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Tolkien 3.0

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

At least with stories that are clearly not written with “unreliable narrators”.  Where questioning the narrator is built into the story... go for it.  That’s not Tolkien’s work.

It is... sort of.

http://www.silmarillionwritersguild.org/reference/references/pf/pengolodh.php

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4 hours ago, One-Winged Balrog said:

Am I the only one who loathes meta-fictional interpretations like this? I mean, what's the point? Sure, you can twist the world beyond recognition by imagining the entire story written by an unreliable narrator, but then why even bother? You are by that point on the border between a fanfic and just an new story somewhat inspired by the original. So just write the new story...

Milton's Satan and Neil Gaiman's Beowulf disagree with you. As to why do it: well, it's a homage to the power and glory of the old, just as Banewreaker and the First Law series are (in different ways).

But I think the point I was making was ambiguous. I don't think you have to the fully embrace the Carey "evil be thou my good" in order to question the choices of the Valar in the story.  It isn't just a matter of perspective (or imagined perspective). You can focus on Tolkein-given facts.  It's fair to take as a given that the Valar didn't understand Melkor's nature.  But some Valar like Ulmo tried to help the Noldor and men, but were only partly successful.  It's fair to ask why the Valar as a group didn't intervene before, if only to protect men who had not committed any transgressions. 

And if you really want a metafictional interpretation I think it's because Tolkein's vision is essentially tragic, and one of the most important subtexts of the Silmarillion is parental hostility and abandonment. 

14 hours ago, The Grey Wolf said:

The one by Jacqueline Carey? If so I have. It wrecked my heart.

Me too.  I picked it up because Martin recommended it on his Not-a-Blog.  It's brilliant, and moving.  Now I can't distinguish between Manwe and /Haomane or Orome/Oronin in my head. 

 

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I got John Howe's Middle Earth Traveller book, finally released.

Beautiful. I'll always want more of it but what there is is very nice.

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On ‎10‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 5:06 PM, Gaston de Foix said:

Out of curiosity, has anyone read the Banewreaker series? Thoughts?

The argument could be made that the perspective on events in the Silmarillion are to a great extent Valarist propaganda.  The facts are that the Valar consistently mishandled Melkor and prevented him from wreaking great harm to the Noldor.  They then abandoned the Noldor to fight a doomed battle against him, wearing down his resources, while failing to permit any Noldor to even seek succour.  Even when they finally intervened, they were sloppy enough to leave a threat like Sauron around. 

 

You can polish a turd, but it still remains a turd.

Morgoth is a turd.

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I liked Banewreaker, but . . . nah. There's nothing romantic about Morgoth's rebellion - he's just a manipulative, cowardly, would-be tyrant who hates everything that's not him out of ego. 

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8 hours ago, All Souls Bass said:

I liked Banewreaker, but . . . nah. There's nothing romantic about Morgoth's rebellion - he's just a manipulative, cowardly, would-be tyrant who hates everything that's not him out of ego. 

Well, we could go up a level in the discussion and ask why would the supposedly benevolent Eru create Melkor in the first place. But this also applies to the rest of the Gods in our own world's culture.

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On 10/23/2018 at 12:54 PM, All Souls Bass said:

I liked Banewreaker, but . . . nah. There's nothing romantic about Morgoth's rebellion - he's just a manipulative, cowardly, would-be tyrant who hates everything that's not him out of ego. 

Banewreaker is to Tolkien as Heathcliff fangirls are to Wuthering Heights.

(Which is a bit harsh on Carey, but I think her point is misplaced).

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On 10/23/2018 at 2:56 AM, One-Winged Balrog said:

Well, we could go up a level in the discussion and ask why would the supposedly benevolent Eru create Melkor in the first place.

Eru seems to prefer giving his creations a fair amount of leeway on whether to choose to follow the plan, and then bending events and situations to correct and use the product of their choices to further align with the plan. Sort of like how he "adopted" the Dwarves and gave them spirits, but didn't really "fix" any of the differences from Elves and Humans that their creator Aule made because he could only imperfectly remember what they were going to be like. 

Edited by All Souls Bass

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On 10/15/2018 at 8:42 AM, Gaston de Foix said:

But I think the point I was making was ambiguous. I don't think you have to the fully embrace the Carey "evil be thou my good" in order to question the choices of the Valar in the story.  It isn't just a matter of perspective (or imagined perspective). You can focus on Tolkein-given facts.  It's fair to take as a given that the Valar didn't understand Melkor's nature.  But some Valar like Ulmo tried to help the Noldor and men, but were only partly successful.  It's fair to ask why the Valar as a group didn't intervene before, if only to protect men who had not committed any transgressions. 

