The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > Novices and Newcomers
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-04-2009, 06:11 PM   #41
Cailín
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Cailín's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Lurking in the shadows.
Posts: 713
Cailín has just left Hobbiton.
I understand that the discussion of good and evil is of considerable interest and many may feel personally involved. However, I have to agree with davem and wish to stress that we are dealing with a fictional world, which is created by the author's voice alone and which is not neccessarily compatible with contemporary ideas of good and evil.

I see that there is some discussion over the term absolute as well. Rikae interprets the quoted article in the same way I did: it seems Pennington is looking for some divine entity. However - and please forgive me Morthoron, for again mentioning Harry Potter: I have no wish to cause psychological trauma - his insistence that Voldemort (who is human and surely not Satan himself) represents the darkest evil would lead me to believe that there is leeway for imperfection here.

My own thoughts were definitely Manwë, if the Silmarillion was included and Gandalf (the White and Improved Version) in Lord of the Rings. It seems sensible to say that Gandalf and Sauron, being equal in the hierarchy of beings, are pitted against each other in this battle. However, I am not too eager to simplify Lord of the Rings and it is difficult to see it as a stand-alone novel, because there are clearly so many other powers at work (the Balrog, Bombadil, Galadriel) to ignore them and focus on Sauron and Gandalf as the two extremes.

I will certainly include a link to this thread in my footnotes. There is a tendency to over-simplify fantasy in discussions on the genre in general. Thanks to all contributors so far.
Cailín is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-04-2009, 07:37 PM   #42
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,402
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
I'd like to return to Cailin's second post...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cailín View Post
. The question actually arose from an article ("From Elfland to Hogwarts") I read by John Pennington.
Quote:
Harry's education is cemented in this ultimate dichotomy that Tolkien, Lewis, and LeGuin privilege in their texts. So just what are the Harry Potter books about? (...) All is ripe for the good old-fashioned battle between good and evil. But that tone is quickly undercut--Harry is often more interested in being able to visit Hogsmeade and practice Quidditch than he is in fighting evil.
Interesting, because Frodo would have liked to go back to the inn and drink beer, and reprise his previous hobbitish pastimes, if he could have. He didn't, because he couldn't; he was wearing a homing beacon on a gold chain, and ringwraiths being the sorts of creatures that they are, Frodo didn't take time off til he got to Rivendell. After Rivendell, he accepted his new responsibility, and carried it through.

Quote:
Finally, what ultimately is the role of the archetypal good versus evil dichotomy in the series? Voldemort represents the darkest of evil. But what of the good? Is there an overarching figure of good--a supreme being, for example, not necessarily God--whom Harry and his friends follow?
Frodo follows (staunchly) their example and their expectation to fight against evil, whether he feels like detouring to an inn for the next three years, or not. Elrond, Aragorn, Gandalf, Galadriel, Goldberry, and even Arwen are all archetypal, at least they seem so to me; but not absolute good. However the author doesn't seem to be requiring absolute good.

The author implies it below, I think, that Dumbledore should have been more Gandalf-like, in other words, more of a Good. (A Gooder?)

Quote:
Dumbledore is a Merlin and Gandalf figure, but Dumbledore does not achieve any grandeur;... There seems to be a good in the novel, but that goodness seems individual rather than archetypal. Thus the archetypal evilness in the Potter universe has no real antidote other than Harry and his friends (who do not seem to take that evil too seriously).
In contrast to Gandalf, who does achieve grandeur. Imperfect, to be sure, but grand. Gandalf's goodness is archetypal, whereas Dumbledore's is not. I would agree. There are numerous characeters whose goodness is archetypal in LOTR; not absolute; but archetypal. I would argue here that Frodo 'follows' such personages as Gandalf, Elrond, the elves in general, Aragorn, to a degree Faramir. I would also add, however, that Frodo draws subtle strength from three others: Goldberry, Arwen, and Galadriel; whether from the good-is-beautiful, or from the beautiful-is-good, or from they-happen-to-be-both-good-and-beautiful. Regardless, they are all three, archetypal expressions of "Good".

Edit: Guess I cross-posted with Cailín .
Another Edit: Whoa. Guess I cross posted with several people.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.

Last edited by mark12_30; 01-04-2009 at 09:07 PM.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 03:47 AM   #43
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
Estelyn Telcontar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,628
Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Silmaril Moderator's note

As so often when issues bordering on religion and politics are discussed, this thread is veering in a direction that could cause it to be closed. The last couple of posts have returned to the Tolkien topic; please continue the discussion in that vein and avoid direct conflicts and personal accusations. The moderators and administrators are monitoring posts here closely and may edit or delete those which do not comply with forum rules.
__________________
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
Estelyn Telcontar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 03:50 AM   #44
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andsigil View Post
Actually, Hitler was an apostate who renounced the religion of his baptism.
All the evidence points towards him not being an atheist at any rate. But the fact remains, all these dictators did not commit their atrocities in the name of Atheism so it's not really a fair counter argument to the one that various modern day atrocities are committed in the name of Faith. Sorry, had to take that last word

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cailin
My own thoughts were definitely Manwë,
The glaring problem with Manwe of course is that he took part in the creation of Numenor, was there when it was made what it was, a viewing platform for Men to gaze at Valinor - which ultimately led to the deaths of thousands of innocents. I'd say Manwe had a lot of responsibility for his part in this.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 08:50 AM   #45
Boromir88
Laconic Loreman
 
Boromir88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 7,479
Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Send a message via AIM to Boromir88 Send a message via MSN to Boromir88
Quote:
What we have here is a very different thing, not a question about some lore thing, but rather directly questioning Tolkien's own belief.~TM
But the conflictions occur when Tolkien repeatedly denies allegory in his story, and he cut out religion from his story. Rather, religion is in symbols and you can say Gandalf is Christ-like, Eru is like the Christian God. But the depth of the characters makes it impossible to say Gandalf is Christ and Eru is the Christian God.

Tolkien wasn't writing to teach, nor was he to preach, he was writing a story for people to enjoy, and not just Christians. In Letter 142 Tolkien believed that critics will find it hard to "pigeon-hole" his story. You can't take one label and slap it on to one of Tolkien's characters. Is there a christian influence? Without a doubt, I say yes. But there's also norse, greek, modern, linguistic influences, and the list can go on from there.

