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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:45 am 
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Sassy, I'm sitting here, and I'm not ashamed to say the tears are pouring down my cheeks!

You see, I've been thinking about you a lot during the last two days, and wondering how life was treating you. And lo and behold, here you are, but with news that sits in my heart like a stone.

There has been far too much death, far too much sickness lately, and your news caught me at a particularily low moment.

Others may choose to share of their own struggles with this disease.

But for the moment, I am VERY glad to see you!

You and your eloquent, thoughtful posts have been sorely missed.

:hug:

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 4:24 pm 
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I'm sorry for your news, Sass. :cry: :hug: I wish you all the best.

But, I also think that you've perfectly nailed Sam and his importance to the story in your post. We may admire the high and mighty - the Elves and Númenóreans of our world - but, in the end, it's the Everyman, people like us, that really keep the world going on, not the movie stars and pop idols and business tycoons we may look up at. But, would we really want to take their place? I know that I wouldn't.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:35 pm 
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Dear Sass, when I saw your name here, I was really happy, but like everyone else here, the happiness quickly turned into sadness and speechlessness at your news. :( :hug:

Thank you for your great and moving post. I hardly ever found someone who wasted more than a couple of sentences on Sam because of his lack of obviously outstanding talents.

Sam has been my favourite character right from the start. The uneducated, naive and courageous Sam, he has always been my true hero. He's someone who just puts up with situations as they occur, without complaining and never giving up, not even "at the end of all things". His mental strength seems almost super-human, and maybe it's a result of his limited willingness to reflect on events, actions and their consequences and also of his extra-ordinary intuition.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:56 am 
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First of all, Sass, thank-you again. I have long had a deep respect for your uncompromising honesty. Now I am in awe of your strength and courage.
I think there could not be a more appropriate topic to discuss with you at this time. Let us walk, and talk, and learn together. :hug:


Sass wrote:
"They are sailing, sailing, sailing over the Sea, they are going into the West
and leaving us."

It is an early lament, intuitively spoken before Sam has ever even met an Elf (although he did believe he had seen one once in the woods near Hobbiton.) From the bits and pieces and fragments of the old tales, Sam has absorbed the essence of Elvish life in Middle-earth.



Ah, Sass. Those words, spoken so early in the tale – spoken by a young, rustic hobbit sharing a pint down at the Green Dragon – have long resonated with me. With Sam’s words, Tolkien reveals what I believe to be the greater theme of LOTR: the ending of things -of having to leave, of having to be left behind. I note that Sam doesn’t merely say that the Elves are leaving Middle-earth – they are leaving us.

"Us". Universal, all-encompassing, and yet so very intimate. It enfolds every single reader in a kind of embrace of shared sadness, doesn’t it?

I felt what Sam’s words meant when I first read LOTR at the age of sixteen. I felt them down to my bones. But then, I had lost a brother three years before. I had watched him sail into the sky on a plane flying northward, never to return except in memory and dreams, so perhaps my radar was more tuned in to their meaning. It was much, much later, after many years and many readings, that I realized it was not only the words themselves that were so important, it was also who spoke them. Right from the very beginning, the heart of Samwise Gamgee is the heart of the tale.


I think Tolkien once wrote that he considered himself to be more of a hobbit than anything else. I’m glad he did. Without that sensibility, I doubt that LOTR could touch me so profoundly. You know, whenever I get a little cranky over Tolkien’s lofty (and for me, wholly unlikable) Numenorians, or the relentless hopelessness of his thematic Long Defeat, I should think of Sam. Myths Transformed? Bah! Sam knows that the light contained in Galadriel’s phial is the reflected light of the Silmaril that holds the sacred light of the Two Trees. The Fall of Númenor? What a bunch of self-absorbed scaredy-cats! Sam knows that the Shadow is but a passing thing that cannot blot out the truth of love or the beauty of goodness. Fingolfin’s hopeless ride to blazing ruin? Impressive, but totally self-indulgent. Sam knows what hopelessness means, but chooses to take on the errand rather than give in to the abyss and its promise of oblivion.

I think it was in Teremia’s book thread over at TORC that it first dawned on me that we spend more time “in Sam’s head” than any other character. That realization surprised me, actually. I thought the “hobbit-centric” view of the tale was centred on Frodo’s inner workings, but Frodo is actually far more removed from us than Sam. Oh, I know we get glimpses, vivid and compelling glimpses, into Frodo’s mind, but from Cirith Ungol to Mount Doom, never do we so intimately view the thoughts and feelings of a character as we do Sam’s. I think The Choices of Master Samwise in unlike anything else Tolkien wrote, it is so achingly personal and honest. How does one go on after losing everything? How can one have no hope without submitting to despair?


