Legendarium Texts

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Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:36 pm

Hi guys,

I have "The Hobbit" (which I read again fairly recently), and "The Lord of The Rings" and "The Silmarillion". If I was going to buy another book or two, would you recommend "The Lost Tales: Vols. 1 & 2"?

I like reading 'The Fellowship of The Ring" but the book goes downhill from there. By the end of 'The Return of The King" I'm sick to death of Frodo, for various reasons.

I started reading "The Silmarillion" last night. I read the 'Ainulindalë'. It's a creation myth with gnostic aspects. We are living in a flawed world that is not as it should be. Powerful forces are working against us. Do you spend much time thinking about this?
-Raúl

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:49 am

Skookum Jack wrote:[...] I started reading "The Silmarillion" last night. I read the 'Ainulindalë'. It's a creation myth with gnostic aspects. We are living in a flawed world that is not as it should be. Powerful forces are working against us. Do you spend much time thinking about this?
Yes, indeed. It is a sort of "mythological lens" through which I sort general life experiences. The operative phrase (if I were to choose only one) comes from this essay in Morgoth's Ring, which is probably the most ontological and philosophical volume of HoME:
JRRT, in 'Morgoth's Ring' wrote:[...] Melkor was not just a local Evil on Earth, nor a Guardian Angel of Earth who had gone wrong; he was the Spirit of Evil, arising even before the making of Ea {the Universe}. His attempt to dominate the structure of Ea...had introduced evil, or a tendency to aberration from the design into all physical matter of Arda"
(pg 334; bold text done by me)

In the Tolkien Mythos, you don't have just one demiurge; you have 15 of them -- 14 have a tendency towards "moral action" and one is what we would term a "nihilistic sociopath" if he were human. As the saying goes, "it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch", especially if that one is a god. And indeed, the responses of his Archon brethren to his actions were sometimes not completely thought out with regard to later consequences. OTOH, there is also a quote in the same volume that "every finite being has some intrinsic limitation", so it's quite possible they could not foresee such things as "homesickness for one's birthplace" and so forth that humanoid biologicals tend to have. (The foregoing relates to the decision by the Valar to physically remove the Eldar (Elves) to their own protected continent "for their own good and protection" -- that caused trouble some thousands of years later).

Anyway, lots of good stuff in there if you like that kind of thing.

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir » Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:33 am

I would say the Valar more closely correspond to the Aeons of the gnostic mythos. It's essentially the same thing as an Archon, but being beneficial towards mankind. The Archons work for the Demiurge, and their agenda is to prevent humans from attaining freedom, or waking up, or whatever you would like to call it.

This is where the Tolkien Lengendarium doesn't perfectly match up with the gnostic mythos, which isn't a problem. I'm just pointing it out. The Valar are Demiurges in that they create the physical world. Demiurge means "creator". They are Aeons in that they are emanations of the One True God. Illuvatar corresponds to the Alien God pretty nicely.

In a way I like the Tolkien structure far more than the classical gnostic arrangement, because of the role nature plays in it. It always seemed to me that in gnosticism nature is pretty much nonredeemable. It's part of this corrupt physical world (the kenoma) which exists simply as a prison for the divine spark housed in each of us. As a naturalist I cannot accept that nature is corrupt or evil. It seems beyond our limiting concepts of good or evil. It is in fact the ground of our being and contains it. We cannot judge it.

I think I got a little confusing there. The Tolkien mythology places a high value on nature, and I really like that.
-Raúl

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:40 am

Thanks for the clarification on the terminology. I'm one of those people who "think in pictures" (and mathematical concepts), so any language is pretty much a "second language" to me. If the concepts are close enough linguistically, they tend to merge. I posit that's because I have an intrinsic directive for "efficiency and data-pruning" that shows up in a lot of situations.

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir » Sat Sep 10, 2016 10:41 am

Whereas I like words. My thinking tends to sort itself out linguistically. I love to look words up I don't know when I'm reading. For me the first step in any endeavor is to nail down the vocabulary.

Like I said though, Tolkien and the gnostic mythos don't align exactly (the way I see it), but the term 'Archon' seems to have intrinsic malevolent connotations. Perhaps not like a deranged sociopath, but at least like a soulless bureaucrat. That's the true horror of the human condition; not that we're fighting the forces of evil, but that we're part of system that values the financial bottom line over the human soul. Everything's got a monetary value now, even your life, and it's not worth as much as you might imagine.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien » Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:48 pm

This is the sort of discussion that I have missed ... I'm glad to see it happening again!

It's interesting that I had similar problems getting my head around the core gnostic concepts as Dave, whereas Tolkien's mythos seemed more natural to me.
I suppose it might just be what you've gotten to know first.