And besides, personal beliefs change overtime. Maybe after writing the story, setting it down, thinking about it, reworking it...etc - through that process his ideas changed. Who knows? But, you don't have to be Christian to believe someone has to die to save something he/she loves. What I mean with that is, there are certain themes, ideals, morals, whatever you want to call them, that are global. Sacrifice, mercy, The Fall, death, Stewardship, these are everywhere, and these ideas are what Tolkien decided to work with, and write into his story.

Quote:
but I always took the meaning of all-good to be only that a person's will and intentions are absolutely good (setting aside whether this is equal to absence of evil here).~Mac
I personally agree with you there , but I would caution that we don't attach our own external beliefs to the characters in the story, or the internal text. Now, to completely detach our beliefs from the text I think would be absolutely () impossible, but we must do so as much as possible.

I will say it's clear that someone intentions do matter, and that is set up right in the story where Saruman justifies his "end" by going through admittingly horrible "means." So, what we have is in Saruman's own delusional mind, his intentions are good, but are they really? And on top of that, he doesn't care what it takes to reach those ends, he doesn't care who he kills, maims, destroys to get there, but he will reach his "good end."

Then we have several letters where Tolkien states, the Ring's destruction (definitely a good thing) is no benefit to Gollum. Gollum's intentions were completely and totally evil. He had planned for a long time to lead the hobbits into a deadly trap, and his actions in the Sammath Naur are anything but good. Eventhough the Ring is destroyed, because Gollum slips in, that does no good for Gollum, his motives were entirely evil.

And on top of that we have Sam, who has good intentions when he mistakes Gollum's "pawing" at Frodo; Sam is only looking after his master. However, his snap and failure to pity Gollum quite possibly leads to Gollum's failure at redemption. Even someone with entirely good motives (not like Saruman who is delusional ) causes evil to happen. It's unintentional, but Sam could not find Pity for Gollum up until the very end, in the Sammath Naur. This doesn't make Sam evil, but does it make him absolutely good?

Here is another thought, there's been talk about absolute evil, Morgoth, Sauron..etc and Tolkien does say that he doesn't believe in Absolute Evil, but he goes on to talk about the two big villains in his myth (Morgoth and Sauron) - what about objects? What about the Ring? Maybe since Sauron is not absolute evil, it is impossible for him to create something that is. However, the Ring just has this knack to turn every possible light, into dark. It has the ability to twist, and corrupt even the most noble actions. And as Frodo is full of pity, strength, courage, to get the Ring to the place where it was made, Frodo's chance to overcome an object of absolute evil; an object that can do no good and turn the best intentions upside down, fails. Frodo succumbs to the Ring - does it then take an absolute good character to destroy an absolutely evil object?
__________________
Fenris Penguin
Boromir88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 09:47 AM   #46
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,402
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë View Post
All the evidence points towards him not being an atheist at any rate. But the fact remains, all these dictators did not commit their atrocities in the name of Atheism so it's not really a fair counter argument to the one that various modern day atrocities are committed in the name of Faith.
Whether someone commits atrocities in the name of their religion, to me, is less of a question than whether their actions obey or disobey the tenets of their faith (or absence thereof.) For a Christian to commit atrocities is fundamentally disobedient to their moral and religious duty, and for a Christian that does so this is the proper criticism: not that your moral and religious code is invalidated by your actions; but that you have been shown to be disobedient to that code. If Hitler claimed to be a Christian, then he showed himself disobedient (to put it mildly.) If someone is striving to love his neighbor and defend the innocent, and fails, then he failed. That doesn't invalidate the directive to love the neighbor and defend the innocent. Meanwhile, if someone else's code is to jail those he does not enjoy, and he consistently does so, we may feel that his customs are better honored in the breach, but we cannot criticize him for being inconsistent with his belief system.

Boromir88 brings up the idea of intent, and I do think that is important. I think it is valuable to take intent into account, and I think Tolkien would have also done so.
To judge a code by its followers is a risky thing (although I understand the tendency to do so.) Saruman had, as the White Council supposed, a code of virtue. Do his actions invalidate that code of virtue? Or do his actions reveal that he was disobedient to that code? Tolkien held, in Middle-earth and presumably in England as well, that Virtue was better than Evil. THe actions of those who profess to be good, but do evil, do not prove that evil is better than good. Their actions simply prove that they are not following the path of virtue.

Stalin, Lenin, and Pol Pot showed themselves obedient to their own code and value system. They acted in a manner consistent to their dogma. In a similar manner, Sauron (once he established himself firmly as a Black sort of fellow) proved obedient to his new code (disobedeint to the old, to be sure.) But that is no suprise. Shelob acted in a manner consistent to her own dogma. So did Gollum (in the end.) Some folk hold that consistency is a good thing, but I would ask "consistency regarding what?" That Sauron and Gollum were consistently evil, does not make them nicer to be around than those who strove to be good and occasionally failed. I would rather live in a society that strove for virtue and failed occasionally, than one that was consistent at being nasty and mean because it was in their belief system. Consistency notwithstanding, Orc-run Moria would not be my choice for a vacation spot.

In the books, Aragorn, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Faramir, Legolas, Gimli, Sam, and even Merry and Pippin adhered pretty well (consistently!) to their own codes of virtue. Because of this, our modern society at times does not understand them. (I have long complained that PJ was far, far better at painting evil than he was at painting virtue.) Because PJ guessed that a purely noble Aragorn would not sell many tickets, we instead got a confused, hesitant, reluctant, I'm-only-in-this-because-I-have-to kind of Aragorn. I always thought that was too bad. Faramir also, was initially less good in the movie than in the book. But I digress.

Gimli isn't much of an archetype, in my mind; neither are Merry, Pippin, or Sam (some may argue.) But Legolas is. Perhaps that's an odd way of looking at the pair of them. BUt they did not start out as a pair.

The main characters who wanted to be good but strayed from their own code of virtue were, I think, Saruman, Boromir, Denethor, and Frodo himself. This to me is the heartbreak of Frodo's time at Sammath Naur; after struggling so long to adhere to his code of virtue, he fails at the last moment. THis removes him, in his own mind, from the code of virtue, and makes him a has-been. You were virtuous, Frodo, until that last moment. Too bad.

What a heartbreak for him.

IN contrast, Gandalf (wisely) refuses to take the ring knowing it would cause him to violate the code of virtue. Aragorn likewise, Faramir likewise.

