How did Sauron do it...

29 views
Skip to first unread message

teepee

unread,
Sep 30, 2007, 6:47:18 PM9/30/07
to
In quiet moments I sometimes like thinking about the One Ring, and whether
Tolkien had given much thought to how it worked. I like to think he did.

How did Sauron bind all the other rings to the One Ring? I can understand
how he did with those he had a hand in making, but he also did so with the
Three, which he had no hand in. And how did he contrive that the Three lost
their power when the One died? And why did the destruction of the One
destroy Sauron. Fourthly how is it that Sauron can use his power and yet not
dissipate it as Morgoth did?

I was trying to imagine how it might be so, and obviously some of it is a
bit speculative to say the least, though I think there's hints and
statements that support most if the thesis scattered through the books. SO
some of what follows is me, and some is fairly established.

The One plainly contains great power, power which Sauron can commune with
somewhat whether the ring was on his finger or not. It's as though Sauron
had placed the larger part of himself in a higher realm where it could reach
where it needed to, whether it be the mind of an Orc or the bricks of the
Dark Tower or back to the Dark Lord. But this realm is itself a power
source, ensuring that the power that was transmitted through a ring does not
ever dissipate so long as it has access to that realm. Thus neither Lorien,
Rivendell nor Mordor are ever subject to the dissipations of time. This
realm, one might assume, is the same realm that Frodo and the mortal Nazgul
see and inhabit.

The One, it seems to me, had been placed at the Gateway of this realm. Once
placed thus, no other power could go in or come out of that realm except via
it. In order to achieve this, Sauron placed so much of his power into the
One in order to achieve this that it essentially was him. Only (most of) his
consciousness remained in the physical world. The consciousness was able to
draw on the power of the ring, albiet imperfectly, because of this
communion, even if he didn't possess it, unless another diverted that power
to themselves. Those who held the other rings were also drawn into this
realm in order to commune with the power of that realm via their rings. But
because that power went via the gateway where the One sat, whoever held the
One could sense the thoughts and deeds of the other ring holders,and even
control them.

When the One was destroyed a number of things happened. Sauron died, because
he was the One. All that was left behind was his utterly powerless
consciousness to gnaw the shadows. His constructions that were magical in
nature and relied on the One for architectural solidity all collapsed.
Others which he possessed but did not build, such as Minas Morgul, did not.
Secondly the gateway collapsed. Elrond and Galadriel could therefore no
longer draw on the ever renewing power of the higher realm. But because they
had not built their realms on magic, merely used it to preserve and glorify,
their homes did not perish immediately, but ran out of steam and faded into
normalacy over a period of years. The Nazgul had long been drawn into that
other realm body and soul, so when the gateway collapsed, they were trapped
there forever. Likewise those parts of Frodo and Bilbo's souls that had been
drawn into that realm were lost to them.

A number of questions arise. Most important, why did Sauron think the ring
had been used by Aragorn. Surely he would have felt such a use instantly, or
was his commune withthe ring much less perfect than we might suppose.

Secondly, how did Sauron control the Nazgul without holding the One? He must
have included some additional controls in those rings that were not in the
Three? Or had he corrupted them so much while he held the One that he could
still control them while not wearing it.

Thirdly, how did this gateway get opened in the first place? It seems a bit
odd that Celebrimbor could do such a thing on his own. And why then could
Saruman not open it. Would he not have had access to the wisdom of both Aule
and Celebrimbor back in Valinor, who could have told him how to do it. Was
there but one gateway possible? One feels there must have been another such
gateway in Valinor, which is why Frodo needed to go there to find healing,
and why all the High Elves left Middle Earth when the One perished.

Finally, could Gandalf have used his ring to find the One many years earlier
if he chose if he'd known, given that he might have been able to sense its
holder's mind? Would Saruman have done such a thing had he been given an
Elven ring, since his ringlore was great? Why did Saruman not therefore bend
his efforts to getting a ring? Why did he not take Gandalf's when he
captured him, since we know Saruman suspected him of possessing it? Would
have been easier than dredging rivers.

Just stuff I think about now and again. Probably not worth the paper it's
not written on.


Stan Brown

unread,
Sep 30, 2007, 8:56:27 PM9/30/07
to
Sun, 30 Sep 2007 23:47:18 +0100 from teepee <nom...@nomail.com>:

You raise some interesting points, much of which I've snipped. I have
comments on a few selections:

> Likewise those parts of Frodo and Bilbo's souls that had been
> drawn into that realm were lost to them.

I am not at all sure about that. As far as I can recall, Frodo seemed
to be completely healed spiritually. After the Ring went into the
fire, we read, "there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself
again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will,
nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away. There was the
dear master of the sweet days in the Shire." I can recall at Frodo
had periodic bouts of sickness and pain on the anniversaries of his
ordeals, but as far as I can recall he was spiritually whole again.
Am I missing something?

> Secondly, how did Sauron control the Nazgul without holding the
> One?

He controlled them because he had their Nine Rings. I cite some
references in
http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q79-SauronHeld

> Thirdly, how did this gateway get opened in the first place? It
> seems a bit odd that Celebrimbor could do such a thing on his own.

Celebrimbor didn't make the Three on his own till after he'd made the
Nine and the Seven under Sauron's guidance. He used that knowledge to
make the Three. Whether the One operated as a gateway or there was a
different mechanism, Celebrimbor used what he had learned from
Sauron, so the Three were under the control of the One.

> Would he not have had
> access to the wisdom of both Aule and Celebrimbor back in Valinor,
> who could have told him how to do it.

Remember that this was black magic. Aulė would certainly not have
helped. For that matter, when Saruman was in Valinor, he would not
have wanted to acquire that power. He gradually went bad when in
Middle-earth.

As for Celebrimbor, he was born in Middle-earth, wasn't he? So he
would have been in Mandos, not Valinor, when he had knowledge of
Ring-making. And we can be pretty sure that he would know the folly
and danger of trying to recover that knowledge, so he also would not
have helped Curunir, even if Curunir had one to Mandos to speak with
him (which I think unlikely).

> Finally, could Gandalf have used his ring to find the One many
> years earlier if he chose if he'd known, given that he might have
> been able to sense its holder's mind?

Well, maybe, but it's a moot point. If I remember the sequence of
events correctly, Gandalf didn't first know that the One had been
found and then eventually figure out that Bilbo had it. Rather, like
all the Wise he thought it was still lost (though it would eventually
be found). He knew Bilbo had a small-r ring the same year Bilbo found
it --even if Bilbo had said nothing he would have hard it from the
Dwarves. Then as Gandalf observed Bilbo over the years he gradually
came to realize that Bilbo's ring was the One Ring, and *that* told
him that the One had been found.

> Why did [Saruman] not take Gandalf's when he captured him, since we


> know Saruman suspected him of possessing it? Would have been easier
> than dredging rivers.

This is addressed (not resolved) in
http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q3-Saruman
You might have something to add.

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://mysite.verizon.net/aznirb/mtr/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Sep 30, 2007, 10:14:18 PM9/30/07
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> I am not at all sure about that. As far as I can recall, Frodo seemed
> to be completely healed spiritually.

At first he did. But I wouldn't say he was *completely* healed. He bore
the scars of carrying the Ring even after it was destroyed, and his
disquiet continued to grow.

I see what you are trying to say as far as what the OP was asking. Bilbo
did not surrender to the Ring, but was nevertheless scarred from his
time in posessing it. Frodo did not succumb to it until the very end of
his endurance, but for very different reasons as did the Men who became
the Nazgul. As a result he seemes to have been more damaged than Bilbo
was. Neither had "lost their souls" in the end as the Nazgul did.

After the Ring went into the
> fire, we read, "there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself
> again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will,
> nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away. There was the
> dear master of the sweet days in the Shire." I can recall at Frodo
> had periodic bouts of sickness and pain on the anniversaries of his
> ordeals, but as far as I can recall he was spiritually whole again.
> Am I missing something?

_Letter_ #246 (my favorite!) offers a lot of insight as to Frodo's
'wholeness' after the Ring's destruction. I'll just provide a few
quotes:

"He appears at first to have had no sense of guilt...; he was restored
to *sanity* and peace. But then he thought he had given his life in
sacrifice: he expected to die very soon. But he did not, and one can
observe the disquiet growing in him. Arwen was the first to observe the
signs, and gave him her jewel for comfort, and thought of a way of
healing him." p327

"... it was not only nightmarish memories of past horrors that afflicted
him, but also unreasoning self-reporoach: he saw himself and all that he
done as a broken failure." p328

Add to this, "... he was tempted to regret its [the Ring's] destruction,
and still to desire it". p328

Hence, his need to pass into the West for healing, a purgatory as well
as a reward.

--
Bill
"Wise fool"
Gandalf _The Two Towers_
(The wise will remove "se" to reach me. The foolish will not!)


Sean

unread,
Oct 1, 2007, 1:08:32 AM10/1/07
to
teepee wrote:

> When the One was destroyed a number of things happened. Sauron died

This might not be the right term. Sauron had already lost
his bodily form in the wreck of Numemor -- and yet apparently
he still had fingers, if Isildur could amputate one.

Also it seems he occupied a position in space (Dol Guldur, then
Barad-dur).

> Secondly, how did Sauron control the Nazgul without holding the One?

The Great Rings were dangerous for mortals.

> Why did Saruman not... take Gandalf's when he


> captured him, since we know Saruman suspected him of possessing it?

Saruman knew that if he tried, Gandalf would set his hair on fire.