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at the very core of himself, there is courage; the courage of ordinary common decency. It is to that decency which Sam must go, not to displace his broken heart (that is impossible) but to take hold of a strength which will allow him to
take up Sting and the One Ring and go on in the face almost certain defeat.


“The courage of ordinary, common decency” – spot on, Sass.

I don’t think Tolkien wrote anything without very careful and conscious intent. If that is so, then Samwise is meant to be “our Sam” –“our selves”. So much in Tolkien’s works can be difficult to fathom, so many of his characters’ actions open to different philosophical or moral interpretations. Goodness knows, we’ve had some very lively conversations here and elsewhere because of that! But Sam? We might well have a debate on whether or not Sam is the “hero” of the tale. but about his motivations? His feelings? His actions? Hmmmm…..not so much, I'd wager. Generally, I think we take him for granted, think of him with that “Frodo and _” tag before his name. I don’t really know why. Maybe because he is so deceptively “ordinary” and “unimportant”? Like us?

There are few (extraordinarily few) moments in the films that I could argue are improvements over the book. But for me, the reversal of Frodo’s words to, “I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things” somehow feels very right and proper. It’s such a small change, but it really does serve to elevate Sam to his rightful place, although I’m sure he’d be blushing and protesting at the attention.

“Frodo woudn’t have got far without Sam, would he, dad?” No. He would not.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:04 am 
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Athrabeth wrote:
“Frodo woudn’t have got far without Sam, would he dad?No. He would not.


I think Elijah Wood's very best moment in the films was his delivery of this line (well, without the "dad" part). His frank, innocent gratitude touches my heart, every time.

Thank you for being here, dear Athrabeth. :hug:

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:12 am 
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Athrabeth, you say what I would say. Lovely.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:00 am 
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Prim said:

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“Sam sees things as they are  He doesn't have some ideal in his head of how things ought to be, and so even when the worst happens, when Frodo as he thinks dies, we don't see it knock him down for long. He doesn't  spend his strength railing against what is and ought not to be if the universe were fair that's not what it's for.It's for living in, and that means getting on with the job no matter what,getting up and dusting himself off and going as far along the way as he can. One foot in front of the other, head down. And that's what saves him, and and thus Frodo, and thus (incidentally to Sam) Middle-earth.”


Those words of yours resonate, Prim. Sam very much accepts the 'what is' in life and doesn't waste more than a fleeting second or two in worrying about 'what is not.' No, the Universe is not fair; particularly the Universe as conceived by Tolkien. It may be a little less random (see Elves and doom for example) than our own and evil in Arda may well be a little more one-dimensional,an evil with a clearly defined focal point in Melkor/Morgoth in the first age, Sauron in the third age, with the second age still reeling from vibrations of Morgoth though he be defeated and then comes the slow insidious ascent of Sauron …....... which leads me into thinking it must be easier to direct the fight against such clearly defined villains than it is today in our own world where evil is diffuse and often less obvious. I wonder how Sam would do in modern times? I wonder if his solidity and his intrinsic, rustic, morality would keep his hobbity feet solidly on the 'Right' path? I suspect that he might find negotiating around evil more difficult in a world with so much less grace, where ethics are often a lost concept and morality is confused with success …..... but, in the end, although Sam might well struggle with multiple manifestations of the 'Ruling Ring', he would still prevail because the humanity that governs Sam is timeless; there is no barrier that can subvert his sort of courage nor are the obstacles set by time and space too vast, too complex to be overcome by his simple moral rules. Sam would still be able to dig deep and find the antidote to despair within his innermost heart: 'tis my belief that antidote is Love.


Voronwë wrote:

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“Again, you have absolutely nailed the beautiful juxtaposition of the two poles of Tolkien's creation. And yet, it is Sam's down-to-earth here-and-now cleverness that is decisive in the determination of the fate of the world, and the grand desties of races. “


Oh, I do so agree that is the juxtaposition of High/Low that makes LotR so successful as a book. Whether it should be classified as Romance or as a Novel or even as a Historical Romance of Epic Proportions, I don't really care. I must assume that Tolkien deliberately set out of create the effect of contrasting styles by the side-by-side, alternating action/pause and the mystical/common telling of tales within a tale. And, as you so astutely say,This balancing between the humble, rustic every-Hobbit and the remote, majestic, bittersweet fate of the Elves is truly the definition of what makes the Lord of the Rings such a uniquely brilliant work. :love:

And indeed, without Sam being who he is, the fate of the World would have been determined otherwise and the grand destinies of all of the races would not have been as they were. The Elves would have faded in any event, that much we know, for their path was decided long ago, if not by the variations on a theme contained within the music (my personal contention) then at the very least by the Oath sworn by Fëanor and his progeny.