The problem with this line of thinking to me is that you are coming from a place where the Valar are just bastions of good and justice and all that.  They aren't.  They are vindictive, jealous, wrathful, dickheads who consistently fuck up and that's not even counting Melko.  They didn't help the Men prior to Earendil (except for Orome and Ulmo going behind their backs) because they were heavily overcompensating with how bad they fucked up with the Elves earlier.  They were attempting to leave them alone.  Of course their plan was flawed because as always they ignored what Melko and his ilk were doing.  Then they overcompensated again for the Men who fought Melko and gave them Numenor but more importantly fucked with Eru's vision and made them "better".  This later bit them in the ass because the "better" men realized they were essentially better than the Elves and thus wanted a piece of that immortality pie.  The downfall of Numenor isn't as much to punish Men as it is to punish the Valar and correct their mistake.  Eru basically says "You twats have been fucking up for tens of millenia.  You wanted a safe place to play with your toys for eternity.  Great job, you now got it.  You can no longer affect things in the world because I am taking you out of it. Fucking Morons."

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On 10/23/2018 at 1:54 AM, All Souls Bass said:

I liked Banewreaker, but . . . nah. There's nothing romantic about Morgoth's rebellion - he's just a manipulative, cowardly, would-be tyrant who hates everything that's not him out of ego. 

That is not how he comes off in the Ainulindale. There he is the first named character after Eru and essentially the protagonist. It takes some time until the reader realizes going against the given themes might not be the right thing to do, no?

The author fails to properly explain Melkor's reasoning and motivation. There are obscure references to him thinking other thoughts than his brethren because he went out into the void and stuff, but what does this actually mean? Eru never explains to the Ainur what this grand music is about - perhaps if he had, Melkor would have never introduced his own themes?

If you want to build a house with some people, but do not tell them that you want to build a house nor explain what it means if you do not obediently mimic everything the boss does or says, then it is your fault if the house sucks in the end.

And if Melkor was truly a monstrous creature from the start - it is also Eru's fault for creating him this way, and for allowing him to participate him in the music.

Not to mention that Eru is also to be blamed for not only allowing Melkor to enter his creation later on, but also for not giving Melkor what he apparently desired - a world for himself. If Eru can make reality out of music why didn't he give Melkor his own little world to play in? Just as he later gave Aule his dwarves? Which is also unjust favoritism - only Aule and Yavanna get their private species - and, in a sense, stupid, considering the trouble the imperfect nature of the dwarves caused Eru's actual children.

That Melkor is later very much twisted and evil after he entered Ea and then Arda, etc. is pretty obvious - but that's not the person back in the Ainulindale.

On 10/23/2018 at 10:56 AM, One-Winged Balrog said:

Well, we could go up a level in the discussion and ask why would the supposedly benevolent Eru create Melkor in the first place. But this also applies to the rest of the Gods in our own world's culture.

Which is why pretty much all religious systems working with an omnipotent good god and some devil figure are internally inconsistent.

Religions who actually make destruction and evil, etc. part of their divine pantheon - or part of whatever singular deity they have - don't have this problem. The same goes for such where gods don't give a rat's ass about human beings.

On 10/30/2018 at 6:57 PM, Slurktan said:

The problem with this line of thinking to me is that you are coming from a place where the Valar are just bastions of good and justice and all that.  They aren't.  They are vindictive, jealous, wrathful, dickheads who consistently fuck up and that's not even counting Melko.  They didn't help the Men prior to Earendil (except for Orome and Ulmo going behind their backs) because they were heavily overcompensating with how bad they fucked up with the Elves earlier.  They were attempting to leave them alone.  Of course their plan was flawed because as always they ignored what Melko and his ilk were doing.  Then they overcompensated again for the Men who fought Melko and gave them Numenor but more importantly fucked with Eru's vision and made them "better".  This later bit them in the ass because the "better" men realized they were essentially better than the Elves and thus wanted a piece of that immortality pie.  The downfall of Numenor isn't as much to punish Men as it is to punish the Valar and correct their mistake.  Eru basically says "You twats have been fucking up for tens of millenia.  You wanted a safe place to play with your toys for eternity.  Great job, you now got it.  You can no longer affect things in the world because I am taking you out of it. Fucking Morons."