Sean_Q_

Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 1, 2007, 11:04:13 AM10/1/07
to
Stan Brown wrote:

> Sun, 30 Sep 2007 23:47:18 +0100 from teepee <nom...@nomail.com>:
>
> You raise some interesting points, much of which I've snipped. I have
> comments on a few selections:
>
>> Likewise those parts of Frodo and Bilbo's souls that had been
>> drawn into that realm were lost to them.
>
> I am not at all sure about that. As far as I can recall, Frodo seemed
> to be completely healed spiritually. After the Ring went into the
> fire, we read, "there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself
> again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will,
> nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away. There was the
> dear master of the sweet days in the Shire." I can recall at Frodo
> had periodic bouts of sickness and pain on the anniversaries of his
> ordeals, but as far as I can recall he was spiritually whole again.
> Am I missing something?
>

I think so. I don't recall the actual speech Frodo gave Sam when he took
the boat from the Grey Havens, but he didn't sound spiritually healed to
me.
--
derek

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 1, 2007, 7:03:31 PM10/1/07
to
In message <news:kh%Li.29960$x%6.5499@pd7urf2no> Sean
<no....@no.spam> spoke these staves:

>
> teepee wrote:
>>
>> When the One was destroyed a number of things happened. Sauron
>> died
>
> This might not be the right term. Sauron had already lost
> his bodily form in the wreck of Numemor -- and yet apparently
> he still had fingers, if Isildur could amputate one.

I guess one could say that Sauron 'died' in the same sense as the
Elves did, but unlike them Sauron was able to rebuild his bodily form
and did so several times.

Early on he was capable of changing it at will -- thus he assumed the
form of the giant wolf when fighting Huan and the fair form of
Annatar when seducing the Elvensmiths of Eregion.

After the Drowning he lost his ability to assume a 'fair form', but
though that particular body was killed (and hence lost -- probably
with a loss of the associated innate 'energy'), he could rebuild a
body in a few years when he returned to Mordor.

When Isildur cut the Master Ring from his hand at the end of the
Second Age, the same thing happened again, and he lost that body.

This time, however, it took him much longer to rebuild a new body (it
is not entirely clear when he had fully 'taken shape' again, but he
definitely had a physical body when Gollum was captured). Some of the
factors known or believed to contribute to this lengthened time are
the further loss of innate energy from loosing a second[1] body, and
the absence of the One Ring, which meant that there were enhancements
he missed, though he could still access that part of his own power
that he had externalized in the Ring). Possibly other factors played
a role (perhaps he felt that it would have encumbered him needlessly
to rebuild a body too early in the Third Age?), but most likely the
two former reasons are the most important.

[1] In some texts (e.g. the Ósanwe-kenta) Tolkien also states that
Sauron's bodily form was killed (or destroyed, if you will) when
he was defeated by Lúthien and Huan, but this is not the way it's
told in /The Silmarillion/. Has anyone made a thorough study of
how Tolkien described this incident over time -- to see if it is
a matter of early vs. late views?

> Also it seems he occupied a position in space (Dol Guldur, then
> Barad-dur).

At least one of the times when Gandalf went to Dol Guldur, Sauron had
not yet assumed a physical form, but his spirit-form was also
localized and could flee from Dul Guldur (giving rise to the long
peace).

>> Secondly, how did Sauron control the Nazgul without holding the
>> One?
>
> The Great Rings were dangerous for mortals.

Again I think that we have to say that we cannot, ultimately, know
for sure.

It seems that the Nine Rings to which the Nazgûl were enslaved were,
at the time of the War of the Ring, in Sauron's physical possession,
and that he could exert some influence over them through those (this
is particularly clear in "The Hunt for the Ring" from UT and the RC).
It is, however, not clear when he gathered these Rings to himself,
and if he hadn't gathered them before the end of the Second Age, how,
then, did he control the Ringwraiths enough to get their Ring out of
them?


>> Why did Saruman not... take Gandalf's when he captured him, since
>> we know Saruman suspected him of possessing it?
>
> Saruman knew that if he tried, Gandalf would set his hair on fire.

;-)

I think that there are several possible reasons, and that it's quite
likely to have been a combination. Listing the first that come to
mind:

1) Saruman wasn't yet fully bad and he quailed at this act -- wanting
to postpone it as long as possible. (Saruman having second
thoughts is suggested in one version of "The Hunt for the Ring" in
UT.)

2) Saruman knew that it would take him a lot of time to get the Ring
(the Three were, themselves, invisible, though they didn't confer
invisibility upon their wearers). Holding Gandalf for a few months
would, he may have hoped, speed up the part of the process that
would need his personal attention.

3) Saruman still hoped to be able to persuade Gandalf to work for him
and therefore didn't want to alienate Gandalf more than he already
had.

4) Saruman didn't dare to hold or use one of the Rings that were
subject to the One -- should Sauron regain the Master Ring,
Saruman's mind would lay open to Sauron . . .

5) Saruman didn't really care for one of the unsullied Rings -- he
wouldn't be able to turn them to his own purposes anyway.

I'm sure that other arguments can be imagined -- but I think this
suffices to show that it doesn't have to be an unreasonable idea.

Of course there is also the whole issue of literary necessity -- not
to mention the question of whether Gandalf's Ring (in the sense of
the special status a keeper of one of the Three) was envisioned when
Tolkien wrote about Gandalf's capture.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot ++
- /Hogfather/ (Terry Pratchett)

teepee

unread,
Oct 1, 2007, 7:35:24 PM10/1/07
to

"Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote

>
> I am not at all sure about that. As far as I can recall, Frodo seemed
> to be completely healed spiritually. After the Ring went into the
> fire, we read, "there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself
> again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will,
> nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away. There was the
> dear master of the sweet days in the Shire." I can recall at Frodo
> had periodic bouts of sickness and pain on the anniversaries of his
> ordeals, but as far as I can recall he was spiritually whole again.
> Am I missing something?

What I think is significant is that his bouts of sickness were associated
with emoies of the stabbing with the Morgul Knife. Which as we know, was
made only to draw its victims into the realm of the rings. And note Frodo's
words - "I am wounded....it will never really heal." And later at the
Havens, the emphasis to Sam "You cannot always be torn in two...but I have
been too deeply hurt."

>> Why did [Saruman] not take Gandalf's when he captured him, since we
>> know Saruman suspected him of possessing it? Would have been easier
>> than dredging rivers.
>
> This is addressed (not resolved) in
> http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q3-Saruman
> You might have something to add.

Ineteresting but I would favour a much simpler explanation. Saruman thought
the One had been recovered. Putting on one of the Three would have revealed
his thoughts and plans to whoever had it. Having been caught out by the
Palantir already, Saruman would have been doubly wary of such things. And he
might have thought that trapping Gandalf thus but leaving on his ring would
attract the attention of the Ring Bearer (as indeed it did - Frodo saw him
in a dream) and cause him to reveal himself. The ring Saruman himself wore
might have been part of some abortive scheme in this regard - perhaps it
would have alerted him to traffic between Narya and the One in some fashion.


teepee

unread,
Oct 1, 2007, 7:48:01 PM10/1/07
to

"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote

>>
>> This might not be the right term. Sauron had already lost
>> his bodily form in the wreck of Numemor -- and yet apparently
>> he still had fingers, if Isildur could amputate one.
>
> I guess one could say that Sauron 'died' in the same sense as the
> Elves did, but unlike them Sauron was able to rebuild his bodily form
> and did so several times.

I think Sauron was different from other Maiar once he forged the ring. It's
clear that even Morgoth suffered from the disappation of his power over the
ages. Thanks to the One, Sauron remained as strong as ever despite his many
defeats. I believe this was because he was able to put his essential self
inside the One and project it into a dimension where he was ever renewed in
power. Destroying his physical form did not harm his essential self within
the Ring, whereas, conversely, destroying the Ring certainly destroyed his
physical form.

In a sense the idea that Sauon did not appear in the book in person is
wrong. Frodo carried him around his neck.


Glenn Holliday

unread,
Oct 1, 2007, 10:06:40 PM10/1/07
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> In message <news:kh%Li.29960$x%6.5499@pd7urf2no> Sean
> <no....@no.spam> spoke these staves:
>> teepee wrote:
>>> Why did Saruman not... take Gandalf's when he captured him, since
>>> we know Saruman suspected him of possessing it?
>> Saruman knew that if he tried, Gandalf would set his hair on fire.
>
> I think that there are several possible reasons, and that it's quite
> likely to have been a combination. Listing the first that come to
> mind:
...

> I'm sure that other arguments can be imagined -- but I think this
> suffices to show that it doesn't have to be an unreasonable idea.
>
I think you are correct that the Three would not have been very
useful to Saruman, so he may not have desired to possess them.
(Though he was still studying Ringlore, and one of the Three would
have been a very interesting example to study.)
But I've always thought he would have wanted to deny its use to
Gandalf. I can only think he was not able to immediately take it
from Gandalf by force, which you hinted it. As the Wicked Witch
of the West said, these things take time, and must be done
delicately.

--
Glenn Holliday holl...@acm.org

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 2, 2007, 12:40:52 AM10/2/07
to
teepee wrote:
And why
> did the destruction of the One destroy Sauron.

Unlike Morgoth, who disseminated his power into more or less all matter,
Sauron put all his eggs in one basket, *concentrating* most of his
native power into the Ring. Destroying the Ring was nigh fatal to
Sauron. To use the same MO to destroy Morgoth (at least without
destroying Arda) would have been impossible. "The whole of
'Middle-earth' was Morgoth's Ring". (MR p400)


Fourthly how is it
> that Sauron can use his power and yet not dissipate it as Morgoth did?