Boromir, as we well know, succumbs to the temptation, but redeems himself in the end. Denethor would have snatched it given the chance, with no desire for redeemption.

While Galadriel strayed once, long ago, and has had her own independant streak, still, for the past thousand years she has steadfastly guarded the borders of Lorien against evil: first against Dol Guldor, then against Mordor. I find it difficult to lay much blame at her feet during the timeframe of LOTR. She has earned the title of virtuous, I think, by the time Frodo meets her.

Saruman is the blatantly disobedient one. He is the one who consistently behaved drastically differently from the code of virtue he proclaimed and professed; spoke sweetly while working treachery; consistently decieved many while being supposed to be faithful; butchered the Westfold. So going back to Lalwende's point above: In whose name did he do all this? His own (The White Hand)? Did Saruman commit his atrocities in the name of the White Council? If he had, would that have diminished the rest of the council? WOuld that have made his actions worse, better, or the same? Or do we care in what name he acted? If he had acted in the name of Mordor, would that have made his atrocities less? Only that it would have removed the "treachery" aspect of it; but the Westfold victims would be dead nonetheless. The atrocities Saruman committed proved that he was not, in fact, obeying his code of virtue.

He was, eventually, removed from the White Council and his staff was broken. Amazing that in the midst of it all, after the burning of the Westfol and the assault on Helm's Deep, even Gandalf hoped for his redeemption-- hoped that Saruman would return to real virtue.

Maybe Saruman is an archetypal traitor. I'm not familiar enough with all that to say. But to me, within LOTR, Gandalf is clearly an archetypal good, as are Aragorn, Faramir, Galadriel, Elrond, etc.

(Very interesting question regarding absolute evil, Boromir88; but my reply is already over-long...)
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.

Last edited by mark12_30; 01-05-2009 at 11:10 AM. Reason: What is a Balck sort of fellow? Oops.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 10:27 AM   #47
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,281
Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Formendacil is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
Hmm, then you say that in order to be absolutely good, one has to be perfect (in this case, all-knowing)? Of course a good person's actions would be better if he was omniscient, and Manwe certainly made quite a couple of mistakes in his career, but wouldn't this make the threesome of all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful partly redundant? My knowledge of theology is admittedly rather limited, but I always took the meaning of all-good to be only that a person's will and intentions are absolutely good (setting aside whether this is equal to absence of evil here). I don't see why it should be impossible to have a person that is all-good, but not all-knowing and all-powerful. In any case, this was at least my idea when I labelled Manwe absolutely good.
I'm not so sure it's a theological background that'd be necessary to get where I'm coming from so much as a philosophical one (though where philosophy of God is concerned, the two are obviously intertwined). Pertinent to explaining what I was getting at, however, is the following post from Boro:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
Here is another thought, there's been talk about absolute evil, Morgoth, Sauron..etc and Tolkien does say that he doesn't believe in Absolute Evil, but he goes on to talk about the two big villains in his myth (Morgoth and Sauron) - what about objects? What about the Ring? Maybe since Sauron is not absolute evil, it is impossible for him to create something that is. However, the Ring just has this knack to turn every possible light, into dark. It has the ability to twist, and corrupt even the most noble actions. And as Frodo is full of pity, strength, courage, to get the Ring to the place where it was made, Frodo's chance to overcome an object of absolute evil; an object that can do no good and turn the best intentions upside down, fails. Frodo succumbs to the Ring - does it then take an absolute good character to destroy an absolutely evil object?
This is pertinent, however, insofar as I would disagree with Boromir about the Ring being absolutely evil, because it does NOT have the ability to corrupt all actions. Notable as an exception here is Tom Bombadil (seen in the text) and, speculatively, any effect on beings substantially more powerful than Sauron, such as Manwë or Varda (I can see no reason why beings with more power than Sauron could be seduced by the promise of his, lesser, power).

It is not that the Ring lacks in evilness so much as it lacks in capacity to achieve absolute evil. Because I'm a professional nitpicker, I would therefore distinguish between absolute evil and complete evil. The Ring, in my opinion is not absolute evil but rather complete evil. There is nothing good about the Ring*, but it is not absolutely evil because it does not have the capacity to effect that much evil--and not only because it cannot grant power equivalent to that possessed by Manwë or (formerly) Melkor, but because it has to GRANT evil. The Ring is an evil tool, but it is not as evil as it could be because it cannot effect its will alone. Granted, it does seem to have a will of itself, which is why it is substantially more evil than other tools capable of producing evil, but it is not capable of evil action on its own, but requires assistance--assistance in proportion to whoever is wielding it; greater in the case of Galadriel or Gandalf, less in the case of Sam or Gollum.

Likewise, to get back to my explanation regarding Manwë, it is not that I think he is anyway less than completely good, but that he is not absolutely good. Everything that Manwë does is good, but it is not absolutely good because he does not have the foresight to know what is best in every situation, and so cannot do it (the example of Númenor already given is pertinent) in every situation. Though the motivation of Manwë remains good in all situations, he is not absolutely good because he lacks the knowledge or power to be so.

Hopefully, that hairsplitting on my part makes a bit more sense now.



*Unless one takes the Augustinian path and says that, since existence is a good, the Ring, since it exists, is still good at least to that minimal extent.
__________________
I prefer history, true or feigned.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 11:03 AM   #48
Morthoron
Curmudgeonly Wordwraith
 
Morthoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ensconced in curmudgeonly pursuits
Posts: 2,472
Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
It is not that the Ring lacks in evilness so much as it lacks in capacity to achieve absolute evil. Because I'm a professional nitpicker, I would therefore distinguish between absolute evil and complete evil. The Ring, in my opinion is not absolute evil but rather complete evil. There is nothing good about the Ring*, but it is not absolutely evil because it does not have the capacity to effect that much evil--and not only because it cannot grant power equivalent to that possessed by Manwë or (formerly) Melkor, but because it has to GRANT evil. The Ring is an evil tool, but it is not as evil as it could be because it cannot effect its will alone. Granted, it does seem to have a will of itself, which is why it is substantially more evil than other tools capable of producing evil, but it is not capable of evil action on its own, but requires assistance--assistance in proportion to whoever is wielding it; greater in the case of Galadriel or Gandalf, less in the case of Sam or Gollum.
I would agree with Formendacil (and the instances he noted) that the One Ring is not an Absolute Evil, particularly since it did effect good consequences in some limited aspects of the story, such as when invisibility saved Bilbo from Gollum, Orcs and spiders, or when Sam appeared as a great warrior Elf. Granted, these instances were merely a by-product of the Ring's power and not its primary function; however, even these limited aspects allowed for 'good' to eventually prevail over 'evil', and therefore there cannot be an 'absolute' appellation attached to it.

