Imaginary Past

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tony

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Jul 8, 2015, 6:57:14 PM7/8/15
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How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the concept of
a parallel world.

Troels Forchhammer

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Jul 8, 2015, 7:27:55 PM7/8/15
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In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
"tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>
> How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the
> concept of a parallel world.

Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
imagined, present.

It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes a an
imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere (presumably
at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and the rise of the
Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's mythology and of our known
Primary World history would merge.

This is tied strongly to the idea of an asterisk-mythology that Tom
Shippey introduces in his books (probably in _The Road to Middle-
earth_, but I can't recall exactly at the moment). The idea here is
that of backwards extrapolation. Like the philologists extrapolating
the evolution of language backwards in order to re-create unattested
earlier words (such constructions are marked by an asterisk in
philological writings), so Tolkien started out by extrapolating
backwards from the fragmentary bits of a native English that he
believed he could see in the fairy-lore of England, combining it with
elements from the Norse (Jutes, Angles and Saxons, but also the later
Danes) and Britonic myths.

In this way Tolkien in a very real sense tried to construct a
mythology that might have been the origin of the known fragments, and
even if this aspect of his mythology would eventually grow less
important to him, it nonetheless remained in the foundations of the
mythology.

So, to answer your question more simply: A parallel world does not
lead to _us_, but Tolkien's imaginary past does.

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

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own
image when it turns out that God hates all the same people
you do.
- Anne Lamott

tony

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Jul 8, 2015, 8:23:32 PM7/8/15
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> "Troels Forchhammer" wrote in message news:

> In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
> "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>
> > How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the
> > concept of a parallel world.

> Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
> imagined, present.

> It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes a an
> imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere (presumably
> at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and the rise of the
> Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's mythology and of our known
> Primary World history would merge.

Thank you for your well written and thoughtful reply. I would like to point
out some apparent weaknesses in the point of view you have advanced.

1. Tolkien's view of the gods is inconsistent with present history.
Although in present history we have documents describing Norse gods, there
is nothing like the mythology Tolkien advanced in his supposedly imaginary
past that is consistent with current religious history.

2. Tolkien's ideas in his fictional world are quite distinct from
contemporary Christian ideas, and there seems to be no simple way to
reconcile the two. In the Judeo Christian view of human origins there is
Adam and Eve etcetera. In the Lord of the Rings there is not.

3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary past and not
a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now exists or the ideas he
detailed in the our current world? Why is there no fossil evidence of the
existence of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Balrogs? How did all this material
disappear from our current world, if as you assert, Tolkien describes a past
or this world rather than a past of a parallel world?

> This is tied strongly to the idea of an asterisk-mythology that Tom
> Shippey introduces in his books (probably in _The Road to Middle-
> earth_, but I can't recall exactly at the moment). The idea here is
> that of backwards extrapolation. Like the philologists extrapolating
> the evolution of language backwards in order to re-create unattested
> earlier words (such constructions are marked by an asterisk in
> philological writings), so Tolkien started out by extrapolating
> backwards from the fragmentary bits of a native English that he
> believed he could see in the fairy-lore of England, combining it with
> elements from the Norse (Jutes, Angles and Saxons, but also the later
> Danes) and Britonic myths.

I think that this kind of extrapolation is consistent with the concept of an
parallel world also.

> In this way Tolkien in a very real sense tried to construct a
> mythology that might have been the origin of the known fragments, and
> even if this aspect of his mythology would eventually grow less
> important to him, it nonetheless remained in the foundations of the
> mythology.

> So, to answer your question more simply: A parallel world does not
> lead to _us_, but Tolkien's imaginary past does.

I will assert that that Tolkien's" imaginary past" does not lead us to the
present day, but instead it leads necessarily to a parallel, alternative
present day reality.


John W Kennedy

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Jul 8, 2015, 9:29:36 PM7/8/15
to
On 2015-07-09 00:23:27 +0000, tony said:

>>
>> "Troels Forchhammer" wrote in message news:
>
>> In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
>> "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>>
>>> How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the
>>> concept of a parallel world.
>
>> Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
>> imagined, present.
>
>> It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes a an
>> imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere (presumably
>> at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and the rise of the
>> Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's mythology and of our known
>> Primary World history would merge.
>
> Thank you for your well written and thoughtful reply. I would like to
> point out some apparent weaknesses in the point of view you have
> advanced.
>
> 1. Tolkien's view of the gods is inconsistent with present history.
> Although in present history we have documents describing Norse gods,
> there is nothing like the mythology Tolkien advanced in his supposedly
> imaginary past that is consistent with current religious history.
>
> 2. Tolkien's ideas in his fictional world are quite distinct from
> contemporary Christian ideas, and there seems to be no simple way to
> reconcile the two. In the Judeo Christian view of human origins there
> is Adam and Eve etcetera. In the Lord of the Rings there is not.

If you are unfamiliar with the Silmarillion, then you should read it;
it is fundamental to Tolkien's mythology. If you are familiar with it,
then you have forgotten how the origin of Men is not given at all. They
are simply fleeing from the East, and do not wish to talk of it.

> 3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary past and
> not a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now exists or the
> ideas he detailed in the our current world? Why is there no fossil
> evidence of the existence of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Balrogs? How
> did all this material disappear from our current world, if as you
> assert, Tolkien describes a past or this world rather than a past of a
> parallel world?

He is writing fantasy, not science fiction.

>> This is tied strongly to the idea of an asterisk-mythology that Tom
>> Shippey introduces in his books (probably in _The Road to Middle-
>> earth_, but I can't recall exactly at the moment). The idea here is
>> that of backwards extrapolation. Like the philologists extrapolating
>> the evolution of language backwards in order to re-create unattested
>> earlier words (such constructions are marked by an asterisk in
>> philological writings), so Tolkien started out by extrapolating
>> backwards from the fragmentary bits of a native English that he
>> believed he could see in the fairy-lore of England, combining it with
>> elements from the Norse (Jutes, Angles and Saxons, but also the later
>> Danes) and Britonic myths.
>
> I think that this kind of extrapolation is consistent with the concept
> of an parallel world also.
>
>> In this way Tolkien in a very real sense tried to construct a
>> mythology that might have been the origin of the known fragments, and
>> even if this aspect of his mythology would eventually grow less
>> important to him, it nonetheless remained in the foundations of the
>> mythology.
>
>> So, to answer your question more simply: A parallel world does not
>> lead to _us_, but Tolkien's imaginary past does.
>
> I will assert that that Tolkien's" imaginary past" does not lead us to
> the present day, but instead it leads necessarily to a parallel,
> alternative present day reality.


--
John W Kennedy
"Though a Rothschild you may be
In your own capacity,
As a Company you've come to utter sorrow--
But the Liquidators say,
'Never mind--you needn't pay,'
So you start another company to-morrow!"
-- Sir William S. Gilbert. "Utopia Limited"

Paul S. Person

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Jul 9, 2015, 12:37:15 PM7/9/15
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On Wed, 8 Jul 2015 20:23:27 -0400, "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>> "Troels Forchhammer" wrote in message news:
>
>> In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
>> "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>>
>> > How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the
>> > concept of a parallel world.
>
>> Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
>> imagined, present.
>
>> It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes a an
>> imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere (presumably
>> at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and the rise of the
>> Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's mythology and of our known
>> Primary World history would merge.
>
>Thank you for your well written and thoughtful reply. I would like to point
>out some apparent weaknesses in the point of view you have advanced.
>
>1. Tolkien's view of the gods is inconsistent with present history.
>Although in present history we have documents describing Norse gods, there
>is nothing like the mythology Tolkien advanced in his supposedly imaginary
>past that is consistent with current religious history.

Yes, well, that's the point, isn't it?

JRRT was writing a mythology for Britain. He was filling in a gap in
the mythological landscape.

And, BTW, "gods" only applies to the earliest version (the Book of
Lost Tales), and, even there, they are secondary to Eru Iluvater.

>2. Tolkien's ideas in his fictional world are quite distinct from
>contemporary Christian ideas, and there seems to be no simple way to
>reconcile the two. In the Judeo Christian view of human origins there is
>Adam and Eve etcetera. In the Lord of the Rings there is not.

Whether or not JRRT's ideas are consistent with Christian ideas is not
relevant to the point under discussion, which is, that JRRT's
fictional world is not an alternate history because it is conceived as
leading to our world, not some alternate world.

Also, toward the end of his life, JRRT was revising his legendarium,
in part to make it conform more to scientific knowledge, and in part
to make it conform more to RC doctrine.

Indeed, the reduction of the "pagan gods" of the Lost Tales to the
angelic beings of the Silmarillion was an early part of the process of
adapting his legendarium to RC doctrine.

>3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary past and not
>a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now exists or the ideas he
>detailed in the our current world? Why is there no fossil evidence of the
>existence of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Balrogs? How did all this material
>disappear from our current world, if as you assert, Tolkien describes a past
>or this world rather than a past of a parallel world?

IIRC, the correct defense against /all/ attacks on evolution based on
"thus and so" not being found in "the fossil record" is that the
fossil record is very fragmentary and contains large gaps, in which
all sorts of critters unknown to us may have existed.

Just because we haven't dug it out of the ground doesn't mean it
didn't exist. And the controversy over Homo floresiensis
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_floresiensis) should serve as a
reminder that just digging something up isn't always definitive,
either.

>> This is tied strongly to the idea of an asterisk-mythology that Tom
>> Shippey introduces in his books (probably in _The Road to Middle-
>> earth_, but I can't recall exactly at the moment). The idea here is
>> that of backwards extrapolation. Like the philologists extrapolating
>> the evolution of language backwards in order to re-create unattested
>> earlier words (such constructions are marked by an asterisk in
>> philological writings), so Tolkien started out by extrapolating
>> backwards from the fragmentary bits of a native English that he
>> believed he could see in the fairy-lore of England, combining it with
>> elements from the Norse (Jutes, Angles and Saxons, but also the later
>> Danes) and Britonic myths.
>
>I think that this kind of extrapolation is consistent with the concept of an
>parallel world also.