That seems to much reinterpreting on your part. The text we have doesn't imply Eru isn't fine with everything the Valar do. And it is Manwe who asks for Númenor's destruction - Eru doesn't force this on the Valar.

But you have a point in the sense that those stories were created with a Nordic gods pantheon, not this 'angels with bodies' stuff that crept into the stories later on. The angelic nature of the Valar does fit at all with the plot of the story. Angels don't live in cities or behave as petty and unjust as the Valar do on many occasions. The same goes for Melkor - the character started as a sort of Luciferian Loki figure, not as the Devil Incarnate he later became.

In general, the concept that we got only 'sources of the West' (i.e. Eldar/Dúnedain sources) is there, but the author does pretty much nothing to actually give the reader an inclination about the point of view of the Dark Lords and especially the Orcs. While Tolkien talks about eradicating all the Orcs as being somewhat extreme in his letters, there is no indication that the text actually ever strove to give the impression that all Orcs are not irredeemably evil. There is some good yet left in Gollum, as Gandalf points out when Frodo compares him to an Orc, but there is no indication that Orcs as such can be good, have a free will, deserve to be treated as a sentient species, can potentially be nice neighbors and productive members of society, etc.

In that sense, one can speculate what the view of the 'other side' might be - or even those of the men who weren't pampered by the Valar in Númenor and who didn't accept them as their ruler after Atlantis disappeared.

However, it is quite clear that there are a lot of holes in the entire setting, and a lot of things that make pretty much no sense from the point of view of the average guy who is supposed to believe that the creator is a good guy, and his angelic minions have a good plan for him and the entire world.

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Without going into the good v evil debate I think it’s very clear that orcs are a sentient species capable of free will. One need look no further than the conversation between Gorbachev and Shagrat where they discussthe possibility of leaving with a few trusted orcs and setting up elsewhere. They are not simply driven by a single purpose to serve with no thoughts of their own

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1 hour ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Without going into the good v evil debate I think it’s very clear that orcs are a sentient species capable of free will. One need look no further than the conversation between Gorbachev and Shagrat where they discussthe possibility of leaving with a few trusted orcs and setting up elsewhere. They are not simply driven by a single purpose to serve with no thoughts of their own

Oh, yes, that's clear. I meant in the metaphysical sense - can they choose to do good? Can they choose between good and evil as men supposedly are capable in a (Christian) religious setting? Or is their very nature so corrupted that it is a good thing for everyone - including the world itself - if they are eradicated?

The good guys do eradicate them all eventually, after all, so doing this cannot be all that 'bad', can it?

And the way the good guys think and talk about and treat those 'half-orcs' of Saruman's also doesn't imply it is a good thing to have some Orcs in your family tree, no?

The Orcs don't seem to be part of Melkor's discord in the Ainulindale Eru likes to work with (unlike the snowflake) - they have to go. Just as Melkor himself and his followers have to go. At least in this version of reality. Eru's talk after the music implies they will be all back for a second Ainulindale, especially Melkor, meaning the entire charade of creation is just a lesson for the Devil.

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Lord Varys,

1. Your personal distaste for religious faith shows through in your analysis here.  Your definition of “Omnipotence” is not one that is accepted by all Christian believers.

2. We do not know with any certainty what happened to the Orcs.  Some were killed, I’m sure, but being from Elvish stock I suspect the remainder were not killed in some massive genocide.  But they faded and died as all the elves outside Valinor did.

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15 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Lord Varys,

1. Your personal distaste for religious faith shows through in your analysis here.  

I'm aware of that - but how is this relevant to the discussion ;-)? I'm not pointing out that your personal taste for religious faith made you comment on that...

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Your definition of “Omnipotence” is not one that is accepted by all Christian believers.

What is my definition of 'omnipotence'? I didn't give one, or did I? But this is a distraction - Eru doesn't have to be omnipotent to keep the poison of Melkor out of his creation and his person away from his children. He chose to do neither. While it is pretty clear that he could have done something. Nobody forced him to allow Melkor in or to give reality to his vapid sounds. And this makes no sense if Eru is supposed to be omnipotent (and Eru is supposed to be that in relation to his creation, Ea), very powerful, or just positively inclined towards his children - and that is exactly the same reason why it makes no sense within Christian doctrine or mythology that a good god would allow to twist and corrupt god's originally good creation.

The devil/Melkor has only power in the world because god/Eru allows him that power. It wouldn't limit his precious 'free will' if the devil/Melkor had spent his entire existence in a prison for criminally insane angels. That he did not do that - that he could corrupt and twist and seduce mankind - is god's responsibility. And this becomes especially apparent in Tolkien's work (in the bible we have god himself torturing Job for no reason, and actually selling him and the reader replacement wives and children).