But indeed, Morgoth (and Sauron plus lesser minions) correspond to the Demiurge. I have not read all the parts of the History of Middle-Earth, but I think it was Lance Owens who mentions that somewhere in there is another version of the Silmarillion - which makes a lot of sense, since the book we know as "The Silmarillion" is just one compilation made by Christopher - which seems to be uncannily close to the creation myth of Manicheism. I'm not familiar enough with Manicheism to explain exactly what the correspondence is like, though Lance goes into it a bit more in a lecture he gave last year on Jung and Tolkien.

I would definitely get The Book of Lost Tales 1 & 2. They are amazing. In part 10, Morgoth's Ring, is also a lot of very interesting material.


Incidentally, if you want I can also send you the text files of all parts of the History of Middle-Earth. I've also purchased the books one by one, because I don't really like to read from the screen. But as a reference it is very handy, not in the last place because you can quickly search them.

In a way I like the Tolkien structure far more than the classical gnostic arrangement, because of the role nature plays in it. It always seemed to me that in gnosticism nature is pretty much nonredeemable. It's part of this corrupt physical world (the kenoma) which exists simply as a prison for the divine spark housed in each of us. As a naturalist I cannot accept that nature is corrupt or evil. It seems beyond our limiting concepts of good or evil. It is in fact the ground of our being and contains it. We cannot judge it.

I think I got a little confusing there. The Tolkien mythology places a high value on nature, and I really like that.
I think I agree with you that I don't think that Nature is in any way evil or good. It merely *is*.
If anything, being in a natural environment can make it much easier for me to get into contact with that divine spark. It's the noise that modern humanity makes that feels like a prison to me.

In the Silmarillion there is mention here and there that nature can be corrupted by Morgoth ("great beasts of horn and ivory dyed the earth red with blood and there were fens, rank and poisonous, the breeding place of flies"), but it can also be hallowed by the other Valar. It's indeed the physical shell or house of the world, not by itself good or bad, but maybe you could say that it was good in its original design in any case.
We are living in a flawed world that is not as it should be. Powerful forces are working against us. Do you spend much time thinking about this?
Yes, though I do not have a very particular metaphysical image of how evil operates in today's world: I tend to think about those 'powerful forces' more as I can see them manifest in people and in emergent group phenomena that can be as banal as corporations or corrupt political systems.
I suppose that, in the end, it adds up to the same old demiurge anyhow.

It do think quite a lot about how to "do the right thing" in all that.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:51 am

Skookum Jack wrote:Whereas I like words. My thinking tends to sort itself out linguistically. I love to look words up I don't know when I'm reading. For me the first step in any endeavor is to nail down the vocabulary.
What's also interesting about Tolkien is that the whole thing started with words. As a boy even he used to make up languages together with friends; simplistic at first but increasingly complex later on. Eventually it acquired a sense of "discovering" rather than "making up", there's mention of him imaginatively hearing "ghost words". Further pursuing that creative-linguistic impulse eventually yielded complete languages and even language taxonomies; and with the languages came names and stories that grew and inter-connected.
But the seed was words. There's an anecdote of one of his later academic pupils, Ms. De Aerdenne (not sure about the spelling) asking him, referring to the ability described by CS Lewis as Tolkien went inside words: "You broke the veil, didn't you? You broke the veil and passed through" - to which he readily admitted (loosely quoting Lance Owens here).
Skookum Jack wrote:Like I said though, Tolkien and the gnostic mythos don't align exactly (the way I see it), but the term 'Archon' seems to have intrinsic malevolent connotations. Perhaps not like a deranged sociopath, but at least like a soulless bureaucrat. That's the true horror of the human condition; not that we're fighting the forces of evil, but that we're part of system that values the financial bottom line over the human soul. Everything's got a monetary value now, even your life, and it's not worth as much as you might imagine.
It's interesting that Terry Pratchett describes a similar type of archon bureaucrat, entities described as "auditioners", I think.

Re. "not that we're fighting the forces of evil, but that we're part of system that values the financial bottom line over the human soul" <- exactly!
Though I consider such a system to be "a force of evil". It's in a different guise than a Dark Lord with his hordes of Orcs, but the effect is exactly the same.

Or as Terry Pratchett has one of his characters state: "Evil starts as soon as you start treating people like objects".
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:07 pm

Re. "not that we're fighting the forces of evil, but that we're part of system that values the financial bottom line over the human soul" <- exactly!
Though I consider such a system to be "a force of evil". It's in a different guise than a Dark Lord with his hordes of Orcs, but the effect is exactly the same.
Sure, but the true horror is that the evil simply doesn't care about you. It's not out to get you. You're just in the way. You are done in because you affected the bottom line for someone higher up, or you were standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, or you might have seen something you shouldn't have seen, or you might believe something you shouldn't believe. The evil sweeps you up and destroys you because you knew someone who was suspected of having subversive thoughts. As a matter of fact, they know you're innocent and you're actually on their side, but just to be on the safe side you must be eliminated--and your children.