You are, of course, free to believe whatever you choose to believe.

>> In this way Tolkien in a very real sense tried to construct a
>> mythology that might have been the origin of the known fragments, and
>> even if this aspect of his mythology would eventually grow less
>> important to him, it nonetheless remained in the foundations of the
>> mythology.
>
>> So, to answer your question more simply: A parallel world does not
>> lead to _us_, but Tolkien's imaginary past does.
>
>I will assert that that Tolkien's" imaginary past" does not lead us to the
>present day, but instead it leads necessarily to a parallel, alternative
>present day reality.

Then you are asserting that JRRT failed in his intent, for his intent
is quite clear.
--
"Nature must be explained in
her own terms through
the experience of our senses."

Troels Forchhammer

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Jul 9, 2015, 4:08:30 PM7/9/15
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In message <news:FeedndcEt9qfIgDI...@giganews.com>
"tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>
>> "Troels Forchhammer" wrote in message news:
>>
>> In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
>> "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>>>
>>> How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from
>>> the concept of a parallel world.
>>
>> Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
>> imagined, present.
>>
>> It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes
>> a an imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere
>> (presumably at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and
>> the rise of the Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's
>> mythology and of our known Primary World history would merge.
>
> Thank you for your well written and thoughtful reply. I would
> like to point out some apparent weaknesses in the point of view
> you have advanced.
>
> 1. Tolkien's view of the gods is inconsistent with present
> history.

That, I think, is rather a bold statement :)

We would, of course, need to look not at our current knowledge of
history, but of Tolkien's knowledge of the pre-history of England and
the English at the time when he started on this (the exact date is a
bit blurry, but at some point between, say, 1914 and 1918).

> Although in present history we have documents describing
> Norse gods, there is nothing like the mythology Tolkien advanced
> in his supposedly imaginary past that is consistent with current
> religious history.

That, I think, is very much a part of the point.

Tolkien was not trying to describe someone else's pagan mythology,
but was, in the beginning, trying to create a mythology that belonged
to the English, not to the Norse, the Goths, the Greek, the Romans,
or any other European people (or _volk_, to use the German phrase).
He was, in other words, trying to recreate something that he felt
must have been there, but which had disappeared almost entirely.

This was Tolkien's outset. As I said, this objective would gradually
become less important to Tolkien, but because the core concepts of
his mythology remained fairly stable throughout his whole life, this
idea of an asterisk mythology for the English people and lands and
language [*] remained, deep down, at the heart of the mythology.
Later developments, however, such as the Hobbits and all of the Third
Age, should not be seen as a part of this, but only as building on
this.

However, because the later writings are based on this mythology, and
therefore still in some form contains the ideas that shaped it, the
"alternative world" was unthinkable to Tolkien. Therefore, while the
mythology had started as an imaginary mythology for the English, the
later writings, which lie in many ways (conceptually, historically,
in narrative mode, etc.) _between_ the mythological age and the
present, became an imaginary pre-history.

> 2. Tolkien's ideas in his fictional world are quite distinct from
> contemporary Christian ideas, and there seems to be no simple way
> to reconcile the two. In the Judeo Christian view of human
> origins there is Adam and Eve etcetera. In the Lord of the Rings
> there is not.

That is another mistake. Tolkien specifically wanted his mythology to
_not_ include the Christian faith. _

After_ he had written _The Lord of the Rings_ he became more
concerned with bringing the underlying philosophy and theology
governing his sub-creation to be more consistent with some parts of
Christian thought -- or at least bringing to not be too openly
INconsistent with Christian -- or, more specifically, Roman Catholic
thinking.

Much has been made of Tolkien as a Christian author, and I think that
there is a tendency misunderstand how his faith shaped his work --
the influence in a number of situations is exaggerated to the point
where the authors convince themselves that the influence of other
mythologies can safely be ignored or summarily dismissed (which is a
very big mistake), while at the same time they tend to miss the
profound influence it had at a much deeper level, which is rarely
discussed.

> 3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary
> past and not a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now
> exists or the ideas he detailed in the our current world? Why is
> there no fossil evidence of the existence of Elves, Dwarves,
> Hobbits, or Balrogs? How did all this material disappear from our
> current world, if as you assert, Tolkien describes a past or this
> world rather than a past of a parallel world?

I will acknowledge that it is, for me in 2015, considerably more
difficult to shrug this off saying "because we haven't found it yet",
than it would have been for Tolkien a century ago, as he was setting
out on this course. That is, however, not really all that relevant.

Tolkien would, I think, rather say that the evidence is there, but it
is scarce and fragmentary and inevitably interpreted erroneously.

Remember Tolkien's profession: he was a comparative philologist of
the old school, and the evidence of myths, folktales, folk beliefs,
etc. was, to him, far more important than archaeological evidence. He
was dealing with the history of stories, of myths and of language,
and that was, to him, the important evidence -- far more important
than any material evidence (unless, of course, in writing). The
absense of such evidence was certainly not going to bother him at
all.

Still, he actually did go to some length to explain both why there
are no present-day Elves and why we don't see Hobbits in modern times
(his explanation for the latter has, I would agree, become invalid
since the publication of LotR).

>> This is tied strongly to the idea of an asterisk-mythology that
>> Tom Shippey introduces in his books
<snip>
>
> I think that this kind of extrapolation is consistent with the
> concept of an parallel world also.

It might seem so to you, but I am certain that it would be very
different to Tolkien, to whom this kind of extrapolation was
inextricably tied to _reconstruction_ of that, which had been there.

>> So, to answer your question more simply: A parallel world does
>> not lead to _us_, but Tolkien's imaginary past does.
>
> I will assert that that Tolkien's" imaginary past" does not lead
> us to the present day, but instead it leads necessarily to a
> parallel, alternative present day reality.

Speaking from Tolkien's contemporary "present day", I would not be
able to agree to that "necessarily".

Also, I get the impression that you are, in actual fact, looking at
it the wrong way around -- looking to see if _you_ can extrapolate
from 2015 to the end of the Third Age.

The question that I assert that we should ask ourselves is this: if
we take a look _from inside Middle-earth_ (i.e. within the Faërie of
Tolkien's story) in the years of the reign of King Eldarion, might it
concievably lead to the discovery and translation, by one J.R.R.
Tolkien, in the early twentieth century of a copy of the Red Book,
despite no other material evidence. This question must, in my firm
opinion, be answered by "yes, it might.".


[*] Tolkien's ideas on the connections between a people, the language
they speak and the lands they inhabit is a topic that is still
regrettably understudied in modern Tolkien research.

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

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

tony

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Jul 9, 2015, 4:12:33 PM7/9/15
to
"Paul S. Person" wrote in message news:

<snip>

> Then you are asserting that JRRT failed in his intent, for his intent
> is quite clear.
--
Yes I'm asserting that JRRT failed in his intent. I understand that he said
he was not writing about a parallel reality and instead was writing about an
imaginary past. And I can understand his motivation to write a
comprehensive, emotionally satisfying mythology for Britain. I just having
difficulty understanding how the world Tolkien invented would transform over
time into the world we live in today. Yes it is true that the fossil record
is incomplete and is possible that no remains of Hobbits or Dwarves would
survive the passage of time, but let's consider the huge physical structures
Tolkien described: Minis Tirith, Orthanc, Helm's Deep. How could all these
architectural features just disappear of the face of the earth? And lets
consider the Earth itself. The geography of Middle Earth bears little or no
resemblance to current geography.

The reason I brought up Adam and Eve is because Tolkien has imbued his
imaginary world with Christian themes, themes that are basically
inconsistent with the warrior cultures of the Norse, Anglo Saxons, and
Germanic Tribes. So Tolkien introduces these ideas into this world and if
this was an imaginary past to our world. Presumably this ancient Tolkien
imaginary reality would eventually mesh in some way with contemporary
Christian ideas, but I don't see how.

Now to pick up on John W Kennedy's point, i.e., Tolkien never actually
disavowed the existence of Adam and Eve because in the Silmarillion he first
introduced men as "simply fleeing from the East." If we accept the idea that
Adam and Eve did exist in Tolkien's Middle Earth history, How is that his
creation story and the story of Genesis are so different? What is the
theological significance of God (Illuvatar) creating Elves? Is Morgoth
intended to represent Satan? Where are the Jews of Middle Earth?

But perhaps, as you say, the consistency of Tolkien's work with Christian
ideas is not relevant to the point under discussion. So let's consider some
other issues. The technology of Middle Earth is post bronze age because
they manufacture iron and steel tools. This helps to identify a probable
time frame for Lord of the Rings of around 1200 BC. This is relatively
recent, and time time inconsistent with the dramatic differences between
Middle Earth and the current day: differences in culture, anthropology,
geography, archeology and the fossil record.

I guess from my perspective, Tolkien just failed to think through his
concept of an imaginary past in sufficient detail, because it just doesn't
hold up under logical scrutiny. Taken as a whole is work is more consistent
with the idea of a parallel world.


Wayne Brown

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Jul 10, 2015, 7:15:37 AM7/10/15
to
On Wed, 08 Jul 2015 20:29:34 in article <20150708212934512...@gmail.com> John W Kennedy <john.w....@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 2015-07-09 00:23:27 +0000, tony said:
>>
>> 2. Tolkien's ideas in his fictional world are quite distinct from
>> contemporary Christian ideas, and there seems to be no simple way to
>> reconcile the two. In the Judeo Christian view of human origins there
>> is Adam and Eve etcetera. In the Lord of the Rings there is not.
>
> If you are unfamiliar with the Silmarillion, then you should read it;
> it is fundamental to Tolkien's mythology. If you are familiar with it,
> then you have forgotten how the origin of Men is not given at all. They
> are simply fleeing from the East, and do not wish to talk of it.

There are hints though. For instance, the Elves awoke all at
once together as a group beside the waters of Cuiviénen but "it
was said that at first Men were few in number." I think that is
likely to be a reference to humanity beginning with just Adam and
Eve and increasing in numbers slowly afterward. It also says that
Morgoth (who clearly plays the role of Satan in the Silmarillion)
was the first to learn of the appearance of Men in the world,
and that he considered it a matter of such importance that he left
Thangorodrim and went alone into the East to deal with the situation.
That would presumably be the time that Satan entered Eden in the
form of the serpent.

