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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:10 pm 
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vison wrote:
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The thing is, the reason I back out, is, I find myself (inevitably) wondering what on earth Sauron and the Mouth of Sauron and the Orcs and Saruman and all the rest were going to do with Middle Earth once they had it.




Don't feel like the Lone Ranger, vison, you're not the only one who has stopped to consider these questions. :D

Several posts ago, I wrote:
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(I stop to wonder what if. What if the hobbits fail and the Ring goes back to Sauron? He has already made a desert of Mordor. What if he makes a desert of Middle-earth and it can no longer sustain life, what then? What will he rule when there is nothing left to conquer? How can death be ordered then? How ruled? If all spark of good is extinguished, can evil flourish? If the very meaning for Sauron's existence is gone, what would he do? Would he squat atop of Barad dur and gloat forever? )


Eh, the question raised is valid enough although I suspect it's likely Tolkien, ever disdainful of the contemporary psychological novel, never bothered to speculate on the ramifications of 'what if' the other side is victorious? Most of his villains (Gollum and Saruman excepted) are uncomplicated with no motivation beyond being driven by a desire for total domination. In LotR (and the Sil) they exist merely as a foil against which the complexities of good men/hobbits/elves play out.

Wasn't this a criticism often leveled against the book when it was first published? I seem to recall reading complaints about the depiction of one-dimensional evil.

ETA: cross-posted with Faramond. Off to read it now.

PS: 10 pages! W00t!!! Ten! What a thread. :love: I haven't had this much fun since my early days at TORC.

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Ever mindful of the maxim that brevity is the soul of wit, axordil sums up the Sil:


"Too many Fingolfins, not enough Sams."

Yes.


Last edited by Sassafras on Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:15 pm 
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Well, yes, actually! The "evil" IS one-dimensional. But the "merely bad" is not. :D Boromir, for instance . . . 8)

Many people have said how stupid Sauron was to "put all his power in a Ring" and there is much to be said in agreement with that.

*sighs with happiness*

Always something to argue about!!! Heaven. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:34 pm 
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Taking the ring from a Christian point of view, if Tolkien were drawing on his religious good and evil thoughts, perhaps he was thinking of the swine the demons were cast into. They drown themselves, so Tolkien might have been going with the only way Suaron's power could survive is in an inanimate not living object because if he had put it into a living thing it would have ended up destroying itself.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:40 pm 
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tinwë wrote:
I think this is also a uniquely Christian viewpoint though, the idea that there is nothing more important than the redemption of lost souls. <snip> This doesn’t make it right for Gollum’s redemption to be more important than Frodo’s life, but it does, I think, help to explain some of Tolkien’s thoughts on the matter.


Yes, thank you, tinwë. You put it perfectly.

This is one question on which I believe Tolkien has re-thought himself, guided by his religious sensibilities.

Faramond, I am sorry for any earlier confusion ... I hope it didn't sound as if I was hammering away in disagreement with you, because I did actually think that I was agreeing with you ... but maybe I didn't understand completely what you were getting at.

I sort of seized on two of your ideas - the idea that 'truth' is crucial to redemption, and the idea that redemption takes time - and built my opinion around them. It seems to me that both those ideas are quite right, whether that would be Tolkien's view of the matter or not.

Also, what an excellent scenario for Sauron's rule of Middle Earth!

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I think Sauron would enjoy seeing his minions fight for power in a controlled way. It would be like his version of March Madness.


Yes, a craving for discord ... and seeking a new body, wanting to be able to satisfy mortal appetites without paying for it with mortality ...

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And eventually, Sauron would have tried invasion of the West. And failed, of course, but he has not the humility to know this.


Yes, quite right. I recall over on TORC in one of the many threads where we discussed the power of the Ring, a couple posters said that the Ring was the power to usurp God. For Sauron it is very much about that, I think.

vison wrote:
Even the undead have to fill their days.

This is the opposite/same as the Elves.


That's very perceptive to see them as parallel, vison. I do think that that potential emptiness is much of what the book is about: immortality would deprive us of as much as it would bestow.

Sass wrote:
Eh, the question raised is valid enough although I suspect it's likely Tolkien, ever disdainful of the contemporary psychological novel, never bothered to speculate on the ramifications of 'what if' the other side is victorious?

<snip>

Wasn't this a criticism often leveled against the book when it was first published? I seem to recall reading complaints about the depiction of one-dimensional evil ...


Tolkien does stand in a curious relationship to the rest of 20th ce literature. He has written (imo) a distinctly pre-WWII book that was published post-war, and for that reason stands in sharp contrast to a profound post-war shift that took place in literature.

I did not notice this shift until my children were in middle school and being assigned 20th ce novels for their English classes. Then, wanting to read all the books they were assigned because I was not particularly pleased with their English teachers, I viewed this panorama in a single sweep from Edwardian to Cold War. The change in perspective from pre-war to post-war hit me between the eyes.

Apologies for repeatedly saying that I'll come back later and talk about this more when I have time to think, but ... I now have 5.5 days of term break in which to clean my house for the first time since September!!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 12:43 am 
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I imagine Elves as the sort who, over hundreds, even thousands of years, perfect a particular strain of hybrid orchid. Or write biographies of obscure relatives. Or any of the other things the professionally idle do, only for many lifetimes of men.

I'm sure they probably do something more useful, but until I find out what it is, I'm okay with my supposing. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:18 pm 
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Tolkien does stand in a curious relationship to the rest of 20th ce literature. He has written (imo) a distinctly pre-WWII book that was published post-war, and for that reason stands in sharp contrast to a profound post-war shift that took place in literature.