Quote

2. We do not know with any certainty what happened to the Orcs.  Some were killed, I’m sure, but being from Elvish stock I suspect the remainder were not killed in some massive genocide.  But they faded and died as all the elves outside Valinor did.

The origin of the Orcs is a rather, well, convoluted issue in the work. JRRT wanted them to be Men in the end, albeit he had difficulty to make sense of it. The best synthesis I can come up with is that early Orcs would have been Elves, and the later ones half-breeds of twisted Men and Elves.

But we know that, special privileges aside, half-bloods are men and share the fate of men. Meaning they die and leave the world. That means Orcs - especially those half-Orcs Saruman bred - wouldn't have just conveniently faded.

Especially not when we take the whole 'mythological past' thing seriously, and keep in mind JRRT's physical descriptions of the Orcs as being that of 'degenerate mongols' (I'm paraphrasing here, so that pin me down to that exact phrasing) indicating that they are, in a sense, quite human.

But what happened to them in the end wasn't the point, either. The point is that it is made clear that our two great heroes - Frodo and Gandalf - don't consider the Orcs creatures of the same kind as Gollum - corrupted but yet redeemable. Frodo compares Gollum to the Orcs when he points out that he is just an enemy now, and deserves to die. Gandalf gives him a sermon about Gollum's future role, etc., but he never asks him to reconsider about the Orcs.

I mean, I'm not a Christian, but if an angel of the lord revealed himself to me and showed me the righteous path putting down the enemy with foe-hammer, I knew what I would do. I don't believe in mythology and theology because it is all invented stuff - but within mythology angels and demons and gods are real - and the people there know that, they do not just believe it. If I knew that a god existed, and his servants were fighting the demons, I'd be the first to suck up to him... Who wouldn't?

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Melkor was created as a being of staggering power - but he wasn't evil in the beginning. He just used his Free Will to turn out that way (Tolkien's universe being a Free Will universe).

As for locking him up in a prison for Criminally Insane Angels, that is actually what happened. Meanwhile the best notes from Melkor's own music are taken and used by Eru - creation would have been lesser without Melkor.

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18 minutes ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Melkor was created as a being of staggering power - but he wasn't evil in the beginning. He just used his Free Will to turn out that way (Tolkien's universe being a Free Will universe).

But did the orcs have free will, or were they inherently evil? I don't remember reading about a single not evil orc.

Also, what were the lifespan of orcs? If they were corrupted elves were they also immortal?

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2 hours ago, A True Kaniggit said:

But did the orcs have free will, or were they inherently evil? I don't remember reading about a single not evil orc.

Also, what were the lifespan of orcs? If they were corrupted elves were they also immortal?

Congratulations. You have just asked the single toughest question in Tolkien - a question Tolkien himself puzzled over for decades, and never resolved (basically, he was trying to square Free Will with his portrayal of the Orcs, because the idea of an irredeemably evil race made him profoundly uncomfortable. That way lies Calvinism).

Orkish lifespan is unknown. The only Orc who gives any idea of lifespan is Bolg - whose father died in T.A. 2799. Bolg died in T.A, 2941, so 142 years later - and was able to fight in a battle.

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On 11/2/2018 at 5:21 AM, HelenaExMachina said:

Without going into the good v evil debate I think it’s very clear that orcs are a sentient species capable of free will. One need look no further than the conversation between Gorbachev and Shagrat where they discuss the possibility of leaving with a few trusted orcs and setting up elsewhere. They are not simply driven by a single purpose to serve with no thoughts of their own

I don't think this conversation shows that orcs have free will though, even though they are sentient.

If they were created with a limited embedded command such as "you may not co-exist with any other sentient species", then the orcs could seem to have free will in the short term. But if a command like that is their primary driver, an instinct that is impossible for them to shrug off, then no, they don't have free will.

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On 11/2/2018 at 12:21 PM, HelenaExMachina said:

Without going into the good v evil debate I think it’s very clear that orcs are a sentient species capable of free will. One need look no further than the conversation between Gorbachev and Shagrat where they discussthe possibility of leaving with a few trusted orcs and setting up elsewhere. They are not simply driven by a single purpose to serve with no thoughts of their own

>Gorbachev and Shagrat

>Gorbachev

I'm crying here.

Allegory for communism? Sure. But Perestroika is a step too far.

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