It was said that there were no stories among the Elves of his doings
there, but that when they first encountered Men they perceived
that "a shadow lay on their hearts" that was like the shadow on
the hearts of the Noldor resulting from the curse of Mandos after
the Kinslaying. That could be seen as the curse that came on
humanity after Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from Eden.
So I think Tolkien was saying that the story of Adam and Even in
the Garden of Eden which is recorded in the book of Genesis was
happening at the same time as some of the events in the Silmarillion
but that the Elves knew nothing of those events because the Men
they encountered later refused to talk about them (if they even
remembered them after so many human generations had passed).

--
F. Wayne Brown <fwb...@bellsouth.net>

ur sag9-ga ur-tur-še3 ba-an-kur9
"A dog that is played with turns into a puppy." (Sumerian proverb)

John W Kennedy

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Jul 10, 2015, 11:29:55 AM7/10/15
to
Howsomedever, at the age of 17, an atheist with atheist parents and
Protestant ancestors, and with no external information other than was
in the Ace and Ballantine paperbacks, I had identified Tolkien as a
Roman Catholic before reaching Crickhollow.
John W Kennedy
"The pathetic hope that the White House will turn a Caligula into a
Marcus Aurelius is as naïve as the fear that ultimate power inevitably
corrupts."
-- James D. Barber (1930-2004)


Paul S. Person

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Jul 10, 2015, 12:38:03 PM7/10/15
to
On Thu, 9 Jul 2015 13:46:09 -0400, "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>"Paul S. Person" wrote in message news:
>
><snip>
>
>> Then you are asserting that JRRT failed in his intent, for his intent
>> is quite clear.

Note: unless you intended my response to end at this point, please do
/not/ include the "-" separator in your response: Agent takes it for
granted that anything following is the Sig and is not to be copied
into the response.

It also allows copy-and-paste so, if you intended this, you failed;
and, if you didn't, it was only a momentary irritation.

>Yes I'm asserting that JRRT failed in his intent. I understand that he said
>he was not writing about a parallel reality and instead was writing about an
>imaginary past. And I can understand his motivation to write a
>comprehensive, emotionally satisfying mythology for Britain. I just having
>difficulty understanding how the world Tolkien invented would transform over
>time into the world we live in today. Yes it is true that the fossil record
>is incomplete and is possible that no remains of Hobbits or Dwarves would
>survive the passage of time, but let's consider the huge physical structures
>Tolkien described: Minis Tirith, Orthanc, Helm's Deep. How could all these
>architectural features just disappear of the face of the earth? And lets
>consider the Earth itself. The geography of Middle Earth bears little or no
>resemblance to current geography.

Ever hear of Ozymandias, King of Kings?

One of the riddles in /TH/ covers this quite adequately.

>The reason I brought up Adam and Eve is because Tolkien has imbued his
>imaginary world with Christian themes, themes that are basically
>inconsistent with the warrior cultures of the Norse, Anglo Saxons, and
>Germanic Tribes. So Tolkien introduces these ideas into this world and if
>this was an imaginary past to our world. Presumably this ancient Tolkien
>imaginary reality would eventually mesh in some way with contemporary
>Christian ideas, but I don't see how.

Why should they mesh with contemporary Christian ideas rather than
contemporary scientific ideas?

Just because a lot of Christians believe in a literal Adam-and-Eve,
does that mean that there must have /been/ a literal Adam-and-Eve?

>Now to pick up on John W Kennedy's point, i.e., Tolkien never actually
>disavowed the existence of Adam and Eve because in the Silmarillion he first
>introduced men as "simply fleeing from the East." If we accept the idea that
>Adam and Eve did exist in Tolkien's Middle Earth history, How is that his
>creation story and the story of Genesis are so different? What is the
>theological significance of God (Illuvatar) creating Elves? Is Morgoth
>intended to represent Satan? Where are the Jews of Middle Earth?

You appear to me to be claiming that JRRT was somehow required to
reproduce ever detail of the Bible. No such obligation existed.

But that is not the case. There is no reason to expect a mythology of
Elves to reproduce, in every detail, the Bible. Also, the account of
creation, written by Elves, was limited by their ability to understand
what they were told, which in turn may have been affected by the
ability of the Valar who were their informants to describe what had
happened in terms the Elves could understand.

The Jews would have occurred after the events in /LOTR/. Indeed,
everything from Genesis 12 (at least) on would be post-LOTR.

>But perhaps, as you say, the consistency of Tolkien's work with Christian
>ideas is not relevant to the point under discussion. So let's consider some
>other issues. The technology of Middle Earth is post bronze age because
>they manufacture iron and steel tools. This helps to identify a probable
>time frame for Lord of the Rings of around 1200 BC. This is relatively
>recent, and time time inconsistent with the dramatic differences between
>Middle Earth and the current day: differences in culture, anthropology,
>geography, archeology and the fossil record.

Unless, of course, the knowledge died out and was rediscovered much,
much later.

Say in a giant flood in which the survivors were from groups that had
no such knowledge. This is just an example. And there is no point in
nattering on about the lack of archaeological evidence: absence of
proof is not proof of absence.

>I guess from my perspective, Tolkien just failed to think through his
>concept of an imaginary past in sufficient detail, because it just doesn't
>hold up under logical scrutiny. Taken as a whole is work is more consistent
>with the idea of a parallel world.

I see no logical scrutiny here, just an attempt to support your
conclusion. Which is fine, nobody asked you to logically scrutinize
JRRT's life work and your conclusion is something you are free to
cling to.

JimboCat

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Jul 10, 2015, 3:03:06 PM7/10/15
to
On Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 4:12:33 PM UTC-4, tony wrote:
> "Paul S. Person" wrote in message news:
>
> <snip>
>
> > Then you are asserting that JRRT failed in his intent, for his intent
> > is quite clear.
> --
> Yes I'm asserting that JRRT failed in his intent. I understand that he said
> he was not writing about a parallel reality and instead was writing about an
> imaginary past. And I can understand his motivation to write a
> comprehensive, emotionally satisfying mythology for Britain. I just having
> difficulty understanding how the world Tolkien invented would transform over
> time into the world we live in today.
[snip]
> I guess from my perspective, Tolkien just failed to think through his
> concept of an imaginary past in sufficient detail, because it just doesn't
> hold up under logical scrutiny. Taken as a whole is work is more consistent
> with the idea of a parallel world.

Were this the ancient and vigorous younger days of usenet I'd probably be acerbic with some clever and pointed remark, but in these tired old days of the world, I'd just like to point out that an imaginary past should, logically, have only an imaginary influence on the present. As Tolkien's work does, IMHO, indeed.

JimboCat
--
"In the world of words the imagination is one of the forces of nature." -- Wallace Stevens

Taemon

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Jul 11, 2015, 2:46:49 PM7/11/15
to
On 9-7-2015 19:46, tony wrote:
> I just having difficulty understanding how the world Tolkien invented
> would transform over time into the world we live in today. Yes it is
> true that the fossil record is incomplete and is possible that no
> remains of Hobbits or Dwarves would survive the passage of time, but
> let's consider the huge physical structures Tolkien described: Minis
> Tirith, Orthanc, Helm's Deep. How could all these architectural
> features just disappear of the face of the earth? And lets consider the
> Earth itself. The geography of Middle Earth bears little or no
> resemblance to current geography.

What is your point? That it didn't actually happen? Because that won't
come as a surprise.

Taemon

unread,
Jul 11, 2015, 2:55:16 PM7/11/15
to
On 10-7-2015 17:29, John W Kennedy wrote:

> Howsomedever, at the age of 17, an atheist with atheist parents and
> Protestant ancestors, and with no external information other than was in
> the Ace and Ballantine paperbacks, I had identified Tolkien as a Roman
> Catholic before reaching Crickhollow.

Heh. I so enjoyed the absence of overt religion that I was surprised to
learn that Tolkien was actually very religious. Real world religion
centers around faith, and the elves never needed to have faith in their
gods since they were actually around.

I must add that I was eleven at the time of my first read. I only
recognised the whole "meant to be"/"Arda marred" religious stuff much
later. I did consider Gandalf the White cheating. Still do.
Message has been deleted

John W Kennedy

unread,
Jul 12, 2015, 3:11:07 PM7/12/15
to
On 2015-07-12 02:15:36 +0000, Donald G. Davis said:
> Lin Carter, in his 1969 book _A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings_,
> took Tolkien to task for the lack of such overt religious trappings as
> priesthood, temples and rituals. I thought that Carter's criticism was
> remarkably shallow, in wanting to impose such pulp-formulaic stereotyping
> as a requirement of good fantasy. He quite missed Tolkien's depth; the
> characters in LOTR were *living inside* a kind of quasi-religious story,
> so they experienced no need for ritualistic institutions to believe in.
> My own biggest problem with the story was the frequent hints of foresight
> and manipulation; it seemed to me that there must be a hidden puppet-
> master somewhere directing too much of the course of events.

Lin Carter wasn't the only one. I personally give anyone a pass who
wrote before 1977.

On the other hand, I sometimes muse over the possibility that his
references to Wagner were in any measure inspired by my high-school
Senior English term paper. (It's not /physically/ impossible; he did
have brief access to it once at Dick Plotz's house.)

--
John W Kennedy
"Give up vows and dogmas, and fixed things, and you may grow like That.
...you may come to think a blow bad, because it hurts, and not because
it humiliates. You may come to think murder wrong, because it is
violent, and not because it is unjust."
-- G. K. Chesterton. "The Ball and the Cross"

Stan Brown

unread,
Jul 12, 2015, 6:00:37 PM7/12/15
to
On Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:11:06 -0400, John W Kennedy wrote:
> On the other hand, I sometimes muse over the possibility that his
> references to Wagner were in any measure inspired by my high-school
> Senior English term paper. (It's not /physically/ impossible; he did
> have brief access to it once at Dick Plotz's house.)

