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Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 23, 2009, 2:30:47 PM10/23/09
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New links -- a list of recently-discovered (i.e. they were new to
me) links with Tolkien relevance.

The Tolkien Professor:
<http://www.tolkienprofessor.com>

Finally it is here: the site that allows those many of us who have
never had the chance of following an academic course on Tolkien to
remedy the situation (studying physics at a Danish university rather
precluded that particular course from entering my own curriculum).
The Professor is Corey Olsen who is a professor of medieval
literature at Washington College. So far I've heard the introductory
lecture and the first lecture on _The Hobbit_, and while I will
withhold final judgement until I have heard some more lectures, I
have liked what I have heard so far.


Ardhon Ellammath:
<http://ellammath.de>

Yet another site devoted to Tolkien's invented (Elvish) languages,
one might say. This site specializes in the phonology and the
primary contents are a number of sound files with recordings of
spokien Sindarin or Quenya. While I am notably not an expert on
either of the Elvish tongues, one cannot discuss Tolkien for years
without picking up just a bit here and there, and as far as I can
judge, the pronunciation is quite good (there's a tendency towards
aspiration in the Quenya plosives, but even Tolkien did that
himself, and I certainly can't do better myself).


Mythopoeic Society List Server:
<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/>

A yahoo-based discussion list for the Mythopoeic Society -- Inklings
discussions at a rather higher level than is usually seen at the
various web-based discussion boards (the Yahoo lists support both
e-mail and web-interfaces, but as most e-mail clients are rather
reference-challenged, the threading is unfortunately not very
good).


Mythlore:
<http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Mythlore-p281>
<http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0OON/?tag=content;col1>

Two sites sporting free content from the journal _Mythlore_ (the
journal of the Mythopoeic Society).


BLOGS

Wotan's Musings:
<http://wotanselvishmusings.blogspot.com/>

A rediscovery in this case -- Andy Higgins is another medieval
scholar blogging about Tolkien issues, but he has a higher rate of
Tolkien contents than, say, Drout (_Wormtalk and Slugspeak_) or
Rateliff (Sacnoth's Scriptorium).


Lingw�: The Attercops of Mirkwood
<http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2009/10/attercops-of-mirkwood.html>

Jason Fisher in a lingustically inspired blog about the Attercops of
Mirkwood. There's a number of interesting points, though I have to
admit that I think, as my first reaction, that he takes it just a
bit too far when he goes from 'mirk' in Mirkwood to Finnish _myrkky_
meaning 'poison'. Or rather, it is very interesting, but I think
I'll need some more evidence before accepting that this connection
was in Tolkien's subconscious mind, much less in his conscious
intention.


Lingw�: Slavic echoes in Tolkien - A response
<http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2009/10/slavic-echoes-in-tolkien-response.html>

Another blog by Jason Fisher, this one spurred by a citation in an
article in a Ukrainian journal. The article (in Fisher's recount)
goes rather too far in claiming Slavic echoes in Tolkien's writings
-- at least echoes that exist outside the applicability of the
author. Fisher's final judgement (found about halfway through the
blog-post) is quite harsh:
In the end, Kuzmenko's conclusion, [...], goes too far on
too little evidence. [...]. Kuzmenko also offers little in
the way of original research. The examples he gives may
nearly all be found in the works he cites, [...].
I can only hope that he and other Tolkien scholars will look more
favourable on my own humble contribution handed in this week to the
Tolkien Society (for publication in the proceedings from the 2008
seminar) :) (yes, of course I had to squeeze that in as well; I am
not entirely without vanity -- rather I think that many of my
co-workers would claim that I am quite vain).


Wormtalk and Slugspeak
<wormtalk.blogspot.com/2009/10/history-channel-clash-of-gods-lord-of.html>

Drout has posted on his blog that the History Channel has aired an
episode in 'the Clash of Gods' series about _The Lord of the Rings_
-- since the channel doesn't air in Denmark and I haven't seen the
series or the show announced anywhere, I have to ask if anyone here
has seen it, and what your opinion was?

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

Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
- Niels Bohr, to a young physicist

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 25, 2009, 5:59:02 AM10/25/09
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In message <news:Xns9CADD0AB...@130.133.1.4>
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> spoke these staves:
>

> The Tolkien Professor:
> <http://www.tolkienprofessor.com>

You simply have to listen to this one, 'On Wingless Balrogs and Tom
Bombadil,' which can be found on the page below as both .mp3 and .m4a

<http://www.tolkienprofessor.com/lectures/podcasts/podcast1.html>

The introduction is priceless -- it appears that the Balrog Wings
debate is famous enough that there will _always_ be a student who asks
about it in any given class :-)

Cutting away all the arguments, prof. Olsen concludes that Balrogs did
not have wings, and that it is a basic misunderstanding of English to
suggest as much, and that Tom Bombadil (and, presumably, by extenstion
also Goldberry) was a Maia. Since the latter supports my own favourite
theory, I naturally find Olsen's lecture very good and intelligent ;-)

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

The major problem [encountered in time travel] is quite
simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this
matter is Dr Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveller's
Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations.
- Douglas Adams, /The Restaurant at the End of the Universe/

Chris Hoelscher

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Oct 25, 2009, 10:17:22 AM10/25/09
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> suggest as much, and that Tom Bombadil (and, presumably, by extenstion
> also Goldberry) was a Maia.

i have always thought that since Goldberry was described as "daughter of the
river" she was either a Maia of Ulmo or (dare i say) the daughter of Ulmo
(were the Vala given the power to procreate?)

calvin

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Oct 25, 2009, 9:55:06 PM10/25/09
to
On Oct 25, 5:59 am, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:

> You simply have to listen to this one, 'On Wingless Balrogs and Tom
> Bombadil,' which can be found on the page below as both .mp3 and .m4a
>
> <http://www.tolkienprofessor.com/lectures/podcasts/podcast1.html>
>
> The introduction is priceless -- it appears that the Balrog Wings
> debate is famous enough that there will _always_ be a student who asks
> about it in any given class :-)
>
> Cutting away all the arguments, prof. Olsen concludes that Balrogs did
> not have wings, and that it is a basic misunderstanding of English to
> suggest as much, and that Tom Bombadil (and, presumably, by extenstion
> also Goldberry) was a Maia. Since the latter supports my own favourite
> theory, I naturally find Olsen's lecture very good and intelligent ;-)

Thanks for all this. The recorded lectures make fine listening.
Though I still think Bombadil is Ilúvatar (simply enjoying his
creation to the fullest while simultaneously doing everything
else that he does), his lecture on the subject is worthy of
respect and enjoyment.

David Trimboli

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Oct 25, 2009, 10:23:06 PM10/25/09
to

They were in Tolkien's earlier writings. He eventually abandoned this
concept.

If a Maia is defined as "any spirit in E� not derived from the Children
of Il�vatar and not of the Valar," then Bombadil and Goldberry are
certainly Maiar. Bombadil, by his own account, was the very first spirit
to enter E�, and he apparently remained fixed to his own little country
from the very start, or at least before the Eldar marched west.

The nature of the River-woman is unclear, and her supposed power of
procreation even more so. If I had to guess, I would say that the
River-woman is a spirit inhabiting the Withywindle, in the same way
other spirits inhabit mortal bodies, and Goldberry is a "kindred" and
lesser spirit whom the River-woman nurtured and protected in the way a
mother would a daughter.

--
David Trimboli
http://www.trimboli.name/

Stan Brown

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Oct 26, 2009, 7:46:55 PM10/26/09
to
Sun, 25 Oct 2009 22:23:06 -0400 from David Trimboli
<da...@trimboli.name>:

> If a Maia is defined as "any spirit in E� not derived from the Children
> of Il�vatar and not of the Valar," then Bombadil and Goldberry are
> certainly Maiar.

Well, yes, but I don't think I can accept that definition.

--
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

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 27, 2009, 1:46:28 PM10/27/09
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In message <news:MPG.254ffefda...@news.individual.net>
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>
> Sun, 25 Oct 2009 22:23:06 -0400 from David Trimboli
> <da...@trimboli.name>:
>>
>> If a Maia is defined as "any spirit in E� not derived from the
>> Children of Il�vatar and not of the Valar," then Bombadil and
>> Goldberry are certainly Maiar.
>
> Well, yes, but I don't think I can accept that definition.

Without speaking specifically of Tom and Goldberry (whose history is
a bit too odd for them to really fit well into the taxonomy of Arda),
we do know that the above was true at least when Tolkien wrote the
_Book of Lost Tales_. In there is a long list of all types of
spirits: 'sprites of trees and woods, of dale and forest and
mountain-side' the 'Nermir and the Tavari, Nandini and Orossi,
brownies, fays, pixies, leprawns, and what else are they not called,
for their number is very great' (LT1 p.65), that accompanied the
Valar into Arda, stating only that these should not be confused with
the fairies, the Elves. At this point the lesser spirits that enter
into E� with the Valar are not yet called Maiar, but these sprites
(which as seen include all kinds of nature and location spirits) are
part of what would later develop to become the Maiar (these plus the
children of the Valar essentially form what is now the Maiar). Even
Melian, in the _Lost Tales_ called Wendelin, is described as a sprite
(LT1 p.124).

But even in the later conception, the only options for free-willed
spirits is to belong to either the Order of the Ainur or to the
Children of Il�vatar (allowing the dwarves as his children by
adoption) -- there are no other 'orders' of free-willed spirits. If
Orcs are free-willed, they can have got their souls and their free
will only from one of these two sources (which is basically also what
Tolkien concludes in his notes on Orcs in 'Myths Transformed').

