Discussion:
CotW LotR Bk. 4, Ch. 1, 'The Taming of Smeagol'
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Troels Forchhammer
2004-09-20 06:19:19 UTC
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This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
'Chapter of the Week' (CotW) project. For more information visit the
CotW homepage at <http://parasha.maoltuile.org/>.

Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'

I've tried to change my use of notes -- unfortunately inventing three
different kinds of notes in the process ;-) Notes with symbols are
handled immediately after the paragraph in which they occur, but
indented differently -- these are mostly comments to the summary.
Notes to my story-internal questions are represented by numbers, but
it should (hopefully) not be necessary to refer back and forth --
they're just there to keep the right sequence ;-)
Finally I have some story-external notes denoted with letters. These
notes are in general quite lengthy, I'm afraid, and I have
consequently decided to put them in a follow-up post by themselves.

Summary:

In this chapter we return to Frodo and Sam in the barren and broken
landscape of the eastern Emyn Muil on the third evening after they
fled from Path Galen. It is the 29th of February and elsewhere Gandalf
is probably still "walking long in dark thought" being weary after
stroving with the Dark Tower, Merry and Pippen are on the way to
Wellinghall in the company of Treebeard and will spend the night
there, Éomer and his éored are still labouring to burn the Orcs and
raise the mound over the fallen riders before they camp at the edge
fo Fangorn, and the Three Hunters are struggling across the Eastemnet
in pursuit of Saruman's Orcs before once more settling down for the
night, Legolas expressing hope for the coming day, "Rede oft is found
at the rising of the Sun."


Frodo and Sam have been scrambling about the southern edge of the
hills trying to find a way down;
" 'What a fix!' said Sam. 'That's the one place in all the
lands we've ever heard of that we don't want to see any
closer; and that's the one place we're trying to get to!
And that's just where we can't get, nohow. We've come the
wrong way altogether, seemingly. We can't get down;"

Frodo and Sam are obviously aware that they are being followed by
Gollum, though they haven't seen or heard a trace of him for a couple
of nights.

As we follow Frodo and Sam the third day turns lucky: they come across
a gully that leads to the edge of the hills, and at the end they find
a managable climb[+]. After some discussion Frodo attempts to clim
down, but a sudden gust of wind and the shrill shriek of a Nazgûl
interferes. Frodo slips and slids a few yards down. He is unharmed
except that he for some reason is unable to see[1].
[+] Frodo estimates it at 18 fathoms, which equals 36 yards;
108 feet or, for the imperially challenged, very nearly
33 metres ;-)

As they shout to each other up and down the cliff face, Sam is
reminded of the Elven rope he carries in his pack and we get another
sample of the Gaffer's paternal vocabulary: "You're nowt but a
ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee." Sam gets his rope out and throws it down to
Frodo, whose sight returns with the appearance of the rope[2].

Sam measures out his rope[*] and discovers to their surprise that it
is long enough to reach the bottom of the drop. As the sky has now
cleared[3] with a few stars appearing "like small white holes in the
canopy above the crescent moon" they decide to climb down using the
rope.
[*] Sam makes out the rope to 30 ells, which equals 112.5 feet or
34.29 metres

Once at the bottom Sam worries that the rope, securely tied at the
top, will help Gollum in his pursuit of them, but when he shakes the
rope it comes free[4].

Frodo and Sam moves on in an north-easterly[%] direction, but soon has
to turn back to "try a way back southwards" because a fissure blocks
their way. In the end they settle down to rest not far from the foot
of the cliff face where they came down.
[%] I think they're trying to get east/north-east around the marshes
at this point.

Just as Sam is settling down to rest and Frodo getting ready to take
the first watch, Frodo discovers Gollum crawling down the cliff. The
two Hobbits sneak up and hides behind a boulder close to the foot of
the cliff.

About a dozen feet[@] above the ground Gollum falls, curling up like a
spider. Sam rushes him, but soon finds himself in trouble from which
he is saved only by Frodo's intervention with Sting.
[@] Just for the sake of completeness, and not because I think we
need it 12' = 3.66 m

They debate what to do with Gollum, but in the end the issue is
decided by Frodo's recollection of his conversation with Gandalf back
in Bag End[a][b]. They decide to spare Gollum's life, but he has to
pay them back by leading them to Mordor, which he promises to do.