Wasn't his dismissal of the Wagner connection provoked by the
Ohlmarks translation of LotR into Swedish, containing the statement
"The Ring is in a certain way ?der Nibelungen Ring?...."?

He wrote to Allen & Unwin in 1961 about Ohlmarks and Wagner and the
Ring (letter #229) -- I talk about this in the FAQ of the Rings, at
http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q1-Wagner

Does your paper date to an earlier era? If not, I think you can stop
lying awake at nights. :-)



--
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

John W Kennedy

unread,
Jul 12, 2015, 8:22:20 PM7/12/15
to
On 2015-07-12 22:00:34 +0000, Stan Brown said:

> On Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:11:06 -0400, John W Kennedy wrote:
>> On the other hand, I sometimes muse over the possibility that his
>> references to Wagner were in any measure inspired by my high-school
>> Senior English term paper. (It's not /physically/ impossible; he did
>> have brief access to it once at Dick Plotz's house.)
>
> Wasn't his dismissal of the Wagner connection provoked by the
> Ohlmarks translation of LotR into Swedish, containing the statement
> "The Ring is in a certain way ?der Nibelungen Ring?...."?

By "his", above, I mean Lin Carter's.

> He wrote to Allen & Unwin in 1961 about Ohlmarks and Wagner and the
> Ring (letter #229) -- I talk about this in the FAQ of the Rings, at
> http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q1-Wagner
>
> Does your paper date to an earlier era? If not, I think you can stop
> lying awake at nights. :-)

1966. But I worked the parallels out at some length (10 typewritten
pages), and, on the other hand, was then unacquainted with Tolkien's
1961 dismissal.

--
John W Kennedy
"Never try to take over the international economy based on a radical
feminist agenda if you're not sure your leader isn't a transvestite."
-- David Misch: "She-Spies", "While You Were Out"

Steve Hayes

unread,
Jul 12, 2015, 10:54:08 PM7/12/15
to
On Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:11:06 -0400, John W Kennedy
<john.w....@gmail.com> wrote:

>On 2015-07-12 02:15:36 +0000, Donald G. Davis said:
>> Lin Carter, in his 1969 book _A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings_,
>> took Tolkien to task for the lack of such overt religious trappings as
>> priesthood, temples and rituals. I thought that Carter's criticism was
>> remarkably shallow, in wanting to impose such pulp-formulaic stereotyping
>> as a requirement of good fantasy. He quite missed Tolkien's depth; the
>> characters in LOTR were *living inside* a kind of quasi-religious story,
>> so they experienced no need for ritualistic institutions to believe in.
>> My own biggest problem with the story was the frequent hints of foresight
>> and manipulation; it seemed to me that there must be a hidden puppet-
>> master somewhere directing too much of the course of events.
>
>Lin Carter wasn't the only one. I personally give anyone a pass who
>wrote before 1977.

Any particular reason for the 1977 cut-off date?




--
Steve Hayes
Web: http://www.khanya.org.za/stevesig.htm
http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw
http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/Methodius

Taemon

unread,
Jul 13, 2015, 5:41:34 AM7/13/15
to
On 12-7-2015 04:15, Donald G. Davis wrote:
> Lin Carter, in his 1969 book _A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings_,
> took Tolkien to task for the lack of such overt religious trappings as
> priesthood, temples and rituals. I thought that Carter's criticism was
> remarkably shallow, in wanting to impose such pulp-formulaic stereotyping
> as a requirement of good fantasy. He quite missed Tolkien's depth; the
> characters in LOTR were *living inside* a kind of quasi-religious story,
> so they experienced no need for ritualistic institutions to believe in.

Yes. I found that very satisfying when I was eleven years old and I
still do.

> My own biggest problem with the story was the frequent hints of foresight
> and manipulation; it seemed to me that there must be a hidden puppet-
> master somewhere directing too much of the course of events.

Indeed. I didn't recognise that at the time but later on it did take
away from the story for me.

John W Kennedy

unread,
Jul 13, 2015, 12:32:21 PM7/13/15
to
On 2015-07-13 03:00:21 +0000, Steve Hayes said:

> On Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:11:06 -0400, John W Kennedy
> <john.w....@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> On 2015-07-12 02:15:36 +0000, Donald G. Davis said:
>>> Lin Carter, in his 1969 book _A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings_,
>>> took Tolkien to task for the lack of such overt religious trappings as
>>> priesthood, temples and rituals. I thought that Carter's criticism was
>>> remarkably shallow, in wanting to impose such pulp-formulaic stereotyping
>>> as a requirement of good fantasy. He quite missed Tolkien's depth; the
>>> characters in LOTR were *living inside* a kind of quasi-religious story,
>>> so they experienced no need for ritualistic institutions to believe in.
>>> My own biggest problem with the story was the frequent hints of foresight
>>> and manipulation; it seemed to me that there must be a hidden puppet-
>>> master somewhere directing too much of the course of events.
>>
>> Lin Carter wasn't the only one. I personally give anyone a pass who
>> wrote before 1977.
>
> Any particular reason for the 1977 cut-off date?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silmarillion

--
John W Kennedy
"The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything...."
-- Emile Cammaerts, "The Laughing Prophet"

Message has been deleted

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Jul 13, 2015, 2:43:25 PM7/13/15
to
In message <news:qZSdnY363ND7LgPI...@giganews.com>
"tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>
> "Paul S. Person" wrote in message news:
>>
>> Then you are asserting that JRRT failed in his intent, for his
>> intent is quite clear.
>
> Yes I'm asserting that JRRT failed in his intent.
[...]
> I just having difficulty understanding how the world Tolkien
> invented would transform over time into the world we live in
> today.

You seem to fail to achieve what Tolkien called "Secondary Belief". It
appears that you are unable to accept the rules of the world that he
described as the starting-point and instead you insist on the rules of
the Primary World as we know them today as your starting point. If that
is where you are, and you have to forcefully attempt to suspend your
disbelief when reading Tolkien, then his Art has, according to himself,
failed for you.

If it is to work, then you must accept that the rules "back then" were
different, and that the rules were changed over time to achieve the
Primary World we know today with the rules as they are today. I will
not pretend to know or guess when Tolkien would have claimed that the
rules had changed to the present set (and I very much doubt that he
ever articulated it in this way, even in his mind), but the concept of
changing the rules is a necessary prerequisite for the idea to work.

And yes, it is probably cheating to merely wave and claim "rules
change" and "miracles", but it is a fact of Tolkien's Secondary World
that the rules _are_ somewhat different, and that miracles _do_ happen
-- they even happen in rather spectacular ways. The point here is that
these cheats are a part of the laws of Tolkien's Secondary World.

<snip>

> How is that his creation story and the story of Genesis are so
> different?

I would encourage you to get hold of John William Houghton's paper,
'Augustine in the cottage of lost play: _The Ainulindalë_ as asterisk
cosmogony', which can be found in _Tolkien the Medievalist_ edited by
Jane Chance. In this paper Houghton explains how _The Ainulindalë_ is
actually _very_ close to St. Augustine's literal interpretation of the
Biblical Genesis (_De Genesi ad Litteram -- Libri Duodecim_) and fully
in accordance with Catholic thought. I am not a theologian (far from it
-- my degree is in physics), so I have to take the word of those who
are, even when it surprises me somewhat (it helps, of course, to have a
fuller argument set out in a proper scholarly paper).

<snip>

> I guess from my perspective, Tolkien just failed to think through
> his concept of an imaginary past in sufficient detail, because it
> just doesn't hold up under logical scrutiny.

Depending, of course, on what version of 'logic' you apply ...

My claim is that you will have to apply the logic according to
Tolkien's literary ideas about sub-creation and Secondary Belief (given
the best expression in his essay 'On Fairy-stories'), and that means to
accept that his world works according to the rules he sets up:
What really happens is that the story-maker proves a
successful ‘sub-creator’. He makes a Secondary World
which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is
‘true’: it accords with the laws of that world. You
therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside.
Tolkien, J. R. R. 'On Fairy-stories' in _Tree and Leaf_, Kindle
Edition.
Since this inevitably necessitates a shift in rules (itself a miracle)
between then (the Third Age of Middle-earth) and now (Tolkien's time),
this must be a part of the laws of his world. To use Tolkien's words
(from another, different, but related, context) "I do not think one
need boggle at this".

> Taken as a whole is work is more consistent with the idea of a
> parallel world.

This, I have to disagree with most emphatically.

I will readily acknowledge that Tolkien didn't cross every 't' and dot
every 'i' with respect to the idea of an imaginary past (I'd say much
of this is due to the transition from purely asterisk mythology to
something approaching an asterisk history).

However, the concept of a parallel world simply fails at every turn to
satisfy even the prologue of _The Lord of the Rings_. A parallel world
is something that Tolkien's sub-created Middle-earth definitely is
_not_.

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

Taking fun
as simply fun
and earnestness
in earnest
shows how thouroughly
thou none
of the two
discernest.
- Piet Hein, /The Eternal Twins/

Steve Morrison

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Jul 13, 2015, 3:15:38 PM7/13/15
to
On Sun, 12 Jul 2015 18:00:34 -0400, Stan Brown wrote:

> Wasn't his dismissal of the Wagner connection provoked by the Ohlmarks
> translation of LotR into Swedish, containing the statement "The Ring is
> in a certain way ?der Nibelungen Ring?...."?
>
> He wrote to Allen & Unwin in 1961 about Ohlmarks and Wagner and the Ring
> (letter #229) -- I talk about this in the FAQ of the Rings, at
> http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm#Q1-Wagner

There is actually some argument as to whether Tolkien had Wagner in mind
at all in his "Both rings were round" remark. Ohlmarks had recounted the
story of the Ring as it appears in the Volsunga Saga, and that differs
significantly from Wagner's compressed version. (I came across this point
recently in a book called /Wagner and Tolkien: Mythmakers/ by Renee Vink,
ISBN 978-3-905703-25-2. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in
the evidence for Wagnerian influence on Tolkien.)
Message has been deleted

Troels Forchhammer

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Jul 13, 2015, 4:37:39 PM7/13/15
to
In message <news:slrnmq7qcg...@amelia.local>
Lewis <g.k...@gmail.com.dontsendmecopies> spoke these staves:
>

<snip>

> Anything that is contradicted by the text of LotR I take LotR to be
> correct.