Athrabeth says:

Quote:
I think Tolkien once wrote that he considered himself to be more of a hobbit than anything else. I’m glad he did. Without that sensibility, I doubt that LOTR could touch me so profoundly. You know, whenever I get a little cranky over Tolkien’s lofty (and for me, wholly unlikable) Numenorians, or the relentless hopelessness of his thematic Long Defeat, I should think of Sam. Myths Transformed? Bah! Sam knows that the light contained in Galadriel’s phial is the reflected light of the Silmaril that holds the sacred light of the Two Trees. The Fall of Númenor? What a bunch of self-absorbed scaredy-cats! Sam knows that the Shadow is but a passing thing that cannot blot out the truth of love or the beauty of goodness. Fingolfin’s hopeless ride to blazing ruin? Impressive, but totally self-indulgent. Sam knows what hopelessness means, but chooses to take on the errand rather than give in to the abyss and its promise of oblivion.
 

I always love reading your posts, Ath, always. They, and you, have often given me the gift of perception and I wish to acknowledge in the here and now and say that I cherish your percipience and your ability to express that insight. Ahem. Least anyone think that I always agree with you, know that we have had a fair share of disagreement ( but never disagreeably) on a few major chords ;usually concerning free will and the inevitability of fate and once in the annals of TORC we had a marvelous, spirited, very lively :D debate on the possibility of redemption for Gollum............ I remember that conversation well with great affection ...........
Here again, I find myself nodding 'yes, yes' to the Númenórean reference. I find them exasperating! Could there be a more self-absorbed lot in the whole of Arda? Truly one feels that they live in an Island-centric world, they act as though everything revolves around their little star-shaped island in the middle of the Sundering Sea and are annoyingly obsessed with competing against Elves in attempting to wrest a defining Elven characteristic (immortality) from the Gods, :x (who, now that I think about it manifest a similar selfishness very like to the men of Númenor …. but that's another subject of another post for another day) still, I must take a bit of umbrage over “relentless hopelessness of his thematic Long Defeat”. It's all in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, every descriptive word you use is true, however I, for one, am immeasurably moved by the concept of 'Long' and 'Defeat'. The realization that this brilliant, melancholic, profoundly artistic, deeply-convicted race is doomed to a destiny of eternal sadness, regardless of root cause, cannot change the direction of one single footstep. It is because the Elves have no choice that I find their doom unutterably tragic and, forgive me, but I think implicit in the order of your words is the notion that 'melodrama' is a part of Tolkien's 'relentless hopelessness'. I also find the ride of Fingolfin to be so grand a gesture and so acceptable within the parameters of that war that I am quite caught up, with lump in throat, over the glorious hopelessness of it. It puts me in mind of Théoden's stand against the Lord of the Nazgûl.

Listen:


To me! To me!” cried Théoden, 'Up Eorlingas! Fear no darkness!”

Fingolfin's body was trampled into dust, and his end was fearful. Théoden's body was crushed beneath Snowmane, his horse, and his end was perhaps less dreadful since he was not alone.

“Farewell, Master Holbytla!” he said, “My body is broken. I go now to my fathers. And even in their mighty company, I shall not now be ashamed.”

:bawling:

Elf and Man met death openly, although it could be argued that both died needlessly. Fingolfin need not have given in to his fearful rage and Théoden need not have ridden onto the field of battle. These two were both engaged in what seemed a hopeless war, their forces outnumbered, they must stare into the face of merciless evil and yet neither blanch or ever consider retreat for both Elf and Man are great-hearted and they know they will die.

It just so happens that although Théoden cannot not know, the battle at Pellanor Fields will be won. And although the fourth great battle, Dagor Bragollach (is Fingolfin the 'sudden flame?') will be lost, time comes
in the War of Wrath there is a sort of victory when Morgoth is thrust through the Doors of Night beyond the Walls of the World.

