It is currently Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:56 am

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 199 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ... 10  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:53 pm 
Offline
Pleasantly Twisted
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:35 pm
Posts: 8999
Location: Black Creek Bottoms
tinwë, I would say the best Sam-ish traits are expanded by his quest, and the worst diminished. But you're right, he alone of the hobbits comes Home with a capital H. The others merely return to the Shire.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:56 pm 
Offline
Best friends forever
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:33 pm
Posts: 11961
Location: Over there.
Lovely post, tinwë. :)

_________________
Dig deeper.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:57 pm 
Offline
still raining, still dreaming
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:55 am
Posts: 1406
Location: On the far side of nowhere
axordil wrote:
One thing about Sam that fascinates me, and which, I think, bears on the discussion, is that of the major characters in LOTR, the hand of destiny seems to press the lightest on him. The Ring was "meant" to go to Bilbo, and to Frodo, but one suspects, not to Sam. We also get a better look inside his decision-making process, especially as regards what to do with the Ring. The feeling one comes away with is that his free will may be a trifle freer than his master's.



:shock: This comment of yours, Ax, leads directly to a post I've had sitting around for a few days (actually, I've been waiting for Ath to post her take on all things Sam :love:........... .... but, impatient as ever, I can't pass up this opportunity because what you say touches upon the main thrust of my thinking. :D)

Indulge me now, it's fairly long and my conclusion is, well, lets just.. ...

<cue John Cleese sitting at a desk in the middle of suburban English nowhere>

********And now for something completely different.*********


I think this might be my final 'hefty' post about Sam for a while. At least in this thread until and unless perspectives other than mine are presented.

Book VI is relatively short. The section concerning Frodo and Sam is only 61 pages long. Three chapters, The Tower of Cirith Ungol, The Land of Shadow, Mount Doom. The fate of the world is decided inside these three short chapters.

This writing is, I believe, among the most emotionally powerful ever written by Tolkien; (and that's saying a lot) He makes me feel Frodo's pain as a, living livid thing, I wince with Sam gritting his teeth against the dust, with the sense that his determination is palpably hard and formidably insistent. It is desolate, the two small hobbits are splayed out as small ragged specks dwarfed by the enormity of a dead and dying wasteland ruled over by a despotic force whose only desire is annihilation and destruction. Mordor is nihilism incarnate.

(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? )

Sigh. Such questions as these I have time to ponder. But, she pulls herself back into the vision of the struggle against time, against the power and burden of the Ring, back into sight of Frodo and Sam crawling across rocks and dust, beaten down with the immensity of their task, and once more she is (I am) amazed that the hobbit spirit can withstand so much pain and so much darkness.

Well, so it is. I think I have been shaken out of my old familiar rut in the way I approach LotR, which is to say that I think I have found something else that is new (for me anyway) among the vista of Sam's last journey.

First, it was a hint and then it became a suggestion and finally it was a certainty.

The hand of Eru, or some power, is both present and operative throughout the entire latter half of the quest, from the rescue all the way until the final paragraph: that astonishing, inspired, poignant
“here at the end of all things, Sam.”

Let's see if I can show you what I mean:

Remember when in The Choices of Master Samwise, Sam castigates himself?

“The trouble with you is you never really had any hope.”

Except we know Sam better. We have learned since first we met in the Shire that he has this amazing capacity to exchange the essential passivity of hopelessness for the opposite mode of action. Sam never allows a negative (emotion) to completely overwhelm him. Before he will sink into a quagmire of murky despair, he will force himself to make a decision which will demand movement, whether it be an action of spirit or a physical action. The breadth and the depth of his devotion to Frodo, itself a growing, changing thing, sets into motion a causal chain of events which lead to rescue. See, for Sam, ultimately there is always hope. He will always deny himself permission to really fall into the bottomless dark.

Over and over Sam proves himself worthy of outside (divine) intervention: a gentle nudge toward the right choice, the right direction:

'He felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass and took one step veritably down into the land Of Mordor, that step would be irrevocable. He could never come back. Without any clear purpose he drew out the Ring and put it on again.'

You could easily argue, and it would be a facile argument, that his putting on the Ring at this particular time under these particular circumstances has no other meaning than what it says: Sam puts on the Ring. But this is how I think of it: Because he is nudged into using the Ring, although the risk of discovery (so near to the Eye, so close to the Ringwraiths) is perilous, his sense of hearing is greatly enhanced; he can hear Shagrat and Gorbag quarreling in the Tower and much to his dismay, he understands that Frodo is not dead and may yet be suffering.

'His love for Frodo rose above all other thoughts, and forgetting his peril he cried aloud. “I'm coming, Mr. Frodo!” He ran forward to the climbing path, and over it. At once the road turned left and plunged steeply down. Sam had crossed into Mordor.

'He took off the Ring, moved it may be by some deep premonition of danger, though to himself he thought only that he wished to see more clearly.'


In this action also, I suggest that some other power nudges Sam into removing the Ring. For obvious reasons he must be protected from death or capture and be afforded the best opportunity to rescue his master and continue on with the quest. For equally obvious reasons there cannot be any direct intervention otherwise we'd be back to a fixed universe where the Eagles would simply fly into Mordor and drop the Ring into the cracks of Doom. I say that this is impossible within the confines of Tolkien's sub-creation and I'm curious in trying to work out how Eru's guiding hand, far more prevalent than I had remembered, is permitted inside the framework of the circled world.


Of course, I knew of, and accepted that, “Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.”

That the force(s) which oppose Sauron see fit to bend the rules (absolute free will) a wee bit in order to not entirely leave the fortunes of the Ring to random chance, is, for me, an entirely acceptable deviation. I also lean toward the belief that the composition of the Fellowship is more ordered than it is random. Imagine what might have transpired, how changed the dynamic, if Faramir had been sent to Rivendell as he should in place of Boromir?! <but that's just an intriguing speculation and the subject for fan-fic, I suppose> :)
Contrast, if you will, the simplicity of these almost-not-there suggestions with the concrete certainty of the Eagles of Manwë flying in at the most propitious of moments, cementing the turning of the tide squarely in the right direction …............:pullhair: Plot Device! it screams, it's like being hit over the head with a bag full of rocks and doesn't even bear the most cursory consideration. There is absolutely no subtly to it, no pretense, no excuse, and besides, I think it's lazy writing.