And where _The Lord of the Rings_ contradicts itself? And yes, it
does so on several issues (though this is very cleverly masked in the
book).

> And, frankly, I've never been a fan of Christopher Tolkien and
> I've never really trusted that he's been a faithful steward of his
> father's writings. I can't pinpoint any particular thing, but ever
> since I first saw Vol 1 of Unfinished Tales...

I have no doubt that Christopher Tolkien not only knows his father's
writings better than anyone else on this planet, he also understands
his father's views, ideas, conceptions, desires, and wishes about the
literary heritage far, far better than anyone. He may not be a
_perfect_ steward (but then, even J.R.R. Tolkien himself was far from
a perfect steward of his own writings), but he is definitely
_faithful_, and the best steward we could ever wish for (besides the
most Tolkienian idea of him being the _rightful_ steward).

The whole of the _Unfinished Tales_ (one volume) and _The History of
Middle-earth_ series (twelve volumes) plus bits and pieces published
elsewhere gives to the attentive reader a clear view of Tolkien's
constantly evolving conception of his own mythology. The idea that
any statement about Tolkien's mythology can be "correct" beyond a
strict temporal context is refuted again and again by the careful
dedication of Christopher Tolkien. You might say that he has killed
the concept of a 'canon' for Tolkien's mythology (or, at least, he
did his best, which is really a commendable thing!), other than as an
ideal -- an ideal that remained both unachieved and unachievable.

--
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
Message has been deleted

Steve Hayes

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Jul 14, 2015, 3:46:20 AM7/14/15
to
On Mon, 13 Jul 2015 12:32:19 -0400, John W Kennedy
<john.w....@gmail.com> wrote:

>On 2015-07-13 03:00:21 +0000, Steve Hayes said:
>
>> On Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:11:06 -0400, John W Kennedy
>> <john.w....@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>> On 2015-07-12 02:15:36 +0000, Donald G. Davis said:
>>>> Lin Carter, in his 1969 book _A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings_,
>>>> took Tolkien to task for the lack of such overt religious trappings as
>>>> priesthood, temples and rituals. I thought that Carter's criticism was
>>>> remarkably shallow, in wanting to impose such pulp-formulaic stereotyping
>>>> as a requirement of good fantasy. He quite missed Tolkien's depth; the
>>>> characters in LOTR were *living inside* a kind of quasi-religious story,
>>>> so they experienced no need for ritualistic institutions to believe in.
>>>> My own biggest problem with the story was the frequent hints of foresight
>>>> and manipulation; it seemed to me that there must be a hidden puppet-
>>>> master somewhere directing too much of the course of events.
>>>
>>> Lin Carter wasn't the only one. I personally give anyone a pass who
>>> wrote before 1977.
>>
>> Any particular reason for the 1977 cut-off date?
>
>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silmarillion

Ah, OK.

I can't remember much about what I thought of Tolkien's work before
and after reading _The Silmarillion_. The only difference I can
consciously remember is that reading it gave me a better understanding
of the role and nature of wizards in Middle Earth, though it didn't
seem to make much difference to my understanding of the stories
themselves.

Stan Brown

unread,
Jul 14, 2015, 7:01:02 AM7/14/15
to
On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:52:36 +0200, Steve Hayes wrote:
> I can't remember much about what I thought of Tolkien's work before
> and after reading _The Silmarillion_. The only difference I can
> consciously remember is that reading it gave me a better understanding
> of the role and nature of wizards in Middle Earth, though it didn't
> seem to make much difference to my understanding of the stories
> themselves.

My own experience was very different. I was excited to find out more
about who the Valar were (they got only a slight reference in LotR
App A), and why the High-Elves were high, and why Beren and Lúthien
mattered, and who Eärendil was, and so forth.

I did find the Valaquenta heavy going on first read. It's more
"lore" than story, and might have been better as an appendix. But
unlike what someone else said, in /The Silmarillion/ proper I did
feel that there were some fully-fleshed-out characters, and some
conversations. Things were very formal, yes, but so were they in
Faramir and Éowyn's love scene in LotR.

Steve Hayes

unread,
Jul 14, 2015, 3:21:46 PM7/14/15
to
On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 07:00:59 -0400, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:52:36 +0200, Steve Hayes wrote:
>> I can't remember much about what I thought of Tolkien's work before
>> and after reading _The Silmarillion_. The only difference I can
>> consciously remember is that reading it gave me a better understanding
>> of the role and nature of wizards in Middle Earth, though it didn't
>> seem to make much difference to my understanding of the stories
>> themselves.
>
>My own experience was very different. I was excited to find out more
>about who the Valar were (they got only a slight reference in LotR
>App A), and why the High-Elves were high, and why Beren and Lúthien
>mattered, and who Eärendil was, and so forth.

That was my experience too. There was a lot of exciting new stuff
there. What I meant was that while it made sense of some of the
allusions, it didn't change my basic understanding of the story of
"The Hobbit" or "Lord of the Rings", at least not in any way I can
remembver now. Each reading seemed to bring out new things I hadn't
noticed before

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Jul 14, 2015, 5:47:59 PM7/14/15
to
In message <news:slrnmq8pap....@amelia.local>
Lewis <g.k...@gmail.com.dontsendmecopies> spoke these staves:
>
> In message <XnsA4D6E62...@130.133.4.11>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>

[Christopher Tolkien]
>> may not be a _perfect_ steward (but then, even J.R.R. Tolkien
>> himself was far from a perfect steward of his own writings), but
>> he is definitely _faithful_, and the best steward we could ever
>> wish for (besides the most Tolkienian idea of him being the
>> _rightful_ steward).
>
> Meh. Something has always felt off to me.

I would be interested to see it, if you should find a way to put your
finger on it more precisely.


For the record (and perhaps as inspiration for something to disagree
with ;) ), I offer some statements expressing my own observations /
impressions (and which my opinions in the former post are based on).

When CJRT has written or spoken of what his father would think of
this or that, it always (or at least I cannot now recall any
exceptions) seems to me that these opinions are consistent with what
we know about JRRT's views from other sources.

CJRT may have been less protective of his father's work, than JRRT
was himself, but I think this is forgivable in a modern world.

CJRT has, on several occasions, noted places where he believed he had
misinterpreted his father's intention, wanting to set things right.

CJRT spent a huge effort trying to sort out his father's work,
without thinking it might be publishable. _Unfinished Tales_ and the
whole of the _History of Middle-earth_ series are essentially an
abbreviated summary of this work, published when others had managed
to convince CJRT that it might be of interest to enough people to
warrant publication (with _Unfinished Tales_ published more or less
to try out the concept of this type of book).

Since the publication of _The Silmarillion_, CJRT has shown his
father's work as it really was [*], rather than attempting to produce
something that attempts to be what JRRT may have dreamed of being
able to produce, but which he was essentially incapable of producing
-- and which JRRT, in my firm opinion, not really wanted to produce.
JRRT may have dreamed of creating a consistent Silmarillion mythology
that incorporated _The Lord of the Rings_, but what he, IMO, actually
wanted was to niggle on with his mythology, keeping it mutable in
order to use it as a vehicle for trying out his changing ideas of
narrative aesthetics, mythopoeia, philosophy, theology, etc.)

CJRT defends the philosophical, ethic, aesthetic, etc. depths that
underlie his father's work, and which he did, over many years discuss
with his father. Unless we wish to claim that CJRT is lying about his
father's views of his own mythology (a claim for which the claimant
would need to lift a considerable burden of proof), then we must
accept CJRT's statements on this.


[*] _The Children of Húrin_ forms a slight oddity with respect to
this statement, but it is important to remember that this book
has been created with a far lighter editorial intervention than
was the case with the published _Silmarillion_.

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

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

Michael Ikeda

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Jul 14, 2015, 5:48:30 PM7/14/15
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in
news:MPG.300eb5f6b...@news.individual.net:

> My own experience was very different. I was excited to find out
> more about who the Valar were (they got only a slight reference
> in LotR App A), and why the High-Elves were high

Presumably the overuse of certain recreational substances...

:-)

Stan Brown

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Jul 15, 2015, 4:34:02 AM7/15/15
to
On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:47:56 +0200, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> JRRT may have dreamed of creating a consistent Silmarillion mythology
> that incorporated _The Lord of the Rings_, but what he, IMO, actually
> wanted was to niggle on with his mythology, keeping it mutable in
> order to use it as a vehicle for trying out his changing ideas of
> narrative aesthetics, mythopoeia, philosophy, theology, etc.)

I think that observation is bang on.

The published /The Silmarillion/ may not have been a precise snapshot
of JRRT's thinking at any one time. But I am very glad that his son
pulled it together into a sequential and self-consistent narrative.
Not only do I reread it more often and with more enjoyment than UT or
any volume of HoME, but I suspect that if /The Silmarillion/ had not
been published and sold so well the others would never have seen
publication.

Troels Forchhammer

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Jul 15, 2015, 10:20:35 AM7/15/15
to
In message <news:MPG.300fe502e...@news.individual.net>
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> spoke these staves:
>
> On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:47:56 +0200, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>
>> JRRT may have dreamed of creating a consistent Silmarillion
>> mythology that incorporated _The Lord of the Rings_, but what he,
>> IMO, actually wanted was to niggle on with his mythology, keeping
>> it mutable in order to use it as a vehicle for trying out his
>> changing ideas of narrative aesthetics, mythopoeia, philosophy,
>> theology, etc.)
>
> I think that observation is bang on.