Not sure what you're asking here. Sauron and Morgoth had different
goals, therefore different MOs. As stated, Sauron concentrated his power
in a sort of all-or-nothing gamble, though he had enough hubris to feel
that this was a sure bet. Never did he consider that he might actually
lose the Ring, much less that it might be destroyed! Sauron was only
interested in creating order by dominating the *creatures* of
Middle-earth. Morgoth wanted control of *all matter*. To do so, he had
to disseminate a major part of his native power into, well, *everything*
and that's a tall order. The so called "Morgoth Element" is the stuff of
Arda Marred. Doing this was to a major detriment to his *personal*
power, but not to his *total* power. Tolkien at times used the term "The
Morgoth", which is the collective power of Melkor plus his minions. "The
Morgoth" contained the complete power that was inherent in the primeval
Melkor, which was formidable. However, if his armies could be defeated
piecemeal, or if Melkor could be separated from that element of his
power he was considerably weaker.

<snip>

> When the One was destroyed a number of things happened. Sauron died,
> because he was the One.

Careful. I think you are making a leap by saying that Sauron *was* the
Ring. I don't think Tolkien ever implied that. The Ring did not have
conscousness. It was not a being in and of itself. Sauron was.

All that was left behind was his utterly
> powerless consciousness to gnaw the shadows.

His spirit had fallen so low that its recovering again as it had in the
past seemed unlikely. In his later writings, Tolkien seemed to think a
lot about redemption (See 'Myths Transformed'). In writing about
Morgoth's and Sauron's falls, he discusses that the wicked spirit
becomes fixed in its ambitions which are now well beyond what it is
capable of achieving -- Morgoth because he was thrust out into the Void
with no contact with matter in which his power dwelt, and Sauron because
the greater part of his primeval power was destroyed with the Ring. In
striving for this now unattainable desire, the spirit does not tend to
itself, maintaining a state of impotency. It is only through repentence
and redemption that the spirit can lift itself out of that state of
impotency. (Well, Tolkien *was* a devout Catholic. :-))

<snip>

Sean

unread,
Oct 2, 2007, 2:47:11 AM10/2/07
to
Bill O'Meally wrote:

> The Ring did not have conscousness.

But it seemed to have qualities associated with consciousness;
a will, a sense of purpose; an objective to be achieved; even
(in a limited way) the means to attain it:

"A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo. It may slip off
treacherously, but its keeper never abandons it... The Ring
was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from
Isildur's hand and betrayed him; then when a chance came
it caught poor Deagol, and he was murdered; and after that
Gollum, and it had devoured him. It could make no further use
of him: he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed
with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now,
when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark
thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum."

Sean_Q_

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 2, 2007, 5:28:01 AM10/2/07
to
teepee <nom...@nomail.com> wrote:
> "Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote

>> I guess one could say that Sauron 'died' in the same sense as the
>> Elves did, but unlike them Sauron was able to rebuild his bodily form
>> and did so several times.

> I think Sauron was different from other Maiar once he forged the ring.

Why should he be? None of the "children" of Eru is able to change their
own nature. Eru alone could do that.

> It's clear that even Morgoth suffered from the disappation of his
> power over the ages.

Morgoth didn't "suffer" from it, he voluntarily dissipated his "power"
(or will, or substance, or whatever you like to call it) into all of
Arda, to taint it and so to create "Arda Marred".

Sauron, OTOH, "externalized" a substantial part of himself into the
Ring. (BTW, this is a common fairy-tale topic). This part of his "power"
was safe (as long as the Ring existed), and he could still use it.
But other parts of his "power" (namely those he used to built his
physical body) were not. They were used up every time his body was
destroyed.

> Thanks to the One, Sauron remained as strong as ever despite his many
> defeats.

No, he didn't. After each destruction of his body, Sauron is first
reduced to a mere "shadow" of himself. He can, more and more slowly
after each desctruction, rebuild himself, but some things are lost --
for example his ability to take on a "fair" shape is gone after his
first destruction.

> I believe this was because he was able to put his essential self
> inside the One

If you replace "essential" with "substantial part", then yes, this
is exactly what happens. In this way, it is *protected* from destruction.
But not renewed.

> and project it into a dimension

Why do you have to introduce vague ideas like "another dimension"?
It's enough to know that he put part of himself into the Ring. We don't
know *how* he did it, so any speculation about "extra dimensions" is
pretty futile.

> where he was ever renewed in power.

Again, why do you have to make this assumption? There's no need to
have his power renewed; it's enough if we assume it is protected
and *constant*.

> Destroying his physical form did not harm his essential self within
> the Ring,

Reformulation: Destroying his physical form only did harm that part of
his power he spent to build this physical form. It didn't harm the
rest of him (as the rest of Gandalf wasn't harmed when his physical
form was destroyed by the Balrog), and of course it didn't harm that
part that was externalized in the Ring.

> whereas, conversely, destroying the Ring certainly destroyed his
> physical form.

Reformulation: Destroying the Ring destroyed so much of Sauron's
power that not enough would be left to even sustain his physical form
(because he needed that little that was left to survive at all).
Or, as letter #131 puts it:

There was another weakness: if the One Ring was actually unmade,
annihilated, then its power would be dissolved, Sauron's own being
would be diminished to vanishing point, and he would be reduced to a
shadow, a mere memory of malicious will.

> In a sense the idea that Sauon did not appear in the book in person is
> wrong. Frodo carried him around his neck.

No, Frodo carried a substantial part of Saurons power around his neck
(which is what gave the Ring some sort of consciousness of his own).
The Ring certainly wasn't Sauron himself (i.e., his central personality).
Otherwise Sauron would have known that Frodo was carrying it right into
Mordor.

- Dirk

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 2, 2007, 10:07:04 PM10/2/07
to
Tue, 2 Oct 2007 00:48:01 +0100 from teepee <nom...@nomail.com>:

> I think Sauron was different from other Maiar once he forged the ring. It's
> clear that even Morgoth suffered from the disappation of his power over the
> ages.

It was not the passage of time that diminished Morgoth's powers.
Rather, he deliberately expended his power in infiltrating all the
matter of Arda.

The other Valar and Maiar did not lose power over time.

Sauron did not just lose power, he gained it, largely thanks to the
Ring.

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 2, 2007, 10:49:36 PM10/2/07
to
Sean wrote:
> Bill O'Meally wrote:
>
>> The Ring did not have conscousness.
>
> But it seemed to have qualities associated with consciousness;
> a will, a sense of purpose; an objective to be achieved; even
> (in a limited way) the means to attain it:

A magnet attracted to iron seems to have a sense of purpose as well.
Does it have intelligence?

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 2, 2007, 4:49:42 PM10/2/07
to
teepee <nom...@nomail.com> wrote:
> "Dirk Thierbach" <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote

> <snip>

> Of course there is the standard way of reading the text. Sometimes it
> entertains to read it in other ways.

*Shrug* Of course it's entertaining to have wild ideas about
something, but if it just falls flat on its nose as soon as you start
to look a bit closer at it, then this limits the entertainment value
severely (at least for me).

I think it also makes communication easier if one marks wild speculations
clearly as such (then people like me won't be tempted to take them
seriously).

- Dirk

teepee

unread,
Oct 3, 2007, 5:46:36 AM10/3/07
to

"Dirk Thierbach" <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote


> I think it also makes communication easier if one marks wild speculations
> clearly as such (then people like me won't be tempted to take them
> seriously).

Robert J. Kolker

unread,
Oct 3, 2007, 6:41:27 AM10/3/07
to
teepee wrote:

> The One, it seems to me, had been placed at the Gateway of this realm.

The One is a Potterian Port-Key among other things.

Bob Kolker

teepee

unread,
Oct 3, 2007, 11:24:24 AM10/3/07
to

"teepee" <nom...@nomail.com> wrote

>> This is addressed (not resolved) in
>> http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q3-Saruman
>> You might have something to add.

It also occurs that there was a crude level of communication between the
holders of the Three. Galadriel knew they fellowship was coming. She knew
Gandalf was not dead.

If Saruman had held Gandalf's ring, or taken it off Gandalf, or killed him,
he might have thought the other two would know immediately. That would have
cost him the element of suprise.


Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message

unread,
Oct 3, 2007, 4:47:31 PM10/3/07
to
Hey, I thought of a good analogy. It probably falls flat
on its face in some way too, but you can tell me how.

It's as if Sauron taught Celebrimbor how to make computers
and operating systems, but Sauron designed them with hidden BDs
(back doors). Sauron worked the BD into his design so cleverly
that even when Celebrimbor designed the Three, he put in the BD
unbeknownst even to him.

When Sauron made the One, it immediately accessed the BD of
all the other computers and made them zombies. The first thing
he got the zombies to do was to capture the souls of the owners
and make the owners zombies of the computers. But the holders
of the Three shut down their systems before that could happen.

He then took the Nine from the Nazgul. That way, he could
control the Nazgul without even using the One, since they were
already zombies of the Nine. He tried to do the same with the
Seven.

Sauron also designed and programmed a lot of software for
the One, and changed his business practices so that he couldn't
function normally without the One. When he lost the One, he had
to go back to paper processes.

When Gollum, then Bilbo, then Frodo got a hold of the One,
they couldn't access all the higher-level functionality of it
because the operating system was too hard to use. (Must have
been something like Unix!) They could use it for a few simple
things that any high-powered computer could be used for, but not
for controlling the Three, for making minions do their bidding,
or anything like that.

The One had reprogrammed the Three so much that their
owners couldn't take out all the hooks without crashing the
system entirely. They knew that when the One was destroyed, it
would automatically use the BD to reformat the Three's hard
drives, but they couldn't do anything about that.