Okay. Back to my premise: So, he takes the Ring off his finger, to himself he remains unaware of any 'push', thinking only to clear his muddied vision since the Ring moves its wearers into the shadow world. He intuitively knows that the Ring is strengthened by proximity to Orodruin and he knows with a great and marvelous clarity that there are two choices: Put it on and claim it or forebear and suffer an exquisite torture which will gnaw despair into his very bones. The Ring faces an opponent in Sam Gamgee unlike any other. The very smallness and the very ordinariness of Sam coupled with, intensified by, a certain purity. Purity of devoted love makes him unique and able to withstand the seduction offered. I find it astonishing how simple (given the circumstances) is the clarity to which Sam can, and does, reduce the Ring's complexity. In his gut there is the indisputable understanding that to use the Ring is to crumple and distort; that he is not strong enough. He knows these things with conviction and not only does he know them, he can use that knowledge to help him resist the siren song until temptation becomes a moot point. It will be there like an ache that never diminishes, never go away, and might, no, will increase until the body screams out loud, yet Sam is still not fooled because from the depths of his ordinary soul, he knows ..... to succumb is to be annihilated. One also suspects that Sam knows that should he submit to the Ring, all hope of saving Frodo must be put aside forever. That too, must give him a kind of hope.


I wonder if in his darkest hour Sam is shored up by the divine?

'Then greatly daring, because he could think of nothing else to do, answering a sudden thought that came to him, he slowly drew out the phial of Galadriel and held it up.'

Well, how else is he to get past the Watchers?
This repeating pattern of 'sudden thought' which invariably seems to occur when Sam is faced with difficult, or close to impossible, situations ............ can all of the right choices he makes be chalked up to mere coincidence?
Or is there, as I have come to believe, enough evidence of assistance from outside to say that Eru, or some other spiritual power like the Valar maybe, gently suggest to Sam which choice he should make? You see, it's not so much that such direct thoughts resolve immediate problems but that there are so many of them. It is this fact then, this combination of a number of thorny issues resolved by making one decision over the other that convinces me that Sam is watched and guided on his path through Mordor.

Here, another, surely one of the most poignant but also one of the most obvious. I need to quote this passage almost in full because I love it so much:

'At least, weary and feeling finally defeated, he sat on a step below the level of the passage-floor and bowed his head into his hands. It was quiet, horribly quiet. The torch, that was already burning low when he arrived, sputtered and went out and he felt darkness cover him like a tide. And then softly, to his own surprise, there at the vain end of his long journey and his grief, moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell, Sam began to sing.

<snip>

And then suddenly new strength rose in him, and his voice rang out, while words of his own came
unbidden to fit the simple tune.'


“Beyond all towers, strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep.
Above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done
nor bid the Stars farewell.”


:bawl:

So. Is it my contention is that both singing and song were quietly and carefully placed into Sam's mind for the exact purpose of finding Frodo? It is. I do believe that although he may not know, nor may see, there is an other here watching, nurturing and sometimes maybe, planting specific thoughts which will permit Sam to negotiate the bewildering labyrinth of possible directions. Not with ease, no, all choices intimately court danger and any one path chosen over any other introduces more new elements of distress or difficult questions. If we were able to ask Sam directly why he chose this way and not that way, what would he say? Would he think that some of his actions just co-incidentally turned out to be the right ones? Or would he, somewhere deep inside, recognize he has been gifted by what we might call guidance of an angel? I can't say if the spirit guiding Sam is Eru himself, or one of the Valar, or even if it's possibly Gandalf as Olórin ( that seems unlikely if only because the Istari are forbidden from using their innate power within the confines of Middle-earth ….. although there comes to mind Amon Hen, Frodo directed to take off the Ring he wore to escape Boromir “Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!” There is that, but yet Gandalf says once or twice that they (Frodo and Sam) have passed beyond his sight so unless he is mistaken and or unless he has telepathic powers not muted by the original directive, Gandalf must be ruled out as Sam's angel.

On the slopes of Mount Doom:

I don't know how he does it and I don't know if he has any help in doing it, but this is the place and the time where finally Sam faces death and does not flinch. He looks inside despair and what he finds there gives him renewed strength and a new resolve to see the quest through to the end no matter the cost to himself. He never, ever contemplates dissolution. I don't think he can. All remaining shreds of anything approaching self-pity, or sorrowful regret are flung away as Sam truly is transformed, wearing a hero's mantle and becoming a true partner to Frodo.

'But the bitter truth came home to him at last: at best their provisions would take them to their goal; and when the task was done, there they would come to an end, alone, houseless, foodless in the midst of a terrible desert. There could be no return.

“So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started,” thought Sam: “to help Mr. Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is the job, then I must do it.”


And so, on the slopes of the mountain, the two hobbits are virtually depleted and Frodo is wracked with unimaginable spiritual deprivation; and their poor bodies in torment.

'Yet somehow their wills did not yield and they struggled on.'

unable to force his body to crawl on hands and knees, with spirit broken as it is steadily supplanted by the will of the One Ring, even then in the most terrible night,

'Whether Frodo was so worn by his long pains, wound of knife, and venomous sting, and sorrow, fear,
and homeless wandering, or because some gift of final strength was given to him, Sam lifted Frodo with no more difficulty than if he were carrying a hobbit-child-pig-a-back in some romp on the lawns
of the hayfields in the Shire. He took a deep breath and started off.
'

At the last, tortured by the sight of their fiery end, when the flesh has betrayed and deserted them even though the spirit remains willing; they are prostrate and agonized ....... :(

'Slowly the light grew. Suddenly a sense of urgency which he did not understand came to Sam. It was almost as if he had been called: “Now, now, or it will be too late!” He braced himself and got up.
Frodo also seemed to have felt the call. He struggled to his knees.'


Who calls them? But called they must be because they are so close to that edge, the void which lives on the other side of hope. Where they are now, hellish place, full of actual dread, pales in comparison to the unspeakable agony the Ring exacts upon their souls. What living thing can withstand the continuous insult and the fearful assault lashed into the very marrow of their bones? By all the laws in all the living lands hobbit souls should have been flayed from their minds; they should not survive. That they have survived in part is their doughty nature and greatness of heart, for they are, as Gandalf observed “amazing creatures” and they also, so I believe, have had help and no small degree of guidance from powers beyond the circles of the world.