Tom B and Goldberry predate their appearance in LotR, and so they
weren't created for Arda (even less than e.g. Gollum or the stone
giants of _The Hobbit_), which influence their place and role in
Arda, so that there is no perfect native fit for them. That said,
however, there is nothing in their natures that speak _against_ their
being of Maiarin origin -- we even know of at least one Maia who
begot a child, and so why not Goldberry also as somehow the child of
the sprite of Withywindle?

One could also say that a Maiarin origin for the pair of them is the
only way to naturalize them within the known taxonomy of Arda (i.e.
without claiming one or two undocumented kinds). I quite agree with
Steuard that Tom and Goldberry were nature spirits, genii locii, but
he overlooks the simple fact that there is nothing else for nature
spirits to be within Arda than Maiar.

The problem, as I see it, is that Tom and Goldberry really are modern
nature spirits -- he the 'spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and
Berkshire countryside' and she a nymph, daughter of the spirit of
some small Oxford or Berkshire river. As such they don't _really_ fit
in Arda, but within Arda there is only one thing that they can be:
Maiar, however bad that fit may be, there are no other.

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

++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.
- /Interesting Times/ (Terry Pratchett)

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 27, 2009, 1:58:49 PM10/27/09
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In message
<1347f48b-dd31-4551...@s6g2000vbp.googlegroups.com>
calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> Thanks for all this. The recorded lectures make fine listening.

Don't they though :-)

> Though I still think Bombadil is Il�vatar

It is quite clear that Tolkien did _not_ intend this. In letter #181
Tolkien wrote that 'There is no "embodiment" of the Creator anywhere
in this story or mythology' -- this is sufficiently clear (also
because of the theological considerations) to also cover Tom
Bombadil.

You might also wish to read Steuard's essay on the subject:
<http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html>

I go in more details elswhere, but essentially I agree with Steuard
in every aspect save one: I do not think we can just wave our arms
and postulate an entirely new order of independent, free-willed
spirits -- we must stick to the orders of spirits & souls that are
explicitly described by Tolkien, simply because this is too
fundamental a thing in Arda (as can be seen from the case of Aul�'s
creation of the Dwarves) not to be explicitly described.

> his lecture on the subject is worthy of respect and enjoyment.

I shocked my surroundings by laughing out loud when I reached the
point where he dismisses the idea of Balrog wings so callously ;-)

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

"What're quantum mechanics?"
"I don't know. People who repair quantums, I suppose."
- /Eric/ (Terry Pratchett)

calvin

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Oct 27, 2009, 3:27:48 PM10/27/09
to
On Oct 27, 1:58 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:

> calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
> <snip>
> > Thanks for all this.  The recorded lectures make fine listening.
> Don't they though :-)
>
> > Though I still think Bombadil is Ilúvatar

>
> It is quite clear that Tolkien did _not_ intend this. In letter #181
> Tolkien wrote that 'There is no "embodiment" of the Creator anywhere
> in this story or mythology' -- this is sufficiently clear (also
> because of the theological considerations) to also cover Tom
> Bombadil.
>
> You might also wish to read Steuard's essay on the subject:
> <http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html>
>

I have read plenty of arguments against Bombadil being Eru.
They don't convince me. Tolkien, whatever he said in real
life, did not refute Bombadil being Eru within his story.

In world religious history there are
examples of God taking human form. Even Jesus can be
seen as God taking human form. Tolkien knew of the
concept. The 'Tolkien Professor' said something about
Bombadil not being and acting like Ilúvatar. How does he
know what form Ilúvatar would choose to take if he visited
his creation? I think Bombadil is a delightful presentation
of how Ilúvatar might have chosen his advent in Middle-earth
to be. And I see no reason to limit God to his earthly
form at any time. Surely he can function in more than
one of his aspects simultaneously. (These, too, are
'theological considerations'.)

You don't agree, of course, but let's agree to disagree,
because it's an old argument among Tolkien fans, not
likely to be resolved in this thread, except by a declaration
such as yours, above.

calvin

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Oct 27, 2009, 4:18:18 PM10/27/09
to

No, let's not agree to disagree. I have more to say,
though I've said it before.

If Bombadil is "the oldest of the old", then he is Eru,
QED. But maybe there was the implied qualification,
'in Middle-earth'. Some say so, some say not.

More important to me is the fact that Bombadil is the
only being in Middle-earth who is not affected by the
Ring. Why not, if he is only a Maiar? The other three
most prominent Maiar in Middle-earth certainly are
affected by it (Sauron, Gandalf, and Saruman).

Bombadil is well aware of the Ring and its evil, however,
when he says:

"Hey! Come Frodo, there! Where be you a-going?
Old Tom Bombadil's not as blind as that yet.
Take off your golden ring! Your hand's more fair without it.
Come back! Leave your game and sit down beside me!
We must talk a while more, and think about the morning.
Tom must teach the right road, and keep your feet from
wandering."

I think people misunderstand when Gandalf says at the
Council of Elrond that Bombadil could not be relied on
to keep the Ring and not forget about it. The fact is, I
believe, that Ilúvatar has already set in motion all that
is required to resolve the problem of the Ring, and he
purposely did not assign any part in it for Bombadil.
Bombadil is neither stupid nor incompetent nor unaware.
(See again my quote above.)

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 27, 2009, 5:13:58 PM10/27/09
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In message
<9c45fff0-9d88-4a34...@h40g2000prf.googlegroups.com>
calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>
> On Oct 27, 3:27�pm, calvin <cri...@windstream.net> wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> I have read plenty of arguments against Bombadil being Eru.
>> They don't convince me. �Tolkien, whatever he said in real
>> life, did not refute Bombadil being Eru within his story.

Actually he did.

<snip>

> No, let's not agree to disagree. I have more to say,
> though I've said it before.

;-)

There are at leat two levels of interpretation involved here -- what
was Tolkien's intention and how each reader interprets it for him- or
herself.

We can say definitely that Tolkien did intend Tom Bombadil to _not_
be Eru -- while Tolkien in his letters does not say what Tom is, he
does explain enough about Tom and Eru to make this impossible. But
this requires reading several of Tolkien's letters and combining what
is in these letters, and that is obviously not the same as saying
that this is in any way inferable from the book itself, nor that
readers of the book are obliged to accept this with respect to their
own interpretation. You are completely right that _within_ _the_
_story_, Tolkien did not refute any reasonable theory of Tom's nature
(I guess he does refute that Tom is dwarf or human -- at least if we
believe Tom's statements about being there before the Elves came
West).

I am quite will to debate the issue of Tolkien's intention all the
way ;-) but I have no wish to interfere with your interpretation --
if it works for you when you read LotR and if you prefer to believe
this, then there is no reason why anything I say about Tolkien's
intention should change that for you.

With that in mind I will stop for now (except for quoting from a
letter below regarding one issue that you raise) -- if you wish me to
argue why Tom is meant to not be Eru, I will do so, but I will leave
the decision to you.

<snip>

> More important to me is the fact that Bombadil is the
> only being in Middle-earth who is not affected by the
> Ring. Why not, if he is only a Maiar?

This is fully explained in letter #144 (one of the crucial letters in
this question). Let me quote the relevant paragraph:

Tom Bombadil is not an important person -- to the
narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment'.
I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an
invention (who first appeared in the Oxford Magazine about
1933), and he represents something that I feel important,
though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling
precisely. I would not, however, have left him in, if he
did not have some kind of function. I might put it this
way. The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad
side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against
kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion
that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on;
but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive,
want a measure of control. but if you have, as it were
taken 'a vow of poverty', renounced control, and take your
delight in things for themselves without reference to
yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing,
then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and
control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the
means of power quite valueless. It is a natural pacifist
view, which always arises in the mind when there is a war.
But the view of Rivendell seems to be that it is an
excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in
fact things with which it cannot cope; and upon which its
existence nonetheless depends. Ultimately only the victory
of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to
survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of
Sauron.
(_The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien_ letter #144 to Naomi Mitchison, 25
April 1954)

I will leave it there for now.

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

++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.

calvin

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Oct 27, 2009, 5:48:50 PM10/27/09
to
On Oct 27, 5:13 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:

> With that in mind I will stop for now (except for quoting from a
> letter below regarding one issue that you raise) -- if you wish me to
> argue why Tom is meant to not be Eru, I will do so, but I will leave
> the decision to you.

No, because you hold the trump card, that Tolkien himself
said that Bombadil was not Eru. All I can try to do is argue
that story-internally Bombadil seems to me to be Iluvatar.
But anything I say, such as asking why he would be the
one Maiar unaffected by the Ring, can be answered by a
quote from Tolkien himself. I'll bet you can't answer how,
story-internally, a Maiar can be unaffected by the Ring; but
you don't have to; you are well-armed with the Letters, of
which I also have a copy. Though I don't believe I need to
renounce my theory, I do indeed need to renounce arguing for
my theory.

Derek Broughton

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Oct 27, 2009, 5:14:56 PM10/27/09
to
calvin wrote:

> On Oct 27, 1:58 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
> wrote:
>> calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>> <snip>
>> > Thanks for all this. The recorded lectures make fine listening.
>> Don't they though :-)
>>
>> > Though I still think Bombadil is Ilúvatar
>>
>> It is quite clear that Tolkien did _not_ intend this. In letter #181
>> Tolkien wrote that 'There is no "embodiment" of the Creator anywhere
>> in this story or mythology' -- this is sufficiently clear (also
>> because of the theological considerations) to also cover Tom
>> Bombadil.
>>
>> You might also wish to read Steuard's essay on the subject:
>> <http://tolkien.slimy.com/essays/Bombadil.html>
>>
>
> I have read plenty of arguments against Bombadil being Eru.
> They don't convince me. Tolkien, whatever he said in real
> life, did not refute Bombadil being Eru within his story.

I honestly can't understand how anyone can insist on being more right than
Tolkien himself. Explicitly, right there in letter #181, Tolkien said Eru
is not _within_ the story.

