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Old 10-10-2021, 03:40 PM   #1
Aiwendil
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Considerations from The Nature of Middle-earth

I thought I'd make a thread dedicated to discussion of The Nature of Middle-earth and its implications for this project. I think the chief thing that will need discussion is the material in part 1, "Time and Ageing", and that's what I'm going to discuss in this post, but we can also use this thread to discuss points raised in the other parts.

The bulk of part 1 consists of a series of notes and calculations dating from c. 1959, concerning the inter-related topics of Elvish growth and ageing, rate of population increase, and chronology under the new scheme where 1 Valian year = 144 solar years. I'll assume that everyone here has read the book, so there's no need to give a detailed account of those texts. It's important to bear in mind, though, that not all of the texts given in part 1 date from that c. 1959 period, nor are they necessarily presented in chronological order.

I know this opinion is going to be controversial, but in my view, we can't adopt any of these new chronologies, and should retain more or less the chronology from the last version of AAm. Essentially, my reasons are thus:

1. Christopher Tolkien states (in an endnote to MT XI) that the change in the length of the Valian Year was a consequence of the new cosmogony, and I'm inclined to agree with him:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Tolkien
It will be seen that, as a consequence of the transformation of the 'cosmogonic myth', a wholly new conception of the 'Valian Year' had entered. The elaborate computation of Time in the Annals of Aman (see pp. 49-51, 59-60) was based on the 'cycle' of the Two Trees that had ceased to exist in relation to the diurnal movement of the Sun that had come into being - there was a 'new reckoning'. But the 'Valian Year' is now, as it appears, a 'unit of perception' of the passage of the Time of Arda, derived from the capacity of the Valar to perceive at such intervals the process of the ageing of Arda from its beginning to its end.
The reasons for this change, it seems to me, are more or less:

a. The revised cosmogony was intended to make the Legendarium more scientifically plausible; a corollary, then, was making Arda far older than was the conception in the flat-earth version.

b. Since the new cosmology has the Sun predate the Trees, the idea of a Valian year based on the cycle of the Trees but not matching up with the cycle of the sun no longer made any sense.

Given that we have decided not to implement the revised cosmology, it seems to me that we should also not implement the accompanying change in chronology.

2. In any case, the changes to the chronology, like those to the cosmology, seem to me to fall under our principle 2b; they are projected changes that do not clearly indicate how the actual text is to be changed. In a way, these texts (like some of those in MT) can be viewed as outlining for a complete revision of the early parts of the Silmarillion. That revision was never written, and I'd argue that for us to alter the texts we have (AAm, LQ) to achieve that outline would require far too heavy an editorial hand.

3. The ideas presented in "Time and Ageing" are remarkably fluid, and it is by no means clear whether Tolkien ever arrived at a final conception, or (if so) what that was. We can, to be sure, establish a tentative chronology for the writing of a lot of these texts based on internal evidence, but even in the ones that seem to be the latest, we see Tolkien proposing different ideas and generally "thinking on paper". While there are, certainly, a number of persistent ideas through the texts, the details are constantly in flux, and it's unclear what Tolkien's conclusions were.

4. In fact, we know that Tolkien later rejected a substantial part of the c. 1959 ideas. Around 1968, in the two texts given in chapter XIX of NoMe and more allusively in "The Shibboleth of Feanor", we have an entirely different conception of Elvish longevity in the form of "cycles of renewal". The c. 1959 chronology was entirely based on the shifting ideas from that time on the rate of Elvish growth and maturation, childbearing, and so on. With those ideas replaced by a very different one, that chronology would seem to be obviated.

In connection with this, it's also worth noting that a story arose in "Shibboleth" where Feanor was said to be inspired to make the Silmarils by the radiance of Galadriel's hair. This implies, of course, that Galadriel was born before the making of the Silmarils - whereas in the c. 1959 chronology, Galadriel's birth was placed after the making of the Silmarils. This may have been forgetfulness, but taken together with the idea of Elvish cycles of life, it strongly suggests to me that Tolkien did not consider the chronology dating from 1959 to be at all settled or final.

Having said all that, I think there probably are some more minor points arising in these generational schemes and chronologies that we might take up, where they don't specifically depend on ideas that I think we must reject. For instance, these texts clearly state that the three ambassadors to Valinor (Ingwe, Finwe, and Elwe) were not among the first Elves to awaken, and it seems to me that this (and indeed, the element of the elder Elves being more skeptical of the Valinorean invitation) is independent of the new Valian year, and would fit fine with our version.
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Old 10-11-2021, 06:26 AM   #2
ArcusCalion
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I will have to say I STRONGLY disagree Aiwendil. In fact, I think it will be found that the changes necessitated by the dating scheme are not, in fact, as difficult to implement and as requiring of changes to the manuscript as might be thought. To respond to your points individually:

1.
a) The scientific accuracy afforded by an Older Arda is not required to be grouped into the same change as the idea of an ancient Sun and Moon, and I am unsure why you have done so. Plenty of changes and materials which were made concurrent with this central decision on Tolkien's part have been taken up into the drafts we have agreed on, such as Cuivienyarna and others, and we have simply edited them as needed to remove those parts that suggest an ancient Sun and Moon.

b) Why is that exactly? Removing the Sun from the equation only makes the 144 year-long Valian year easier to explain, as the length of time of the Trees' cycles can be any length without worrying about meshing that with Sun cycles.

