back. This causes me to wonder if Iluvatar may have had intended for Men to discover true immortality in order to counteract Sauron's successful use of fear in Numenor to turn Men's minds towards the temporal & corporeal. Just a thought ... At any rate, to choose the finite (power over others) over the infinite (contentment in fulfilling one's note in the Great Song) is certainly insanity--especially when Iluvatar has said that nothing can subvert his plans or change the Song.

Littlemanpoet also:
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.
Well, gee, that was a big "duh" wasn't it? I should have been able to figure that one out! [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] Thanks!

and Littlemanpoet again:
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 Eliot’s Wasteland, for example.
Enthusiastic and excited nodding of head -- yes! Wasteland also occurred to me as I travel through Letters. Eliot's masterpiece conveys enough of the void so effectively that just the well known snippets can bring on those shivers.

As for the Half-Elven, this is a very complex matter - how can they choose? To the extent that they're Elves, how can the understand mortality? To the extent that they're mortal, how can they understand immortality? Assuming that its not just a choice between dying or not dying, & that its a change in their essential nature, how can they make an informed decision?
I am somewhat confused -- the half-Elven (Elrond, Elros, et al) did choose. Shall I infer that they did so without thinking, nay--without the capacity to comprehend what what involved?

Davem again:
Our transitoriness is central to our achievements - art, music, science. The knowledge that we will one day leave this world, but the sense that that is not the end, is the central fact of our nature. ~I think Tolkien was interested in themes like this, & that that's what he was exploring in his writings. That's why the Legendarium isn't a 'fantasy' story, just another tale of Elves & Dwarves, Wizards & conquering heroes with magic swords, fighting & defeating the usual 'Demon King' who wants to take ove the world & enslave the 'Free Peoples'
Another enthusiastic nodding of head--this brings Aragorn back into the picture as when Littlemanpoet pointed out that Aragorn had a good death.

Without recounting Aragorn's end of days in ME, it is an example of one who chose to be in harmony with one's nature and with the earth as well. He recognized and wisely appreciated the rhythms, ebbs & flows, and patterns of life in Men and Nature. He accepted his place--his note in the Great Song, if you will. As a result, he was able to see far into and beyond most matters concerning ME (as did Faramir). Acceptance led to greater awareness, greater awareness led to insight, insight to heroism, and heroism starts it all over again. I think Tolkien understood and communicated this throughout the tales.

I hope I did not stray too far from the topic. It is the most important (I almost said "precious" [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] ) thing to me in LotR and Silmiarillion. It is why I go back to them again and again and apply what I gain from each re-reading to the choices made in my own life and in my notions about death.
"It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed."
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