Thank you :)

> The published /The Silmarillion/ may not have been a precise
> snapshot of JRRT's thinking at any one time. But I am very glad
> that his son pulled it together into a sequential and
> self-consistent narrative. Not only do I reread it more often and
> with more enjoyment than UT or any volume of HoME, but I suspect
> that if /The Silmarillion/ had not been published and sold so well
> the others would never have seen publication.

Aye, I agree entirely.

Whatever one may think of CJRT's editorial choices, the published
_Silmarillion_ (along with _The Children of Húrin_) have the capability
of commanding Secondary Belief -- reading them, you can find yourself
under the enchantment of the sub-creator.

And yes, I don't doubt that none (or very nearly so) of the later
publications (including things such as _The Fall of Arthur_ and _The
Legend of Sigurd and Gúdrun_) would have been possible withouth the
1977 _Silmarillion_.

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

Original thought
is a straightforward process.
It's easy enough
when you know what to do.
You simply combine
in appropriate doses
the blatantly false
and the patently true.
- Piet Hein, /Originality/

Paul S. Person

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Jul 15, 2015, 12:03:35 PM7/15/15
to
On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 21:28:04 +0200, Steve Hayes
<haye...@telkomsa.net> wrote:

>On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 07:00:59 -0400, Stan Brown
><the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>
>>On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 09:52:36 +0200, Steve Hayes wrote:
>>> I can't remember much about what I thought of Tolkien's work before
>>> and after reading _The Silmarillion_. The only difference I can
>>> consciously remember is that reading it gave me a better understanding
>>> of the role and nature of wizards in Middle Earth, though it didn't
>>> seem to make much difference to my understanding of the stories
>>> themselves.
>>
>>My own experience was very different. I was excited to find out more
>>about who the Valar were (they got only a slight reference in LotR
>>App A), and why the High-Elves were high, and why Beren and Lúthien
>>mattered, and who Eärendil was, and so forth.
>
>That was my experience too. There was a lot of exciting new stuff
>there. What I meant was that while it made sense of some of the
>allusions, it didn't change my basic understanding of the story of
>"The Hobbit" or "Lord of the Rings", at least not in any way I can
>remembver now. Each reading seemed to bring out new things I hadn't
>noticed before

It made it clear to me that Gandalf was not your ordinary fantasy
Wizard.

And that Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and Sauron were all of the same
order was an interesting new fact as well.

But, of course, either or both could have been "new" only because I
wasn't paying attention to the novel.

John W Kennedy

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Jul 15, 2015, 1:01:28 PM7/15/15
to
And it has the considerable advantage of being, by modern standards, a
modern-sized text of a modern-sized story.

--
John W Kennedy
Read the remains of Shakespeare's lost play, now annotated!
http://www.SKenSoftware.com/Double%20Falshood

Steve Hayes

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Jul 16, 2015, 4:35:59 AM7/16/15
to
That they were all of the same order was clear enough from the novel
itself. It was just the nature of the order itself that became clearer
after reading "The Silmarillion". And, as Stan has pointed out, the
origins of the distinctions between different kinds of elves.

Steve Hayes

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Jul 16, 2015, 4:40:49 AM7/16/15
to
On Wed, 15 Jul 2015 04:33:59 -0400, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>On Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:47:56 +0200, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>> JRRT may have dreamed of creating a consistent Silmarillion mythology
>> that incorporated _The Lord of the Rings_, but what he, IMO, actually
>> wanted was to niggle on with his mythology, keeping it mutable in
>> order to use it as a vehicle for trying out his changing ideas of
>> narrative aesthetics, mythopoeia, philosophy, theology, etc.)
>
>I think that observation is bang on.
>
>The published /The Silmarillion/ may not have been a precise snapshot
>of JRRT's thinking at any one time. But I am very glad that his son
>pulled it together into a sequential and self-consistent narrative.
>Not only do I reread it more often and with more enjoyment than UT or
>any volume of HoME, but I suspect that if /The Silmarillion/ had not
>been published and sold so well the others would never have seen
>publication.

Indeed, and one of the things I find interesting is that while most
mythologies are inconsistent because tales have been passed on and
retold many times, with different emphases from each teller, Tolkien
managed to produce a one-man collection of folktales. He did not
create a consistent univberse and then tell us about it. He was an
explorer of his own universe, and each new discovery changed the rest.

Bill O'Meally

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Jul 17, 2015, 6:11:50 PM7/17/15
to

On 2015-07-10 11:14:10 +0000, Wayne Brown said:



There are hints though.  For instance, the Elves awoke all at

once together as a group beside the waters of Cuiviénen 


I had always assumed that, but then read this in the Appendix of _Quendi and Eldar: The legend of the Awakening of the Quendi_ (Cuivienyarna): 


"But the First Elves (also called the Unbegotten, or the Eru-begotten) did not all wake together. Eru had ordained that each should lie beside his or her 'destined spouse'. But three Elves awoke first of all, and they were elf-men [I read this as "male Elves"], for elf-men are more strong in body and more eager and adventurous in strange places.... [T]he first thing they saw was the stars, for they awoke in the early twilight before dawn. And the next thing they saw was their destined spouses lying asleep on the green sward beside them".


It goes on to say that the first thing the females saw was their destined spouses, and their love for their spouse was their first love. Then it describes how each of the three came upon more groups of sleeping Elves and claimed them as their followers, the first awake of the Three getting first dibs and so on. Eventually, there were 144 Elves total at Cuiviénen. The first-born, named Imin, had only fourteen followers from whom came the Vanyar. The companions of the second-born, named Tata, were fifty-six in all and from whom came the Noldor. The companions of Enel, the third-born, were the greatest in number at seventy-four. From them came the Teleri.


-- 

Bill O'Meally

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 19, 2015, 1:24:43 PM7/19/15
to
On 7/10/15 9:29 AM, John W Kennedy wrote:
> On 2015-07-09 20:08:26 +0000, Troels Forchhammer said:
...

>> That is another mistake. Tolkien specifically wanted his mythology to
>> _not_ include the Christian faith. _
>>
>> After_ he had written _The Lord of the Rings_ he became more
>> concerned with bringing the underlying philosophy and theology
>> governing his sub-creation to be more consistent with some parts of
>> Christian thought -- or at least bringing to not be too openly
>> INconsistent with Christian -- or, more specifically, Roman Catholic
>> thinking.
>>
>> Much has been made of Tolkien as a Christian author, and I think that
>> there is a tendency misunderstand how his faith shaped his work --
>> the influence in a number of situations is exaggerated to the point
>> where the authors convince themselves that the influence of other
>> mythologies can safely be ignored or summarily dismissed (which is a
>> very big mistake), while at the same time they tend to miss the
>> profound influence it had at a much deeper level, which is rarely
>> discussed.
>
> Howsomedever, at the age of 17, an atheist with atheist parents and
> Protestant ancestors, and with no external information other than was in
> the Ace and Ballantine paperbacks, I had identified Tolkien as a Roman
> Catholic before reaching Crickhollow.
...

I'm curious: how did you do that?

--
Jerry Friedman

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 19, 2015, 1:34:08 PM7/19/15
to
On 7/8/15 6:23 PM, tony wrote:
>> "Troels Forchhammer" wrote in message news:
>
>> In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
>> "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>>
>> > How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the
>> > concept of a parallel world.
>
>> Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
>> imagined, present.
>
>> It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes a an
>> imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere (presumably
>> at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and the rise of the
>> Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's mythology and of our known
>> Primary World history would merge.
>
> Thank you for your well written and thoughtful reply. I would like to
> point out some apparent weaknesses in the point of view you have advanced.
>
> 1. Tolkien's view of the gods is inconsistent with present history.
> Although in present history we have documents describing Norse gods,
> there is nothing like the mythology Tolkien advanced in his supposedly
> imaginary past that is consistent with current religious history.
>
> 2. Tolkien's ideas in his fictional world are quite distinct from
> contemporary Christian ideas, and there seems to be no simple way to
> reconcile the two. In the Judeo Christian view of human origins there
> is Adam and Eve etcetera. In the Lord of the Rings there is not.
>
> 3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary past and
> not a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now exists or the ideas
> he detailed in the our current world? Why is there no fossil evidence
> of the existence of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Balrogs? How did all
> this material disappear from our current world, if as you assert,
> Tolkien describes a past or this world rather than a past of a parallel
> world?
...

If you're going to play that game, a better question is what happened to
the Misty Mountains, where the Mediterranean Sea came from, etc.

The answer is that Tolkien could have whatever geological changes he
wanted, whether due to the passage of time or to the intervention of the
Valar as in the sinkings of Beleriand and Númenor, and those changes
could have wiped out any number of fossils, as well as the ruins of
Minas Tirith, Orthanc, and other cities and forts.

I also mostly agree with others who say that Tolkien wasn't taking that
approach.

--
Jerry Friedman

Jerry Friedman

unread,
Jul 19, 2015, 1:38:06 PM7/19/15
to
On 7/8/15 7:29 PM, John W Kennedy wrote:
> On 2015-07-09 00:23:27 +0000, tony said:
>
>>>
>>> "Troels Forchhammer" wrote in message news:
>>
>>> In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
>>> "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>>>
>>>> How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the
>>>> concept of a parallel world.
>>
>>> Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
>>> imagined, present.
>>
>>> It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes a an
>>> imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere (presumably
>>> at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and the rise of the
>>> Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's mythology and of our known
>>> Primary World history would merge.
>>
>> Thank you for your well written and thoughtful reply. I would like to
>> point out some apparent weaknesses in the point of view you have
>> advanced.
>>
>> 1. Tolkien's view of the gods is inconsistent with present history.
>> Although in present history we have documents describing Norse gods,
>> there is nothing like the mythology Tolkien advanced in his supposedly
>> imaginary past that is consistent with current religious history.
>>
>> 2. Tolkien's ideas in his fictional world are quite distinct from
>> contemporary Christian ideas, and there seems to be no simple way to
>> reconcile the two. In the Judeo Christian view of human origins there
>> is Adam and Eve etcetera. In the Lord of the Rings there is not.
>
> If you are unfamiliar with the Silmarillion, then you should read it; it
> is fundamental to Tolkien's mythology. If you are familiar with it, then
> you have forgotten how the origin of Men is not given at all. They are
> simply fleeing from the East, and do not wish to talk of it.
>
>> 3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary past
>> and not a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now exists or the
>> ideas he detailed in the our current world? Why is there no fossil
>> evidence of the existence of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Balrogs? How
>> did all this material disappear from our current world, if as you
>> assert, Tolkien describes a past or this world rather than a past of a
>> parallel world?
>
> He is writing fantasy, not science fiction.
...