> In world religious history there are
> examples of God taking human form. Even Jesus can be
> seen as God taking human form.

"Even"? It's an essential part of the faith! Anyone who doesn't believe
that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by definition.

> Tolkien knew of the concept.

Of course he did. He was a devout and knowledgeable Christian.

> You don't agree, of course, but let's agree to disagree,

No, lets not. Your argument is arrogant, and plain wrong.

> because it's an old argument among Tolkien fans, not
> likely to be resolved in this thread, except by a declaration
> such as yours, above.

I see - your opinions are right, anybody else's, even if supported by
Tolkien's own statements are, at best, suspect.
--
derek

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 27, 2009, 6:44:52 PM10/27/09
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In message
<2935b8d8-290a-4752...@c3g2000yqd.googlegroups.com>
calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> All I can try to do is argue that story-internally Bombadil
> seems to me to be Iluvatar.

To you at least. Not to belittle your interpretation in any way (I
don't even think I wondered particularly about the nature of Tom B
before encountering the debate here), but just to point out that
there are also other interpretations that are consistent with the
book.

It is to me entirely fair to maintain an interpretation that is not
necessarily what Tolkien intended when he wrote it, whether you know
it or not. For my own experience of reading, I find myself so much in
agreement with Tolkien's description of Secondary Belief in 'On
Fairy-Stories', but others insist that to read something like LotR
they must continuously maintain a willing suspension of disbelief. I
tend not to think very deeply over the the nature of things when I
read for the experience of reading -- that kind of speculation comes
later as an analytical exercise, but even then I find myself agreeing
with Tolkien that one can only stomach a certain amount of
inconsistency before the enchantment that is Secondary Belief is
broken.

What I mean to say is that I, personally and for myself, do require
of an interpretation that it doesn't create any new inconsistencies,
but I am aware that there may be other readers for whom this is not
an essential thing. However, in the case of the 'Tom is Eru'
interpretation, I believe that it is possible to read the book so
that it is completely consistent with that intpretation.

It does require that you explain why the opinion of the Council of
Elrond is wrong in believing that Tom would necessarily end up being
defeated by Sauron, but that is, I think, about all.

> I'll bet you can't answer how, story-internally, a Maiar can
> be unaffected by the Ring;

I take you to mean 'using only arguments based on _The Lord of the
Rings_ and _The Silmarillion_?

Personally I tend to put very much trust in statements made in 'The
Shadow of the Past' and 'The Council of Elrond' because these two
chapters, as I see it, form a necessary basis for us to understand
the rest of the book. So I have always accepted as true anything said
at the Council about Tom, including the statement that he has no
power over the Ring -- that he would be unable to unmake the Ring or,
in a final attack, to withstand Sauron.

From there I think it is possible, even within the framework of LotR
itself, to argue that the Ring works through its temptation to power:
this is seen very clearly in the rejections by both Gandalf and
Galadriel, but also in the failure of Boromir. If the Ring works
through the temptation to power, it would follow that for Tom to be
immune to the powers of the Ring, he must be free of any desire for
the power the Ring might tempt him with.

For myself, however, this is post-rationalization: I don't think I
gave any of this a thought before encountering the discussions here,
and so I can't say what result I might have reached had I been asked
to answer the questions of 'what is Tom Bombadil' and 'why was he
immune to the One Ring' after reading TH, LotR and Silm, but before
joining the discussions here.

> Though I don't believe I need to renounce my theory, I do indeed
> need to renounce arguing for my theory.

We are not always clear when we initiate a discussion of the
difference between stating that 'Tolkien intended X to be true' and
then 'when I read the books, I believe X to be true.' Yet these two
are quite different in nature, and the latter obviously allows a far
greater degree of freedom. While I often find it interesting to hear
what others believe when they read, the default assumption is usually
that any statement is about Tolkien's intention. This is probably
mainly because of tradition, but a tradition that has come about
because a group need some kind of common basis in order to conduct a
meaningful discussion, and here that common basis has become
Tolkien's intention. All this merely to agree with you that there is
no reason to renounce your theory insofar as it is a 'this is what I
believe while reading' theory, but neither is there any reason to
renounce arguing for your belief -- as long as we are clear about
what is meant.

I would, for instance, be interested in hearing about what status you
give to Elrond's Council?

And please forgive me if I am too intrusive, but I am also curious to
hear if you think there is any external reason why your theory would
seem more attractive to yourself? Are you willing to try to put into
words in what ways you believe it enhances your enjoyment of LotR to
believe as you do?



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

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was
standing on the shoulders of giants.
- Sir Isaac Newton

Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 27, 2009, 7:47:25 PM10/27/09
to
calvin wrote:

> On Oct 27, 5:13 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
> wrote:
>> With that in mind I will stop for now (except for quoting from a
>> letter below regarding one issue that you raise) -- if you wish me to
>> argue why Tom is meant to not be Eru, I will do so, but I will leave
>> the decision to you.
>
> No, because you hold the trump card, that Tolkien himself
> said that Bombadil was not Eru. All I can try to do is argue
> that story-internally Bombadil seems to me to be Iluvatar.
> But anything I say, such as asking why he would be the
> one Maiar unaffected by the Ring, can be answered by a
> quote from Tolkien himself. I'll bet you can't answer how,
> story-internally, a Maiar can be unaffected by the Ring;

Certainly I can. In all the history of Arda, only one Maia has ever been
corrupted by the Ring, and he (Saruman) was never even in possession of it.
Now Gandalf certainly admitted to being _affected_ by the Ring, but he also
- like the two Maiar most affected (the other, of course, being Sauron) -
was entwined in the affairs of Elves and Men, and both he and Saruman were
placed in Middle-Earth _specifically_ to combat the creator of the Rings.
It might be equally reasonably supposed that no Maia _but_ the Istari were
affected by the Ring (Shelob, in particular, may be a Maia, and is no more
interested than Bombadil). Have any other Maiar ever encountered the Ring?

I appreciate you bringing this up, because I've never considered it before,
and you've pretty well convinced me that no other Maia would be even
slightly influenced by the Ring.
--
derek

calvin

unread,
Oct 27, 2009, 8:18:58 PM10/27/09
to
On Oct 27, 6:44 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:
> ...

> I would, for instance, be interested in hearing about what status you
> give to Elrond's Council?
> ...

Absolutely primary. 'The Shadow of the Past' and 'The Council
of Elrond' are ,by far, the two chapters that I have read most
often since my first reading forty years ago.

> And please forgive me if I am too intrusive, but I am also curious to
> hear if you think there is any external reason why your theory would
> seem more attractive to yourself? Are you willing to try to put into
> words in what ways you believe it enhances your enjoyment of LotR to
> believe as you do?

I became interested in the spiritual master, Meher Baba, around the
time that he passed away, in1969. When I first visited India in 1972,
and met some of his lifelong disciples, I already knew that Baba
had had 'The Lord of the Rings' read to him and them at some of their
gatherings, by his sister Mani. I stupidly asked Mani what Baba
might have said about Gandalf (because at the time I had thought
of Gandalf as a Christlike figure). She gave a diplomatic answer,
"Baba loved Gandalf ...", but later back home during another reading
of
LotR, I realized that Tom Bombadil was more of a God-like, Baba-like
figure, and I was sorry that I had not asked the deeper question,
what did Baba say about Tom Bombadil? To this day, my feeling for
Bombadil resonates more with my feeling for Meher Baba than
any other character in the book; and his words to Frodo, "take
off your golden ring, your hand's more fair without it" and "Tom will
teach the right road, to keep your feet from wandering" are
beautifully
in tune with Meher Baba's teaching, as are many more passages
in the book. Not that I conciously think of Meher Baba when
reading Tolkien, but they can be thought about together, and
Bombadil is their first point of contact, in my view.

calvin

unread,
Oct 27, 2009, 8:23:25 PM10/27/09
to

It's always charming to have my thoughts addressed by
you and turned against me as if thinking them was some
crime, or heresy. Would I still like to hear the Music of
the Ainur? You betcha!

David Trimboli

unread,
Oct 27, 2009, 10:16:34 PM10/27/09
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> The problem, as I see it, is that Tom and Goldberry really are modern
> nature spirits -- he the 'spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and
> Berkshire countryside' and she a nymph, daughter of the spirit of
> some small Oxford or Berkshire river. As such they don't _really_ fit
> in Arda, but within Arda there is only one thing that they can be:
> Maiar, however bad that fit may be, there are no other.

I've always had the impression that the "real" Arda was a lot more
varied than the relatively simple taxonomies handed down in Eldarin
lore. By their measure, hobbits don't really fit in Arda either (after
all, they were invented for The Hobbit, not the world of the
Silmarillion). Labeling Tom and Goldberry as Maiar simply through a
process of elimination doesn't really accomplish much, and there's not
really any guarantee that the Elves weren't just smoothing over the
details. Who is Tom Bombadil? Haven't you learned his name yet? That's
the only answer.

David Trimboli

unread,
Oct 27, 2009, 10:24:46 PM10/27/09
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> I do not think we can just wave our arms and postulate an entirely
> new order of independent, free-willed spirits -- we must stick to the
> orders of spirits & souls that are explicitly described by Tolkien,
> simply because this is too fundamental a thing in Arda (as can be
> seen from the case of Aul�'s creation of the Dwarves) not to be
> explicitly described.

I don't know that these are fundamental so much as they are broad
strokes. If spirits of nature like Tom and Goldberry are relatively rare
(how many beings like Tom are there?), or if the sources of these
spirits are subtle (someone suggested the River-woman could be part of
the essence of Ulmo), the Elves might well ignore the minor exceptions
in favor of telling a well-constructed and instructional history. And
adding footnotes to epic poetry ruins the flow.