It is true that Sam (and Frodo, though I am mostly concerned with Sam) does all of the hard work along the way. He performs the deeds which will move the quest onward and he must endure the pain that some of those choices contain; ah, but the choices made, the ones that turn out well, those choices are presented to him as though arising from within his own heart and his own mind. They do not. At least they are not solely his; his guidance is like little soft ripples circling around the centre of any one dilemma. The quest must not fail and so it falls that all help that is permitted to be given in Middle-earth is given.

What is most assuredly entirely within the province of hobbits is their remarkable ability to remain True throughout every step of that torturous journey. But here they are, on the steps of Sammath Naur, and here finally Frodo's soul is in peril. Here then, there must be a final intervention as hope comes full circle while Gollum plays his part so that the world is saved.

While I was reading the last three Mordor chapters and it began to dawn on me how frequently the slight, oh so very slight, nudges that would result in one direction or one action over another were occurring and how easy they were to overlook. After all, I've read LotR umpteen times and I had never paid more than cursory attention to Sam's unbidden thoughts before now. I begin to wonder how Tolkien might resolve (to himself, not to his public) the moral quandary of a world where Free Will is an inviolable tenet countermanded by a benign interference ( for, make no mistake, it IS interference be it ever so well intentioned!) that helps guide people and events toward the best and most desirable of outcomes? I, personally, have no qualms regarding angelic assistance. The way I look at it, situations in which all members of the Fellowship found themselves from time to time presented them all with immense difficulties and it was imperative that wrong choices be avoided and right choices made, else disaster of eternal magnitude might ensue. Not only might there be individual deaths but also, eventually, the Ring would find its way back to the hand of Sauron to the ruin of all of Arda. So that any little suggestion of help in making difficult decisions is not only desirable, it is to be looked for.

It poses an interesting problem, I think, although of course, you must accept my premise as valid. If not then there is no argument to be had.

I would also differentiate between the subtlety of suggestions made to Sam like putting on the Ring so his hearing may be enhanced allowing him to hear confirmation from orcs what his heart knew .... Frodo was not dead ..... or from singing in the Tower or be gifted with that last jot of strength so he may carry Frodo ….. to the blatant appearance of avenging Eagles at the Black Gate ( I do have a soft spot for the rescue of Sam and Frodo, though, a very soft spot) Still, I'm inclined to think that the deux ex machina of the Eagles is sheer laziness on Tolkien's part. He could have found another way out of those particular catastrophes had he wished, I am sure.

Again. The thoughts that lead to certain actions that are placed in Sam's head by an outside force do not pose a moral dilemma for me. Mostly because I'm of a deterministic bent and because I think that Fate and Free Will create an admirable mixture in Tolkien's universe. But I can see where it might prove a knotty problem for those readers who subscribe wholly to a God-given free will. And since that is what Tolkien said he believed in, too, for our own world as well as the world he (sub) created. I'm interested in what you (collectively speaking) think about all of this. (aside from a thought which has no doubt occurred to some, I have far too much free time these days. Well, yes, but it is fun and I do so enjoy it! )

And now, if you will excuse me, I need to return to The Field of Cormallon.

:halo:

Edit: cross-posted with tinwë and a bunch of others. :) :) :)

_________________
Image

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


"Too many Fingolfins, not enough Sams."

Yes.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:17 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 2:34 pm
Posts: 1579
I accept your premise as totally valid Sass. Thank you for teasing out all those oh so subtle interventions that seem to spring up in Sam's mind.
However I would say it was a form of conversation with Fate/Destiny/Eru rather than a one sided intervention. As Sam strives and makes the right choices, so he is rewarded with the small revelations.

It is similar to asking oneself where the spark of artistic inspiration comes from. Is it within oneself or is there some Muse that helps us to find what is within?
One other deep theme within LOTR is the nature of mythology - the anthropomorphism, if that is the correct noun, of abstract concepts and the play between mythology and human nature.

_________________
<a><img></a>


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:31 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:59 pm
Posts: 2278
I am one post behind, but that just means there is more to look forward to, eh?

Sassafras wrote:
That is an intriguing point of view, Faramond, although I'm not at all sure that Sam is capable of such sophisticated mental gymnastics. For a start I doubt that he grasps much more than the fact that the Ring is BAD........... the subtleties of its evil probably elude him. After all, all Sam knew is that Mr. Bilbo had owned it for years and years and for all Sam knew it conferred invisibility and Gandalf has said it must be destroyed.


I think he knows more than that. He saw what the ring did to Boromir, or what Boromir let the ring do to him.

Quote:
I don't think it's fair to accuse Sam of mental myopia when a thing is totally outside of his realm of experience.


Well, I agree. It isn't fair. And I would not accuse, as if in the process of pronouncing judgment upon Sam. No, no. But, if asked if "mental myopia" is a characteristic of Sam, I will say yes, because I do see it. I am sorry, Sam.

You know, Sam does try to make friends with Sméagol. That's how it seems to me when Sam makes the stew just before they meet Faramir. I think it's more than Sam ordering Gollum about, get me coneys, get me water, get me herbs. I would say, instead, that he's asking for his help. He's treating him as a member of the team, if you like. He wants to share the stew with Gollum. He even talks about making him fish and chips later, contemplating, for a moment, a future in which Gollum is not an irredeemable sneak. I think that in that moment Sam really does want to see Gollum as something more than a distasteful Gobbler.

But it doesn't last long. Gollum doesn't really give Sam anything like positive feedback either. Maybe they weren't meant to get along, eh? Who could get along with Gollum, anyway? ( Besides a giant spider ) So, anyway, Sam just can't see it. Sam tried. Yes, he did! But also, he could have tried harder to see it. He had two good reasons to, first that Frodo wanted him to, and second because they were putting their trust in him. But he didn't. There, that is mental myopia. You may feel that this is awfully hard, to say this, and I will agree. But at the end of it I don't find myself thinking any less of Sam, so I am willing to be hard.

Quote:
It's fair to say, however, that he was lacking imagination, but it's not fair to label him mentally myopic because he has not the intellectual requirement for turning an attitude on its head and asking a hypothetical 'what if'.