So when the One was destroyed, it fried the Three, and
Sauron, distraught at the prospect of having to run a paper
office forevermore, died from sheer stress!

--Jamie. (efil4dreN)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)

teepee

unread,
Oct 3, 2007, 4:51:17 PM10/3/07
to

"Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message" <m...@privacy.net> wrote

> So when the One was destroyed, it fried the Three, and
> Sauron, distraught at the prospect of having to run a paper
> office forevermore, died from sheer stress!

Burn the blasphemer!


Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 3:28:33 AM10/4/07
to
teepee <nom...@nomail.com> wrote:

> It also occurs that there was a crude level of communication between the
> holders of the Three.

This form of communication is called "Osanwe-Kenta", and is not
connected with the Three Rings. Tolkien wrote a well-known essay about
it. It's described directly in LotR, from the point of view of an
observer looking at Celeborn, Galadriel, Elrong and Gandalf:

If any wanderer had chanced to pass, little would he have seen or heard,
and it would have seemed to him only that he saw grey figures, carved
in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost in unpeopled lands. For
they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only
their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro.

- Dirk

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 7:24:35 AM10/4/07
to
Tue, 2 Oct 2007 21:49:36 -0500 from Bill O'Meally
<omea...@wise.rr.com>:

> Sean wrote:
> > Bill O'Meally wrote:
> >
> >> The Ring did not have conscousness.
> >
> > But it seemed to have qualities associated with consciousness;
> > a will, a sense of purpose; an objective to be achieved; even
> > (in a limited way) the means to attain it:
>
> A magnet attracted to iron seems to have a sense of purpose as well.
> Does it have intelligence?

You're not serious, I assume. A magnet does not seem to me to have a
sense of purpose, any more than a leaf does when it falls from a tree
to the ground.

Or have you been reading this page:
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512
"Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent
Falling' Theory"

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 7:35:45 AM10/4/07
to
In message <news:5midf3F...@mid.individual.net> m...@privacy.net
(Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message) spoke these
staves:
>
> Hey, I thought of a good analogy. It probably falls flat
> on its face in some way too, but you can tell me how.

<snip>

> So when the One was destroyed, it fried the Three, and
> Sauron, distraught at the prospect of having to run a paper
> office forevermore, died from sheer stress!

Heh heh! Nice one! ;-)

If I were to find an objection (as you invite to <GG>), it would be
related to the portrayal of the dependency of the Three, the Seven and
the Nine upon the One as a back-door -- it seems to me to go deeper
than that, and once Sauron had made the One these other Rings really
depended on the One; their powers could only exist while the One
lasted.

Staying in the computer system analogy, the other Rings of Power had
been hard-wired to only be able to use the power-supply from the One,
and once the One was shut down, the other Rings also shut down, because
their power-supply failed (no UPS for Elven Rings).

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.
- /Hogfather/ (Terry Pratchett)

Prai Jei

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 5:48:43 PM10/4/07
to
teepee (or somebody else of the same name) wrote in message
<47002774$1...@newsgate.x-privat.org>:

> In quiet moments I sometimes like thinking about the One Ring, and whether
> Tolkien had given much thought to how it worked. I like to think he did.
>
> How did Sauron bind all the other rings to the One Ring? I can understand
> how he did with those he had a hand in making, but he also did so with the
> Three, which he had no hand in. And how did he contrive that the Three
> lost their power when the One died? And why did the destruction of the One
> destroy Sauron. Fourthly how is it that Sauron can use his power and yet
> not dissipate it as Morgoth did?

It all follows from the laws of quantum mechanics. Destruction of the set of
2N+1 rings immediately breaks the continuity with sets of higher
cardinality so that the set of 2N+3, 2N+5, etc. rings immediately lose
their power. It doesn't matter a who made a particular set of rings, those
rings rely on all sets of rings of lesser number (but greater power), right
down/up to the One, to be *there*.

So there must have been Five Rings somewhere, of which the histories of
Middle-earth are totally silent, otherwise the Seven and the Nine would not
have had any power. Were they made for the Ents?

Or perhaps they are still remembered in song. "On the fifth day of
Christmas..."
--
ξ:) Proud to be curly

Interchange the alphabetic letter groups to reply

Count Menelvagor

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 6:07:51 PM10/4/07
to

i'm reminded of one of the crackpot theories at the tolkien sarcasm
page: one OS to rule them all and in the darkness bind them!

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 6:21:31 PM10/4/07
to
Thu, 04 Oct 2007 11:35:45 GMT from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:

> If I were to find an objection (as you invite to <GG>), it would be
> related to the portrayal of the dependency of the Three, the Seven and
> the Nine upon the One as a back-door -- it seems to me to go deeper
> than that, and once Sauron had made the One these other Rings really
> depended on the One; their powers could only exist while the One
> lasted.

That's what Tolkien said on OtRoPatTA: "but secretly Sauron made One
Ring to rule all the others, and their power was bound up with it, to
be subject wholly to it and to last only so long as it too should
last."

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 11:11:18 PM10/4/07
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> Tue, 2 Oct 2007 21:49:36 -0500 from Bill O'Meally
> <omea...@wise.rr.com>:
>> Sean wrote:
>>> Bill O'Meally wrote:
>>>
>>>> The Ring did not have conscousness.
>>>
>>> But it seemed to have qualities associated with consciousness;
>>> a will, a sense of purpose; an objective to be achieved; even
>>> (in a limited way) the means to attain it:
>>
>> A magnet attracted to iron seems to have a sense of purpose as well.
>> Does it have intelligence?
>
> You're not serious, I assume. A magnet does not seem to me to have a
> sense of purpose, any more than a leaf does when it falls from a tree
> to the ground.
>
> Or have you been reading this page:
> http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512
> "Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent
> Falling' Theory"

--

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 4, 2007, 11:23:45 PM10/4/07
to
Stan Brown wrote:

> You're not serious, I assume.

Sure I am. Perhaps you misunderstood my meaning.

A magnet does not seem to me to have a
> sense of purpose, any more than a leaf does when it falls from a tree
> to the ground.

The operative word was "seem". What I was getting at was that the Ring
had no more intelligence in its attraction towards Sauron than a
magnet's attraction to metal.

>
> Or have you been reading this page:
> http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512
> "Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent
> Falling' Theory"

No, I haven't, but 'The Onion' is always a good read. One of my home
state's better exports -- that and cheese. :-)

Sean

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 12:56:07 AM10/5/07
to
Bill O'Meally wrote:

> The operative word was "seem". What I was getting at was that the Ring
> had no more intelligence in its attraction towards Sauron than a
> magnet's attraction to metal.

Ah, but "Magic rings are - well, magical." And the One showed
considerably more sophistication of strategy than a magnet.

Once I used to play chess against a program called Sargon.
It was extremely aggressive, and really went for the jugular.

A chess-playing friend and I used to team up to play against it.
He was constantly anthropomorphizing the program: "It's up to
something." "It's obviously planning something devious."
"It's trying to lure us into a trap," etc. But it wasn't
really a mind, it was just a rule engine.

SQ

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 3:16:35 AM10/5/07
to
In message <news:4705adf7$0$19590$4c36...@roadrunner.com>
"Bill O'Meally" <omea...@wise.rr.com> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> What I was getting at was that the Ring had no more intelligence
> in its attraction towards Sauron than a magnet's attraction to
> metal.

That is, at least, a debateable question ;-)

The One Ring may have been non-sapient, in which case the phrases that
suggest otherwise are simply antropomorphisms -- clearly that cannot be
ruled out. In that case the Ring can probably be likened to a very
clever piece of neural programming.

On the other hand, Tolkien /does/ attribute the One Ring with a will
and with desires, implying that the had a degree of sapience sufficient
for having a will and conscious desires.

I, on my part, am satisfied that the One Ring would at least have
passed the Turing test, in which case one can reasonably ask, 'does it
matter?' -- for all practical purposes the One Ring 'acts' in the book
as an individual 'character' with as much intelligence and personality
as e.g. the Witch-king.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not
imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They
laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed
at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the
Clown.
- Carl Sagan

Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 8:50:20 AM10/5/07
to
Bill O'Meally wrote:

> Stan Brown wrote:
>
>> You're not serious, I assume.
>
> Sure I am. Perhaps you misunderstood my meaning.
>
> A magnet does not seem to me to have a
>> sense of purpose, any more than a leaf does when it falls from a tree
>> to the ground.
>
> The operative word was "seem". What I was getting at was that the Ring
> had no more intelligence in its attraction towards Sauron than a
> magnet's attraction to metal.
>

I thought it was a pretty good analogy.

>> Or have you been reading this page:
>> http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512
>> "Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent
>> Falling' Theory"
>
> No, I haven't, but 'The Onion' is always a good read. One of my home
> state's better exports -- that and cheese. :-)

Oh please. You need to try some real cheese. I can't believe the stuff
that impresses Americans. Does the Department of Homeland Security prevent
you getting the good stuff? otoh, the Onion's a hit :-)
--
derek

Larry Swain

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 9:08:38 AM10/5/07
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> In message <news:4705adf7$0$19590$4c36...@roadrunner.com>
> "Bill O'Meally" <omea...@wise.rr.com> spoke these staves:
>
>
> <snip>
>
>
>>What I was getting at was that the Ring had no more intelligence
>>in its attraction towards Sauron than a magnet's attraction to
>>metal.
>
>
> That is, at least, a debateable question ;-)
>
> The One Ring may have been non-sapient, in which case the phrases that
> suggest otherwise are simply antropomorphisms -- clearly that cannot be
> ruled out. In that case the Ring can probably be likened to a very
> clever piece of neural programming.
>
> On the other hand, Tolkien /does/ attribute the One Ring with a will
> and with desires, implying that the had a degree of sapience sufficient
> for having a will and conscious desires.
>
> I, on my part, am satisfied that the One Ring would at least have
> passed the Turing test, in which case one can reasonably ask, 'does it
> matter?' -- for all practical purposes the One Ring 'acts' in the book
> as an individual 'character' with as much intelligence and personality
> as e.g. the Witch-king.
>

My pets have desires and will and "act", is my dog sapient?