Consider also how little Elrond himself knew about Tom. "Oh, he's
another Maia, just like you, Gandalf." Nope, that didn't happen. The
Noldor have an unabashedly Noldor-centric history.

calvin

unread,
Oct 27, 2009, 11:02:22 PM10/27/09
to
On Oct 27, 5:14 pm, Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> calvin wrote:
> > In world religious history there are
> > examples of God taking human form.  Even Jesus can be
> > seen as God taking human form.
>
> "Even"?  It's an essential part of the faith!  Anyone who doesn't believe
> that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by definition.

I believe it, but the Bible does say that God sent his Son,
not that God himself descended. And the Bible does have
Jesus asking why his Father has forsaken him. It is because
of these and other biblical references to Jesus as the Son of
God that I said "even Jesus", above.

But don't let that diminish your hostility, which is what I have
come to expect from you.

Weland

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 1:07:15 AM10/28/09
to
calvin wrote:
> On Oct 27, 5:14 pm, Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
>
>>calvin wrote:
>>
>>>In world religious history there are
>>>examples of God taking human form. Even Jesus can be
>>>seen as God taking human form.
>>
>>"Even"? It's an essential part of the faith! Anyone who doesn't believe
>>that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by definition.
>
>
> I believe it, but the Bible does say that God sent his Son,
> not that God himself descended.

John 1 and Philippians 2?


And the Bible does have
> Jesus asking why his Father has forsaken him.

And Jesus stating that he and the Father are one.


Besides, Christianity is not defined solely by what the Bible contains,
but how the Bible was/is understood.

Weland

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 1:19:17 AM10/28/09
to

One would think that Gandalf would know better than Elrond if Tom were a
Maia. I'm also not convinced that Tom and Goldberry "go together", that
they are the same sort or order of being.

There is room in the music for Eru, or even one of the Valar, to have
sung Tom's story and yet that he is not one of them, to have mystery.

Story internally, I don't believe that Tom can be Eru: while he is
"eldest" (and not the only one to be called so), we are also told that
in the end he would not be able to withstand Sauron and the darkness
would overcome him. And if Providence in the novel (ahem, Troels) is an
operation of Eru, and yet Eru incarnate is unconcerned with the
importance of the Ring and with the concerns of mortals....seems a bit
contradictory...ok, it introduces into the novel a contradiction that
would rip it apart, all based on few clues.

calvin

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 1:24:06 AM10/28/09
to
On Oct 28, 1:07 am, Weland <gi...@poetic.com> wrote:
> calvin wrote:
> > On Oct 27, 5:14 pm, Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> >>calvin wrote:
>
> >>>In world religious history there are
> >>>examples of God taking human form.  Even Jesus can be
> >>>seen as God taking human form.
>
> >>"Even"?  It's an essential part of the faith!  Anyone who doesn't believe
> >>that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by definition.
>
> > I believe it, but the Bible does say that God sent his Son,
> > not that God himself descended.
>
> John 1 and Philippians 2?
>
> > And the Bible does have
> > Jesus asking why his Father has forsaken him.
>
> And Jesus stating that he and the Father are one.
>
> Besides, Christianity is not defined solely by what the Bible contains,
> but how the Bible was/is understood.

Like I said, I believe. It was because of not knowing
what to think others believe that I said, "even Jesus."
I don't claim to be a theologian of Christianity, or even
to have the New Testament memorized.

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 5:34:39 AM10/28/09
to
David Trimboli <da...@trimboli.name> wrote:
> I've always had the impression that the "real" Arda was a lot more
> varied than the relatively simple taxonomies handed down in Eldarin
> lore. By their measure, hobbits don't really fit in Arda either (after
> all, they were invented for The Hobbit, not the world of the
> Silmarillion). Labeling Tom and Goldberry as Maiar simply through a
> process of elimination doesn't really accomplish much, and there's not
> really any guarantee that the Elves weren't just smoothing over the
> details. Who is Tom Bombadil? Haven't you learned his name yet? That's
> the only answer.

I usually don't post just to say "me too", but that sums up my position
so nicely that I can't resist.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, ..." and so on.

- Dirk

Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 8:42:00 AM10/28/09
to
calvin wrote:

> It's always charming to have my thoughts addressed by
> you and turned against me as if thinking them was some
> crime, or heresy.

It's not your thoughts - it's your routine dismissal of other peoples well-
reasoned arguments, backed by Tolkien's own words. I've said many time
already you're entitled to your own opinions, but you have to grant us the
same right.
--
derek

Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 8:44:24 AM10/28/09
to
calvin wrote:

> But don't let that diminish your hostility, which is what I have
> come to expect from you.

Yeah, yeah. But I notice you don't address any of the apropos points I made
about Maiar and the Ring. You're not interested in debate, you're
interested in reading your own words.
--
derek

calvin

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 9:15:10 AM10/28/09
to
On Oct 27, 5:14 pm, Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> I honestly can't understand how anyone can insist on being more right than
> Tolkien himself.  Explicitly, right there in letter #181, Tolkien said Eru
> is not _within_ the story.

Though I do read the Letters, one should not be required
to read them, or even to know about them, in order to interpret
the content of The Lord of the Rings.

calvin

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 9:21:14 AM10/28/09
to

I didn't know that I was expected to debate with you. I will
debate with Mr. Forchhammer sometimes, as in the past,
but not with someone as hostile and abusive as you. At
any rate, this forum is not limited to debate. Expression
of one's views without debate is well within its scope.

calvin

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 9:26:27 AM10/28/09
to

Of course I grant you the same right. I don't routinely
dismiss anyone else's views. Simple disagreement
is not dismissal. I can deal with you not thinking that
Bombadil is Iluvatar, but you appear incapable of dealing
with me thinking that he is. You demand that I give up
my views. I make no such demand on you, except a
request that you not be so hostile and abusive.

David Trimboli

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 1:04:23 PM10/28/09
to
Weland wrote:

> David Trimboli wrote:
>> Consider also how little Elrond himself knew about Tom. "Oh, he's
>> another Maia, just like you, Gandalf." Nope, that didn't happen.
>> The Noldor have an unabashedly Noldor-centric history.
>
> One would think that Gandalf would know better than Elrond if Tom
> were a Maia.

And he does. Gandalf is the one who tells Elrond that it would be no use
consulting Tom. But even Gandalf doesn't know a lot about Tom, as shown
by his equivocal language regarding him at the Council. It's also
probably why Gandalf wants to have a long talk with him after the War of
the Ring. ("See here, Bombadil, now that I've got some free time at
last, I want to know exactly what you've been doing hereabouts since the
beginning of the world.")

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 5:17:04 PM10/28/09
to
In message <news:4ae7a9b5$0$4979$607e...@cv.net>
David Trimboli <da...@trimboli.name> spoke these staves:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>

On the nature of Tom (and Goldberry):

>> but within Arda there is only one thing that they can be: Maiar,
>> however bad that fit may be, there are no other.
>
> I've always had the impression that the "real" Arda was a lot more
> varied than the relatively simple taxonomies handed down in
> Eldarin lore.

Yes and no. The real taxonomy of Middle-earth includes all that our
world includes, but that is fairly simple -- in that case we aren't
speaking about free-willed, intelligent entities, so we don't need to
worry about the nature of their spirits or souls.

As for spirits or souls, they may come in two sorts -- either they
are by nature (or origin) incarnate or they are by origin discarnate.

Of the former kind we know of the Children of Il�vatar: the Elves,
the Dwarves and ourselves, the Humans, who come as both Men and
Hobbits. When Tolkien in the texts on the Orcs in the 'Myths
Transformed' section of _Morgoth's Ring_ consider the possible nature
of the Orcs, he considers both the possibility that Orcs are soulless
and that they have a soul. In the latter case he says that if they
have a soul, they must be either corrupted Eruh�ni or descended from
Maiar (or both). The case with the Dwarves also shows that creating
an extra incarnate race is a pretty big thing, and by Tom's own words
he was there before the Elves, in which case he cannot be one of the
Incarnates.

Of the other kind of spirits, those that are by origin not incarnate,
we might of course conceive of a kind of spirits that were created
with and for E� and bound by it, were it not because Tolkien often
enough associated any nature spirits or location spirits with the
masses of spirits that followed the Valar into Arda. There is the
long list in BoLT 1, but even in the 1930s Melian was still called a
'fay'. There is nothing in Tolkien's writings on which to pin such a
conception, but rather there is evidence that the 'ecological niche'
(or whatever kind of niche such spirits fill out) that such spirits
should inhabit were already inhabited -- by the companions of the
great spirits that rule Arda who came with them from outside -- those
spirits that were, in the later versions, called the Maiar. To ignore
all evidence and just wave one's arms to claim a new kind of spirits
is just sloppy reasoning -- that _certainly_ doesn't accomplish
anything at all (I've been down that road once, I'm ashamed to say --
fortunately there was a patient member of these newgroups who kept
pointing out that my reasoning was bad, and luckily I found myself
the evidence that made me see my error).

> By their measure, hobbits don't really fit in Arda either (after
> all, they were invented for The Hobbit, not the world of the
> Silmarillion).

Tolkien did naturalize the Hobbits, though. Not in any advanced
manner, but simply by making them _humans_ -- presumably they awoke
with the rest of our race in Hild�rien about the same time the Sun
first rose in the West (unless we go by the later versions where the
Sun had been in place all the time and the awakening of the human
race isn't really pinned down in time).

> Labeling Tom and Goldberry as Maiar simply through a process of
> elimination doesn't really accomplish much,

That depends on what you mean.

For myself I much prefer to leave Tom's nature an enigma -- something
that one should not philosophize too much about, but rather concern
oneself with the role he has in the narrative: questions such as why
he was important enough for Tolkien to throw in despite the traces of
awkwardness of the fit.

