Media previews

For discussion of Amazon's new television show "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power"
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Frelga
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Re: Media previews

Post by Frelga »

Neil Gaiman, having watched two episodes, has this to say.
Really, really fun. I remember buying the Silmarillion as a schoolboy when it was published and it very much not being the prequel I was hoping for. This is the sort of thing I wanted to experience back then. I'll watch the whole series when it drops, with enthusiasm.
If there was anything that depressed him more than his own cynicism, it was that quite often it still wasn't as cynical as real life.

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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I saw that one, without noting that it was actually Neil Gaiman who had said it. That is certainly encouraging!
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

"Spirits in the shape of hawks and eagles flew ever to and from his halls; and their eyes could see to the depths of the seas, and pierce the hidden caverns beneath the world."
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Re: Media previews

Post by Dave_LF »

This in particular:
They’re very, very different shows.
:D
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Stranger Wings wrote: Tue Aug 23, 2022 10:44 pm A great clip of Gil-Galad and Elrond.



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So now that we know what that clip was actually about, do you still consider it a great clip, SW?
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Re: Media previews

Post by Inanna »

You know, it’s a great clip. I liked it even after watching that episode. With the precursor removed - it was awesome.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Stranger Wings »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Mon Sep 26, 2022 7:01 pm
Stranger Wings wrote: Tue Aug 23, 2022 10:44 pm A great clip of Gil-Galad and Elrond.



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So now that we know what that clip was actually about, do you still consider it a great clip, SW?
Yes. :)
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Re: Media previews

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"It is perhaps not possible in a long tale to please everybody at all points, nor to displease everybody at the same points; for I find from the letters that I have received that the passages or chapters that are to some a blemish are all by others specially approved." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Just sayin'
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Re: Media previews

Post by Inanna »

Good point, Al.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Eldy wrote: Fri Aug 12, 2022 7:44 pm
Stranger Wings wrote: Fri Aug 12, 2022 7:37 pmI personally always saw it as having primarily a metaphorical meaning, rather than a literal one. The willingness to let go of the temporal world, rather than grasping onto it, during one’s life as well as in the moment of death.
Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Fri Aug 12, 2022 7:42 pmThere is nothing in the quote that you cite (or in anything else that Tolkien wrote that I am aware of) that suggests that the Númenórean's before Tar-Atanamir (or Aragorn) took some affirmative action that caused their deaths, rather than simply accepted death.
"A good Númenórean died of free will when he felt it to be time to do so." (Letters, p. 205 fn)

"It was also the Elvish (and uncorrupted Númenórean) view that a 'good' Man would or should die voluntarily by surrender with trust before being compelled (as did Aragorn)." (Letters, p. 286 fn; emphasis in the original)

How does one die voluntarily before being compelled without making an affirmative choice to do so? What is metaphorical about this?
I feel fairly confident that reprising this conversation will be okay. I learned a lot from this discussion that was worth thinking about. There is a paper published in the new issue of MythLore that touches on these issues, which also stimulates thought.

The Stolen Gift: Tolkien and the Problem of Suicide
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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

I'm gonna regret touching this one again, but...
In order to grasp the distinction between Aragorn’s acceptance of death and the suicides that arise elsewhere in Tolkien’s work, we must remember that in writing about the good Númenórean kings Tolkien is writing about part-elven people granted a special “grace.” If we overlook this fact, we risk reading Aragorn’s words about dying “unmanned and witless” as a justification for euthanasia.
I feel this is more of an assertion than an argument, since I disagree that the custom being practiced by those granted a "special grace" makes it not euthanasia (obviously, others are free to disagree). The only differences I perceive are that (a) one is endorsed by religious authorities while the other is not, and (b) the Númenóreans are able to give up their lives through peaceful, seemingly supernatural means. I still don't see how any of this contradicts the idea that the Númenóreans were making an affirmative choice to end their lives at a time of their own choosing.
Aragorn clarifies that the option of this choice is reserved for the kings of Númenor.
This is not what Aragorn says in Appendix A and it's explicitly contradicted by Tolkien's statements in the Letters that the custom in question was observed by "good" or "uncorrupted" Númenóreans in general. Aragorn's comment that he is "the last of the Númenóreans and the latest King of the Elder Days" indicates that his ability to give up his life in this manner, more than 6000 years after the destruction of Númenor, is the result of a unique "grace" given to him personally. It is not a statement on differences between the Númenóreans monarchs and their subjects in the Second Age, when that "grace" was given much more widely.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Eldy wrote: Wed Apr 12, 2023 11:44 pm I'm gonna regret touching this one again
I hope not! :)
Aragorn clarifies that the option of this choice is reserved for the kings of Númenor.
This is not what Aragorn says in Appendix A and it's explicitly contradicted by Tolkien's statements in the Letters that the custom in question was observed by "good" or "uncorrupted" Númenóreans in general. Aragorn's comment that he is "the last of the Númenóreans and the latest King of the Elder Days" indicates that his ability to give up his life in this manner, more than 6000 years after the destruction of Númenor, is the result of a unique "grace" given to him personally. It is not a statement on differences between the Númenóreans monarchs and their subjects in the Second Age, when that "grace" was given much more widely.
I agree.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Frelga »