No no no! I don't think Sam was lacking in imagination. His poem about the trolls was quite imaginitive, in its way. I think it took some imagination to grasp the differences in elvishness between the Hall of Fire and Lothlórien, as well. He is able to contemplate the hypotheticals of what Frodo might do at key moments. Sam is a plodder, sensible, a regular no-nonsense kind of guy, and that easily leads to the corollary that he lacks imagination. I think it is a false corollary. Sam is not, perhaps, a dreamer, but he does have the imagination of a gardener, the ability to see patterns of growth and life.

Quote:
We admire( I admire) Sam for his level-headed, common-sensical, practical way of dealing with problems.


Well, I won't say no to this, I suppose. But later on I will give my reason that is a little different than this.


Quote:
All I can do is put myself in Sam's place as much as possible and I've got to say that I would also be annoyed (wrong word, say,concerned) that Frodo's apparent willingness to trust Gollum because he must, because no other known choice exists if he wants to find a path to Mordor, might very easily get one, or both, maimed or killed. Sam wants a bit more watchfulness and a bit less willingness.


Sam is afraid of what Gollum might do. He should be. His fear leads him to be watchful, and to wish that Frodo was less willing to trust. That is fine. His fear leads him to be hostile to Gollum. This is counter-productive. Speaking hard words to Gollum can only increase the likelihood of betrayal.

Quote:
Sorry, Faramond, I disagree with this. They, Sam rather, does NOT trust Gollum. They may agree to follow where Gollum leads because the alternative is pointless, directionless, exhausting wandering. One grasps at any alternative which might, might, be a better choice. He gives way to Frodo because of loyalty, love and he does trust him! But I don't think that trust is blind to the practical problems inherent in the situation and there are instances where Sam thinks his master may be wrong, but he trusts himself enough to be sufficiently vigilant to prevent any catastrophe


Yes, you are right. I was conflating meanings of trust. Sam does not trust Gollum. I think that Frodo does not quite trust him either. But they put their trust in him, in other words, they put themselves in a position where Gollum may betray them with catastrophic results. The distinction here is between trust as action and trust as feeling. And this is part of our disagreement. So, the feeling of mistrust is not impossible, as I claimed. I do wonder if it is counterproductive, once the action of trust has been made. I think the answer to this, is what does the feeling of mistrust lead to? If it leads to hostility, then the feeling of mistrust is undermining the action of trust. More and more I am coming to think that the problem was one of hostility.

Quote:
Distaste equals hostility? Well, Sam, on the whole, is hostile toward Gollum. He can, and does, try to hide it for Frodo's sake and for the sake of not provoking a slippery adversary into outright violence, but his hostility is there in his thoughts. I mean thinking to commit murder is about as hostile as one can get!


I think the expression of distaste is a form of hostility. Gollum is distasteful, but if you're thinking that whenever you see him, then you're better off if you're not seeing him anymore. And yet they needed him.

Quote:
spiritually open? Less deterministic? Either, both?


Probably less deterministic. I don't feel qualified to judge how spiritually open it is.

Quote:
I still maintain that Sam's rigid, and yes mistrustful, vigilance in concert with Frodo's more merciful approach created a synergy which allowed the quest to succeed, or be completed.


I guess what I don't see is what Sam's vigilance accomplished. It did not prevent Gollum's betrayal. It did not thwart Gollum's betrayal. If anything, it helped provoke Gollum's betrayal. I will not insist on that last interpretation, but it is often made. And I would also be careful to distinguish genuine vigilance from hostility.

Quote:
Sam, as Sam, was absolutely necessary; he complimented Frodo and the two halves made a whole. For the sole purpose of staying alive! while using Gollum as a guide in getting the Ring to Mordor.


There are some persons who think that Frodo+Sam+Gollum made a whole! Isn't that interesting?

Quote:
Addendum: I would like to hear more from you on Sam's truimph. You mean The Choices of Master Samwise, I assume?


In large part, yes. His treatment of Gollum near the end, which Voronwë mentioned, is also a part of it. But Sam is beloved by people who find that whole pity for Gollum aspect of the story troublesome, so I would not put too much weight on it. Another thing is that I think there is a lot more to Sam than his relationship with Gollum. It's easy to focus a lot on that, since it is fascinating and so important to the story, but I think Sam's best moments mostly come when he is away from Gollum. Though I do think his pity and mercy for Gollum is one of his best moments, to be sure. ( But he was still hostile, even then! ;) )

I am reading LOTR now, and when I get to these parts I will post more on them.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:00 am 
Offline
Best friends forever
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:33 pm
Posts: 11961
Location: Over there.
Sassafras wrote:
The way I look at it, situations in which all members of the Fellowship found themselves from time to time presented them all with immense difficulties and it was imperative that wrong choices be avoided and right choices made, else disaster of eternal magnitude might ensue. Not only might there be individual deaths but also, eventually, the Ring would find its way back to the hand of Sauron to the ruin of all of Arda. So that any little suggestion of help in making difficult decisions is not only desirable, it is to be looked for.


The way I look at it is, this is what happened. This is history.

It makes me acutely uncomfortable, and, yes, angry, to think that "some mysterious hand" was guiding them, helping them, interfering . . . . This far . . . and no farther . . . . the mysterious hand can meddle, but only this much. I could scream with outrage, actually. :( That's how much it bothers me.

The Lord of the Rings is the story of what happened. The other things didn't happen.

Wellington won the Battle of Waterloo. But . . . IF . . . Napoleon had got up earlier, it might have been different . . . did God keep Napoleon in bed so that Wellington could win? That's what that sort of thinking leads to, and I don't like it.

No personal offense meant, I hope you all understand. But this very argument is at the very core of my love of this book. Divine intervention is just NOT ON. :x

Sam mistrusted Gollum. Of course he did. How could he not? Frodo didn't trust Gollum either. He probably felt that distrust/mistrust more strongly than Sam did because Frodo was really beginning to understand the power of the Ring.

Was Sam "hostile" to Gollum? Of course he was. Did his fear, mistrust, or hostility cause Gollum to betray them? Or even to make it more likely? I don't think it did. I don't think there was ever a chance that Gollum wasn't going to betray them - when he thought it was safe for him to do so. Shelob was in the back of his mind all along.