However, I can also understand the desire to be able to put a name to
him, and when it is possible to reach the point where we can say at
least that there is no other name to give them than 'Maia', we have
at least arrived at a name :-) The process of elimination does, in
any case, achieve the elimination itself.

And there _is_ evidence suggesting that the fit isn't necessarily as
bad as all that -- I keep coming back to the list in BoLT 1 of the
nature and location spirits of trees, woods, dales, forests,
mountains, of foam and the surf, of the wind etc. that were all part
of the hosts of lesser spirits that served and accompanied the Valar.
I can only half-agree with Christopher Tolkien's discussion of this
in BoLT 1 (p. 82):

Particularly interesting is the passage concerning the
host of lesser spirits who accompanied Aul� and Pal�rien,
from which one sees how old is the conception of the Eldar
as quite dissimilar in essential nature from �brownies,
fays, pixies, leprawns�, since the Eldar are �of the world�
and bound to it, whereas those others are beings from
before the world's making. In the later work there is no
trace of any such explanation of the �pixie� element in the
world's population: the Maiar are little referred to, and
certainly not said to include such beings as �sing amid the
grass at morning and chant among the standing corn at
eve�.[*]
[*] Cf. The Silmarillion p. 30: �With the Valar came other
spirits whose being also began before the world, of the
same order as the Valar but of less degree. These are the
Maiar, the people of the Valar, and their servants and
helpers. Their number is not known to the Elves, and few
have names in any of the tongues of the Children of
Il�vatar.� An earlier version of this passage reads:
�Many lesser spirits they [the Valar] brought in their
train, both great and small, and some of these Men have
confused with the Eldar or Elves; but wrongly, for they
were before the world, but Elves and Men awoke first in
the world after the coming of the Valar.�

Christopher Tolkien is, in my opinion, going about things the wrong
way around here. When he states that 'In the later work there is no
trace of any such explanation of the �pixie� element in the world's
population' he is actually telling us that there is solid evidence at
point 1 and no evidence of any changes after that -- as has so often
been said, the absense of evidence is not in itself evidence of
anything. If Christopher Tolkien knows something else about this, I
haven't come across it in my searches.

Associated with the idea in BoLT of the nature spirits accompanying
the Valar is the idea of there being a multitude of such lesser
spirits, and even in Tolkien's later writings, there is much evidence
of there still being a large host of lesser Maiar -- these spirits
are spoken of in terms such as 'great host', 'many other spirits' and
in _Morgoth's Ring_ Christopher Tolkien notes that 'The passage
concerning the �lesser spirits� shows no significant development from
that in AV 2 (V.110) except for the replacement of _Vanimor_ by
_Maiar_', but the passage referred to here (V.110) is earlier than
Melian being called a 'fay' in the Quenta Silmarillion of the mid-
1930s.

We have, then, two associated ideas in BoLT. We have evidence that
one of them survived in the later writings, and we have no evidence
suggesting that the other was changed. The default assumption is then
that the other idea also survived -- assuming differently will
require some kind of evidence. As in so many other instances the BoLT
was more explicit than Tolkien would later become, but the
implications remain in the later versions. There is no evidence to
suggest that Tolkien changed the concept of lesser Maiar (or whatever
they were called at different phases of the legendarium) as spirits
of nature, and there _is_ evidence that he didn't change the great
multitude of such spirits that accompanied the Valar (one might
almost say that these spirits had to do something -- certainly they
couldn't all just hang about in Valinor ;-)

> and there's not really any guarantee that the Elves weren't
> just smoothing over the details.

Sorry, but that's just a cop-out. Whatever the narrative conceit, it
actually _was_ Tolkien who did the writing and the elves conveyed
_his_ vision and wisdom, not their own.

> Who is Tom Bombadil? Haven't you learned his name yet? That's the
> only answer.

As explained above, I much prefer to keep Tom this way when I read
the story, and I don't really think it does anything for the
appreciation of Tom within the story to discuss his origins (neither
in terms of the joy of reading it, nor for appreciating his role in
terms of what purpose he serves for the author). Unfortunately I seem
to be unable to just leave it there when the discussion arises :-/

To summarize:

- I prefer leave Tom as just an enigma
- IF someone wants to know Tom's nature, they must restrict
themselves to the known taxonomy of Arda (otherwise it is at
best just pointless)
- Tom fits the early idea of Maiar (not so called at the time)
quite well. There is no evidence to suggest that this changed,
but it cannot be verified by direct evidence in later versions.

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

Giving in is no defeat.
Passing on is no retreat.
Selves are made to rise above.
You shall live in what you love.
- Piet Hein, /The Me Above the Me/

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 28, 2009, 6:41:41 PM10/28/09
to
In message <news:hc8k8i$co4$1...@news.eternal-september.org>
Weland <gi...@poetic.com> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> One would think that Gandalf would know better than Elrond if Tom
> were a Maia.

I don't think so: the Istari's memories of their 'lives' in Valinor
were nearly non-existant (UT), and there is no reason to suppose that
Gandalf the Grey could remember anything about some obscure Maia
'living' in Middle-earth. In particular since Tom and Goldberry are
rather far removed from what (admittedly very litte) we know of the
interest and concerns of Ol�rin.

Based on Gandalf, I'd say that one could equally well argue that
Gandalf the White implies a kinship with Tom when he turns off and
lets the Hobbits continue to the Shire:

I am going to have a long talk with Bombadil: such a talk
as I have not had in all my time. He is a moss-gatherer,
and I have been a stone doomed to rolling. But my rolling
days are ending, and now we shall have much to say to one
another.

> I'm also not convinced that Tom and Goldberry "go together", that
> they are the same sort or order of being.

I'd say that it would rather be the default assumption that they
_are_ of the same order. I suppose that if we accept Tolkien's
statement that Tom was the 'spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and
Berkshire countryside' then they are both genii loci, although of
different sorts: Tom obviously associated with the earth and
Goldberry some kind of a nixie (parallel to the Rheint�chter -- the
daughters of the Rhine). So, no, they are not of different orders --
they are both genii loci, and yes, they are of different orders, Tom
a spirit of earth (the _soil_ of his domain, I think) and Goldberry a
water sprite.

> There is room in the music for Eru, or even one of the Valar, to
> have sung Tom's story and yet that he is not one of them, to have
> mystery.

I have no problem leaving Tom an unsolved riddle, but trying to solve
this riddle by introducing an entirely new ad Hoc order of beings
with not even the faintest trace of evidence is no more appropriate
here than in academia.

> Story internally, I don't believe that Tom can be Eru: while he is
> "eldest" (and not the only one to be called so), we are also told
> that in the end he would not be able to withstand Sauron and the
> darkness would overcome him. And if Providence in the novel
> (ahem, Troels)

;-)

That's a very good point, thanks.

> is an operation of Eru, and yet Eru incarnate is unconcerned with
> the importance of the Ring and with the concerns of mortals....
> seems a bit contradictory...ok, it introduces into the novel a
> contradiction that would rip it apart, all based on few clues.

I agree, naturally :)

The solution is of course to claim Tom's indifference a pose which
the members of the Council have also accepted (this would of course
not be a problem if he is really Eru), but I am certainly no less
comfortable about dismissing evidence without very explicit contrary
evidence than I am with ad hoc inventions without evidence.

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

For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided
into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from,
and (d) rocks.
- /Equal Rites/ (Terry Pratchett)

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 28, 2009, 7:08:49 PM10/28/09
to
In message
<0a57ff53-fb2f-4da8...@g1g2000vbr.googlegroups.com>
calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>

<snip story>

> Not that I conciously think of Meher Baba when reading Tolkien,
> but they can be thought about together, and Bombadil is their
> first point of contact, in my view.

Thank you for the story. It is interesting to hear about others'
thoughts and experiences even if they must, by necessity, be different
from my own.

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

They both savoured the strange warm glow of being much
more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant
of ordinary things.
- Discworld scientists at work, /Equal Rites/ (Terry Pratchett)

calvin

unread,
Oct 28, 2009, 11:58:41 PM10/28/09
to
On Oct 28, 7:08 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:

> calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
> <snip story>
>
> > Not that I conciously think of Meher Baba when reading Tolkien,
> > but they can be thought about together, and Bombadil is their
> > first point of contact, in my view.
>
> Thank you for the story. It is interesting to hear about others'
> thoughts and experiences even if they must, by necessity, be
> different from my own.

I should not have answered your question. I did so
because you sounded sincere in asking it. But I
know from long experience that no one is interested
in the central topic of my answer.

Since my last post in this thread I've worked
to get up to speed on Tom Bombadil by reading
all of the references to him in Letters, by
re-reading the Bombadil chapters in LotR,
including the comments about him in The Council
of Elrond, and by reading all of the notes
about him in the Hammond and Scull volume of
LotR annotations. I haven't looked (yet) at
Christopher Tolkien's comments about Bombadil
in HoMe, but Hammond and Scull refer to some
of them.

As a result of this I have to (with regret) drop
my theory that Tom Bombadil is Ilúvatar devoting
one aspect of himself to incarnation in Middle-
earth, enjoying his creation to the fullest. I
believe that from the sources mentioned above
one could make a list of items supporting the
theory; but one also could make a more compelling
list of items refuting the theory.

The item that is most damaging to the theory, it
seems to me, is Tolkien's statement,

"The Incarnation of God is an infinitely greater
thing than anything I would dare to write."

He wrote this when discussing Gandalf, however,
and not Bombadil, but of course it would apply to
either.

At this point I don't like to assume that Bombadil
is a Maia, though, because he appears too powerful
to be one, judging by what we know of Gandalf and
Saruman. Bombadil hears Frodo speak the prearranged
verses, though Frodo is underground and far away.
(Fog on the Barrow-Downs). I'm not prepared to
embark on a study of the powers of the Maiar at this
time, so I will just stick with the popular notion,
supported by Tolkien, that Bombadil is intended to
be an enigma.