Now, I am not saying that these two acts committed by these two monarchs are completely kindred in spirit, but I am saying that when you come right down to it there are similarities in the motivation of individual need (they both needed to confront the evil which was poisoning the soul of their people and their land and both responded with the need for personal action ) And because the immediate outcomes were different (Fingolfin is crushed and is no more save in memory while Morgoth goes on........... whereas the Witch-king is destroyed and is a harbinger of Sauron's fall)............... it is no more fair to judge one act foolhardy and vainglorious and the other sacrificial and profound.

:halo:

Whew: Got a little sidetracked there, didn't I? Not to worry, as always Athrabethgives me something to think about and I'm coming back to Sam to comment upon it, I promise.

But I think I will commit a cardinal sin and continue in a separate post.

Because?

Well, because it promises to be fairly lengthy and because I think it will have more content, more heft if you will, than the quasi-fluffy stuff I have written above. Besides, as I told you in my first post that I really want to engage in Tolkien-focused dialogue with all of you again and I'm hoping that someone might find some substance buried in the fluff worthy of response. :D

There, see I have laid myself naked upon the table (metaphorically speaking)

:oops:


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:52 am 
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Well.....that was a surprising turn in a thread about Samwise Gamgee! :D

I'll be away from my computer for the next 24 hours or so, but that will give me a chance to mull over your excellent points and try to find a way to articulate my thoughts in response.

I'm packing along both LOTR and the Sil for my ferry rides.

Just a heads-up.....I've changed a lot of my thoughts about the concept of the "Long Defeat".....you know, just to be difficult. :P

Until my return.... :hug:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:02 am 
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"relentless hopelessness" does not resonate with Sam Gamgee.

I can see Sam scratching his head and thinking, "What are they talking about?" Then he would get back to pruning the Hydrangeas.

On the other hand, what else is existence but relentless hopelessness? And even though I know I'm going to die, I'd rather be me than an immortal Elf.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:25 am 
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Me, too ... but partly because I'm able to hope for something "outside the circles of the world."

And, to be harshly realistic, if I'm wrong, I'll never know. :P In the meantime, it helps.

I think there is a distinction between "relentless hopelessness" and "relentless reality in which there is little rational reason for hope." I can live in the latter because I don't insist on rational reasons for hope. YMM (and probably does) V.

:hug:

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:37 am 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
Me, too ... but partly because I'm able to hope for something "outside the circles of the world."

And, to be harshly realistic, if I'm wrong, I'll never know. :P In the meantime, it helps.

I think there is a distinction between "relentless hopelessness" and "relentless reality in which there is little rational reason for hope." I can live in the latter because I don't insist on rational reasons for hope. YMM (and probably does) V.

:hug:


Thanks for bringing me down to earth, Miss Prim.

I don't want to derail this lovely thread so I won't go on except to say, I have no rational reason for hope, but on the other hand I do seem to be a relentlessly "glass half full" person which at times makes me want to shake myself and yell at myself but there you are.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:03 am 
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*fills vison's glass to full with her delicious beverage of choice*

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:47 am 
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You're sweet, Yov! :hug:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:23 am 
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vison wrote:
Primula Baggins wrote:
Me, too ... but partly because I'm able to hope for something "outside the circles of the world."

And, to be harshly realistic, if I'm wrong, I'll never know. :P In the meantime, it helps.

I think there is a distinction between "relentless hopelessness" and "relentless reality in which there is little rational reason for hope." I can live in the latter because I don't insist on rational reasons for hope. YMM (and probably does) V.

:hug:


Thanks for bringing me down to earth, Miss Prim.

I don't want to derail this lovely thread so I won't go on except to say, I have no rational reason for hope, but on the other hand I do seem to be a relentlessly "glass half full" person which at times makes me want to shake myself and yell at myself but there you are.


vison, I am sorry for upsetting you. I didn't mean to. I was trying to acknowledge that sometimes hopelessness is the rational position. That I don't pick it (if I can avoid it) is a comment on my rationality, not anyone else's moral strength or lack of same.

I am not, in fact, good at facing the truth, and never have been. And honestly, sometimes, I am grateful for that. And to the extent that applies to you, I'm grateful for that, too.

Hope is the thing with feathers, that craps all over the couch, but that somehow you don't want to throw out of the house. . . .

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 7:51 am 
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vison wrote:

I don't want to derail this lovely thread so I won't go on except to say, I have no rational reason for hope, but on the other hand I do seem to be a relentlessly "glass half full" person which at times makes me want to shake myself and yell at myself but there you are.



I know how you feel, vison. I'm so much the same and if I must accept that the glass is even more than half full, I'm starting to worry that I might drop or spill it.