In addition, Frodo could still show compassion and mercy while in possession of the Ring; a Ring exhibiting the characteristics of 'absolute evil' would override such virtuous thoughts immediately, or at least confound such feelings on a greater level much sooner.
__________________
And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision.
Morthoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 01:12 PM   #49
Boromir88
Laconic Loreman
 
Boromir88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 7,479
Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.Boromir88 is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Send a message via AIM to Boromir88 Send a message via MSN to Boromir88
Formen great stuff.

I was more, or less, just speculating on a couple things that came to mind. Because I think the essential question is can someone who is not absolutely evil (as Tolkien clearly states Sauron wasn't) create an object that is? Also, when if you believe in Gandalf's words, that Bilbo's finding of the Ring, was something the Ring had not intended, then can we talk in absolutes?

I agree that to be absolute, you not only have to have pure and absolute intentions (either good or evil), you also have to be all-knowing and all-powerful. The Ring is neither, good things happen beyond it's control, and of course while it does have great power over people, it's not all-powerful.

Quote:
Granted, these instances were merely a by-product of the Ring's power and not its primary function~Morthoron
I would argue that invisibility isn't an off-shoot of the Ring, but a power that the Ring uses itself. Perhaps this is better left for another thread, but I'll just briefly state my points here...

In A Long Expected Party, Bilbo remarks that he always felt an "Eye" searching for him, and this made him want to put on the Ring and hide. I find it interesting that anyone in trouble, turns to the Ring to hide. Isildur wanted to escape from the ambush, but after he puts on the Ring, it slips off; he's shot and killed. Whenever the Ringwraiths are around, Frodo has this urge to put on the Ring, on Weathertop it costs him severely. On Amon Hen, the entire quest is almost blown-up, as Frodo puts it on to escape Boromir and he's almost discovered by Sauron. Gollum used the Ring to sneak around and steal, when he's in the Misty Mountains Gandalf says that the influence of the Ring began to wear off, because Gollum had no need to hide/use the Ring while under the mountains.

I think the Ring uses invisibility as a mind-game, a trick, a trap, to snare it's bearer. It makes its bearer believe, if you put me on, you'll be invisible, no one can find you, you can get out of danger, but really it's a false sense of security. The Ringwraiths and/or Sauron could spot you, and in Isildur's case it betrayed him. Now, how about Bilbo? My only guess is the Ring wanted to escape the Mountains/get away from Gollum.

Like I said, this is probably better left for a seperate thread, I just wanted to briefly point out, I'm not so sure about invisibility being an off-shoot of the Ring's powers. Rather it's a trick the Ring uses to lull it's bearer into believing his is safe/he is unseen. This is just more speculation on my part, just every instance that I could think of, the Ring uses it's invisibility as a trap.
__________________
Fenris Penguin
Boromir88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 04:04 PM   #50
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The Ring cannot be an 'absolute evil' and there's an excellent reason why - Tom Bombadil. To him, it might as well just be a piece of tat from Ratners.

Used, desired, fought over - in all of these circumstances, the Ring is indeed evil, but lightly flipped up in the air like a two bob coin, it's just a ring. Note that Bilbo never really suffers the terrible consequences that Isildur, Frodo and Gollum all suffer - he doesn't carry the burden of knowing what this thing is nor does he have any desire to do anything sinister; he can also give it up relatively easily - I should imagine Bilbo would have had much more trouble coming off Pipeweed (if Rivendell was the non-smoking house that you suspect it might be ) than giving up the Ring This is possibly why Gandalf kept his suspicions quiet for so long, too...

The things which the Ring causes clearly partly depend upon the minds/hearts of those who possess it, so it isn't 'evil' in and of itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
Likewise, to get back to my explanation regarding Manwë, it is not that I think he is anyway less than completely good, but that he is not absolutely good. Everything that Manwë does is good, but it is not absolutely good because he does not have the foresight to know what is best in every situation, and so cannot do it (the example of Númenor already given is pertinent) in every situation. Though the motivation of Manwë remains good in all situations, he is not absolutely good because he lacks the knowledge or power to be so.
So, does this excuse him from the inevitable results of getting on the big celestial phone to 'sir' and grassing up the Numenoreans? His intentions were good, but was he to know Eru would just rip a huge rift in the sea bed and send innocents to the depths?

It would have irrevocably changed the story of course, but had I been Eru I would have instead chastised the Valar for doing such a stupid thing as creating Numenor as it was in the first place! Though of course they might have spent the rest of their days weeping for the lost children of Numenor after their over-reaching all went wrong!
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 06:06 PM   #51
Pitchwife
Wight of the Old Forest
 
Pitchwife's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Unattended on the railway station, in the litter at the dancehall
Posts: 3,271
Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Pitchwife is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
One more attempt to turn this back into a Tolkien discussion (and don't think I'm not tempted to join the melee...)

Eru is not the Christian God (however much the Professor may have tried to make him so) but a fictional character based on Tolkien's idea of the Christian God. Proof: Eru did several things which the Christian God (according to the Bible) didn't do: e.g. creating elves as well as men, drowning Numenor, sending Gandalf back after his death (supposing the Valar weren't responsible for that) etc.

An interesting parallel might be Alternate History novels using historical characters. I don't know if any of you are familiar with Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series, but to take a (random) example from that, there's a character in it called Taleswapper who is based on the poet William Blake (his real name is actually mentioned). Now while Taleswapper doesn't really do or say anything that would be completely out of character for the real William Blake, he didn't do quite a lot of things the real William Blake did (e.g. writing/engraving Jerusalem and Milton) and vice versa (e.g. emigrating to America when we know the real Blake spent the whole of his life in Britain).

Likewise, although we wouldn't expect Eru to act entirely unlike the Christian God as Tolkien saw Him, it doesn't necessarily follow that every attribute ascribed to God by Christian theology during the last 2000 years is valid for him (with a lower case 'h' !).