Even worse: You're just in an unthinking machine that is grinding people up. Concepts of innocence or fairness have no meaning because you're just going to get ground up anyway. You may think the evil despot is the oppressor but he's in the same machine also. We're all in it. Something is going to get you sooner rather than later.

So how do maintain sanity when you find yourself in this situation?
-Raúl

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien » Fri Sep 23, 2016 5:57 am

Skookum Jack wrote:The evil sweeps you up and destroys you because you knew someone who was suspected of having subversive thoughts. As a matter of fact, they know you're innocent and you're actually on their side, but just to be on the safe side you must be eliminated--and your children.
I'm having a little trouble following you here ... I'm not sure we're talking about the same sort of evil here?

I don't think that the evil that I meant is aware of me personally at all, let alone of the fact that I know someone who has subversive thoughts (or actually, that I cherish those thoughts myself).

Even more confusing: how could I ever be on the same side as an evil that IS aware of those things and yet needs me eliminated?
Skookum Jack wrote:Even worse: You're just in an unthinking machine that is grinding people up. Concepts of innocence or fairness have no meaning because you're just going to get ground up anyway. You may think the evil despot is the oppressor but he's in the same machine also. We're all in it. Something is going to get you sooner rather than later.
Isn't hat a bit too alarmist? I'm aware that here is evil at work in the world, yes. I'm also aware that it is indeed an unthinking machine that doesn't really care, and that usurps those who think they gain by joining it as well.

But that doesn't mean that it will get me sooner or later with iron-clad certainty. It might, but I''ve managed until now. One thing that IS certain, is that it has an ubiquitously negative effect, and of course I cannot wholly escape that. But it remains to be seen if it will get me.
Skookum Jack wrote:So how do maintain sanity when you find yourself in this situation?
Because that's not the whole situation. There is good as well.
A! Elin velui, dîn dolog, aduial lúthad!

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien » Fri Sep 23, 2016 6:10 am

Or, to quote a much better reply to your last question:
So how do maintain sanity when you find yourself in this situation?
Like this:
Yes! 'wish-fulfilment dreams' we spin to cheat
our timid hearts and ugly Fact defeat!
Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream,
or some things fair and others ugly deem?
All wishes are not idle, nor in vain
fulfilment we devise -- for pain is pain,
not for itself to be desired, but ill;
or else to strive or to subdue the will
alike were graceless; and of Evil this
alone is deadly certain: Evil is.

Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate;
that seek no parley, and in guarded room,
though small and bate, upon a clumsy loom
weave tissues gilded by the far-off day
hoped and believed in under Shadow's sway.

Blessed are the men of Noah's race that build
their little arks, though frail and poorly filled,
and steer through winds contrary towards a wraith,
a rumour of a harbour guessed by faith.

Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice-seduced).
Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,
and those that hear them yet may yet beware.
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have tuned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.

I would that I might with the minstrels sing
and stir the unseen with a throbbing string.
I would be with the mariners of the deep
that cut their slender planks on mountains steep
and voyage upon a vague and wandering quest,
for some have passed beyond the fabled West.
I would with the beleaguered fools be told,
that keep an inner fastness where their gold,
impure and scanty, yet they loyally bring
to mint in image blurred of distant king,
or in fantastic banners weave the sheen
heraldic emblems of a lord unseen.
I cannot think of anything to add to that.
A! Elin velui, dîn dolog, aduial lúthad!

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir » Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:36 pm

That's nice. Who wrote it?

Sorry, to go on a rant there. I guess I was having images in my mind of being stuck in some kind of totalitarian dystopia, like a communist state or something. I'm not, but sometimes everything seems very sinister to me.

The evil machine that grinds us down though is not just of human-make. It's also the host of diseases, and accidents, etc., that will eventually get you and every one of us. I think too that evil-doers are often victims of evil greater than themselves forcing them to commit evil actions to others. Even the members of the soulless bureaucracy who think they are doing pretty well are themselves victims of the system, in that the system is cutting them off from their own humanity.

That, I think is what's wrong with things today. Everything is mass-produced. Life has been devalued, or de-spiritualized. We exist as data and statistics. We have too much information about the news of the world and too little about our own backyards. Advertising, I believe, is an especially insidious evil at work in the world today.