There is, however, the possibility the the púkel-men, woodwoses, etc.,
were supposed to account for Neanderthal fossils. What do people think
of that suggestion (which isn't mine)?

--
Jerry Friedman

Wayne Brown

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Jul 19, 2015, 5:04:36 PM7/19/15
to
Whether Tolkien specifically had Neanderthals in mind or not, the
physical description of the woodwoses immediately made me think
"cave men" the first time I read it. Perhaps he didn't have
anything more specific in mind than legends of "primitive Men."
(Enkidu could serve as an example of such legends.)

--
F. Wayne Brown <fwb...@bellsouth.net>

ur sag9-ga ur-tur-še3 ba-an-kur9
"A dog that is played with turns into a puppy." (Sumerian proverb)

Stan Brown

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Jul 19, 2015, 7:20:40 PM7/19/15
to
On Sun, 19 Jul 2015 11:34:06 -0600, Jerry Friedman wrote:
> If you're going to play that game, a better question is what happened to
> the Misty Mountains, where the Mediterranean Sea came from, etc.
>
> The answer is that Tolkien could have whatever geological changes he
> wanted, whether due to the passage of time or to the intervention of the
> Valar as in the sinkings of Beleriand and Númenor, and those changes
> could have wiped out any number of fossils, as well as the ruins of
> Minas Tirith, Orthanc, and other cities and forts.
>
> I also mostly agree with others who say that Tolkien wasn't taking that
> approach.

The time frame was WAY too short, I think. There can't have been more
than 10,000 years or so between Elessar's time and our own. (Didn't
Tolkien write in a letter that we were now in the Sixth or Seventh
Age? Even allowing 3000 years per age, that puts us no more than 8000
years after the start of the Fourth, because the whole business with
Jesus would have had to mark the transition of an Age.)

The right answer, IMHO, is not to look too closely at that
transitional moment (or time period), where elves and hobbits and
dwarves were no longer part of the visible world.

Tolkien himself had a similar difficulty. He wanted to change his
cosmology so that the earth was globular from the beginning, but he
ran into all kinds of internal inconsistencies. I don't expect a
physics-accurate explanation of how a flat Earth managed to stay in
one piece, or how Iluvatar changed it without killing every organism
on the planet. Part of the deal with reading and loving fantasy (good
fantasy) as I do, is accepting that some things simply defy rational
explanation. A good author won't require me to grant that indulgence
too often, and Tolkien doesn't.

He himself recognized this issue, in the remark he made about having
used the Eagles to get people out of tight spots just about as many
times as the story could stand.

John W Kennedy

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Jul 19, 2015, 7:45:28 PM7/19/15
to
It was what I can only call the "flavor" of the passages referring to
Elbereth. Frodo and the Elves didn't feel about her the way a pagan
feels about a goddess; they felt about her the way a Roman Catholic
feels about the BVM.

--
John W Kennedy
"I want everybody to be smart. As smart as they can be. A world of
ignorant people is too dangerous to live in."
-- Garson Kanin. "Born Yesterday"

JJ

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Jul 20, 2015, 6:48:51 AM7/20/15
to
On Sunday, July 19, 2015 at 10:04:36 PM UTC+1, Wayne Brown wrote:
>
> Whether Tolkien specifically had Neanderthals in mind or not, the
> physical description of the woodwoses immediately made me think
> "cave men" the first time I read it. Perhaps he didn't have
> anything more specific in mind than legends of "primitive Men."
> (Enkidu could serve as an example of such legends.)
>
> --
> F. Wayne Brown <fwb...@bellsouth.net>
Woodwoses are quite common mythological items in England - they turn up carved on churches, for example, and feature in at least one person's coat of arms! No one knows how they originated, but they are not Neanderthals.

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 20, 2015, 9:25:54 AM7/20/15
to
On 7/13/15 2:37 PM, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> In message <news:slrnmq7qcg...@amelia.local>
> Lewis <g.k...@gmail.com.dontsendmecopies> spoke these staves:
>>
>
> <snip>
>
>> Anything that is contradicted by the text of LotR I take LotR to be
>> correct.
>
> And where _The Lord of the Rings_ contradicts itself? And yes, it
> does so on several issues (though this is very cleverly masked in the
> book).
...

What issues? I know of various places where Tolkien slipped up with
dates and places and the like, and a few where he appears not to have
thought things through, but in most or all of those he seems to have
been unaware of the problem.

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Mistakes_and_inconsistencies_in_Tolkien%27s_works

I don't know of any that he masked cleverly. (That may be because of
how cleverly he masked them.)

--
Jerry Friedman

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 20, 2015, 9:26:51 AM7/20/15
to
Thanks. That didn't occur to me until a few weeks ago.

--
Jerry Friedman

Paul S. Person

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Jul 20, 2015, 11:55:39 AM7/20/15
to
On Sun, 19 Jul 2015 19:20:37 -0400, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>On Sun, 19 Jul 2015 11:34:06 -0600, Jerry Friedman wrote:
>> If you're going to play that game, a better question is what happened to
>> the Misty Mountains, where the Mediterranean Sea came from, etc.
>>
>> The answer is that Tolkien could have whatever geological changes he
>> wanted, whether due to the passage of time or to the intervention of the
>> Valar as in the sinkings of Beleriand and Númenor, and those changes
>> could have wiped out any number of fossils, as well as the ruins of
>> Minas Tirith, Orthanc, and other cities and forts.
>>
>> I also mostly agree with others who say that Tolkien wasn't taking that
>> approach.
>
>The time frame was WAY too short, I think. There can't have been more
>than 10,000 years or so between Elessar's time and our own. (Didn't
>Tolkien write in a letter that we were now in the Sixth or Seventh
>Age? Even allowing 3000 years per age, that puts us no more than 8000
>years after the start of the Fourth, because the whole business with
>Jesus would have had to mark the transition of an Age.)
>
>The right answer, IMHO, is not to look too closely at that
>transitional moment (or time period), where elves and hobbits and
>dwarves were no longer part of the visible world.

As it happens, I am re-reading /THOTH/, and it reminded me that JRRT
explicitly stated that his legendarium was a legendary history of
Britain, that the events in his stories were intended to be understood
to have occurred (as legends) in the same world we inhabit, and that
he made no effort to accomodate modern geography, since there is no
telling what changes may have taken place between the times of his
stories and ours.

Computing times since Elessar based on 3000 years/age is like
computing the date of the creation of the world in Genesis from an
average human lifespan because the actual data peters out and so an
actual computation cannot be made, and likely to be just as accurate.
There really is no way to tell how long each Age may last; they end
with specific /events/ and, for all we know, the Fourth Age ended
1,000,000 years ago when a Giant Space Rock changed everything.

As to Hobbits, JRRT claimed in the introduction to /LOTR/ that the
Hobbits still existed, but had simply grown very shy and so were no
longer noticed. Even if the introduction is regarded as fiction, it
still shows that /LOTR/ is to be considered a part of our history.

Paul S. Person

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Jul 20, 2015, 12:04:56 PM7/20/15
to
On Sun, 19 Jul 2015 11:38:03 -0600, Jerry Friedman
<jerry_f...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>On 7/8/15 7:29 PM, John W Kennedy wrote:
>> On 2015-07-09 00:23:27 +0000, tony said:

<snip-a-bit>

>>> 3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary past
>>> and not a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now exists or the
>>> ideas he detailed in the our current world? Why is there no fossil
>>> evidence of the existence of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Balrogs? How
>>> did all this material disappear from our current world, if as you
>>> assert, Tolkien describes a past or this world rather than a past of a
>>> parallel world?
>>
>> He is writing fantasy, not science fiction.
>...
>
>There is, however, the possibility the the púkel-men, woodwoses, etc.,
>were supposed to account for Neanderthal fossils. What do people think
>of that suggestion (which isn't mine)?

I think we would need to find out what Neanderthals were thought to
look like when the descriptions of "the púkel-men, woodwoses, etc.,"
were first written by JRRT. Alternately, we would need to find what,
if any, "primitive" peoples were being described as JRRT described
these groups.

Some time back, when I was reading Gibbon's /The Decline and Fall of
the Roman Empire/, I was struck by the similarity between his
description of (I think, it could have been some other Eastern invader
of Europe) a Mongol and JRRT's description of an Orc.

Louis Epstein

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Jul 20, 2015, 4:43:51 PM7/20/15
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
> In message <news:b_ednV1MCf5VNwDI...@giganews.com>
> "tony" <to...@hotmail.com> spoke these staves:
>>
>> How is Tolkien's concept of an imaginary past different from the
>> concept of a parallel world.
>
> Tolkien concept of an imaginary past still leads to this, non-
> imagined, present.
>
> It is at the foundation of Tolkien's mythology that it describes a an
> imagined pre-history of _this_ world, and that somewhere (presumably
> at some point between the end of the Fourth Age and the rise of the
> Roman Empire) the timelines of Tolkien's mythology and of our known
> Primary World history would merge.
>
> This is tied strongly to the idea of an asterisk-mythology that Tom
> Shippey introduces in his books (probably in _The Road to Middle-
> earth_, but I can't recall exactly at the moment). The idea here is
> that of backwards extrapolation. Like the philologists extrapolating
> the evolution of language backwards in order to re-create unattested
> earlier words (such constructions are marked by an asterisk in
> philological writings), so Tolkien started out by extrapolating
> backwards from the fragmentary bits of a native English that he
> believed he could see in the fairy-lore of England, combining it with
> elements from the Norse (Jutes, Angles and Saxons, but also the later
> Danes) and Britonic myths.
>
> In this way Tolkien in a very real sense tried to construct a
> mythology that might have been the origin of the known fragments, and
> even if this aspect of his mythology would eventually grow less
> important to him, it nonetheless remained in the foundations of the
> mythology.
>
> So, to answer your question more simply: A parallel world does not
> lead to _us_, but Tolkien's imaginary past does.
>

(And some of us cling with utmost determination to the concept of a
work from a parallel world translated into modern tongues by someone
incorrectly convinced that it came from our own distant past).