EDIT: Oops, I just realized I hadn't read page 2! I was afraid this was turning into another Christians vs non-Christians thread (like 'Lord of the Bible'), but others took care of it before me; sorry! Nevertheless, I stick to my arguments about Eru.
__________________
Und aus dem Erebos kamen viele seelen herauf der abgeschiedenen toten.- Homer, Odyssey, Canto XI

Last edited by Pitchwife; 01-05-2009 at 06:21 PM.
Pitchwife is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2009, 07:14 PM   #52
Morthoron
Curmudgeonly Wordwraith
 
Morthoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ensconced in curmudgeonly pursuits
Posts: 2,472
Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitchwife View Post
Eru is not the Christian God (however much the Professor may have tried to make him so) but a fictional character based on Tolkien's idea of the Christian God. Proof: Eru did several things which the Christian God (according to the Bible) didn't do: e.g. creating elves as well as men, drowning Numenor, sending Gandalf back after his death (supposing the Valar weren't responsible for that) etc.
Yahweh had the immortal Nephilim who bred with mortal stock (whence came such giants as Goliath), he flooded the world, and there was a notable ressurrection in the bible as well. The parallels are there.

Oh, and Pitchwife, say hello to Saltheart Foamfollower for me!
__________________
And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision.
Morthoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2009, 10:38 AM   #53
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,072
Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark12_30 View Post
Whether someone commits atrocities in the name of their religion, to me, is less of a question than whether their actions obey or disobey the tenets of their faith (or absence thereof.) For a Christian to commit atrocities is fundamentally disobedient to their moral and religious duty, and for a Christian that does so this is the proper criticism: not that your moral and religious code is invalidated by your actions; but that you have been shown to be disobedient to that code. If Hitler claimed to be a Christian, then he showed himself disobedient (to put it mildly.) If someone is striving to love his neighbor and defend the innocent, and fails, then he failed. That doesn't invalidate the directive to love the neighbor and defend the innocent.
At the risk of inciting further off topic posts, let me compliment Helen for this classic, logical rebuttal. Free will can lead to terrible choices.

Of course, we don't know what choices would be made had there been no revealed code of virtue.

Quote:
In the books, Aragorn, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Faramir, Legolas, Gimli, Sam, and even Merry and Pippin adhered pretty well (consistently!) to their own codes of virtue.
From where do these characters get their codes of virtue? Gandalf apparently received his directly from a source, although I cannot recall how much of this is specified in LotR. Elrond and Galadriel apparently have the long memories of elven lore but we not know how much memory (and each has a long, long span of memories) has affected that lore (assuming elves do not have perfect memories) over time. Aragorn would have received his code by virtue of his birthright and teachings from his mother and Elrond. Faramir's code comes from his inheritance. They have no practice of revealed religion, but their codes are learned, taught, instilled in them. For the Gondorians particularly, there is a sense of bloodline of the faithful.

But where or how was the hobbit code of virtue developed? As the Prologue makes clear, hobbits have no preserved knowledge of the vanished time of Elder Days; their records begin with the founding of the Shire and they have only legends and tales of an earlier time. So hobbits no longer have (if they once did) a form of revealed path to goodness or virtue.

Do hobbits represent a natural or innate form of spirituality? Do they demonstrate the actions of natural law? In the absence of a character of "absolute goodness" (who traditionally would inform all the other characters) whence comes the moral sense of Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, to say nothing of Gaffer or Tom Cotton or Farmer Maggot or even Lobelia (granting of course that their actions do not necessarily come from the same source or motivation)?
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2009, 12:40 PM   #54
Morthoron
Curmudgeonly Wordwraith
 
Morthoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ensconced in curmudgeonly pursuits
Posts: 2,472
Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark12_30
Whether someone commits atrocities in the name of their religion, to me, is less of a question than whether their actions obey or disobey the tenets of their faith (or absence thereof.) For a Christian to commit atrocities is fundamentally disobedient to their moral and religious duty
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
At the risk of inciting further off topic posts, let me compliment Helen for this classic, logical rebuttal. Free will can lead to terrible choices.
A classic, logical rebuttal, yes; however, when has logic ever been an article of faith? The interesting thing about the Bible or Koran is just how thin a variance there is between peace and genocide. If you want to find a reason to kill or enslave your neighbor, the proper text is there in black and white, right alongside loving thy neighbor. Churches have for centuries used holy scripture to kill their neighbors (the neighbor being branded a heretic or infidel is no longer a neighbor but an enemy of god). Muslims that strap bombs to themselves truly believe they are going to heaven. Atrocity or Act of Faith? Depends on your interpretation. I am sure Hitler, even in his lunacy, could somehow justify the Holocaust from a doctrinal viewpoint as well -- others certainly have throughout history with horrifying success.

Perhaps this is why men of Gondor continued their feud with the Haradrim, and vice versa, for so many millenia: an earnest belief in the other people's inherent evil.
__________________
And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision.
Morthoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2009, 02:24 PM   #55
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,402
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Pipe Code? What code?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
But where or how was the hobbit code of virtue developed? As the Prologue makes clear, hobbits have no preserved knowledge of the vanished time of Elder Days; their records begin with the founding of the Shire and they have only legends and tales of an earlier time. So hobbits no longer have (if they once did) a form of revealed path to goodness or virtue.
Another question to toss in with that one: The classic (Western) virtues are listed as, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude; faith, hope, and charity (agape love, or generosity). Do those virtues have anything to do with hobbits? With rangers? With elves? With the White Council, or some of our aforementioned archetypal candidates?
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2009, 02:32 PM   #56
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,402
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Pipe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
So hobbits no longer have (if they once did) a form of revealed path to goodness or virtue.

Do hobbits represent a natural or innate form of spirituality?
In a general manner, I shall wave my hands while irresponsibly scattering a few pipe-ashes, and say that Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Frodo all got their sense of The Something Higher from Bilbo's elf-stories. After all, if Sam had three verses of Gil-Galad Was an Elven King memorized, he knew something about elves, and Mordor, too.

Those Tooks who went off on adventures might have known Something Higher, but at this point it is anybody's guess. I shall choose to neglect the un-Tookians.