That is the appeal of Tolkien's vision for me. It shows a world that values beauty, and honor, and bravery. It is almost devoid of commercialism. It is a world in which magic exists as a matter of course, but it's not the cheap magic-as-science of the Harry Potter world, where if you make these sounds and add these ingredients these amazing things will happen. Instead it's a magic of enchantment. It is not quantifiable. It magic of the heart from a world where the heart is not just a pump.
-Raúl

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Sun Sep 25, 2016 1:41 am

Skookum Jack wrote:That's nice. Who wrote it?
JRRT wrote it. It's from "Mythopoeia", his great anti-dystopia poem. Luthien knows the poem better than I and has posted it in a recent thread with analysis. I can't locate that at the moment because I'm cleaning a malware infection from my wife's laptop and am using an old PS/2 mouse here which has some sticky buttons, but here is the poem on another site [link].

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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:29 am

I thought you'd have seen it :)
It's in a thread in the same subforum one level up here
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien » Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:18 am

Skookum Jack wrote:Sorry, to go on a rant there. I guess I was having images in my mind of being stuck in some kind of totalitarian dystopia, like a communist state or something. I'm not, but sometimes everything seems very sinister to me.
Though I won't deny that we're facing some pretty serious problems these days I often get the feeling that the overall sense of being overwhelmed by sinister gloom is entirely constructed by the media, because of the way they function: more sensationalist == more attention == more income for the shareholders.

It gets me at times as well and it can take considerable effort to disengage from it, because part of me is arrested by the sense of "yeah, but it's in / the news / paper / on tv / internet / whatever / so it's gotta be real".
It's not the facts that make this negative emotion. The exact same news facts can be presented in such a way that they will leave you with a sense of utter gloom, but also with a much more realistic view on the issue that might make you concerned but definitely not hopeless.
Unfortunately, the first way seems to be much more profitable.
Skookum Jack wrote:The evil machine that grinds us down though is not just of human-make. It's also the host of diseases, and accidents, etc., that will eventually get you and every one of us.
But accidents and diseases aren't evil - or most of the time they aren't - though they can be extremely unfortunate.
Unless of course you mean "evil" as in the gnostic sense that this imperfect world is the product of a basically evil rebellion by the demiurge (Morgoth in Tolkien's variety).
But I never feel that as in any way targeted to me personally, though it has marred the world, of course.

I find Tolkien's treatment of death as "the gift of Iluvatar" also very interesting.

I'll try and find the formatted version of the Athrabeth Andreth ah Finrod, because that talks about this (among other things).
Skookum Jack wrote:I think too that evil-doers are often victims of evil greater than themselves forcing them to commit evil actions to others. Even the members of the soulless bureaucracy who think they are doing pretty well are themselves victims of the system, in that the system is cutting them off from their own humanity.
Indeed. I've once made a similar point to someone about how the music industry feeds on celebrities. This person was so incredibly envious of celebrities to the point that it poisoned his life. I tried to explain that there's nothing to envy in celebrities; that they're basically entertainment fodder and often deeply miserable. I suppose it's not much different from people in any position of power.
Skookum Jack wrote:That, I think is what's wrong with things today. Everything is mass-produced. Life has been devalued, or de-spiritualized. We exist as data and statistics. We have too much information about the news of the world and too little about our own backyards. Advertising, I believe, is an especially insidious evil at work in the world today.
I couldn't agree more. Though it seems to be a very complex process ... in essence there's nothing evil about advertising. It's just telling the world about your business. Somehow it becomes evil when applied by corporations that may consist of individuals who aren't evil as individuals but who work evil as an emergent phenomenon (wasn't that called an 'egregore'?).
I think that people's group instinct is the handle by which evil has a hold on them; people are rarely truly evil as individuals, though they are misguided or just plain stupid.
Skookum Jack wrote:That is the appeal of Tolkien's vision for me. It shows a world that values beauty, and honor, and bravery. It is almost devoid of commercialism. It is a world in which magic exists as a matter of course, but it's not the cheap magic-as-science of the Harry Potter world, where if you make these sounds and add these ingredients these amazing things will happen. Instead it's a magic of enchantment. It is not quantifiable. It magic of the heart from a world where the heart is not just a pump.
Exactly yes!
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:25 am

Skookum Jack wrote:[...] It is a world in which magic exists as a matter of course, but it's not the cheap magic-as-science of the Harry Potter world, where if you make these sounds and add these ingredients these amazing things will happen. Instead it's a magic of enchantment. It is not quantifiable. It magic of the heart from a world where the heart is not just a pump.
My wife is reading the Harry Potter series to our daughter. My sister visited in late summer and kind of foisted it upon us before we could discuss it. After listening in, I wasn't really bothered by it because large parts of the 'magic' are presented in such a mechanistic fashion that I'm just waiting for the "phase amplifiers" and "dilithium crystals" to make their appearances. ;)

Speaking as a shaman, real 'magic' (if that's what one wants to call it) works almost exactly the opposite of that.

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