I would say it's even more complicated--you have the pre-WWI period, which is the culmination of the Victorian; the interwar period, where you see the flowering of modernism; and the postwar period, where modernism not only takes off but mutates. There's as great a distance between Wharton and Steinbeck as there is between Steinbeck and Salinger.

Now here's the fun part: LOTR looks Victorian, has modern psychological undercurrents (especially in the sections we've been focusing on), all the while doing a metafiction two-step into and out of romance and mimesis.

In terms of pure romance, Aragorn is indeed the hero. He's got the heroic destiny to fulfill. Frodo's story is more like a saint's tale, or an allegorical pilgrim's promise, except without the allegory. :) JRRT is actually doing something strangely akin to what Joyce did in Ulysses: taking the epic and ancient and making it intimate and imminent, albeit with a fantastic backdrop...although I could make an argument that LOTR is the least fantastic fantasy ever to grace that section in a bookstore.

What has all this to do with Sam or Gollum? Only this: the tools of modern literary criticism work haphazardly with most of LOTR, but they're pretty useful for looking at everything on the path from Emyn Muil to Mt. Doom. This might horrify JRRT, but we've already established the limits of authorial control. :D


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:28 am 
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Ax wrote:
I would say it's even more complicated--you have the pre-WWI period, which is the culmination of the Victorian; the interwar period, where you see the flowering of modernism; and the postwar period, where modernism not only takes off but mutates. There's as great a distance between Wharton and Steinbeck as there is between Steinbeck and Salinger.


Yes, I think that's probably right, Ax. I'm not a fan of late Victorian literature ... have read plenty in my youth but didn't like it much. So it's harder for me to see into the depths of early 20th ce transitions. But a whole new set of archetypes and metaphors emerges after WWII and Tolkien fits very comfortably in that sphere, imo. He oughtn't, but he does. Especially, as you say, "on the path from Emyn Muil to Mt. Doom."

Quote:
JRRT is actually doing something strangely akin to what Joyce did in Ulysses: taking the epic and ancient and making it intimate and imminent ...


A fascinating comparison!

We might look through the telescope in the reverse direction as well ... a singular personal tragedy is exploded to epic proportion ...

I don't know if you've read Jonathan Englander's short stories ... his first novel was published about three years ago (Ministry of Special Cases) and I didn't like the novel all that much but I remain intrigued enough to read his one volume of shorts when I get around to it.

The reason I bought his novel was because he said something interesting about it in an interview, that he was trying to capture the sense of what happens to people when a personal tragedy takes place in the context of a global event ... (an example might be the families who lost loved ones on 9/11; his story was about the desaparados of Argentina). Their loss is given hyper-significance by the fact that everyone in the world knows about it, but at the same time the notoriety of the loss comes close to depriving it of its personal significance.

It seems to me that Tolkien is doing something like that with Frodo. One moment he is hyper-significant to all of Middle Earth; the next moment he is leaving barely noticed. But the reader meanwhile has been given a chance to root for him, and there is satisfaction in that, an allowed intimacy between character and reader, that is absent from much of post-war lit.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:14 pm 
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The thing is, the reason I back out, is, I find myself (inevitably) wondering what on earth Sauron and the Mouth of Sauron and the Orcs and Saruman and all the rest were going to do with Middle Earth once they had it.


I doubt they had a particular idea- well, maybe Sauron did. Power or the lust for power is (or purports to be) its own justification, the lust to control simply for the sake of control. Sam's vision of a Garden-kingdom was the first step along the way. The ultimate end is Morgoth's "nihilistic madness"- raging against the very existence of Creation because he didn't create it.

Pratchett's clearheaded Granny Weatherwax gets down to brass tacks:

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And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 6:54 pm 
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Sass wrote:
Over and over Sam proves himself worthy of outside (divine) intervention: a gentle nudge toward the right choice, the right direction:


I never was able to make the response I wanted to make to this and other toughts about the possibly divine guidance Sam received at crucial moments in the quest, but now at least I will give a short version that mayhap later I will expand upon.

I think the nudges that Sam feels come from his exposure to the three elven rings of power. Sam, though he surely remains a creature of the Shire, is eager to experience elvish magic and culture. He takes in the wisdom of Gandalf, and the songs of Elrond's Rivendell, and the beauty of Galadriel's Lothlórien. This is a kind of magic, a seed of future knowledge and luck planted in him. The magic of the one ring is secretive, but also blunt and vulgar, even violent. The magic of the three is more subtle, gentle, peaceful. I think the fortunate choices and surprising moments of intuition that Sam displays are the magic of the three rings. He was open to them and was rewarded.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:29 pm 
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Does anybody have any way of finding out what has become of Sassy.....?

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:02 pm 
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yov - and anybody else concerned about Sassy:

Faramond and I have visited her three times since the last time she posted in this forum. She's doing well, under the circumstances. The last time we visited her was about a month ago. We had a good time chatting. I'll leave it up to her to divulge ( or not ) any more details about herself, but I'd like to let anybody concerned about her know that she is still doing OK, for the circumstances.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:04 pm 
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Very glad to hear it. Thank you. :hug:

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:06 pm 
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Thank you, Griffon, I was wondering too.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:14 pm 
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Thanks!!! I was wondering about her. Give her my best. :hug:

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:58 pm 
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Thanks so much, Griffy. I've been worried about her, and I'm really happy to hear she's doing well considering everything. Please give her my best, too, next time you see her. :hug:

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:51 pm 
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Thank you for that news, Griffy! I think of her quite often, too, and wish her all the best.
:hug:


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:59 pm 
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I was also thinking of her often. Please give my best, even if vison's best is unquestionably better than mine.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:21 pm 
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Yeah. If you talk to her again, tell her I said the Yankees still suck. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:13 pm 
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Thanks, Griffy... :hug:

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