Back to the topic of this thread, I don't think that Sam perceives glasses as half full or half empty. He's not judging which makes him who he is: Frodo's unique friend and I wish that everyone in the world had such a friend.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:42 pm 
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Prim, you did not upset me! Great scott. Far from it. :hug: :love:

The first few times I read LOTR I was uneasy about Sam, but after awhile he crept into my heart and he's stayed there.

Long ago, when the movie of FOTR first came out, a lot of people put forth the notion that Sam was like Frodo's "batman", since they had this idea of a British officer's batman. I argued ferociously against that idea. Partly because Frodo is nothing whatsoever like a British army officer, and partly because Sam is not Frodo's body servant. He was Frodo's "employee" in the sense that he "did" for Mr. Frodo, but I did not ever have this sense that he was "servile", a "servant".

Not that there is anything 'wrong' with a man being another man's servant - this is an extremely difficult concept for modern people to grasp. It is almost invariably regarded as a very bad thing to be someone's servant. Demeaning, etc. But in the world Tolkien grew up in, if you could afford it, servants did the work machines do now. That's just the way it was.

Now and again events in the story argue against me, of course. Sam's character solidified as the story wore on, he grew to fit the role. Whereas, IMHO, Frodo was pretty static. Frodo's role seemed to be the one who had to suffer, and Sam was the one who had to make things work.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:38 pm 
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Belated hello and hug for Sunny and Rowenberry! :hug:


Quote:
Just a heads-up.....I've changed a lot of my thoughts about the concept of the "Long Defeat".....you know, just to be difficult


Athrabeth, quite contrary! Heh.

Ahem:

Quote:
“relentless hopelessness”


We, rather vison and Prim, seem to have grabbed on to this phrase (are two words enough for a phrase?) and tried it on for size, first on Sam but rejected because Sam is incapable of stringing those two word-thoughts together and because his nature does not permit that sort of implicit nihilism to inhabit his brain ............... and then second, in a not so surprising twist on yourselves:

vison said:

Quote:
On the other hand, what else is existence but relentless hopelessness? And even though I know I'm going to die, I'd rather be me than an immortal Elf.


Sam certainly would. Rather be himself than an immortal Elf, that is. Sam would consider 'elfhood' so far outside of the realm of his possibility that the very idea would strike him as ludicrous. Sam, being very much a hobbit of his time, holds to the notion of class-based society as right and proper and the way things should be. He can be, no, he is, bourgeois with all of the narrow-minded foibles one associates with that much maligned class. I know this because the society in which I was nurtured was but a few generations removed from Tolkien's own and England's class system changed little in the 40 intervening years. Like Sam, like Tolkien, I was born into the bastion of the British middle-class where boundaries are rigidly set and one seldom deviates from the social path decided at birth. Therefore I feel confident in saying Sam would no more consider wishing to extend his life as an Elf than he would aspire to the throne of Gondor. He firmly believes that Frodo is his social better and he sees absolutely nothing wrong with adhering to that belief. Pigs would fly in Middle-earth before Sam would upset the social apple cart!
(See also vison's thoughts on Sam as batman to Frodo's officer)

But, ahem, I wish to come full circle and say thirdly, Ath's original application of “relentless hopelessness” was intended to apply to Elves and The Long Defeat where it can be said, IMNSHO, to legitimately belong. :D

and

Prim wrote:
Quote:
partly because I'm able to hope for something "outside the circles of the world


(An aside:)

Sigh. “outside the circles of the world” As most of you know, I don't share that belief although it might be easier if I did. As a belief system it makes no more sense to me than it ever did and so, reluctantly, I must conclude that I'm on my own; I'm going to die soon and when I die I'll be just that, dead. In trying to re-kindle a particular sort of dialogue on this message-board selfishly I hope to find an ease that helps make the journey less fearful. (and yes, I know I am bludgeoning you guys with this and that pretty soon you'll be yelling at me (in thought if not in actuality) saying "We get it Sass! We really get it!") :blackeye:
Sam, the totality that is Sam gives me hope. Hard to explain, but there it is.

One more from Prim:

Quote:
I think there is a distinction between "relentless hopelessness" and "relentless reality in which there is little rational reason for hope." I can live in the latter because I don't insist on rational reasons for hope.