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 11:20:11 AM10/5/07
to
In message <news:SeudnROUfOAaqpva...@rcn.net>
Larry Swain <gi...@poetic.com> spoke these staves:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>

<snip>


On the sapience of the One Ring

>> I, on my part, am satisfied that the One Ring would at least have
>> passed the Turing test, in which case one can reasonably ask,
>> 'does it matter?' -- for all practical purposes the One Ring
>> 'acts' in the book as an individual 'character' with as much
>> intelligence and personality as e.g. the Witch-king.
>>
>
> My pets have desires and will and "act", is my dog sapient?

But if we get to the equivalence of animals, the question is one of
degree -- it is recognized that your pets are intelligent, just not
as much as yourself (I'll leave the question of whether they can be
sapient to those who are more knowledgeable on that than I).

The question has been raised before (on more than one occasion), and
I was trying to summarize rather than argue a point. In the end I
think it depends on what you read into Tolkien's descriptions: I
cannot think of a reasonable test that can be used to decide whether
or not they are antropomorphisms (usable in context, of course -- one
that will be able to give an answer based on the known texts).

Heck, some even insist that the Ring could /speak/ (as did Túrin's
sword, the Troll's purse and probably some other inanimate objects
that I've forgotten about) ;-)

Personally I am quite happy with Stan's summary in the Rings-FAQ:
<http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q1-Sentient>

My choice of the Witch-king was very deliberate -- we hear of him
that he, as well as the other Ringwraiths, 'had no will but
[Sauron's] own, being each utterly subservient to the ring that had
enslaved him, which Sauron held.' Yet the Ringwraiths are capable of
acting as independent agents carrying out Sauron's will -- but are
they intelligent? Can we think of a good test to discern between the
intelligence of the Ring (whether reality or antropomorphism) and
that of the Witch-king?

As implied above, I don't think it's possible to come up with a
definite answer, but for my own part, I believe that Tolkien did
indeed intend for the One Ring to possess some level of what we would
call 'intelligence' -- that it was self-aware (as an individual
entity separate from Sauron) and conscious of itself and of its
surroundings as being external to itself. None of this, obviously,
requires an intelligence greater that that of the more intelligent
animals.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no
basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power
derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some
farcical aquatic ceremony.
- /Monty Python and the Holy Grail/

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 7:26:43 PM10/5/07
to
Sean wrote:
> A chess-playing friend and I used to team up to play against it.
> He was constantly anthropomorphizing the program: "It's up to
> something." "It's obviously planning something devious."
> "It's trying to lure us into a trap," etc. But it wasn't
> really a mind, it was just a rule engine.

Exactly my point. The Ring "seems" to have a mind of its own, but more
likely what we are seeing is the equivalent of a very complex computer
program (to continue the analogy).

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 8:04:00 PM10/5/07
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

<snip>


> As implied above, I don't think it's possible to come up with a
> definite answer, but for my own part, I believe that Tolkien did
> indeed intend for the One Ring to possess some level of what we would
> call 'intelligence' -- that it was self-aware (as an individual
> entity separate from Sauron) and conscious of itself and of its
> surroundings as being external to itself. None of this, obviously,
> requires an intelligence greater that that of the more intelligent
> animals.

While its fun to speculate on such things, what you are suggesting goes
against what we know about Sauron's (or Morgoth's, or any Ainur's)
abilities. To suggest he Ring has its own intelligence, its own self
awareness -- essentially a life of its own, is to state that Sauron
created a sentient life-form. We know that he did not have this ability.
Rather he could only pervert what already existed.

One might try to compare the "Ring as a life-form" question to the
'automaton' issue, that is, beings that can only perform under the
direct control of their creator. When the creator's mind is elsewhere,
the beings flop to the ground like puppets. Such beings would include
Aule's Dwarves before Eru filled them with the Flame Imperishable.
Tolkien dabbled with Orcs being the same for a while, but abandonded
that idea as they clearly could think for themselves, or even plot
against the direct wishes of their Lord. We know that the Ring, though
full of Sauron's power and malice was not such a being. It could
function independently of Sauron's direct thought or even his presence.
For instance it worked for Isildur after Sauron's physical death during
the Last Alliance. Quite the opposite, really: Sauron relied more on the
Ring's presence than the Ring on his.

I like what you referenced elswhere from Stan's FAQ of the Rings
http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm comparing the ring's
activities to essentially an elaborate computer program. I'll quote the
particular passage:

Tim Howe [r.a.b.t article, 14 May 2002,] suggests another intriguing
"non-sentient Ring" explanation: Sauron may have programmed the Ring as
we program a computer or a robot. (Only some of what follows was in his
article.) Computer programs can be fantastically complicated and can
seem to make decisions; computer programmers even speak of a program
"deciding" to do this or that. Even so, we don't say that the computer
program (or Ring) is thinking; all the sentience lies with the
programmer (or Sauron).

Howe points out that the Ring's actions could be explained by the simple
program "slip on or off a finger at any time it will place an enemy in
peril, and abandon an owner who holds the Ring too long without using
it." Such a program would have the effect of making the Ring turn up
eventually if it were ever separated from Sauron - and as an immortal he
could afford to wait. Obviously Tolkien was not familiar with computer
programming and would not consciously have intended such an explanation,
but that doesn't mean we cannot use it as an analogy. We would think of
Sauron not as programmer but as sorcerer, making these instructions part
of the spell he cast when putting his own power into the Ring, so that
it would eventually come back to him if he ever lost it. (Against this
we must set the fact that Sauron did not seem very good at planning for
unexpected contingencies, and ask why he would plan for being separated
from the Ring when he had no reason to believe that could ever happen.)

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 8:06:29 PM10/5/07
to
Derek Broughton wrote:

> I thought it was a pretty good analogy.

Thanks :-)

<snip>

>> No, I haven't, but 'The Onion' is always a good read. One of my home
>> state's better exports -- that and cheese. :-)
>
> Oh please. You need to try some real cheese. I can't believe the
> stuff that impresses Americans. Does the Department of Homeland
> Security prevent you getting the good stuff? otoh, the Onion's a hit
> :-)

Please come to Wisconsin, and I'll turn you on to some artisanal cheeses
that will knock your socks off!

Johnny1a

unread,
Oct 5, 2007, 10:24:08 PM10/5/07
to
On Oct 2, 4:28 am, Dirk Thierbach <dthierb...@usenet.arcornews.de>
wrote:
> teepee <nom...@nomail.com> wrote:

>
> > It's clear that even Morgoth suffered from the disappation of his
> > power over the ages.
>
> Morgoth didn't "suffer" from it, he voluntarily dissipated his "power"
> (or will, or substance, or whatever you like to call it) into all of
> Arda, to taint it and so to create "Arda Marred".

Though it's not quite clear that he entirely understood the full
implications of what he was doing for himself, that is, I'm not sure
he realized just how _much_ this would weaken him in the individual,
specific-incarnation sense.

That would seem odd at first, but we have to assume that Morgoth was
adept both at self-deception and genuine lack of understanding, after
all, he's trying, ultimately, to rebel utterly against _God_. It
would take a very peculiar mindset to combine both Melkor's tremendous
intellect and knowledge with a lack of perception that rebeliion
against Someone possessing literally infinite power and knowledge is
futile.

I wonder sometimes if Morgoth hadn't managed to just about convince
himself, by the time of the wars of the FIrst Age and the
Silmarillion, that Eru did not exist? When he told Hurin that he made
Arda, I wonder if Morgoth _almost_ believed it, the way Smeagol on a
smaller scale almost believed his own lies about the 'birthday
present'?

>
> Sauron, OTOH, "externalized" a substantial part of himself into the
> Ring. (BTW, this is a common fairy-tale topic). This part of his "power"
> was safe (as long as the Ring existed), and he could still use it.
> But other parts of his "power" (namely those he used to built his
> physical body) were not. They were used up every time his body was
> destroyed.
>
> > Thanks to the One, Sauron remained as strong as ever despite his many
> > defeats.
>
> No, he didn't. After each destruction of his body, Sauron is first
> reduced to a mere "shadow" of himself. He can, more and more slowly
> after each desctruction, rebuild himself, but some things are lost --
> for example his ability to take on a "fair" shape is gone after his
> first destruction.

I once posited a comparison, a long time ago, between the innate
strength of an Ainu and a financial investment. My suspicion is that
the basic, innate strength of an Ainu is a little like a capitol
investment that returns interest, and as long as an Ainu is acting in
accordance with the Divine Plan, in his/her proper sphere and scale,
it's like drawing on the interest income, the money will renew itself
endlessly from interest on the original investment.

Thus an Ainu acting entirely properly might grow tired, but need only
rest for a time after his/her labors to regain his or her full,
original strength. The Valar, for ex, were said to have rested at
times after great efforts, but they alwasy regain their total power,
Manwe is no weaker today than he was at the start of the world.