Weland

unread,
Oct 29, 2009, 12:49:10 AM10/29/09
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> In message <news:hc8k8i$co4$1...@news.eternal-september.org>
> Weland <gi...@poetic.com> spoke these staves:
>
>
> <snip>
>
>
>>One would think that Gandalf would know better than Elrond if Tom
>>were a Maia.
>
>
> I don't think so: the Istari's memories of their 'lives' in Valinor
> were nearly non-existant (UT), and there is no reason to suppose that
> Gandalf the Grey could remember anything about some obscure Maia
> 'living' in Middle-earth. In particular since Tom and Goldberry are
> rather far removed from what (admittedly very litte) we know of the
> interest and concerns of Ol�rin.
>
> Based on Gandalf, I'd say that one could equally well argue that
> Gandalf the White implies a kinship with Tom when he turns off and
> lets the Hobbits continue to the Shire:

HMMM, I hadn't considered that...thanks Troels. It makes me wonder
though if we put the shoe on Elrond's foot, if Tom were a Maia would
Elrond know? I. E. what are the defining characteristics of one that
would make Elrond say "That's a Maia", as I recall Elrond has never met Tom.

<Snip the rest of a very good post>

And now that I've snipped, I do have a minor addition. I think you're
right about the genii loci....I've often thought of Tom as influenced by
the "Green Man" tradition. And yes the daughters of the River and
possibly the river in the Aeneid etc. I've also wondered if Goldberry
is not influenced by Lewis too, or Lewis by Goldberry....

calvin

unread,
Oct 29, 2009, 3:23:39 PM10/29/09
to
On Oct 27, 7:47 pm, Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> calvin wrote:
> > I'll bet you can't answer how,
> > story-internally, a Maiar can be unaffected by the Ring;
>
> Certainly I can.  In all the history of Arda, only one Maia has ever been
> corrupted by the Ring, and he (Saruman) was never even in possession of it.  
> Now Gandalf certainly admitted to being _affected_ by the Ring, but he also
> - like the two Maiar most affected (the other, of course, being Sauron) -
> was entwined in the affairs of Elves and Men, and both he and Saruman were
> placed in Middle-Earth _specifically_ to combat the creator of the Rings.  
> It might be equally reasonably supposed that no Maia _but_ the Istari were
> affected by the Ring (Shelob, in particular, may be a Maia, and is no more
> interested than Bombadil).  Have any other Maiar ever encountered the Ring?
> ...

Your points, especially the question at the end, seem well
taken, but I'm not so sure about Shelob. Just as Ungoliant
knew the value of the Silmarils, and tried to take them from Melkor
to devour them, I think Shelob, especially if she was a Maia,
would have understood the power of the Ring and wanted to
devour it.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 29, 2009, 6:07:33 PM10/29/09
to
In message
<6490548e-b36c-4015...@k4g2000yqb.googlegroups.com>
calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>
> On Oct 28, 7:08�pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
> wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> Thank you for the story. It is interesting to hear about others'
>> thoughts and experiences even if they must, by necessity, be
>> different from my own.
>
> I should not have answered your question. I did so
> because you sounded sincere in asking it.

Your response gives me the impression that you do not believe that I
was sincere. If that is so, I am sorry to hear that. I truly did find
the story interesting, my response was intended only to acknowledge
that -- I never intended to enter into a discussion as such of your
story, simply because I find this is so personal a thing that it
cannot be discussed. When I share my reading experience in this way,
I prefer others to not comment upon the details or discuss it as
such, and so I reacted towards you as I would prefer others to react
towards myself in the same situation.

> But I know from long experience that no one is interested
> in the central topic of my answer.

Please don't take my lack of comment for a lack of interest. I expect
that you have shared what you wish to share, and I felt that I had
already intruded sufficiently on your private experiences.

<snip>

> As a result of this I have to (with regret) drop

> my theory that Tom Bombadil is Il�vatar

You need to drop the theory that Tolkien intended this. If you can
separate the concepts of 'Tolkien intended X to be true' and 'I
prefer to believe that X is true when I read', then there isn't
really any need for you to renounce on the latter if it increases
your enjoyment of the book.

<snip>

> At this point I don't like to assume that Bombadil
> is a Maia, though, because he appears too powerful
> to be one,

He is explicitly stated to be less 'powerful' than Sauron, who is
known to be a Maia.

I think that I would rather say that his powers are _different_ than
that they are greater (insofar as such a scalar comparison is
possible at all). Looking at known Maiar such as Sauron, Melian,
E�nw�, Oss�, Uinen, Salmar, Arien, Tilion, Ol�rin, the Balrogs etc.
it appears to me that their powers are different so much that this is
indeed the only thing that can be said about them in general.

> judging by what we know of Gandalf and Saruman.

The Istari, in my opinion, are not a valid basis for comparison of
Maiarin powers.

I hold that the Istari were much reduced from their Maiarin state
when they became incarnate -- not only in terms of loss of memory and
voluntary restrictions on their exertion power, but more
fundamentally. In UT Tolkien states that Ol�rin was 'co�val and
equal, doubtless, with Sauron in their beginnings, but not more' and
also states that Curumo was 'higher in Valin�rean stature than the
others,' and so he, too, would be an equal of Sauron in his
beginning, yet I don't think anyone would believe Saruman to be the
equal of Sauron. Therefore I hold that there is something more to the
change from Curumo to Saruman that is more fundamental and which
reduces the power available to him in his incarnate form. Curumo and
Ol�rin were, IMO, far more powerful than Saruman and Gandalf (even
Gandalf the White).

<snip>

> so I will just stick with the popular notion, supported
> by Tolkien, that Bombadil is intended to be an enigma.

You'll note, I hope, that I have not stated that 'Tom Bombadil is a
Maia,' and much less that 'Tolkien intended Tom to be a Maia,' but
rather that _if_ you wish to put a name to Tom Bombadil's nature,
there is only one available name in the taxonomy of Arda. That,
however, is an analytical, intellectual exercise, but ultimately I am
not convinced that Tolkien had any specific intentions about Tom's
nature within Arda (other than what he wrote in that letter, but that
belongs outside Arda).

I believe that there is no advantage to obtain from putting a name to
Tom's nature in terms of gaining some understanding of Tolkien's
intentions or his sub-created world, but I also acknowledge that it
can help some readers' enjoyment of the story to see Tom in some
particular way. In that case I think they should keep that picture of
Tom in mind when reading so as to enjoy the book to the fullest. (Of
course, if they claim that Tolkien intended this picture to be true,
I'll probably jump in again and have my say -- I don't seem to be
able to restrain myself in that respect ;-)

When I read the book, I don't have any particular nature in mind for
Tom and Goldberry -- they are simply Tom and Goldberry, no more and
no less.

--
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/

calvin

unread,
Oct 29, 2009, 7:34:32 PM10/29/09
to
On Oct 29, 6:07 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:

> calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
> > As a result of this I have to (with regret) drop
> > my theory that Tom Bombadil is Ilúvatar

>
> You need to drop the theory that Tolkien intended this. If you can
> separate the concepts of 'Tolkien intended X to be true' and 'I
> prefer to believe that X is true when I read', then there isn't
> really any need for you to renounce on the latter if it increases
> your enjoyment of the book.

I never held the theory that Tolkien intended it. I just
claimed that it didn't matter what Tolkien intended.
But it does matter, and scholarship must not be
denied. One can't discuss these things without
accepting, or at least respecting, the existing sources
of the commentary of Tolkien and others. Otherwise
one is merely a marginalized eccentric. In a forum
like this, one must do more than simply read and
quote one's preferred texts. [This self-advice is
not meant to apply to others.]

(This is only a partial, initial response to your post.)

Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 9:36:11 AM10/30/09
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> The Istari, in my opinion, are not a valid basis for comparison of
> Maiarin powers.
>
> I hold that the Istari were much reduced from their Maiarin state
> when they became incarnate -- not only in terms of loss of memory and
> voluntary restrictions on their exertion power, but more
> fundamentally. In UT Tolkien states that Ol�rin was 'co�val and
> equal, doubtless, with Sauron in their beginnings, but not more' and
> also states that Curumo was 'higher in Valin�rean stature than the
> others,' and so he, too, would be an equal of Sauron in his
> beginning, yet I don't think anyone would believe Saruman to be the
> equal of Sauron. Therefore I hold that there is something more to the
> change from Curumo to Saruman that is more fundamental and which
> reduces the power available to him in his incarnate form. Curumo and
> Ol�rin were, IMO, far more powerful than Saruman and Gandalf (even
> Gandalf the White).

I'm not sure Olorin could have been any more powerful than Gandalf the White
- it's my impression that Gandalf the White _is_ Olorin, complete. But in
that case, even Olorin can not be as powerful as Sauron.
--
derek

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 1:16:54 PM10/30/09
to
In message
<c3a1414b-e692-4b53...@x15g2000vbr.googlegroups.com>
calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> On Oct 29, 6:07�pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
> wrote:
>>
>> You need to drop the theory that Tolkien intended this.

[...]


>
> I never held the theory that Tolkien intended it.

You're right -- sorry. I didn't actually mean to imply that you did,
but clearly I did so anyway (changing from 'your theory' to 'the
theory' wasn't enough to avoid making that implication).

> I just claimed that it didn't matter what Tolkien intended.
> But it does matter, and scholarship must not be denied.

Deciding what matters or doesn't matter when one reads the book must,
IMHO, be a prerogative of each individual reader. This preregative,
however, makes it rather difficult to discuss this kind of thing, since
right or wrong for me is determined by what is the more pleasing to me.