Lobelia is on her own. Come to it, might she not have had an awakening from her experiences with Sharkey?
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2009, 03:13 PM   #57
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
A classic, logical rebuttal, yes; however, when has logic ever been an article of faith? The interesting thing about the Bible or Koran is just how thin a variance there is between peace and genocide. If you want to find a reason to kill or enslave your neighbor, the proper text is there in black and white, right alongside loving thy neighbor. Churches have for centuries used holy scripture to kill their neighbors (the neighbor being branded a heretic or infidel is no longer a neighbor but an enemy of god). Muslims that strap bombs to themselves truly believe they are going to heaven. Atrocity or Act of Faith? Depends on your interpretation. I am sure Hitler, even in his lunacy, could somehow justify the Holocaust from a doctrinal viewpoint as well -- others certainly have throughout history with horrifying success.

Perhaps this is why men of Gondor continued their feud with the Haradrim, and vice versa, for so many millenia: an earnest belief in the other people's inherent evil.
Hmm, that's interesting, Gondor Vs the Haradrim as reflecting the current West Vs East conflicts...

Lately I've been coming round to thinking that so many of the conflicts supposedly down to Faith are actually about other things if you look at them, and religion is just used as a handy excuse: Islamists for example often merely want their land back (Palestinians) or want to establish a new Caliphate empire; the Northern Ireland troubles were definitely about questions of Nationality much more than Faith; Henry VIII's (and the rest of the UK's monarchs) struggles were more about who ruled the Kingdom and owned the wealth and the people's allegiance, the monarch or the Pope.

OT, but not entirely so...because we do both blame religion for a lot and attribute a lot to it when other things are at work. This is what had me thinking:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
Aragorn would have received his code by virtue of his birthright and teachings from his mother and Elrond. Faramir's code comes from his inheritance. They have no practice of revealed religion, but their codes are learned, taught, instilled in them. For the Gondorians particularly, there is a sense of bloodline of the faithful.
Our culture can bring to us as many of these good things such as honour, compassion and fairplay as belief can. Plenty of people exist and existed without any faith but still possess that good stuff that the best believers do. Put simply, it's down to how you are raised and what you are taught, the environment you grow up in.

I don't think it's 'bloodline', as generations of people have for example come to live in the UK but quickly become 'British' and acquire our cultural norms and practises - it's not their blood which does this, just their surroundings and what they learn.

This is why I think the Orcs cannot have been 'bad to the bone', that they acquired much of their nature.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2009, 04:49 PM   #58
Lalaith
Blithe Spirit
 
Lalaith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,876
Lalaith is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Lalaith is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Waes hail, Cailín!

In answer to the original question, referring specifically to LotR, I would say Elbereth is your best bet when it comes to absolute good.

She is (I am fairly sure) the only Vala featured in the trilogy, except for a passing reference to Orome. And while we are not told much about her, her name drives away evil, and makes those who call upon her feel wholesome.
I would also say the light of Earendil (via Frodo's phial) has the power of good. If we were to broaden the reference to the Silmarillion, the source of this light, the Silmarils, are so holy that they burn that which is impure. So perhaps they too embody absolute good.
__________________
Out went the candle, and we were left darkling
Lalaith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2009, 04:57 PM   #59
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,072
Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë View Post
OT, but not entirely so...because we do both blame religion for a lot and attribute a lot to it when other things are at work.
It's about power and control. I mean, there has been lots of argument over which creed to say and which one takes priority, but who kills over which creed to say, unless the creed opens up avenues of wealth and influence. Religion in Europe became tied with cultural hegemony; the faith of the ruler became the state imposed religion. The tragic fate of the Stuarts is that they remained Catholic in a nation being taken over by Presbyterians, so it worked the reverse for them. But still, little freedom of worship outside the majority group.


Quote:
Our culture can bring to us as many of these good things such as honour, compassion and fairplay as belief can. Plenty of people exist and existed without any faith but still possess that good stuff that the best believers do. Put simply, it's down to how you are raised and what you are taught, the environment you grow up in.

I don't think it's 'bloodline', as generations of people have for example come to live in the UK but quickly become 'British' and acquire our cultural norms and practises - it's not their blood which does this, just their surroundings and what they learn.
Well, in the case of the Gondorians, it was definitely bloodline that was important, otherwise why would the Stewards have become "Reigning Stewards" and not "Kings" outright--and note that the Stewardship was hereditary? Certainly in their cultural lore, their ancestry back to the Numemorean faithful is important, as it is with Aragorn.

But what you say about the immigrants to the UK is interesting, as apparently there is some pressure or impulse or motivation to become British, rather than to make the UK a multi-cultural country, just as in the US there is overwhelming pressure to become "American." The culture of the immigrant is second rate to the ruling culture I guess. I'm sure there are countless problems within immigrant communities who struggle with their dual cultural experiences.

But to return to my question, I wasn't meaning to imply that goodness comes only from believers. Really, I was ruminating on how the authority of or for goodness takes hold. And what happens when it loses ground to the influence of evil? Really, in your terms, my question would be, how does a culture (as opposed to a faith) determine or decide what is good? What is the basis for saying that killing is wrong, that stealing is wrong, that lying is wrong? What is it that makes that "environment" that you speak of nurture goodness?

After all, we aren't sure what kind of environment nurtured Gollem. Did Smeagol know that killing was wrong or did his hobbit clan pursue a culture of self-centeredness and personal aggrandisement? Did his selfish motives merely overwhelm his better knowledge or were his base motives in fact nurtured by his environment? Eventually he was shunned by his community--rejected, forced out. Was that rejection of "otherness" part of what made him Gollem or was it just the influence of the Ring? Was his tragedy that his clan didn't know any elves as Frodo's clan did?
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-07-2009, 06:50 AM   #60
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
Well, in the case of the Gondorians, it was definitely bloodline that was important, otherwise why would the Stewards have become "Reigning Stewards" and not "Kings" outright--and note that the Stewardship was hereditary? Certainly in their cultural lore, their ancestry back to the Numemorean faithful is important, as it is with Aragorn.
I should clarify, I was getting onto the Real World talking about 'bloodline' there. The Numenoreans, as Tolkien's creation, had and were free to have (because as Author, it's Tolkien's call on how characterisation was done) personality characteristics inherited by blood; of course in the Real World this is a much less likely thing, if it happens at all.

Quote:
But what you say about the immigrants to the UK is interesting, as apparently there is some pressure or impulse or motivation to become British, rather than to make the UK a multi-cultural country, just as in the US there is overwhelming pressure to become "American." The culture of the immigrant is second rate to the ruling culture I guess. I'm sure there are countless problems within immigrant communities who struggle with their dual cultural experiences.
Most immigrants to the UK are easily absorbed into the culture - and don't lose much of their own in the process. The media like to highlight differences as it makes for a far more interesting story to paint people as racists when the truth is that the white working classes have for hundreds of years lived next door to waves of new immigrants and get along remarkably well, given the difficulties both groups face.