Now, IMHO if an Ainu starts acting outside that 'proper' sphere and
scale, s/he has to spend more energy, drawing on the capitol to
achieve whatever end. The more malicious and rebellious the action,
the more it ends up 'costing' sooner or later.

An Ainu doing something not quite what he's supposed to be doing, but
not malicious or evil, would have to rest longer afterward to regain
full power, because the 'capitol' is smaller now and the interest from
it proportionately smaller, and the income has to first go back into
restoring the capitol before it can then be tapped to regain the
original strength.

An Ainu who falls entirely is likely to end up spending strength like
mad, faster than the income from the capitol can possibly keep up
with, and even draining the original capitol, which in turn makes it
even harder to regain the lost strength. Eventually, an Ainu acting
against Eru's Will might end up draining himself essentially dry, like
an investor who spends all his capitol and has no money left to draw
any interest on. He's 'broke', in effect. The only place to go then
to gain more 'capitol' is Eru, and presumably that won't be granted
without some repentence.

I think that's what happened to Saruman, in effect, even more than
most of the fallen Ainur, he 'spent' so much of his native strength
and essence that there was nothing left at the end, just enough inner
strength to sustain his existence, like an Elf or a Man. The Saruman
we at the end of LOTR was reduced in effect to nothing more than a
human who didn't age, trapped in physical form and effectively
powerless. Relative to his initial status, he lost even more strength
and status than Morgoth.

The Valar are so much greater than Saruman that it's hard to imagine
one ever draining himself or herself down to that level...but I think
in theory it _could_ happen.

teepee

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 3:50:57 AM10/6/07
to

"Bill O'Meally" <omea...@wise.rr.com> wrote

> While its fun to speculate on such things, what you are suggesting goes
> against what we know about Sauron's (or Morgoth's, or any Ainur's)
> abilities. To suggest he Ring has its own intelligence, its own self
> awareness -- essentially a life of its own, is to state that Sauron
> created a sentient life-form. We know that he did not have this ability.
> Rather he could only pervert what already existed.

It may be that he perverted what already existed - namely himself - by
placing a portion of his consciousness in the ring.


Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 6:49:58 AM10/6/07
to
"Larry Swain" <gi...@poetic.com> wrote:

> My pets have desires and will and "act", is my dog sapient?

Have you tried asking your dog?
In a language it will understand, of course. :-)

And if you talk to your dog, you don't expect an answer, do you, but in some
cases you do expect it to respond to your tone and gestures. It's not a
black-and-white question, is it?

Christopher

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 7:14:33 AM10/6/07
to
"Johnny1a" <sherm...@hotmail.com> wrote:

<snip>

> I wonder sometimes if Morgoth hadn't managed to just about convince
> himself, by the time of the wars of the FIrst Age and the
> Silmarillion, that Eru did not exist? When he told Hurin that he made
> Arda, I wonder if Morgoth _almost_ believed it, the way Smeagol on a
> smaller scale almost believed his own lies about the 'birthday
> present'?

That's very interesting. It sounds like a convincing scenario. I'm also
reminded of Sauron building temples to Morgoth on Numenor. We know that
Sauron knew that Morgoth existed, but whether Sauron really believed that
Morgoth could come back, or whether he was just using Morgoth as a way for
him to gain more power, I'm not sure.

<snip>

> I once posited a comparison, a long time ago, between the innate
> strength of an Ainu and a financial investment. My suspicion is that
> the basic, innate strength of an Ainu is a little like a capitol
> investment that returns interest, and as long as an Ainu is acting in
> accordance with the Divine Plan, in his/her proper sphere and scale,
> it's like drawing on the interest income, the money will renew itself
> endlessly from interest on the original investment.

I think a direct comparison with energy and entropy works better. I think
the way the "powers" and Elves fade into the background and become myth and
legend and how "all things beneath the Sun wear to an end at last" (at least
in Middle-earth if not in Aman), sounds a lot like entropy, with energy
becoming more and more dissapated and requiring more and more energy to
gather back up again. Though the real analogy (or the reality) should be
with myth and legend! With history and the long defeat.

And the points you make about "proper actions" are crucial. It was the evil
of melkor's actions that directly cause him to become fixed and bound into
his form. That, and the pain, I think.

Christopher


Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 10:08:02 AM10/6/07
to
Bill O'Meally wrote:

> Derek Broughton wrote:
>
>> I thought it was a pretty good analogy.
>
> Thanks :-)
>
> <snip>
>
>>> No, I haven't, but 'The Onion' is always a good read. One of my home
>>> state's better exports -- that and cheese. :-)
>>
>> Oh please. You need to try some real cheese. I can't believe the
>> stuff that impresses Americans. Does the Department of Homeland
>> Security prevent you getting the good stuff? otoh, the Onion's a hit
>> :-)
>
> Please come to Wisconsin, and I'll turn you on to some artisanal cheeses
> that will knock your socks off!

LOL. I used to live close, but it's quite a trip these days. Some day I'll
take you up on it :-)
--
derek

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 11:41:12 AM10/6/07
to
Fri, 05 Oct 2007 15:20:11 GMT from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:

> My choice of the Witch-king was very deliberate -- we hear of him
> that he, as well as the other Ringwraiths, 'had no will but
> [Sauron's] own, being each utterly subservient to the ring that had
> enslaved him, which Sauron held.' Yet the Ringwraiths are capable of
> acting as independent agents carrying out Sauron's will -- but are
> they intelligent?

In my opinion, "no will but Sauron's own" doesn't necessarily make
him a robot. For instance, IIRC, in "The Hunt for the Ring" Tolkien
talks about him deciding things and disposing his forces this way or
that.

I've never doubted that all the Ringwraiths had normal human
intelligence. I think the "no will but Sauron's own" means that they
are incapable of acting against Sauron's interests or disobeying any
orders he gives: they are slaves who will never rebel. But I don't
think that means that they lack initiative or intelligence: they are
still Men, after all.

One way to think of it, maybe, is that their Rings changed the
direction of their thinking and desires so that they now identify
their own interests with Sauron's.

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 11:43:13 AM10/6/07
to
Fri, 5 Oct 2007 19:04:00 -0500 from Bill O'Meally
<omea...@wise.rr.com>:

> To suggest he Ring has its own intelligence, its own self
> awareness -- essentially a life of its own, is to state that Sauron
> created a sentient life-form. We know that he did not have this ability.
> Rather he could only pervert what already existed.

But have you forgotten, he put "a great part of his own former
power" into it. Could not some of that have been his will?

I don't believe the Ring had self awareness, but animals can perform
quite complex tasks without having self awareness.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 1:52:36 PM10/6/07
to
In message <news:4706d0a6$0$19563$4c36...@roadrunner.com>
"Bill O'Meally" <omea...@wise.rr.com> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> While its fun to speculate on such things, what you are suggesting


> goes against what we know about Sauron's (or Morgoth's, or any
> Ainur's) abilities.

I don't agree that this is the case here. The objection, IMO, applies
only to the Flame Imperishable, or to the possession of a soul (the
two may be essentially equivalent for living creatures), but I don't
think this necessarily applies in this case, as I don't suggest that
the Ring possessed either (other than if Sauron installed some part
of his own Flame/Soul in the Ring; something I would consider highly
doubtful, though I might be persuaded otherwise), and neither Soul or
Flame is, IMO, prerequisite for the level of intelligence and
independence that I suggest.

> To suggest he Ring has its own intelligence, its own self
> awareness -- essentially a life of its own, is to state that
> Sauron created a sentient life-form. We know that he did not
> have this ability. Rather he could only pervert what already
> existed.

I agree. In this case it would rely on the part of himself that he
put in the One Ring (this is also related to the differences between
the Rings -- the Three, for instance, are never attributed with the
same antropomorphic qualities as is the Master Ring).

We are dealing with various related, but still different, concepts
here, and 'intelligence' og 'sapience' as such does not, IMO, imply
the possession of a soul (as is also clear from Tolkien's various
discussions of the case of the Orcs). I would say that the Soul /
Flame is necessary for the possession of Free Will (I've posted in
length about that), by which I also imply that I don't think that the
Ring had, in Tolkien's sense, Free Will (the Ring itself was not
morally responsible of what it did -- those whom it corrupted were,
themselves, responsible; in that sense the Ring was very much a
Boethian concept).

<snip>

I essentially agree with everything else you say -- though obviously
from a different perspective ;-)

The Ring's 'intelligence' as clever AI 'programming' is an attractive
alternative, and to some extent I think that what I suggest is the
supernatural equivalent of a very advanced program -- but I'm putting
it in the allegorical language of the fairy story rather than in the
literal language of modern science or materialism.

My claim is that the Ring, within the story, has a role as an
individual 'character' that is at least as great (and independent) as
that of the Nazgūl, and in terms of understanding its role in the
story, it probably makes better sense to think of it as such (with
the above proviso regarding Free Will) and to use the same language
about the One Ring as we would about e.g. the Witch-king.

I think we would need to imagine an adaptive neural programming that
is way beyond the current state-of-the-art in order to describe the
apparent sapience of the One Ring (we might try to imagine the state-
of-the-art in a couple of centuries with fully developed quantum
computing), but on the other hand I don't think you need to worry
about the Ring being capable of adapting to contingencies Sauron had
/not/ imagined.

Lending the Ring the certain ability to communicate wouldn't change
it's level of sapience (as is demonstrated already by current
computers), but imagining this will allow us a
'gedankenexperiment' -- doing the Turing test with the Witch-king and
the One Ring. Would the human judge be able to tell which is which?
And if not, does the difference really matter?