This is part of the reason why debates normally focus on Tolkien's
intention in some way or another -- it allows us to at least agree
about what metric to use (even if we may come to different results
depending on how we measure it).

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

This isn't right. This isn't even wrong.
- Wolfgang Pauli, on a paper submitted by a physicist colleague
(Thus speaks the quantum physicist)

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 1:57:51 PM10/30/09
to
In message <news:bn6rr6-...@morgen.pointerstop.ca>
Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> spoke these staves:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>
>> I hold that the Istari were much reduced from their Maiarin state
>> when they became incarnate --
[...]

>> Therefore I hold that there is something more to the change from
>> Curumo to Saruman that is morefundamental and which reduces the
>> power available to him in hisincarnate form. Curumo and Ol�rin
>> were, IMO, far more powerful than Saruman and Gandalf (even
>> Gandalf the White).
>
> I'm not sure Olorin could have been any more powerful than Gandalf
> the White - it's my impression that Gandalf the White _is_ Olorin,
> complete. But in that case, even Olorin can not be as powerful as
> Sauron.

I'm not sure that I can come up with any really convincing quotations
to back up my claim, but I am convinced that even Gandalf the White
is a mere shadow of what Ol�rin had been. It has to do in part with
his statement that he is 'Saruman as he should have been' and with
the statement in UT that we shall never know more about Ol�rin than
he revealed in Gandalf.

Gandalf the White, much enhanced though he is, is still, as I
understand the book, _incarnate_ -- that is, he is still
fundamentally different in nature from Ol�rin, and still suffers from
the same dimming of memories etc. ('though they knew whence they came
the memory of the Blessed Realm was to them a vision from afar off,
for which (so long as they remained true to their mission) they
yearned exceedingly.').

That Gandalf the White was still incarnate, and that this did still
make a difference is seen in letter #156, where Tolkien writes
But if it is 'cheating' to treat 'death' as making no
difference, embodiment must not be ignored. Gandalf may be
enhanced in power (that is, under the forms of this fable,
in sanctity), but if still embodied he must still suffer
care and anxiety, and the needs of flesh. He has no more
(if no less) certitudes, or freedoms, than say a living
theologian.

But of course I do put a lot of weight on that passage in UT where
Tolkien is discussing Gandalf in more detail:

Manw� will not descend from the Mountain until Dagor
Dagorath, and the coming of the End, when Melkor returns.
To the overthrow of Morgoth he sent his herald E�nw�. To
the defeat of Sauron would he not then send some lesser
(but mighty) spirit of the angelic people, one co�val and

equal, doubtless, with Sauron in their beginnings, but not

more? Ol�rin was his name. But of Ol�rin we shall never
know more than he revealed in Gandalf.
(UT 4,II 'The Istari')

I can't find any attempt to date this note by Christopher Tolkien
(the whole Istari essay is pieced together of many notes and bits
that probably span a lot of time -- possibly from notes made during
the first writing of LotR to very late philosopical considerations),
and some argue that it should not be taken literally, but since it
fits with my perception of the Istari as having undergone a
fundamental change in becoming incarnate (which was, IMO, certainly
_not_ equivalent to the usual self-embodiment of the Ainur, but
rather a state the Ainu who had become bound to his body could
_approach_ as described in �sanwe-kenta), I tend to place much
confidence in this. Doing so, however, allows me to construct, out of
hints in LotR, UT, Letters and �sanwe-kenta, a very stable and
resilient, consistent picture of the Istari.

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

One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.
- Aragorn "Strider", /Two Towers/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

calvin

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 3:27:44 PM10/30/09
to
On Oct 29, 6:07 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:
> ...

> Your response gives me the impression that you do not believe that I
> was sincere. If that is so, I am sorry to hear that. I truly did find
> the story interesting, my response was intended only to acknowledge
> that -- I never intended to enter into a discussion as such of your
> story, simply because I find this is so personal a thing that it
> cannot be discussed. When I share my reading experience in this way,
> I prefer others to not comment upon the details or discuss it as
> such, and so I reacted towards you as I would prefer others to react
> towards myself in the same situation.
> ...

Thanks for the clarification. I did, and do, believe that
you were sincere as far as your expectations were
concerned, but I thought that maybe if you had know
the nature of my answer in advance, you might not have
asked. I accept and appreciate your further words, however.

Derek Broughton

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 2:18:35 PM10/30/09
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> In message <news:bn6rr6-...@morgen.pointerstop.ca>
> Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> spoke these staves:
>>

>> I'm not sure Olorin could have been any more powerful than Gandalf
>> the White - it's my impression that Gandalf the White _is_ Olorin,
>> complete. But in that case, even Olorin can not be as powerful as
>> Sauron.
>
> I'm not sure that I can come up with any really convincing quotations
> to back up my claim, but I am convinced that even Gandalf the White
> is a mere shadow of what Ol�rin had been. It has to do in part with
> his statement that he is 'Saruman as he should have been'

Good point, if somewhat circumstantial.

> and with
> the statement in UT that we shall never know more about Ol�rin than
> he revealed in Gandalf.

I'm afraid my UT walked off somewhere... :-(



> Gandalf the White, much enhanced though he is, is still, as I
> understand the book, _incarnate_ -- that is, he is still
> fundamentally different in nature from Ol�rin, and still suffers from
> the same dimming of memories etc.

And yet, is not Sauron himself incarnate?


--
derek

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 7:56:11 PM10/30/09
to
Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:58:49 +0100 from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:

> I do not think we can just wave our arms
> and postulate an entirely new order of independent, free-willed
> spirits -- we must stick to the orders of spirits & souls that are
> explicitly described by Tolkien, simply because this is too
> fundamental a thing in Arda (as can be seen from the case of Aul�'s
> creation of the Dwarves) not to be explicitly described.

So, in your view, was Ungoliant a Vala or a Maia?

--
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

Stan Brown

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 8:01:52 PM10/30/09
to
Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:14:56 -0300 from Derek Broughton
<de...@pointerstop.ca>:

>
> It's an essential part of the faith! Anyone who doesn't believe
> that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by
> definition.

You might get an argument on that point from the Arians.

calvin

unread,
Oct 30, 2009, 9:46:55 PM10/30/09
to
On Oct 29, 6:07 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:
> ...

> If you can
> separate the concepts of 'Tolkien intended X to be true' and 'I
> prefer to believe that X is true when I read', then there isn't
> really any need for you to renounce on the latter if it increases
> your enjoyment of the book.
> ...

How far are you willing to take that? There have
always been some who like to believe that pipe
weed is marijuana. I heard that back in the 60s
and then again from people snickering in the
Jackson movies. I totally reject it, and believe
that Tolkien would have been appalled, but it's a
long-lived notion, nevertheless.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 31, 2009, 6:04:47 AM10/31/09
to
In message
<d968a5ca-af48-4648...@b2g2000yqi.googlegroups.com>
calvin <cri...@windstream.net> spoke these staves:
>
> On Oct 29, 6:07�pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
> wrote:
>> ...
>> If you can separate the concepts of 'Tolkien intended X to be
>> true' and 'I prefer to believe that X is true when I read',
>> then there isn't really any need for you to renounce on the
>> latter if it increases your enjoyment of the book.
>
> How far are you willing to take that?

I'm willing to take it quite far as long as there is no claim about
what the book says or what the author intends.

> There have always been some who like to believe that pipe
> weed is marijuana. I heard that back in the 60s and then
> again from people snickering in the Jackson movies. I
> totally reject it, and believe that Tolkien would have been
> appalled, but it's a long-lived notion, nevertheless.

As long as they do not claim that it was Tolkien's intention or that
it is 'what the book says', I really don't care (I think Tolkien
would have been amused rather than apalled, though he'd naturally
reject it in any case).

The same actually goes for the (to far more horrifying) claims that
Tolkien or his book was rascist or fascist (given his reaction to the
German publisher in 1938 I think these claims would have apalled him
more). If someone wishes to read the story into a fascist or rascist
context, then by all means, but I will with great energy refute any
claim that such a reading can be traced back to the author or that it
is in any other way inherent in the book.

Such views are all about applicability, and that is the dominion of
the reader, this is where the reader takes his own background to the
book, and rejecting a reader's right to applicability is also to some
extent to reject his background.

It is very likely that I cannot carry my tolerance all the way,
however -- I am not sure that I will be able to restrain myself from
arguing if I am met with a applicative reading that is clearly
inconsistent with what is said in the book itself :-) But that is my
personal failing.

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

When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think,
also admit that some things are much more nearly certain
than others.
- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 31, 2009, 6:34:24 AM10/31/09
to
In message <news:r8nrr6-...@morgen.pointerstop.ca>
Derek Broughton <de...@pointerstop.ca> spoke these staves:
>
> Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>
>> Gandalf the White, much enhanced though he is, is still, as I
>> understand the book, _incarnate_ -- that is, he is still
>> fundamentally different in nature from Ol�rin, and still
>> suffers from the same dimming of memories etc.
>
> And yet, is not Sauron himself incarnate?

Not according to �sanwe-kenta (O-k? <GG>) which explains that he is a
self-embodied Ainu who has become bound to his body. This state,
still according to O-k, _approaches_ that of the incarnate. While it
is entirely possible that Tolkien uses the word differently in the
various texts, it doesn't strike me that way. The deaths of both
Gandalf and Saruman strike me as different in quality from the death
of Sauron -- there is no hint that Saruman would become 'a mere
spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows' such as Sauron
does, and we know that Gandalf's spirit sought outside E� as
otherwise only the spirits of dead Men, incarnates, can (that
Saruman's spirit appears to linger on for a little while is not to be
wondered about since we know that the dead souls of the Army of the
Dead lingered on for more than three thousand years).