Personally, I believe that there is seldom ever a rational reason for hope. Ignoring for now the obvious sorts of hope which depend upon logic or luck and which really involve more 'wishing' than hoping. But when we're talking about metaphysical hope; the 'Estel of the Elves, being the most profound example, logic and reason or critical thinking do not enter into it because it's a sort of an evolving process: ineffable, ethereal: you can't grab hold of it nor can you examine it in the same way you can analyze a feeling and you certainly cannot describe it. It just IS.

....... would also agree that there is distinction between the two sorts of hopelessness. The former (really black void) comes from depression while the other (shades of realistic grey) is dependent on reality.

*********************

And, now, if you will excuse me, there is a hockey game I must watch.

Go Canada!

:horse:

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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.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:52 pm 
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*tiptoes into thread*

I don't know what to say, so I will offer a :hug: and just say that your words about Sam and mortality ring true. Awesome opening post, though perhaps in the tremble-in-fear sense.

About Fingolfin - his body was not beaten into the dust (but yes, it was the Battle of Sudden Flame in 455). His body was rescued by an eagle and buried by his son Turgon in the mountains around Gondolin. It was his son Fingon whose body was trampled into the dust after the next battle (Unnumbered Tears). I point this out not just to be nitpicky, but to show that even in inexorable defeat and despair, Tolkien has those moments of unexpected help (so often in the form of eagles) - and it is these bright points that make the story, despite all its sorrow, hopeful overall.

Fingolfin may be giving into despair and rage when he challenges Morgoth. He may be...following the pagan tradition of dying nobly in battle. But it is still right to fight Morgoth, and despite the odds being overwhelmingly against him, he does manage to wound his opponent.

Sam knows the odds of surviving the walk into Mordor are overwhelmingly against him. Like vison and Prim, he is cheerful by nature, so he tends to look at things (not necessarily optimistically) but brightly. But even he reaches a point where he looks at what food and water they have left, and he looks at the Mountain...and he knows. He knows there is no way the journey is going to end other than in their death.

He keeps walking anyway. Even then, he doesn't give up hope, because whatever hope he has isn't just for that. In that moment, his determination is little different than Fingolfin's - what differentiates them is that in the moment of desperation, Fingolfin chooses despair and madness, while Sam continues with his unquenchable hope and steadfastness. His hope only seemed to die in the darkness. Estel cannot be quenched by reason.


As for Bilbo's poem...it has touched me, too, as being a very open-eyed view of the approaching end. I started a brief thread on TORc about it several years ago, and the other poem I compared it to was by Housman:

    Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
    Is hung with bloom along the bough,
    And stands about the woodland ride
    Wearing white for Eastertide.

    Now of my threescore years and ten,
    Twenty will not come again,
    And take from seventy springs a score,
    It only leaves me fifty more.

    And since to look at things in bloom
    Fifty springs are little room,
    About the woodlands I will go
    To see the cherry hung with snow.


For all of us, there will come a spring that we will never see. I am sorry that...that you are not given more time. :help:

Edit: Crossposted with Sass


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:41 pm 
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Ah, Sassafras: I don't see Sam as upholding the social order in preferring to be himself! After all, we know he went on to become a pretty important hobbit and the progenitor of a gentle family.

What I meant was (about myself as well as Sam) is that Sam likes his world, with the prospect of death, better than he likes the Elven world of eternal life. I think Sam, like me, wonders what on earth they do with their time.

He has gardens to plant, trees to nuture, the cycle of life to experience.

Elves seem purposeless to me. I think they did to Sam, even as he admired their beauty.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:32 pm 
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To carry on with that thought a little bit: someone started a story here once, in which the characters did not have any struggles in existing. They lived in a static world, where everything was provided. They did not have to hunt or fish or farm. They just . . . existed.

It drove me (and a few other people) crazy.

The Elves, in their way, drove me just as crazy. I cannot relate to an Elf. They are beyond me, in every sense. And, while Sam met and spoke with and had dinner with Elves, he knew they were "beyond" him, too.

For me, Tolkien succeeds as an "author" when he is grounded with Sam in Middle Earth. When there are no hobbits or men, he loses me. When I read The Silmarillion, the Elves do not seem remote and ethereal, but seem like aristocratic men/warriors given, as aristocratic warriors ever were, to conflict, to swearing insane oaths, and to disobeying their gods. Doing those things, they are as "real" as Hector and Paris and Achilles: which is to say, they are like Hector, and Paris, and Achilles. Or maybe like some Norseman storming off into the night to die fighting a monster, or entering The Paths of the Dead.

Still, Sam sometimes brings Odysseus to my mind. That wily Greek, who longed for his home, his hearth, and his Penelope.

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