I never had any notion that Gollum was going to be true to Frodo. Gollum was true to his Precious, and Frodo's curse on Gollum turned out just the way it was bound to.

eta: This is the part that wrings my heart:

"'But the bitter truth came home to him at last: at best their provisions would take them to their goal; and when the task was done, there they would come to an end, alone, houseless, foodless in the midst of a terrible desert. There could be no return. "

There never is. At best, our provisions will not last forever. We come to the end, all of us. There is no return.

_________________
Dig deeper.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:35 am 
Offline
still raining, still dreaming
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:55 am
Posts: 1406
Location: On the far side of nowhere
This thread is moving so fast. :shock: How can I tell each and every one of you (even those who disagree -- maybe especially those who disagree :P )
how marvelous, how satisfying it is, and how glad I am that you have agreed to take this journey with me. Or maybe I am giving myself airs and it ( the thread) has taken on a life of its own.

Either way, I am happy. :)

tinwë wrote:
Quote:
The reason why this transformation stands out for me is because Sam really is not a transformative figure. At least not the way I look at him. I see him as immutable, so firmly rooted in the soil he tends that nothing can change him, not even an epic journey to save the world. And in the end I think I am right: Sam doesn’t change. Oh, his world view certainly expands - how could it not - but the core characteristics that make him who he is are still there. Not so, for instance, with Merry and Pippin who pursue their connections with Gondor and Rohan, Sam is content with the Shire and Rosie.


What a lovely thought, tinwë. Thank you. :love: As I was reading your post, the 'rightness' of what you say struck a chord, for all of my thinking about Sam I had never articulated that thought.Quintessential Sam remains true to his core. It's what makes him so strong.

*********

Tosh said:
Quote:
It is similar to asking oneself where the spark of artistic inspiration comes from. Is it within oneself or is there some Muse that helps us to find what is within?


This put me in mind of something Peter Beagle wrote in the forward to my paperback editions which, to my mind, holds a kernel of truth:

I said once that the world he (Tolkien) charts was there long before him, and I still believe it. He is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never invented them either: he found them a place to live <snip> We are raised to honour all the wrong explorers and discoverers -- thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams.

********

Faramond says:
I am one post behind, but that just means there is more to look forward to, eh?

You betcha! ;)

Only I am too tired now to give your post the attention it deserves. I'm sorry, it will have to wait until tomorrow.

*********

vison wrote:
Quote:
No personal offense meant, I hope you all understand. But this very argument is at the very core of my love of this book. Divine intervention is just NOT ON :x


I take no offense, vison. Not one little drop. Really and truly. The funny thing is though is that I'm also an atheist although I don't think it's that you are complaining about. I simply accept that T. was a devout RC and that no matter how hard he tried to expunge all references to Christianity, some stayed in despite his best intentions. Sam receiving subtle guidance in Mordor is only an example of one that flew under the radar and besides, it's only one interpretation: mine. :)

_________________
Image

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


"Too many Fingolfins, not enough Sams."

Yes.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:52 am 
Offline
Best friends forever
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:33 pm
Posts: 11961
Location: Over there.
I accept it, too, and I admire him for not beating us over the head with it. :) And, the "divine intervention" never struck me as particularly Christian. It struck me more - when it crossed my mind at all - that in every great tale the gods interfere, or have a stake in the outcome. I didn't see Jesus, or Mary. I still don't, although certainly a lot of people have tried to "make" me see them.

The cool thing is, you can ignore it and I do ignore it. There are many other books where you can't ignore it.

_________________
Dig deeper.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:00 am 
Offline
Living in hope
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:43 am
Posts: 40006
Location: Sailing the luminiferous aether
Just responding to vison, with nothing like the time yet to respond appropriately to everyone else:

Coming from a Christian perspective (of a particular kind), I don't see divine intervention as necessary or real. I tend not to think that's how the God I believe in works. I tend to think (not speaking for a whole denomination here) that if people in my faith understand something to be God's will, it's our job to make it happen. We are his people so we can do that, so God's will happens without miracles or a thumb in the works. Just ordinary people in there slogging.

Judging from how it feels when I see one of my children do the right thing unprompted, because it's right, I suspect God gets more joy from doing it this way anyway. God doesn't just want good things to happen; God wants people to do them. The world is better when a miracle helps a bunch of people, yes; but the world is enormously better when people help each other, because they've learned to care.

Sam's one of those people. I don't see how the Eagles are any more of a divine intervention than Sam. He is, after all, the one who carried the Ring almost to the fire, as some say the Eagles should have done. But because he's small and plain and plain-spoken, he seems like a pretty unlikely vessel for the divine will.

Which I see as watching, urgently, from the sidelines, not bending minds and events to its purposes. If my children did everything rightly and prudently, but only because I was thinking for them and controlling them, I wouldn't be a good parent, because they wouldn't be ready to grow into independent life, to become themselves.

_________________
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:19 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 9:15 pm
Posts: 651
Location: between the worlds
Primula Baggins wrote:

Which I see as watching, urgently, from the sidelines, not bending minds and events to its purposes. If my children did everything rightly and prudently, but only because I was thinking for them and controlling them, I wouldn't be a good parent, because they wouldn't be ready to grow into independent life, to become themselves.


I couldn't agree more, Prim. :)



Despite being a Christian myself, I've never seen any divine interference in Tolkien's stories - not from any God we might or might not believe in. Now that I come to think of it, I would put some events happening throughout the story down to Fate or Karma, but only if I had to.

My view is probably too simplistic, especially before the background of all your sophisticated posts :): Neither Isildur was able to destroy the Ring, nor Elves or the Eagles were meant to achieve that. For me it's one of the quintessences in LOTR that the physically weakest and therefore very insignificant creatures were destined to salvage Middle Earth.

In common thinking a hero has to be a Hercules-like person, either physically or mentally or even better, a combination of both. And what do we get? Two Hobbits: Frodo is being taken over by the Ring and therefore his judgement and free will is getting increasingly restricted and the other is this Sam with his narrowness, which is the indispensable platform for his progression - until we can safely call him a hero; a dichotomy which I find highly appealing.

The concept of Sam's mental myopia doesn't appeal to me because imho the precondition for this would be a wider mental horizon which is (deliberately) being limited by the person and/or the circumstances. Sam is growing under the given circumstances, not diminishing.