FWIW, I agree with Eldy's reading as well.

And I find the implication that life with a debilitating illness is not worth living increasingly problematic as I get older.
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Re: Media previews

Post by RoseMorninStar »

Frelga wrote: Thu Apr 13, 2023 12:57 am And I find the implication that life with a debilitating illness is not worth living increasingly problematic as I get older.
I need time to read the article before commenting, but I often thought of it not so much acquainted with illness alone, but the loss of dignity from serious impairment, including the loss of one's mental facilities, senility. That is a great fear for many. From personal dealings it seems there is a period just before this happens when people are able to make decisions for themselves; say, to go into assisted living. That period passes and their reasoning has gone. They believe they can stay in their own home & take care of themselves when they clearly cannot. It's that loss of dignity. In such cases death seems the compassionate 'gift' rather than stretching one's life out like Gollum for the purpose of power or greed. The 'grace' seems to cover that.
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Re: Media previews

Post by Eldy »

My objection to the "uncorrupted" Númenórean view of death is not the idea that it's permissible to end one's life at a time of one's own choosing,[1] but rather the idea that it is wrong not to do this. This attitude is evident in the editorializing by the in-universe authors of the legendarium about Tar-Atanamir: not only noting that he broke with tradition, but adding comments like the infamous "refusing to depart until he was witless and unmanned" passage in the Akallabêth. (I stress that these are presented as attitudes held by an in-universe culture, in keeping with Tolkien's conceit that the legendarium is based on ancient texts, and offer no comment on Tolkien's personal views.[2]) While I don't think either Primary World euthanasia or Númenórean life-surrendering are immoral, it seems to me inevitable that in a culture which expects this behavior and views people who deviate from it as morally suspect there will be some who feel pressured into giving up their lives before they are truly inclined to do so.

Furthermore, if we take at face value the Akallabêth's statement that Tar-Atanamir was "the first of the Númenóreans" to "cling to his life beyond the end of all joy" (as opposed to The Line of Elros' statement that he was "the first of the Kings to refuse to lay down his life"), I think the custom is even more questionable. Human beings tend to systematically underestimate the quality of life of people living with health conditions or disabilities, even when it's someone they know. Members of a culture where nobody has experienced senescence in living memory are not capable of making an informed decision whether old age and its associated health problems make life not worth living—all the more so because this attitude is derived from Elves (Letters, p. 286 fn), who know even less about the subject. One could handwave this away by saying it's a fantasy world and so divine grace allows people to always make the right decision even when they lack relevant information, but Tolkien did not state this and I think it makes for lazy worldbuilding.

---

[1] In fact, I have a rather maximalist philosophy of personal autonomy, so I reject the idea that anyone has the right to make decisions of life and death for anyone else (barring cases where someone is incapable of decision-making or preference-holding because they're e.g. in a vegetative state), which could serve as a TL;DR for this whole post.

[2] I will, however, note that the Númenóreans' philosophy is predicated on "the view of the myth ... that Death—the mere shortness of human life-span—is not a punishment for the Fall" (Letters, p. 205 fn), which is the opposite of Catholic doctrine: "God did not make death ... [.b]ut by the envy of the devil, death entered the world" (Wis 1:13, 2:24).
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