OT again, but it's interesting stuff, isn't it?

Quote:
But to return to my question, I wasn't meaning to imply that goodness comes only from believers. Really, I was ruminating on how the authority of or for goodness takes hold. And what happens when it loses ground to the influence of evil? Really, in your terms, my question would be, how does a culture (as opposed to a faith) determine or decide what is good? What is the basis for saying that killing is wrong, that stealing is wrong, that lying is wrong? What is it that makes that "environment" that you speak of nurture goodness?

After all, we aren't sure what kind of environment nurtured Gollem. Did Smeagol know that killing was wrong or did his hobbit clan pursue a culture of self-centeredness and personal aggrandisement? Did his selfish motives merely overwhelm his better knowledge or were his base motives in fact nurtured by his environment? Eventually he was shunned by his community--rejected, forced out. Was that rejection of "otherness" part of what made him Gollem or was it just the influence of the Ring? Was his tragedy that his clan didn't know any elves as Frodo's clan did?
You often get this question of "Where does morality come from?" when you suggest that it can come from other things than Faith. However, you could also ask who put the moral rules into faith?

If we could answer the question of where moral rules come from we might solve a myriad of ethical dilemmas but the best we can do is make an educated guess and that's that rules stem from the needs of the culture which writes them.

Taking the rules set out in the Bible for example - all of them stemmed from the contemporary culture when those texts were written - this is why alongside thoroughly sensible rules that are still relevant like "Thou shalt not steal" we have anomalies about not eating prawns.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-07-2009, 12:33 PM   #61
Morthoron
Curmudgeonly Wordwraith
 
Morthoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ensconced in curmudgeonly pursuits
Posts: 2,472
Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
After all, we aren't sure what kind of environment nurtured Gollem. Did Smeagol know that killing was wrong or did his hobbit clan pursue a culture of self-centeredness and personal aggrandisement? Did his selfish motives merely overwhelm his better knowledge or were his base motives in fact nurtured by his environment? Eventually he was shunned by his community--rejected, forced out. Was that rejection of "otherness" part of what made him Gollem or was it just the influence of the Ring? Was his tragedy that his clan didn't know any elves as Frodo's clan did?
As opposed to the more 'advanced' Hobbitish culture in the Shire, the retrograde Stoors (who had left the Angle and had resettled back along the Anduin), were a matriarchal society which seemed to me more gypsyish hunter/gatherers rather than staid farmers (Gollum fondly remembered teaching his grandmother to suck eggses), but they certainly knew right from wrong. Smeagol/Gollum was banished from their society for thievery and suspected murder, not necessarily because of a perceived otherness (although the change that came over him could have been construed as part and parcel of his criminal activity while using the Ring).
__________________
And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision.
Morthoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-07-2009, 09:07 PM   #62
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,072
Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë View Post
I should clarify, I was getting onto the Real World talking about 'bloodline' there. The Numenoreans, as Tolkien's creation, had and were free to have (because as Author, it's Tolkien's call on how characterisation was done) personality characteristics inherited by blood; of course in the Real World this is a much less likely thing, if it happens at all.
Oh, but we can talk about it, though, just as we talk about the Drowning of Numenor or the presence of Coffee and umbrellas.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal View Post
Most immigrants to the UK are easily absorbed into the culture - and don't lose much of their own in the process. The media like to highlight differences as it makes for a far more interesting story to paint people as racists when the truth is that the white working classes have for hundreds of years lived next door to waves of new immigrants and get along remarkably well, given the difficulties both groups face.
Well, really, I am a bit limited in my ability to watch/read your media. I mean, I do get the BBC World News and Doctor Who but that's about the limit of my exposure to your media. And the only time I read your tabloids online is when they have a juicy scandal about the Royals beating animals or wishing they were some form of sanitary device. I often think of the English as a bit Elvish, if you know what I mean. It must come from reading the likes of Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers or Monica Ali's Brick Lane. I think we could probably have a good discussion about the elves in terms of the mid-twentieth century English thoughts on the loss of the Empire. Still Tolkienish but I suppose not really about absolute good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal View Post
Taking the rules set out in the Bible for example - all of them stemmed from the contemporary culture when those texts were written - this is why alongside thoroughly sensible rules that are still relevant like "Thou shalt not steal" we have anomalies about not eating prawns.
I myself often wished that the Levitical injunction against the wearing of mixed fabrics had been more often observed. It would have saved us from the indignity of the polyester leisure suit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morth View Post
As opposed to the more 'advanced' Hobbitish culture in the Shire, the retrograde Stoors (who had left the Angle and had resettled back along the Anduin), were a matriarchal society which seemed to me more gypsyish hunter/gatherers rather than staid farmers (Gollum fondly remembered teaching his grandmother to suck eggses), but they certainly knew right from wrong. Smeagol/Gollum was banished from their society for thievery and suspected murder, not necessarily because of a perceived otherness (although the change that came over him could have been construed as part and parcel of his criminal activity while using the Ring).
I'm not so sure they did know right from wrong--or rather, I wonder what Tolkien was doing in assigning them those two very intriguing attributes. All faiths--all cultures--have ways of enforcing normative behaviours but not all of them practice that form of extreme control, with its (unintended) damaging, detrimental effects. I've often pondered Tolkien's depiction of Smeagol's clan and what might be called the psychological consequences of Smeagol's shunning.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2009, 06:52 AM   #63
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
Well, really, I am a bit limited in my ability to watch/read your media. I mean, I do get the BBC World News and Doctor Who but that's about the limit of my exposure to your media. And the only time I read your tabloids online is when they have a juicy scandal about the Royals beating animals or wishing they were some form of sanitary device. I often think of the English as a bit Elvish, if you know what I mean. It must come from reading the likes of Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers or Monica Ali's Brick Lane. I think we could probably have a good discussion about the elves in terms of the mid-twentieth century English thoughts on the loss of the Empire. Still Tolkienish but I suppose not really about absolute good.
I think you should start this thread!

Quote:
I myself often wished that the Levitical injunction against the wearing of mixed fabrics had been more often observed. It would have saved us from the indignity of the polyester leisure suit.
Would that be what's known on our shores as a Shellsuit?