_________________
How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:28 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 4:06 am
Posts: 2241
I think it is certainly internally consistent with the story that there may be direct intervention from a god or gods. After all, we know that there is a god in Middle Earth, we even know his name, Eru, we even have the story of how he willed the world into existence. Even within the LOTR we have references to higher beings. So it’s certainly possible.

Does it cause a moral dilemma? Depends. A moral dilemma for who? If it’s Eru we’re talking about than I can certainly see vison's point. Why would he get involved here but not there. Why doesn’t he just get rid the stupid ring himself. I mean, if he can blink the world into existence than surely he can blink a little ring out. If he is just going to sit around and do nothing while people suffer and die, than he’s pretty much of a git. Imo.

But if it’s the free will of the characters we’re talking about, I don’t have as much of a problem. Free will doesn’t have to mean just doing whatever you want to do. It can also mean choosing to do what is right. It is possible that God, Eru, Manwë, Varda, whoever, shows the characters the right choice, but leaves it up to them to act on it. Eru may very well have the put it in Sam’s mind to sing at Cirith Ungul, but it was Sam who sang, and there is no reason to think that it was not by his own free will.

To me, ultimately, it doesn’t matter where the thought came from. We all have thoughts pop into ouur minds unbidden all the time. What matters is how we act on them. The only thing that matters to me about Sam is what he did. It’s not called The Choices Of Master Samwise for nothing.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:54 pm 
Offline
Best friends forever
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:33 pm
Posts: 11961
Location: Over there.
I don't ever seem to be able to make my thoughts clearly understood on this topic!

Anyway, time to get to work.

_________________
Dig deeper.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:47 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:04 am
Posts: 7283
Dear Sass,

sorry that it took me so long to get here after telling you I would come. I won’t waste thread complaining about work load, but, typical of the past two terms’ frustrations, I arrived to class Thursday afternoon and the building was on fire! And here we were thinking that two feet of snow were a setback.

Anyway, what a beautiful gift this thread is to all of your friends. Thank you so much for starting it, and for being willing to share with us your thoughts about Sam at this time.

So many great observations have been made here. I find myself jumping back and forth between different ideas, finding whole thoughts woven through seemingly disparate perspectives. Since I joined the thread so late, allow me to not follow all these ideas in order but to grab hold of the ones that struck me with most force ... sometimes a single idea seemed to me to be expressed in different ways in posts that were very far apart.

First of all, Sam rustic and vulgar, myopic and smug?

Well, yes. I think I do know what Tolkien means by this. I seem to recall him writing in one of his letters that Sam was modeled on the men who fought beside him in WWI, and I think that JRR was clear-sighted about the way that both our faults and our virtues can spring from a single characteristic of our personality. Those men too were unlettered, and too vulgar (in its original sense) to have been the strategists of the world, but they understood loyalty unto death. Their Frodo was England, and the survival of England was as much due to such loyalty and determination on the battlefield as to the clever strategies of their commanders.

Faramond wrote:
I do not think Sam is particularly wise.


I do not think he is wise either. But he is True.

The simple mind is also the clear head. Dogged loyalty is immune to propaganda and to doubt. This is the kind of man who will say, “my country right or wrong!” And that sort of man can be very frustrating when discussing trade relations between Rohan and Gondor! But that is the man you want with you in Mordor.

Sam is unswerving ... I think that is the adjective that applies to him ... and unswerving can also be stiff-necked, unrepentant, smug ... it is clearly both a virtue and a flaw, depending on circumstance. We see in Sam a very clear picture, imo, of the person who is determined to follow through on his notion of what is right, unwilling to question it, even when he does not understand fully why a particular course of action has been dictated, as when Sam must acquiesce to Frodo’s wish that they take Gollum as their guide. What is ‘right’ for Sam is to stick by Frodo, and that is what he does, even when he thinks Frodo has judged poorly.

This is not a quality we desire in our strategists, but without such unswerving yeomanry there is no venture that would succeed. That, I believe, is what JRR saw in the trenches. But these yeomen are unsung in the received epics ... in Morte D’Artur we are not told the name of a single kern ... and they are rarely represented in literature without irony.

That is the other thing that strikes me about Sam, on this reading of the thread, that JRR presents him without a grain of irony. The reader may be annoyed by Sam sucking his teeth and reminiscing about his Gaffer, but Tolkien himself is not annoyed by this, nor amused by this, nor by any word of the narrative ‘above it.’ It is part of the whole of Sam, and what is so humble and (possibly) annoying about Sam is made profound, not by the usual post-WWII literary conventions of antiheroism and ironic, nihilistic waste, but by narrating quite simply his profound importance to the outcome of the tale.

Even the very last thing that Sam does on Mount Doom is critical to the outcome of the tale.

Quote:
Well, Master, we could at least go further from this dangerous place here, from this Crack of Doom, if that’s it name. Now couldn’t we? Come, Mr. Frodo, let’s go down the path at any rate.


And so they survived long enough for the eagles to reach them.

Sass wrote:
... 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.


Yes, I think that is very much the point of Sam being who he is.

Sam the Existentialist ;)

Tosh wrote:
The other which to my mind is the hinge of the entire story is in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. He has no reserve of energy left. Everything that could go wrong has done so despite his superhuman resolve. He is alone in the dark trapped at the furthest point within a Mordor stronghold; 'feeling finally defeated' and 'at the vain end of his long journey and his grief.' Then, 'moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell' he began to sing. ... it is my belief that Sam's rejection of despair with song was rewarded with the change of wind that dispelled the Murk of Mordor that brought speed to the boats of Umbar and the music of the horns of Rohan to the beleaguered city.


Teremia wrote:
I like that thought, Tosh -- one humble person's rejection of despair being enough to change the nature of the wind, and the wind going on to change everything, in a subtle sort of way.


I like that thought too. :)

This ... singing in the Tower of Cirith Ungol ... this is really important, imo. Important to the book and important to the gift that Sassy has given us with this thread.

It does not have to be a song moved by Providence, imo. It is perfectly understandable as .... hm .... I’m trying to say things in fewer, smaller words these days, but I'm getting stuck here ...

Sartre once wrote that there are only two possible “good faith” responses to the human condition: laughter, or suicide. If I might tweak that a bit: song, or suicide.

This song in the Tower is the song of humanity which, seeing defeat ... (the unavoidable defeat that is the human condition of all of us) ... says “yes” anyway. Sings anyway. Even in the face of inevitable death, Sam is free to proclaim his life and his ... immortality by virtue of having taken up his role in the story that began before him and continues after he is gone. He is free. We are free.