Gollum doesn't want to proceed while the moon ("the white face" he
calls it) is up, and the three of them settle down to rest for some
hours. Frodo and Sam pretend to sleep, but don't let their guard down,
so when Gollum tries to escape they catch him quickly and Sam ties his
Elven rope around on of Gollum's ankles.

At that Gollum starst to scream with pain, crying that the rope hurts
him because it is made by Elves[5]. When Frodo is finally convinced
that Gollum is truly in pain he agrees to remove the rope on the
condition that Gollum can make a promise which Frodo can trust. Gollum
then declares that he will swear on his 'precious'.

At this Frodo warns Gollum that swearing to the Ring is dangerous as
it is treacherous and "may twist [his] words," but Gollum insists.
Frodo, however, will not allow him to swear /on/ the Ring, fearing to
let Gollum touch it, and "looking down at him with stern pity" Frodo
tells him, "Swear by it, if you will. For you know where it is. Yes,
you know, Sméagol. It is before you."

At this Sam gets quite an eye-opener as to the relation between Frodo
and Gollum[c][d]:
"For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had
grown and Gollum had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty
lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet
a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and
not alien: they could reach one another's minds. Gollum
raised himself and began pawing at Frodo, fawning at his
knees."

Gollum then swears to "serve the master of the Precious," which Frodo
accepts[6] and orders Sam to remove the rope.

This heralds a change in Gollum -- Sméagol the Hobbit emerge speaking
directly to Frodo and Sam and being "pitifully anxious to please."

" In the deep of night under hard clear stars they set off.
Gollum led them back northward for a while along the way
they had come; then he slanted to the right away from the
steep edge of the Emyn Muil, down the broken stony slopes
towards the vast fens below. They faded swiftly and softly
into the darkness. Over all the leagues of waste before the
gates of Mordor there was a black silence."


Story-internal Questions

[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?

[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
is it merely co-incidence?
"The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."
He does seem to suggest that it is the rope: "I could see nothing,
nothing at all, until the grey rope came down. It seemed to shimmer
somehow." But is he right?
And if he is right, what quality of the rope made it have this
effect on Frodo? And what would have happened had Sam not had the
rope; would Frodo have stayed blind for an hour, until morning,
forever?

[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
interesting[e]:
"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
the sun, as they rode into the West."
This passage, in my mind, clearly suggests that the storm is the
result of "the dark thought of Sauron" brooding over the area. If
this is the case, how often do we then see this effect? Are the
storms at Edoras and later at Helm's Deep related to this effect?
And what about the description of Sauron's thought at Amon Hen as "a
black shadow" and in particular the description after it has passed:
"Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."

Need we comment on the difference between these descriptions and the
search/light/ effect used in the films?

[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself -- when I
called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers to be able of
such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree. Did the rope untie
itself when Sam called, was it the merely the smooth surface of the
rope that defeated Sam's knot once it wasn't pulled tight, or is
Sam's trust in his own skills at knot-tying misplaced?

[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
unbearable to Gollum?
Story-externally it is clear that the good of the Elves is
unbearable to the corrupted creature Gollum has become, but story-
internally I don't think the question is really ever answered.
I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn from
one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that we love
into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought that is
unbearable to Gollum? I'm not sure if it is truly in the spirit of
Tolkien's Middle-earth world-view, but it is the best explanation
that I have been able to come up with.

[6] Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.


Other Questions
These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
alphabetical notes.


General Comments

" The hurrying darkness, now gathering great speed, rushed
up from the East and swallowed the sky."
Isn't it just beautiful ;-)
And to think that this is a description of the dark, brooding thought
of the real Lord of the Rings.


This is the first of a series of chapters detailing the journey of the
trio from Emyn Muil and ultimately to Mount Doom. The first three of
these chapters, and some of the later chapters, have always seemed to
me very hard to get through: I feel that I am slowly plodding my way
through the texts with all these ponderous descriptions of the bleak
and depressing landscapes of Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes and the waste
before Mordor. I have come to realise that this impression probably
is the literary equivalent of what the characters are going through,
and if this is deliberate by Tolkien, then it is, IMO, a work of
absolute literary genious.


In relation to the characterisation of the three (see [c]) I wonder if
there is some foreshadowing in this chapter.

Frodo here use the presence of the Ring to dominate Gollum: is this an
indication that he is himself falling under the domination of the
Ring? The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?