Being asked by one of my kids what I was writing, I came up with a
way of explaining the difference in the state of their embodiment
between Gandalf and Sauron, and though I haven't had time to think it
through completely (there might well be gaping holes that I haven't
discovered), I thought I'd test it here: Sauron probably could have
shed his body by his own will -- he would never do that as he had
become bound to it and he would become impotent if he did so, but the
possibility still existed theoretically. Gandalf, however, was not so
able -- for his spirit to leave his body required that the body was
killed by some outside force (as long as he stayed true to his
mission, physical suicide was as much a theoretical possibility for
Gandalf as self-disembodiment was for Sauron). For Sauron self-
disembodiment was a psychological impossibility, but for Gandalf it
was a physical impossibility.

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

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.
But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another
profound truth.
- Niels Bohr

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 31, 2009, 7:24:09 AM10/31/09
to
In message <news:MPG.2555472a1...@news.individual.net>
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:

>
> Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:58:49 +0100 from Troels Forchhammer
> <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:
>>
>> I do not think we can just wave our arms and postulate an
>> entirely new order of independent, free-willed spirits
[...]

>
> So, in your view, was Ungoliant a Vala or a Maia?

I think that she was definitely an Ainu (this includes all the
discarnate spirits created by Eru outside E�, all those spirits
'whose being began before the World') -- the Silmarillion holds
(using the mechanism of 'some have said') 'that in the beginning she
was one of those that [Melkor] corrupted to his service.'

I suppose there is one line that might imply that there are other
Ainur in E� than the Valar and the Maiar. In _The Silmarillion_, in
the Valaquenta, it is said about the High Ones of the Valar that 'in
majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others, whether
of the Valar and the Maiar, or of any other order that Il�vatar has
sent into E�.'[#] The first part of this sentence of course
contradicts the position that some of the Maiar (Sauron in
particular) were very nearly as powerful as some of the Valar (I
can't find where this comes from right now). n these discussions I
have used 'Maia' simply to mean any Ainu in E� who wasn't of the
Valar, but if there really are other orders of Ainur 'that Il�vatar
has sent into E�' then we need not necessarily assign the name
'Maia' to any Ainu in Arda who is not counted among the Valar (the
listing of whom I believe is complete), and so we could claim that
Ungoliant or the spirits that indwell the Ents are some other order
of Ainur (due to the very explicit list in _Lost Tales_ of the
spirits, including nature spirits and genii loci, that would become
the Maiar, I am more reluctant with respect to Tom Bombadil).

[#] Christopher Tolkien doesn't explicitly list any of this sentence
among his 'certain points of substance in which they [the published
_Silmarillion_ and the Vq2 typescript] differ,' but there is a
difference to the previous version, the LQ1 typescript, in which the
Valaquenta was the first chapter of the Quenta Silmarillion. In that
version it says that the Great Ones of the Valard are 'surpassing
beyond compare all others whether of the Valar and their kin, or of
any other order that Il�vatar has conceived [>caused to be].' In both
cases the rerference to 'other orders' could very well be just to the
Children of Il�vatar (whether by choice or adoption) and not to other
orders of Ainur, but such a reading comes, I think, more naturally to
the earlier version.

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

When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think,

Paul S. Person

unread,
Oct 31, 2009, 1:45:03 PM10/31/09
to
On Fri, 30 Oct 2009 20:01:52 -0400, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:14:56 -0300 from Derek Broughton
><de...@pointerstop.ca>:
>>
>> It's an essential part of the faith! Anyone who doesn't believe
>> that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by
>> definition.
>
>You might get an argument on that point from the Arians.

Only if you take "Christian" to mean "anyone who considers himself or
herself to be Christian, regardless of what they actually believe".
This is the contemporary definition in the USA (it is the contemporary
definition of /any/ philosophical or religious identity in the USA: if
you claim it, you are it), but it is not correct.

Although it would have been clearer for the OP to say "orthodox
Christian" rather than just "Christian".
--
Here lies the Tuscan poet Aretino,
Who evil spoke of everyone but God,
Giving as his excuse, "I never knew him."

John W Kennedy

unread,
Oct 31, 2009, 2:01:46 PM10/31/09
to
Stan Brown wrote:
> Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:14:56 -0300 from Derek Broughton
> <de...@pointerstop.ca>:
>> It's an essential part of the faith! Anyone who doesn't believe
>> that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by
>> definition.

> You might get an argument on that point from the Arians.

Or not. They actually believed that the Son was God, just not, y'know,
exactly /God/ God. (That general muddleheadedness is probably why they
eventually died out.) The word you're looking for is most likely
"psilanthropist".

--
John W. Kennedy
"Arius of Alexandria, I'm the talk of all the town,
Friend of saints, elect of heaven, filled with learning and renown;
If you want the Logos-doctrine, I can serve it hot and hot:
God begot him, and before he was begotten, he was not."
-- Arius, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers in "The Emperor Constantine"

Stan Brown

unread,
Nov 1, 2009, 8:09:56 AM11/1/09
to
Sat, 31 Oct 2009 12:24:09 +0100 from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:
> In message <news:MPG.2555472a1...@news.individual.net>
> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
> >
> > Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:58:49 +0100 from Troels Forchhammer
> > <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:
> >>
> >> I do not think we can just wave our arms and postulate an
> >> entirely new order of independent, free-willed spirits
> >
> > So, in your view, was Ungoliant a Vala or a Maia?
>
> I think that she was definitely an Ainu (this includes all the
> discarnate spirits created by Eru outside E�, all those spirits
> 'whose being began before the World') --

I could find only one occurrence of "whose being began before the
World":

"With the Valar came other spirits whose being also began before the

World, of the same order as the Valar but of less degree. These are

the Maiar, the people of the Valar, and their servants and helpers."

-- "Of the Maiar", in Valaquenta

But in the context of your reply that doesn't seem to be whatyou're
referring to, because as far as we know Ungoliant didn't come to Arda
"with the Valar". Where does your quote come from?

> the Silmarillion holds (using the mechanism of 'some have said')
> 'that in the beginning she was one of those that [Melkor] corrupted
> to his service.'

I think you're referring to this passage near the beginning of "The
Darkening of Valinor":

"The Eldar knew not whence she came; but some have said that in ages
long before she descended from the darkness that lies about Arda,
when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the Kingdom of Manw�, and
that in the beginning she was one of those that he corrupted to his
service."

It seems to me that we can no more fit Ungoliant into the known
orders of Middle-earth than we can Tom Bombadil.

Stan Brown

unread,
Nov 1, 2009, 8:11:37 AM11/1/09
to
Sat, 31 Oct 2009 12:24:09 +0100 from Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:

> I suppose there is one line that might imply that there are other
> Ainur in E� than the Valar and the Maiar. In _The Silmarillion_, in
> the Valaquenta, it is said about the High Ones of the Valar that
> 'in majesty they are peers, surpassing beyond compare all others,
> ...'

> The first part of this sentence of course contradicts the position
> that some of the Maiar (Sauron in particular) were very nearly as
> powerful as some of the Valar (I can't find where this comes from
> right now).

I don't see the contradiction. It says that the High Ones surpass all
the other Valar and the Maiar, but it doesn't say that those other
Valar necessarily surpass all the Maiar.

There's always Melian, who seems to exercise far greater power than
say Nessa. And her daughter L�thien was more than a match for Sauron
in the First Age.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Nov 1, 2009, 8:39:32 AM11/1/09
to
In message <news:MPG.255753182...@news.individual.net>

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

<snip>

> I don't see the contradiction.

You're right. I was tired and misapplied it to all Valar and didn't
catch the error when editing.

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

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they
are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not
refer to reality.
- Albert Einstein

Derek Broughton

unread,
Nov 1, 2009, 12:37:03 PM11/1/09
to
Stan Brown wrote:

> Tue, 27 Oct 2009 18:14:56 -0300 from Derek Broughton
> <de...@pointerstop.ca>:
>>
>> It's an essential part of the faith! Anyone who doesn't believe
>> that God took human form in Jesus is not a Christian, by
>> definition.
>
> You might get an argument on that point from the Arians.

You certainly might - but then they're heretics, by definition.
--
derek

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Nov 1, 2009, 2:29:45 PM11/1/09
to
In message <news:MPG.255752b39...@news.individual.net>

Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>
> Sat, 31 Oct 2009 12:24:09 +0100 from Troels Forchhammer
> <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>:
>>
>> In message <news:MPG.2555472a1...@news.individual.net>
>> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>>>

<snip>

>>> So, in your view, was Ungoliant a Vala or a Maia?
>>
>> I think that she was definitely an Ainu (this includes all the
>> discarnate spirits created by Eru outside E�, all those spirits
>> 'whose being began before the World') --
>
> I could find only one occurrence of "whose being began before the
> World":

[...]

The exact quotation is irrelevant -- the point is that the only
spirits that existed before the world were the Ainur and since
Ungoliant obviously came from outside E�, she, too, was clearly an
Ainu -- the rest is just poetic elaboration.

>> the Silmarillion holds (using the mechanism of 'some have said')
>> 'that in the beginning she was one of those that [Melkor]
>> corrupted to his service.'
>
> I think you're referring to this passage near the beginning of
> "The Darkening of Valinor":

<snip>

> It seems to me that we can no more fit Ungoliant into the known
> orders of Middle-earth than we can Tom Bombadil.

Of course we can. Ungoliant was an Ainu -- of that there is no doubt.
The point of my previous message was that there may be other orders
of Ainur than just Valar and Maiar, and such other orders obviously
can be invoked for such as Ungoliant if you wish, though that is not,
IMO, necessary -- there is nothing about neither Ungoliant nor Tom
Bombadil that is inconsistent with what (admittedly little) we know
about Maiar in general.

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

Ash nazg durbatuluk,
ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatuluk
agh burzum ishi krimpatul.
- /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)