Think what it means to be confronting Mordor and your answer is to sing! What sovereignty in that choice! And the humblest among us is so sovereign.

Sass wrote:
Sam has ’quality’ in abundance and above all, Sam has humanity. It shines through darkness like that one small bright star high above the clouds of Mordor.


That’s really so beautifully put, Sass. And I see that song in Cirith Ungol not as deus ex machina but as one more piece of Sam’s humanity .... his commonality with all of us, both in what he is confronting and in how he chooses to respond.

Like you, I don’t believe in god, but I believe that we humans are uniquely gifted to ascribe a meaning to our lives that transcends the visible. And even without Providence, I do not think it is out of range that Sam’s song could change the wind on the Anduin! I love the Buddhist notion of an Akashic Record ... the balance of destiny shifted by a single deed, for good or for ill. I believe that there are ripples everywhere, in the realm of hope and defeat as well as the realm of wind and waves.

Sass, I will have to return with more either tomorrow or near the end of the coming week. You said something about Théoden that made me see him in a completely new light, and also called my attention to a connection between LotR and Simarillion that I had not noticed before. But for the moment my students are calling me. "Jny, Jny," they cry, "give us exams. Hard, hard exams! Make us dread you and fear for our graduation ... "

oops. Channeling Galadriel there for a few seconds <cough> :)

_________________
A fool's paradise is a wise man's hell.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:34 am 
Offline
still raining, still dreaming
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:55 am
Posts: 1406
Location: On the far side of nowhere
It was worth the wait, Jn. :hug: I am so glad to see you!

Sadly it's the end of the day .... which means I'm exhausted again. :(

However, here you are, so I can find the energy to say a little, though I will not promise to make a whole lot of sense.


Quote:
That is the other thing that strikes me about Sam, on this reading of the thread, that JRR presents him without a grain of irony.


rhetorical/is there irony anywhere in LotR?/rhetorical :D


Quote:
I do not think he is wise either. But he is True.


Both Sam and Frodo are True. They possess a solid, unwavering integrity (which has nothing to do with Sam's myopia) and I believe that that core is the one constant, the rock, if you will, which allows them to survive Mordor without their souls being flayed. I was going to write, intact but on reflection, I don't know if that's so. Neither hobbit escapes unscathed and maybe innocence lost is the most radical of those changes.


Quote:
This ... singing in the Tower of Cirith Ungol ... this is really important, imo. Important to the book and important to the gift that Sassy has given us with this thread.

It does not have to be a song moved by Providence, imo. It is perfectly understandable as .... hm .... I’m trying to say things in fewer, smaller words these days, but I'm getting stuck here ...

Sartre once wrote that there are only two possible “good faith” responses to the human condition: laughter, or suicide. If I might tweak that a bit: song, or suicide.

This song in the Tower is the song of humanity which, seeing defeat ... (the unavoidable defeat that is the human condition of all of us) ... says “yes” anyway. Sings anyway. Even in the face of inevitable death, Sam is free to proclaim his life and his ... immortality by virtue of having taken up his role in the story that began before him and continues after he is gone. He is free. We are free.

Think what it means to be confronting Mordor and your answer is to sing! What sovereignty in that choice! And the humblest among us is so sovereign.


I love what you say here, Jn. Although .... "it does not have to be a song moved by Providence" ..... I still think that it is with the most gentle of nudges that Sam is moved to sing. Providence does not detract, could not detract, from the quiet power of that moment: it is a testament, is it not? An action that is just .... so ... Sam.

I look forward to your next installment when those pesky students of yours have had their fill of exams. =:)

_________________
Image

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


"Too many Fingolfins, not enough Sams."

Yes.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:26 am 
Offline
Best friends forever
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:33 pm
Posts: 11961
Location: Over there.
Jnyusa wrote:
It does not have to be a song moved by Providence, imo. It is perfectly understandable as .... hm .... I’m trying to say things in fewer, smaller words these days, but I'm getting stuck here ...

Sartre once wrote that there are only two possible “good faith” responses to the human condition: laughter, or suicide. If I might tweak that a bit: song, or suicide.


Exactly so. I don't think Sam had ever heard of Sartre, or the parchment-skinned and high-nosed Númenórean philosopher who might have said something like that, though. :) Sam wouldn't have got as far as he did without that "good faith", and having got that far, he was stronger, surer, tougher and something in him rose up at that moment, something beautiful and strong and foolishly unafraid.

And there is Sam's powerful will to live, to survive! Because if we survive this moment, this half hour, this day - we have survived another moment, a half hour, a day, and we might get home.

The longing for home, for peace and the faces we love and the quiet firelight and the beasts waiting in the byre and the children with their noses pressed to the glass, looking for Daddy to come around the corner . . .

Frodo had no home to go to, I think Frodo never did have a home, one way or the other, orphan boy that he was. But Sam did.

_________________
Dig deeper.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:53 am 
Offline
Pleasantly Twisted
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:35 pm
Posts: 8999
Location: Black Creek Bottoms
Sam sings because it's the kind of thing a hobbit like Sam would do. He is "shaped like himself." :) But like Sass, I hear an echo of the "still, small voice" at times in those crucial passages from Shelob's Lair to Cirith Ungol. A nudge? Or even less than a nudge perhaps...what Sam does defines his character, and it's not surprising in the least. Yet in a theistic universe there is always room, is there not, for a breath of inspiration from the mercy seat?

But the inspirations that matter the most may be those we are never aware of.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:43 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 5:01 am
Posts: 1232
Location: Philadelphia
Sassafras (and all the others). I had not read the whole thread before, and even now there are parts that I only skimmed.

When this was started I had limited access as I was away from home, helping my parents who both were ill, and I did not get to read the beginning of the thread and went to the end first, thinking it was, perhaps, an old thread that had been dredged up.

I have started at the beginning now, and I must first say, Sassafras, that your post touches me deeply. I know many on this board have been touched similarly, and see the difficult road ahead.