Though they do serve a purpose because if you see someone wearing one you know to cross the road well in advance so as to avoid them

Quote:
I'm not so sure they did know right from wrong--or rather, I wonder what Tolkien was doing in assigning them those two very intriguing attributes. All faiths--all cultures--have ways of enforcing normative behaviours but not all of them practice that form of extreme control, with its (unintended) damaging, detrimental effects. I've often pondered Tolkien's depiction of Smeagol's clan and what might be called the psychological consequences of Smeagol's shunning.
I don't think most people would ever think of shunning as a bad thing - I think it's one of those things (like childbirth or depression) that until it happens to you or someone you know, you can never really comprehend. On the surface it just sounds as though someone has been sent away but in reality it means the loss of your identity, friends, loved ones, and maybe even worse. It happened to my grandmother when she married outside her faith and her own mother died.

So if Tolkien included it as something which happened to one of his characters I wouldn't necessarily say that he was equating the shunners with wrong doing. Plus there's the fact that he himself was threatened with punishment if he carried on seeing Edith before he was 21 and he went along with that.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2009, 11:37 AM   #64
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,072
Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bęthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë View Post
I think you should start this thread!
Oh, I've not much time these days for watching a thread so closely--even replying sometimes I'm so tardy that the thread has quite moved on and no one knows quite where I'm coming from--rather hilarious really. Let someone else if it's wanted.

Quote:
I don't think most people would ever think of shunning as a bad thing - I think it's one of those things (like childbirth or depression) that until it happens to you or someone you know, you can never really comprehend. On the surface it just sounds as though someone has been sent away but in reality it means the loss of your identity, friends, loved ones, and maybe even worse. It happened to my grandmother when she married outside her faith and her own mother died.

So if Tolkien included it as something which happened to one of his characters I wouldn't necessarily say that he was equating the shunners with wrong doing. Plus there's the fact that he himself was threatened with punishment if he carried on seeing Edith before he was 21 and he went along with that.
Sad story, that, about your grandmum. Hmm, different cultures, different strokes. I don't know anyone here who would condone the extreme forms of shunning. There are families who get into a tiff and won't speak, but by and large I think around here people sense that shunning contributes to a worsening of the situation rather than a healing or a true correction. I don't know many who would refuse to speak. 'course, maybe that's the influence of a culture which leans more to therapists than to dogmatics.

Interesting point about the pressure put on Tolkien over his teenage infatuation with Edith. Clearly, the event was formative given their tombstone reads "Beren and Luthien." He "went along with it" but he wasn't in a particularly strong position at the time, and that does not mean he didn't have thoughts about it later in life. (Carpenter did, if I recall the biography correctly.) However, I'm not the one to make direct or uncomplicated links between an author's bio and his life and this isn't the thread to start that topic! Certainly, consider the character Tolkien gave the shunning to--Smeagol/Gollem. It fits so well with psychiatric theories of the abuses of extreme shunning that I can't help but wonder how much Tolkien thought about belonging. Certainly, the theme of the fellowship, the ties of the four hobbits, and Sam and Frodo's friendship all point towards community as being an essential Good in the tale and to put one beyond that is, to put them beyond the pale. so to speak.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2009, 12:20 PM   #65
Tigerlily Gamgee
Hostess of Spirits
 
Tigerlily Gamgee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Meduseld
Posts: 1,056
Tigerlily Gamgee has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Tigerlily Gamgee
Silmaril

I haven't had a chance to read all other responses... but for me, the answer would be Samwise Gamgee.

Why?

Samwise seemed to have a knack for "getting people" without really knowing them. He wasn't fooled by Gollum. He protected Frodo even when Frodo shunned him.
He was an all around "good guy."
He wasn't really affected by the Ring (granted, Hobbits in general were not as affected, and had he had it as long as Frodo it's quite possible he would've broken down too) when he took it, at least not to the point of failing on his mission.
He STUCK to his mission... his main goal was to see the Ring destroyed and Frodo home safely. He was kind of like a child in that he tried to remain untainted by everything that was going on.

Granted, this is from the movies, not the book, but I always loved this dialogue exchange, and I think they did an excellent job of writing Sam in the movies (for the most part):

Quote:
Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
Tigerlily Gamgee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2009, 05:13 PM   #66
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
Sad story, that, about your grandmum. Hmm, different cultures, different strokes. I don't know anyone here who would condone the extreme forms of shunning. There are families who get into a tiff and won't speak, but by and large I think around here people sense that shunning contributes to a worsening of the situation rather than a healing or a true correction. I don't know many who would refuse to speak. 'course, maybe that's the influence of a culture which leans more to therapists than to dogmatics.
It's quite dark really, but was incredibly common in the Irish immigrant community in Liverpool and other cities My other grandmother also married outside her faith but nobody was bothered much as it wasn't an issue in her community, and nobody also worried about her combining going to a CofE church and adhering to the catholic catachism.

Quote:
Interesting point about the pressure put on Tolkien over his teenage infatuation with Edith. Clearly, the event was formative given their tombstone reads "Beren and Luthien." He "went along with it" but he wasn't in a particularly strong position at the time, and that does not mean he didn't have thoughts about it later in life. (Carpenter did, if I recall the biography correctly.)
I shall have to read some more on his later thoughts. He must have been a pretty good catch at any rate, for Edith to break off an engagement when he returned as that would have made her look ever so slightly 'loose' in those days!

Quote:
However, I'm not the one to make direct or uncomplicated links between an author's bio and his life and this isn't the thread to start that topic! Certainly, consider the character Tolkien gave the shunning to--Smeagol/Gollem. It fits so well with psychiatric theories of the abuses of extreme shunning that I can't help but wonder how much Tolkien thought about belonging. Certainly, the theme of the fellowship, the ties of the four hobbits, and Sam and Frodo's friendship all point towards community as being an essential Good in the tale and to put one beyond that is, to put them beyond the pale. so to speak.
I actually think there's a lot in the fact that Gollum effectively became a 'lone wolf' - there are few in Middle-earth who live alone in that way (even Tom has Goldberry, and Saruman has the White Council and then Grima). Tolkien doesn't seem to write of characters who live alone as being all that 'good'; most live in communities or partnerships or belong to some greater group - Aragorn and his Rangers for example.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:08 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.