2. I am also unsure how this can be seen. The text itself often requires little to no actual changes, since Tolkien kept most of the actual dates the same, the only difference is the length of actual time implied by those dates. As we give no indication of either of those things in the narrative, no real changes are required.

3. Fluidity has never been a concern of the rules of the project before to my knowledge. Is it not the case that the latest of Tolkien's writings and decisions is to be prioritized, unless unworkable? As to the idea of 'cycles' he lays out this idea in one of the Time and Aging materials, and it actually correlates quite well with what was said in earlier versions, with the added tidbit of 'renewal' occurring with each stage of life entered. I have at this time already made a draft of a singular Time and Aging work combining much of the material laid out by Tolkien, and forming such a draft was far less difficult than might be thought.

4. As explained above, the 'cycles of renewal' is not a rejection of the earlier material but an expansion on it. The Cycles he lays out map exactly onto the previously elaborated life stages in his schema, with the new addition of a physical 'renewal' upon entering each new stage of life, slowly dwindling in efficacy and longevity until Fading.

In summary, the only changes that seem 'unworkable' are those which relate directly to the Ancient Sun and Moon, which we have already agreed to reject, such as Men awaking much earlier. The rest are very easily workable into our texts, and I think we have a mandate to do so by the rules of the project.
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Old 10-11-2021, 10:44 AM   #3
Aiwendil
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Well, I did anticipate that my opinion would be controversial! I'll just try to answer your points and, I hope, clarify my views, and then leave this until Findegil, Gondowe, and anyone else have had a chance to offer their opinions.

1.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "ArcusCalion
The scientific accuracy afforded by an Older Arda is not required to be grouped into the same change as the idea of an ancient Sun and Moon, and I am unsure why you have done so. Plenty of changes and materials which were made concurrent with this central decision on Tolkien's part have been taken up into the drafts we have agreed on, such as Cuivienyarna and others, and we have simply edited them as needed to remove those parts that suggest an ancient Sun and Moon.
This is not, however, a case of two changes made for a similar purpose at the same time. This is, I strongly believe, a case of a single decision that had multiple consequences. We all (I think) accept, for instance, that the new elements of: a) a round earth, and b) the sun and moon existing from the beginning of Arda, are simply two pieces of a single change, and not to be considered independently. In my view, the 144:1 ratio was just as much an element of that same change - the decision to make Arda the Solar System entails a vast time scale just as much as it does a round earth or an ancient sun and moon. And again, this isn't just a connection I've made - Christopher Tolkien accepts this conclusion as so plainly apparent that he states it as a simple fact.

Quote:
b) Why is that exactly? Removing the Sun from the equation only makes the 144 year-long Valian year easier to explain, as the length of time of the Trees' cycles can be any length without worrying about meshing that with Sun cycles.
What I mean is that a change in the Valian year was necessitated by the change in cosmology, because it no longer made sense for the time unit used by the Valar not to match up with any multiple of the solar year (recall that in AAm, the ratio was 1 V.Y. = 9.582 S.Y.).

2. Tolkien worked out some of the difficulties with Maeglin and Finduilas, it is true (though the nature of those notes is quite tentative). But the new chronology requires significant alterations to the story of the discovery of the Elves, the war against Melkor, the invitation to Valinor, and the Great March. It's not just a matter of dates being changed, but of the sequence and motivation for events being rearranged.

It's also worth noting that there are difficulties here from both directions, as it were, since as already mentioned, in the late '60s we have a new conception of Elvish life-cycles and the apparent birth of Galadriel before the making of the Silmarils. (I think there is also a more minor contradiction between the 'Key Dates' chronology and the 'Choosing of the Istari' narrative).

And finally, unless I'm mistaken in my recollection, the new chronology also necessitates a few changes to the dates given in the 'Tale of Years' in LotR, which would also mean that we must reject them as contradicting a text published in Tolkien's lifetime without specifically correcting an error.

3. Certainly, you're correct that fluidity of conception is, by itself, not a reason to reject something for this project. I do think, nonetheless, that the experimental and tentative nature of all these texts is important to bear in mind. Particularly:

a. It lends credence to the argument that contradictions found in later texts constitute a rejection of key elements of these texts, rather than forgetfulness or a slip of the pen.

b. It makes it more difficult to come to a firm conclusion as to which of the ideas presented here is the "final" one on any particular point.

4.
Quote:
As to the idea of 'cycles' he lays out this idea in one of the Time and Aging materials,
Do you mean to say that the idea of cycles of renewal is laid out in one of the c. 1959 texts on Elvish ageing and chronology? If so, which text? In NoMe, I only find it in the two texts of chapter XIX, 'Elvish Life-Cycles', which date from c. 1968 and are apparently associated with the 'Shibboleth'. (It is also mentioned in the note, also connected with the 'Shibboleth', given in VT 41 about Elves not having beards until the third cycle of life, an exception being Nerdanel's father who had one in the second.)