In my own life, I remember seeing those who suffered with great burdens, like my sister, who died last October from cancer, and if she was Frodo, then those of us who loved and helped her were trying to be Sams, and (like Sam) could never really understand her suffering, and (like Sam) all efforts that we made to help or comfort or support were not made so we could see ourselves as heroes--they just were. Like Frodo with the ring, failure in the end was inevitable, the burden was too much, and she took the ship at last. In those last days, life conspired such that the only way I had to carry her was with my voice, to comfort her in the dark hours of her suffering and fear, especially in the final days.

I see the same in the relationship with my Father and my Mother, though that is more a practical matter of daily care in the matter of my mother's condition, which (though not terminal) is debilitating and incurable. I think that there is something in this, that the archetype of the Sam-Frodo relationship is so applicable.

But it is not my intention to write about myself. I only say this as a means to say that, in some small way, I understand.

BrianIs :) AtYou

_________________
Image

All of my nieces and nephews at my godson/nephew Nicholas's Medical School graduation. Now a neurosurgical resident at University of Arizona, Tucson.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:18 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:04 am
Posts: 7283
Brian wrote:
n my own life, I remember seeing those who suffered with great burdens, like my sister, who died last October from cancer


Brian, I did not know that Jen had died. I am so sorry. It must be very, very tough for your parents.

I’ve thought about you often and wondered how you were getting along. That was a wonderful evening with the Mad Poets! I enjoyed them tremendously, but never found the time to add another activity to my schedule.

Please give my salute to your family.

(Humera must be taller than the pumpkin leaf by now! Have you got more pics of her?)

Sass wrote:
Sadly it's the end of the day .... which means I'm exhausted again.


Sass, I know how a thread that begins as a joy can start to feel like a job. Post when you want to and not when you feel you should. Seriously! I’m not going anywhere and I’m sure that no one else is either.

Sass wrote:
Providence does not detract, could not detract, from the quiet power of that moment

Ax wrote:
Yet in a theistic universe there is always room, is there not, for a breath of inspiration from the mercy seat?


Providence does not detract, of course. Tolkien’s universe (both personal and fictional) is a theistic one, so I think we have to accept that the author himself inevitably saw Sam’s inspiration in those terms.

The universality of Tolkien’s accomplishment is that when ‘the spirit’ moves his characters to make choices, they choose in ways that are also defensible in human terms. One does not have to be a believer for Sam’s choices to resonate.

vison wrote:
I don't think Sam had ever heard of Sartre, or the parchment-skinned and high-nosed Númenórean philosopher who might have said something like that, though.


No, for sure Sam would not have thought about it that way himself!
:rofl:

For me, personally ... I like the existentialists, you see. :) Sartre is a no-holds-barred kind of guy. He puts in blunt terms things that Tolkien says more softly, but I think that Tolkien also affirms the complete freedom that Sartre is talking about, meaning that ... we say ‘yes’ without assurances.

It felt a little harsh to me to be using the word ‘suicide’ in this context, even in a quotation ... but ... the viability of that option is central to a lot of existentialist thought, and what they are trying to illuminate by that is the bad faith embodied in a provisional yes ...

i.e. ... I’ll say ‘yes’ to this human condition of ecstasy and desperation, longing and mortality, but only if there’s a god, only if there’s an afterlife, only if there’s an ultimate judge and an ultimate reward and an ultimate punishment for those who wronged me. I’ll say ‘yes’ but only if I can be certain that it all means something, that I matter, that what I believe ‘wins’ in the end ...

No! We do not get human life on those terms. We don’t get life on our terms. We don’t get to know for sure what happens in the end or whether it has any meaning at all. Even from day to day we don’t know what will happen next.

Sam does not sing hoping that someone will hear him. He sings thinking that Frodo is dead or dying, thinking that Merry and Pippin are being tortured by orcs, thinking that the quest has failed and that all of Middle Earth will soon look as Mordor looks, thinking that Rose and his Gaffer will die without ever knowing what happened to him, thinking that all is lost.

The song matters because it is without provision. There is no calculation to it. It is pure heart-choice. It is Sam, free as only a human (or hobbit) can be free. :) One can believe in the inspiration of providence if one wishes, but the song need have no cause other than Sam himself. He sings not because he has mastered the terms of his life but because the terms of his life cannot master him. Whatever comes. He sings because he can.

Ax wrote:
He is "shaped like himself."


He becomes himself, I think. Singing, he becomes what he is.

_________________
A fool's paradise is a wise man's hell.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:02 am 
Offline
Creature of the night
User avatar

Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2005 1:36 pm
Posts: 8448
Location: Where least expected
This has been a thought-provoking and spirit-lifting thread. Thank you, Sass, for starting it. My only complaint is that every time I have something to say, someone else says it better first. What a joy to be among such admirable posters! :D

For more than four decades I have read Lord of the Rings over and over, and from the start, the characters became part of me. I knew when I was sinking into darkness like Théoden, or volunteering to take a road I did not know like Frodo, or riding to war despairing like Éowyn, or dancing through the woods like Tom Bombadil ... they all lived in me. They were me. Except, strangely enough, Sam.

I loved Sam, of course. Who couldn't love his devotion and dogged determination to protect his master? But I never identified with him. He was just there, a necessary extension of Frodo. I was more inclined to identify with a shield-maiden than with the member of the Fellowship who toted cooking pots around.

But that changed a few years ago, for reasons that mirror Brian's experience. As I walked that hopeless journey into Mordor with my husband, Gary, I learned what it was like to care for someone in a barren, waterless land. I watched him suffer, burdened by pain and fear. I could not carry it for him, but I could carry him. I could be with him at the end of all things.

In those dark times, Sam's song became my song, my hope.

I will not say the day is done, nor bid the stars farewell.

In this world, I have not experienced God's influence as eagles arriving in the nick of time to save the day. But there have been moments of insight, of clarity. Sudden urges that seem to come from nowhere. Synchronicity.

Those of you who wish to leave God out of the equation might prefer to see these moments as my own intuition breaking through to consciousness. Maybe so. But it feels, deep inside, like something else: a whispered invitation -- not coercive, not threatening, not controlling -- to the life-giving path.

That is how I see Sam's "nudges." His simple strengths, his incorruptible nature, his love of Frodo and the Shire opened him to perceive these whispers and follow their guidance.


Last edited by WampusCat on Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:48 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 9:15 pm
Posts: 651
Location: between the worlds
Wampus, I'm not sure why, but your post moved me to tears.

_________________
How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 199 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ... 10  Next

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group