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does
knowledge.
- Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882)

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 2:33:47 PM10/6/07
to
In message <news:MPG.2171769f8...@news.individual.net>
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>

<sni>

> I've never doubted that all the Ringwraiths had normal human
> intelligence.

Neither have I, of course.

> I think the "no will but Sauron's own" means that they are
> incapable of acting against Sauron's interests or disobeying
> any orders he gives: they are slaves who will never rebel.
> But I don't think that means that they lack initiative or
> intelligence: they are still Men, after all.

We can always discuss the level of Free Will possessed by the
Ringwraiths (surely theirs was not fully free), but my main point
was to the difference between the Ringwraiths and the One Ring. In
some ways it would seem almost as if the One Ring had greater
freedom of will than the Ringwraiths, though I don't actually think
that to be the case (see also my respons to Bill).

In letter #246 Tolkien wrote about a direct confrontation, 'self to
self' between Gandalf with the One Ring and Sauron without it,
It would be a delicate balance. On one side the true,
allegiance of the Ring to Sauron; on the other superior,
strength because Sauron was not actually in possession,
and perhaps also because he was weakened by long
corruption and expenditure of will in dominating inferiors.
[Letters #246, to Mrs Eileen Elgar (drafts), September 1963]
<http://google.vg/groups?selm=LgaHb.66282$aT....@news-server.bigpond.net.au>
<http://tinyurl.com/2uz3f>/

Here the One Ring is not only attributed with allegiance as a
conventional antropomophism, but the workings of this allegiance is
also described in more details and it seems to follow the human
concept of allegiance quite closely. Again I might ask in what way
this allegiance of the Master Ring differs, in an observable manner,
from the (also enforced) allegiance of the Ringwraiths? I don't
doubt that there are differences -- the Ringwraiths, as you
correctly point out, were, after all, Men, but I am asking not for
philosophical differences, but for differences that can be observed
from the text.

My point about questioning (in what was intended as a rhetorical
question) the possession of the Ringwraiths was similar -- to ask in
what ways their intelligence can be seen from the text of LotR alone
(i.e. disregarding in particular the Silm and other posthumously
published writings) to differ from the purported intelligence of the
One Ring.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human
stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
- Albert Einstein

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 2:53:22 PM10/6/07
to
In message <news:MPG.216f3172f...@news.individual.net>

Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> That's what Tolkien said on OtRoPatTA:

It took me a bit to realize that you referred to 'On the Rings of Power
and the Third Age' -- my fault, of course ;-)

Thanks for dragging out the quotation -- it's nice to know that I
didn't pick this one at least out of the blue ;-)

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

Thus, the future of the universe is not completely
determined by the laws of science, and its present state,
as Laplace thought. God still has a few tricks up his
sleeve.
- Stephen Hawking

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 3:26:09 PM10/6/07
to
Sat, 06 Oct 2007 20:33:47 +0200 from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:

> Again I might ask in what way
> this allegiance of the Master Ring differs, in an observable manner,
> from the (also enforced) allegiance of the Ringwraiths? I don't
> doubt that there are differences -- the Ringwraiths, as you
> correctly point out, were, after all, Men, but I am asking not for
> philosophical differences, but for differences that can be observed
> from the text.

I should say it's obvious from the text. The Ring could not get to
Sauron on its own, could not even keep itself out of the hands of
Sauron's enemies. A Nazgūl would have taken the Ring straight to
Sauron, we are told.

But by asking how the _allegiance_ differs, I think you are focusing
far too narrowly. Can you compare the allegiance of a dog to its
human to the allegiance of one human for another? I think not,
because a dog is a different kind of creature from a human. And a
Ring is far more different from a human than a dog is.

I think the real issue is not how the allegiance differs but how the
actions differ. And here the differences are enormous. The
Ringwraiths made plans, enlisted confederates, traveled about
purposefully, and so forth. The Ring could not choose its master; its
actions were limited to slipping off a finger, with no ability to
plan or judge the likely outcome..

Larry Swain

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 6:23:13 PM10/6/07
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> In message <news:SeudnROUfOAaqpva...@rcn.net>
> Larry Swain <gi...@poetic.com> spoke these staves:
>
>>Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>
>
> <snip>
>
>
> On the sapience of the One Ring
>
>
>>>I, on my part, am satisfied that the One Ring would at least have
>>>passed the Turing test, in which case one can reasonably ask,
>>>'does it matter?' -- for all practical purposes the One Ring
>>>'acts' in the book as an individual 'character' with as much
>>>intelligence and personality as e.g. the Witch-king.
>>>
>>
>>My pets have desires and will and "act", is my dog sapient?
>
>
> But if we get to the equivalence of animals, the question is one of
> degree -- it is recognized that your pets are intelligent, just not
> as much as yourself (I'll leave the question of whether they can be
> sapient to those who are more knowledgeable on that than I).
>
> The question has been raised before (on more than one occasion), and
> I was trying to summarize rather than argue a point.

I realize that, and since you and I have participated in this very
discussion more than once you're aware of my position that ascriptions
of intelligence, sapience, and will to the Ring are overreading.


In the end I
> think it depends on what you read into Tolkien's descriptions: I
> cannot think of a reasonable test that can be used to decide whether
> or not they are antropomorphisms (usable in context, of course -- one
> that will be able to give an answer based on the known texts).
>
> Heck, some even insist that the Ring could /speak/ (as did Túrin's
> sword, the Troll's purse and probably some other inanimate objects
> that I've forgotten about) ;-)

Yes, been there and had that battle as well....

>
> Personally I am quite happy with Stan's summary in the Rings-FAQ:
> <http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q1-Sentient>
>
> My choice of the Witch-king was very deliberate -- we hear of him
> that he, as well as the other Ringwraiths, 'had no will but
> [Sauron's] own, being each utterly subservient to the ring that had
> enslaved him, which Sauron held.' Yet the Ringwraiths are capable of
> acting as independent agents carrying out Sauron's will -- but are
> they intelligent?

Of course they are. They speak, they act on their own, the move on
their own power, they make active decisions (i. e. not simply mindlessly
responding to external forces)


Can we think of a good test to discern between the
> intelligence of the Ring (whether reality or antropomorphism) and
> that of the Witch-king?

See above.

Larry Swain

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 6:24:48 PM10/6/07
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> Fri, 5 Oct 2007 19:04:00 -0500 from Bill O'Meally
> <omea...@wise.rr.com>:
>
>> To suggest he Ring has its own intelligence, its own self
>>awareness -- essentially a life of its own, is to state that Sauron
>>created a sentient life-form. We know that he did not have this ability.
>>Rather he could only pervert what already existed.
>
>
> But have you forgotten, he put "a great part of his own former
> power" into it. Could not some of that have been his will?

It could, but of course Tolkien doesn't say that.

> I don't believe the Ring had self awareness, but animals can perform
> quite complex tasks without having self awareness.

True, but that isn't sapience is it?

Larry Swain

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 6:26:50 PM10/6/07
to

The surface of the water in my water glass responds to my tone and
gestures too, and I would say there is even less chance of that being
sapient than my beloved Fezziwig and Oswin.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 6, 2007, 9:26:17 PM10/6/07
to
In message <news:NvudnY5iG_BNl5Xa...@rcn.net>
Larry Swain <gi...@poetic.com> spoke these staves:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> My choice of the Witch-king was very deliberate -- we hear of him


>> that he, as well as the other Ringwraiths, 'had no will but
>> [Sauron's] own, being each utterly subservient to the ring that
>> had enslaved him, which Sauron held.' Yet the Ringwraiths are
>> capable of acting as independent agents carrying out Sauron's
>> will -- but are they intelligent?
>
> Of course they are. They speak, they act on their own, the move
> on their own power, they make active decisions (i. e. not simply
> mindlessly responding to external forces)
>
>> Can we think of a good test to discern between the intelligence
>> of the Ring (whether reality or antropomorphism) and that of the
>> Witch-king?
>
> See above.

Of your list I would only discount speech and motion by its own power
for the Ring, and I don't think any of those are meaningful in this
context. The question is not to distinguish the motor qualities
(which are, naturally, obvious), but to distinguish between their
'minds' alone (whether antropomorphic or real).

In what way can we distinguish between making 'active choices' and
'simply mindlessly responding to external forces'? We are not, after
all, privy to the Witch-king's thoughts, just as we don't know what
possible thoughts lay behind the Ring's decisions (Gandalf's word).
Can we find a find an example of a decision by the Ringwraiths that
is unarguably less reactive than what the Ring could do?

Similarly with acting on their own -- the Ringwraiths had no will but
Sauron's, so they could not be acting entirely on their own, they
would always seek to fulfill Sauron's purposes and serve his will,
just as the Ring did. What we need is the Ringwraiths demonstrably
acting with a degree of freedom that was unattainable to the Ring.

Incidentally, by your list, the trush and Róac -- and possibly the
eagles -- are 'intelligent' (in the sense we're discussing here),
while Tolkien would not allow that. But I am not suggesting that the
Ring be intelligent in manner that goes further than that of such
animals, which Tolkien contrasted to 'true "rational" creatures,
"speaking peoples",' (by which he essentially, IMO, meant creatures
with a soul) which he, by the way, asserted were 'all of human /
'humanoid' form.'

I've stated elsewhere that I don't believe the One to have had a soul
or even Free Will, and in Tolkien that would, at most, mean something
with an intelligence akin to that of Róac, the trush and similar
(it's late in Denmark and I can't come up with more examples right
now <G>) -- not what he described as 'true "rational" creatures'.