-=-=-
The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 21, 2015, 12:44:06 AM7/21/15
to
I think you're right that I should have said "caveman" or "primitive
man" instead of "Neanderthal".

> Perhaps he didn't have
> anything more specific in mind than legends of "primitive Men."
> (Enkidu could serve as an example of such legends.)

You couldn't come up with anything earlier? :-)

But that's the question--was he thinking only of legendary wild men,
salvage men, woodwoses, or was he thinking of the hominids that were
beginning to be known from fossils?

--
Jerry Friedman

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 21, 2015, 9:17:28 AM7/21/15
to
On 7/20/15 10:04 AM, Paul S. Person wrote:
> On Sun, 19 Jul 2015 11:38:03 -0600, Jerry Friedman
> <jerry_f...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>> On 7/8/15 7:29 PM, John W Kennedy wrote:
>>> On 2015-07-09 00:23:27 +0000, tony said:
>
> <snip-a-bit>
>
>>>> 3. If we accept the idea that Tolkien wrote about an imaginary past
>>>> and not a parallel world, Why is it that no evidence now exists or the
>>>> ideas he detailed in the our current world? Why is there no fossil
>>>> evidence of the existence of Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Balrogs? How
>>>> did all this material disappear from our current world, if as you
>>>> assert, Tolkien describes a past or this world rather than a past of a
>>>> parallel world?
>>>
>>> He is writing fantasy, not science fiction.
>> ...
>>
>> There is, however, the possibility the the púkel-men, woodwoses, etc.,
>> were supposed to account for Neanderthal fossils. What do people think
>> of that suggestion (which isn't mine)?
>
> I think we would need to find out what Neanderthals were thought to
> look like when the descriptions of "the púkel-men, woodwoses, etc.,"
> were first written by JRRT. Alternately, we would need to find what,
> if any, "primitive" peoples were being described as JRRT described
> these groups.

Good point, and a project I don't have time for at the moment.

> Some time back, when I was reading Gibbon's /The Decline and Fall of
> the Roman Empire/, I was struck by the similarity between his
> description of (I think, it could have been some other Eastern invader
> of Europe) a Mongol and JRRT's description of an Orc.

Not very pleasant.

--
Jerry Friedman

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 21, 2015, 9:20:15 AM7/21/15
to
True, but they're also not Tolkien's woses. The old pictures of
woodwoses that I can find on Google Images look like hairy Europeans,
generally tall and lean or muscular, but the Drúedain are short and fat,
with heavy brows and flat noses, and have no body hair or facial hair
below the eyebrows.

--
Jerry Friedman

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 21, 2015, 9:32:28 AM7/21/15
to
Except for a "scant" beard in some men.

--
Jerry Friedman

Paul S. Person

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Jul 21, 2015, 12:23:43 PM7/21/15
to
On Tue, 21 Jul 2015 07:17:25 -0600, Jerry Friedman
The description or the similarity?

Both were, I suspect, responding to a long-established stereotype.

JRRT needed enemy soldiers -- when asked to describe them, he fell
back on a stereotype of enemy soldiers who made a lasting impression.

Stan Brown

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Jul 21, 2015, 6:11:47 PM7/21/15
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I alwayus assumed Tolkien was drawing on those descriptions,
consciously or unconsciously. Even as late as the 1960s, when I was
in high school, we were taught to think of the Mongols as hordes of
barely-human warriors. It wasn't said in so many words, but it didn't
need to be.

Jerry Friedman

unread,
Jul 22, 2015, 10:24:25 AM7/22/15
to
The similarity.

> Both were, I suspect, responding to a long-established stereotype.
>
> JRRT needed enemy soldiers -- when asked to describe them, he fell
> back on a stereotype of enemy soldiers who made a lasting impression.

Could well be.

Heck, it's not very pleasant that the only Americanism in LotR is used
only by orcs and others who are ruled by evil and not fighting it.

(I think "boss" is the only Americanism unless you count "potato".)

--
Jerry Friedman

John W Kennedy

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Jul 22, 2015, 12:44:26 PM7/22/15
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And "boss" had made it to the UK before Tolkien was born, and is of
Dutch origin.

--
John W Kennedy
"The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything...."
-- Emile Cammaerts, "The Laughing Prophet"

Paul S. Person

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Jul 22, 2015, 6:18:12 PM7/22/15
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On Tue, 21 Jul 2015 18:11:45 -0400, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:

>On Tue, 21 Jul 2015 07:17:25 -0600, Jerry Friedman wrote:
>>
>> On 7/20/15 10:04 AM, Paul S. Person wrote:
>> > Some time back, when I was reading Gibbon's /The Decline and Fall of
>> > the Roman Empire/, I was struck by the similarity between his
>> > description of (I think, it could have been some other Eastern invader
>> > of Europe) a Mongol and JRRT's description of an Orc.
>>
>> Not very pleasant.
>
>I alwayus assumed Tolkien was drawing on those descriptions,
>consciously or unconsciously. Even as late as the 1960s, when I was
>in high school, we were taught to think of the Mongols as hordes of
>barely-human warriors. It wasn't said in so many words, but it didn't
>need to be.

The third (IIRC) /Back to the Future/ film had the 1950's Doc
ascribing the failure of a microchip to its being made by the
Japanese, which, of course, meant that it was junk.

But the 1980's Marty corrected him. In 30 years, attitudes changed.

Jerry Friedman

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Jul 22, 2015, 9:15:42 PM7/22/15
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Both true, but we can hardly doubt that he knew it came to Britain from
America.

As I said, I think it's the only such word in LotR, aside from the far
more naturalized "potato". And it's one of very few words that are
spoken only by evil characters or those in their power. (Is "Garn" the
only other one that occurs more than once?) And Tolkien didn't need to
make those characters use it--they could have used "master" and "lord"
like the Free. Maybe that's a coincidence, but I think there's a good
chance it isn't.

--
Jerry Friedman

Steve Hayes

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Jul 22, 2015, 11:36:44 PM7/22/15
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[cross-posted to aue because it's as much an English usage question as
a literary one]

I think the connotations of "boss" are different from those of "lord"
or "master".

The Free use "lord" and "master" because in that context at least it
has benevolent connotations, of a relationship of mutual respect.

While "boss" can be used in different circumstances, and with
different connotations, I think the one that Tolkien has in mind is
criminal gangs, where the underlings fear rather than love the boss.

When I was at high school, the headmaster of the school was usually
referred to as "the boss", and in those days of corporal punishment
was somewhat feared. Calling him "lord" or "master" would somehow not
seem to have fitted.

In South Africa the Afrikaans cognate "baas" used to be something that
white racists expected to be called by their darker-skinned
compatriots.

If you look at 1930s British crime novels, you will find that in many
of them members of criminal gangs would speak like Orcs, and I think
that was the model that Tolkien was using, rather than consciously
using "boss" because of its American origins. The trolls in "The
Hobbit" speak in much the same way, and the impression Tolkien is
trying to create of of a poorly-educated submissive but rather
resentful underling. A minion.

solar penguin

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Jul 23, 2015, 7:10:05 AM7/23/15
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One of the first people to popularise "Boss" in Britain was Jack the
Ripper (or someone claiming to be him) in the "Dear Boss" letter.

<<http://www.casebook.org/ripper_letters/>>

This probably helped to build the British prejudice that words like
"Boss" would only be used by violent, nasty brutes.

Troels Forchhammer

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Jul 23, 2015, 7:41:44 AM7/23/15
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In message <news:moist0$bn$1...@news.albasani.net>
Jerry Friedman <jerry_f...@yahoo.com> spoke these staves:
>
> On 7/13/15 2:37 PM, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>>
>> And where _The Lord of the Rings_ contradicts itself? And yes, it
>> does so on several issues (though this is very cleverly masked in
>> the book).
> ...
>
> What issues?

<snip>

The nature of the Orcs is one issue: most of _LotR_ is written under
the old version where the Orcs are creations of Melkor, whereas some
of the very late passages (particularly Frodo and Sam's journey from
the Crossroads to Mount Doom and the following events) are written
with a new explanation in mind according to which Melkor could not
create.

Another issue is the cosmogony of Arda -- was the Earth first created
as flat and then made round (in the Akallabêth), or was it create
round, and changed to a different round in tehe Akallabêth.

I've discussed some of this in an old blog post here:
Parma-kenta: "'The Lord of the Rings' as a transitionary work":
http://parmarkenta.blogspot.dk/2011/02/lord-of-rings-as-
transitionary-work.html
http://preview.tinyurl.com/pc3v998

In other cases Tolkien left in bits of story that belong to discarded
characters. Probably the most significant is the remnants of the
story of Trotter, the Hobbit ranger, whose role was given to Aragorn
(and then expanded).

These are probably the most prominent examples -- they are, at least,
the ones that come the most easily to mind for me :)

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

And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left
the path of wisdom.
- Gandalf, /The Fellowship of the Ring/ (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Troels Forchhammer

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Jul 23, 2015, 8:37:21 AM7/23/15
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In message <news:ga5qqadvhig6i2na7...@4ax.com>
Paul S. Person <pspe...@ix.netscom.com.invalid> spoke these staves:
>
> On Sun, 19 Jul 2015 19:20:37 -0400, Stan Brown
> <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>
>> The right answer, IMHO, is not to look too closely at that
>> transitional moment (or time period), where elves and hobbits and
>> dwarves were no longer part of the visible world.

<snip>

> As to Hobbits, JRRT claimed in the introduction to /LOTR/ that the
> Hobbits still existed, but had simply grown very shy and so were
> no longer noticed