In any case, this later idea does contradict some of the critical elements that persisted through all of the c. 1959 texts. In the 1959 texts, Elvish longevity is achieved by a vast prolongation of the procession through growth, youth, maturity, and senescence (which takes the form not of bodily deterioration but of the gradual consumption of the hroa by the fea). The specific rates were tinkered with quite a bit, particularly as concerns growth, but Tolkien is not vague about this, and he repeatedly provides specific ages in solar years at which the points in this ageing process are reached. And those specific figures are critical to the chronology and generational schemes he develops. A key point, consistent through all of these texts, is that Elves typically have a single continuous period of child-bearing, and after their youth, they never parent more children.

In the 1968-69 texts, on the other hand, Elves achieve their longevity not (just) by having their youth and maturity extended, but by having it repeated. They begin to "show age", then enter a quiet period and emerge from it renewed, physically, to a state of early maturity. And, critically, they have multiple periods of parenthood, the cycle beginning again once all the children of the current period had reached adulthood. This new idea would completely alter the generational calculations Tolkien made, which were the basis for the new chronology.

Last edited by Aiwendil; 10-11-2021 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 10-12-2021, 07:50 AM   #4
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As well asAiwendil, I anticipated that the concepts presented in part one of NoME would lead to discussions. I have not yet made up my mind fully about the already given arguments. But I will give some points of my considerations:

First of all the yn of 144 solar years is a given fact that we can not deny. It is given in Appendix D of LotR. So what we have to decide is if the yn is the unit whichs is used for the reconning in AAm. We have discussed this already twice at least. And here Chapter 1: Of the Beginning of Time (look for BD-12) we agreed to be ambiguous about the unit in [b]AAm[/i].
The frist discussion I refered too might be this Creating a new Silmarillion -- some ideas..., but that did not come to final conclusion.

But than again: Do we have to decied at all? Did we use in any part of our editing dates from AAm? I don't think so.

So this problem would come up only if we take up parts of NoME that would specify chronological units which we could maybe avoid.

May impression by the first read was like Aiwendil's that the concepts of Elvish ageing were some waht fluent and in the end contradicted by later cycles of live. So please ArcusCalion explain how you arived at the conclusion that the cycles would 'enhance' the older concept and not contradict it.

I think in the end we face the same problem as Tolkien: A concept that would fit the biography of e.g. Galadriel would create problems in the biography of e.g. Maeglin. In the end we might find that the considerations here will lead us even to let out some parts Laws and Customs that we have included so far.

Respectfully
Findegil

and I am inclined to thinkt that is still the safest way.
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Old 10-13-2021, 10:19 AM   #5
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Hi there. Regarding this, I am going to give my opinion, that although it is closer to Aiwendil's and, I understand, Findegil's, we could have a general approach to all of them.

1 I agree with Aiwendil (and then with CT) that the new cosmology involves everything and making it more scientifically realistic is unfeasible (Alas) without a narrative development that does not exist. But there are concepts in relation to Tale of Years that should be taken into account, as the definitive change to 1: 144 instead of 1:10 (rounding) because, as Findegil said, it is established in TLotR with the concepts of yen and la. And, in my opinion it seems that the multiples of 12 were "of the Valar and of the Eldar" from the beginning, taking into account Cuivienyarna for example. We could, of course, be ambiguous but in TLotR Tolkien it is clear and with numbers.

2 If the Awakening is in 850 then it is very difficult if not impossible to adapt the dates with which we have and the narrative. If we put it in 1050 as in AAm, perhaps everything could be better adapted by transposing the difference (eg VY {854} [1054] About the time the 12th generation of Quendi first appeared, ... and so on) to be able to include the date of birth of I, F and E and other data of interest. The 1: 144 ratio would only make us all Elves much older than the other concept. But, yes, we would have to forget about some recurring things in NoME such as the aforementioned birth of Galadriel 20 years before entering Beleriand and the birth of Maeglin in 120 without narrative development.
Perhaps Finduilas's birth could be plausible, but when would Orodreth and Angrod his father have been born?
It is true that these considerations led to the changes in the Tale of Years of the Second and Third Ages in the second edition of TLotR but without consequences in its narrative. Unfortunately we do not have that development here.

3 Apart from the fact that how the texts are presented in NoME does not help to understand them well (how I miss CT !!!!), all the Time and Aging material is developed to "explain" how the March etc, could be carried out and I think that would be out of place (although I could be wrong) and ambiguity would be the best solution.

4 I say the same as in point 3.

In any case I repeat the same thing that I said in the other thread to raise a modified Yenonotie (for example yours Arcus which is in English) and to be able to see among all if it is feasible. That could help us in turn to decide how to deal with the inclusion of text within the narrative.

As I already said elsewhere there are also important (at least for me) decisions to discuss, such as including Imin, Tata and Enel within the ambassadors as shown in one of Tolkien's options. Which could preserve the narration they make to Manw of the Awakening.

Greetings
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