Bill O'Meally

unread,
Oct 7, 2007, 12:29:59 AM10/7/07
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>> That's what Tolkien said on OtRoPatTA:
>
> It took me a bit to realize that you referred to 'On the Rings of
> Power and the Third Age' -- my fault, of course ;-)

LOL! It took me a few seconds to figure it out as well. It looked to me
at first to be an Entish word. :-)

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 7, 2007, 6:37:43 AM10/7/07
to
Sun, 07 Oct 2007 03:26:17 +0200 from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:

> In what way can we distinguish between making 'active choices' and
> 'simply mindlessly responding to external forces'? We are not, after
> all, privy to the Witch-king's thoughts, just as we don't know what
> possible thoughts lay behind the Ring's decisions (Gandalf's word).
> Can we find a find an example of a decision by the Ringwraiths that
> is unarguably less reactive than what the Ring could do?

This has been asked and answered several times in this thread. I know
you've read "The Hunt for the Ring". Do you *really* think the Nazgūl
were no more intelligent than the Ring, after reading that?

I think we must be using similar words to mean wildly different
things.

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 7, 2007, 6:42:04 AM10/7/07
to
Sat, 06 Oct 2007 17:24:48 -0500 from Larry Swain <gi...@poetic.com>:

> Stan Brown wrote:
> > Fri, 5 Oct 2007 19:04:00 -0500 from Bill O'Meally
> > <omea...@wise.rr.com>:
> >> To suggest he Ring has its own intelligence, its own self
> >>awareness -- essentially a life of its own, is to state that Sauron
> >>created a sentient life-form. We know that he did not have this ability.
> >>Rather he could only pervert what already existed.
> >
> > But have you forgotten, he put "a great part of his own former
> > power" into it. Could not some of that have been his will?
>
> It could, but of course Tolkien doesn't say that.

No, he doesn't. And my point, which I guess I expressed poorly, is
that the Ring need not have any sense of purpose or any will to do
what Tolkien tells us it did.

> > I don't believe the Ring had self awareness, but animals can
> > perform quite complex tasks without having self awareness.
> True, but that isn't sapience is it?

I'm not sure just what "sapience" is, but this was my point -- it's
not the same as the ability to perform complex tasks.

Or, to put it another way, the Ring could do everything it's recorded
to have done and still have no more intelligence, will, self
awareness, or "sapience" than, say, an ant.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 7, 2007, 6:58:25 AM10/7/07
to
In message <news:MPG.2171ab595...@news.individual.net>

Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>
> Sat, 06 Oct 2007 20:33:47 +0200 from Troels Forchhammer
> <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:
>>
>> Again I might ask in what way this allegiance of the Master Ring
>> differs, in an observable manner, from the (also enforced)
>> allegiance of the Ringwraiths? I don't doubt that there are
>> differences
[...]

>
> I should say it's obvious from the text. The Ring could not get to
> Sauron on its own, could not even keep itself out of the hands of
> Sauron's enemies. A Nazgūl would have taken the Ring straight to
> Sauron, we are told.
>
> But by asking how the _allegiance_ differs, I think you are
> focusing far too narrowly. Can you compare the allegiance of a dog
> to its human to the allegiance of one human for another? I think
> not, because a dog is a different kind of creature from a human.
> And a Ring is far more different from a human than a dog is.

I believe you have to have that narrow a focus. We're trying to
compare the mental capabilities of Men (though, in the case of the
Ringwraiths, Men that are changed in significant ways) to the alleged
mental abilities of a ring.

This makes for some very obvious differences which nevertheless rely
only on differences in the body -- differences that relate to the
mind only through its ability to control and use the body. Thus the
Ring is not able to move (the grow/shrink ability notwithstanding),
it cannot speak (I'll forgo both Gurthang and Mount Doom in silence
here) etc. These differences, however, must be ignored when trying to
compare the mental natures and capabilities, since they are not
directly related to what goes on in the mind.

In some ways this makes the Ring's (purported) 'will' less direct
efficient than that of most others, and as such the Ring would be
less powerful in itself (its power seems to be almost exclusively
over its wearer).

Obviously that restriction makes it much more difficult, since we are
never really privy to the 'mind' of the opponents in the book. There
are some hints in 'The Hunt for the Ring' to the thoughts of the
Witch-king in particular, but with respect to the Ring we still have
only Gandalf's descriptions to go by.

> I think the real issue is not how the allegiance differs but how
> the actions differ.

Since the question is exclusively about the mental capabilities, the
actions are really irrelevant -- the actual nature of the allegiance
and the decisions made based on that allegiance is what matters.

> And here the differences are enormous.

Are they, really? (Comments here are given from the perspective of
most extensive 'antropomorphication' of the One Ring.)

> The Ringwraiths made plans,

So did, according to Gandalf, the One Ring.

> enlisted confederates,

Again, so did the Ring (Gollum).

> traveled about purposefully, and so forth.

Something the Ring did its very best to do, though its physical body
severely limited its ability.

> The Ring could not choose its master;

Neither could the Ringwraiths.

> its actions were limited to slipping off a finger,

Again, the physical abilities are completely irrelevant

> with no ability to plan

It did, actually. The whole 'The Ring was trying to get back to its
master' speech by Gandalf shows the Ring planning how to achieve that
goal. Obviously the Ring had to serve Sauron's purposes, it was
forced to do his will, but that is precisely the point of using the
Ringwraiths for comparison, because so did they.

> or judge the likely outcome..

I don't think we can really tell about that, can we? That the Ring,
after abandoning Gollum, was 'picked up by the most unlikely person
imaginable' hardly tells anything about its abilities in this
direction. The Ring suffered from the same limitations of
understanding as did its Master, but that would also apply to the
Ringwraiths (the Ring itself would of course learn of Frodo's
intentions with regards to itself long before its Master and his
servants).


I've pointed out elsewhere that I do think that there is a
significant difference in that the One Ring did not have a soul and
never had the capacity for Free Will (though the Ringwraiths, after
their wraithification, were not entirely free either). The point is
not that there was no difference, but to come up with a set of
criteria for distinguishing that are relevant (and thus doesn't list
physical abilities as distinguishing mental capability) and employs
less handwaving.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

People are self-centered
to a nauseous degree.
They will keep on about themselves
while I'm explaining me.
- Piet Hein, /The Egocentrics/

Prai Jei

unread,
Oct 7, 2007, 7:57:46 AM10/7/07
to
Count Menelvagor (or somebody else of the same name) wrote in message
<1191535671.2...@k79g2000hse.googlegroups.com>:

> On Oct 3, 4:51 pm, "teepee" <nom...@nomail.com> wrote:
>> "Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message" <m...@privacy.net>
>> wrote
>>
>> > So when the One was destroyed, it fried the Three, and
>> > Sauron, distraught at the prospect of having to run a paper
>> > office forevermore, died from sheer stress!
>>
>> Burn the blasphemer!
>
> i'm reminded of one of the crackpot theories at the tolkien sarcasm
> page: one OS to rule them all and in the darkness bind them!

You may have heard this before, but at the company I used to work for, a
crimper tool would be used to take a couple of wires and a connector, and
*bind* *them.*
--
ξ:) Proud to be curly

Interchange the alphabetic letter groups to reply

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 7, 2007, 9:08:53 AM10/7/07
to
In message <news:MPG.217280ff3...@news.individual.net>

Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>
> Sun, 07 Oct 2007 03:26:17 +0200 from Troels Forchhammer
> <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:
>>
>> In what way can we distinguish between making 'active choices'
>> and 'simply mindlessly responding to external forces'? We are
>> not, after all, privy to the Witch-king's thoughts, just as we
>> don't know what possible thoughts lay behind the Ring's decisions
>> (Gandalf's word). Can we find a find an example of a decision by
>> the Ringwraiths that is unarguably less reactive than what the
>> Ring could do?
>
> This has been asked and answered several times in this thread.

No, it has /not/ been answered -- it has been stated that we can, but
nobody's actually answered /how/, and there's a significant difference.
This is hand-waving, the same technique Shippey objects so eloquently
to when used by Tolkien's literary critics.

You refer to the 'Hunt for the Ring', but while that does give us more
details about what the Ringwraiths, and the witch-king in particular,
were thinking, it nevertheless shows them as merely responding to
external forces -- apart from their bodily abilities (speech, motion
etc.) do you have any evidence that they actually did anything that was
impossible to the Ring? No handwaving, no 'it's clear the ring couldn't
. . .', but actual evidence?

> I know you've read "The Hunt for the Ring". Do you *really* think
> the Nazgūl were no more intelligent than the Ring, after reading
> that?

I've said several times that I do not believe that the Ring was
intelligent in the same sense as the Nazgūl, but this conviction is
based on ideas regarding the role of the soul in Tolkien (which I
believe to be the prerequisite for the capacity for Free Will as well).
With regards to the exercise of this intelligence, however, I lack a
quality or feature to distinguish /in kind/ between the mental capacity
of the One Ring and that of the Ringwraiths (whose exercise of Free
Will was also severely curtailed, if not completely removed even, so
they, too, lacked the main behavioural characteristic of the soul). It
is easy enough to simply say that it is obvious, and if we agree that
the Ring did not have a soul, but the Ringwraiths did, then it is to
some extent obvious, but that still involves a level of hand-waving --
making exactly the error which Shippey berates many of Tolkien's
literary critics of committing. I think that if we cannot come up with
something better, then it cannot be quite as 'obvious' as we may think.

The same goes the other way -- distinguishing between the 'advanced
computer program' model and the animal-like intelligence exhibited by
e.g. the talking animals of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Do we
have a test that we can apply to the text which will decide the issue?
I cannot come up with anything, but was hoping that some of you, more
clever than I, could help.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

It is the theory which decides what can be observed.
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)