Gollum promises to help Frodo, tries to betray him and yet ends up
serving Frodo's ends. The Sméagol persona emerge for the longest
period of time, though we will see it occasionally again. I think that
Sméagol really does want healing; it is he who hungers for redemption,
and who, at the end, might have been less absorbed in the Ring,
possibly not avoiding the fall.

Sam is gentler than his words -- sparing Gollum almost in spite of
himself. When Gollum starts whimpering right after his capture, Sam
realises that "he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay
grovelling on the stones whimpering." This is, I believe, mirrored
later on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam found that "he could not
strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly
wretched." It is one thing that the two situations are alike -- that
one mirrors the other, but does the first foreshadow the later?


There has been a good deal of talk about /On Fairy Stories/ lately,
and I have tried to come up with an ingenious way to link this chapter
to that essay, but without much luck.
One connection I do see is in the (false, as it turns out) promise of
the redemption of Sméagol as the potential eucatastrophe of the books
(the potential eucatastrphe, as I see it, lies in the, aFAIK very
Christian, promise that redemption and absolution /is/ possible --
even for Gollum).
Can others come up with other ideas to how Tolkien's vision of fairy-
stories as put down in OFS has influenced this chapter?


With respect to magic: is it only me, or is there an element of
goeteia in Frodo's domination of Gollum? In the note to letter #155 it
is defined (quoting the OED) as "witchcraft or magic performed by the
invocation and employment of evil spirits; necromancy." Does Frodo
invoke the evil spirit of the Ring (or, for those who prefer that, the
evil will of Sauron that infuses the Ring) in order to cow Gollum?


Your thoughts, ideas, comments and questions?
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

My adversary's argument
is not alone malevolent
but ignorant to boot.
He hasn't even got the sense
to state his so-called evidence
in terms I can refute.
- Piet Hein, /The Untenable Argument/
Troels Forchhammer
2004-09-20 06:21:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
Other Questions:

These questions are referred to in the main introduction post by
alphabetical notes:

[a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the correct
version of this quotation, which has turned out to be a matter of
whether one quotes the version in I,2 'The Shadow of the Past' or
the version in this chapter. In the spirit of textual comparison I
here quote both passages in full:
LotR I,2 'The Shadow of the Past':
" 'But this is terrible!' cried Frodo. 'Far worse than the
worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O
Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am
really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did
not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'
'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy:
not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded,
Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil,
and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of
the Ring so. With Pity.'
'I am sorry,' said Frodo. 'But I am frightened; and I do
not feel any pity for Gollum.'
'You have not seen him,' Gandalf broke in.
'No, and I don't want to,' said Frodo. I can't understand
you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let
him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate
he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves
death.'
'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to
them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I
have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies,
but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the
fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part
to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that
comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many - yours
not least. In any case we did not kill him: he is very old
and very wretched. The Wood-elves have him in prison, but
they treat him with such kindness as they can find in their
wise hearts.'"
LotR IV,1 'The Taming of Sméagol':
" /What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he
had a chance!/
/Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy:
not to strike without need./
/I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death./
/Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to
them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise
cannot see all ends./"
Apart from the lengths the only obvious difference is in Gandalf's
comment about death. "Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends" becomes, in
Frodo's memory, "Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see
all ends." Ignoring for the moment the possibility that either is an
unchanged version that was earlier common to both passages (anyone
with the relavant HoMe volumes who'd care to comment?), does this
difference mean anything? I am thinking in particular of the
differences between "in judgement" and "in the name of justice" as
well as the addition of "fearing for your own safety." Is this
merely capturing the sense of the longer discussion in I,2 as it
applies to the situation in the current chapter?

[b] This seems like a good place to comment on the role of pity in the
books in general.
Tolkien himself commented extensively upon it in his letters, and it
has been discussed here as well:
<http://groups-
beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/browse_frm/thread/117f8ac7
c4bc08d4/61b4c74db1aa7c22>
<http://tinyurl.com/4wagm>
The key passage in the letters is probably the following from letter
#181, 1956:
" But at this point the 'salvation' of the world and
Frodo's own 'salvation' is achieved by his previous pity
and forgiveness of injury. At any point any prudent person
would have told Frodo that Gollum would certainly betray
him, and could rob him in the end. To 'pity' him, to
forbear to kill him, was a piece of folly, or a mystical
belief in the ultimate value-in-itself of pity and
generosity even if disastrous in the world of time. He did
rob him and injure him in the end - but by a 'grace', that
last betrayal was at a precise juncture when the final evil
deed was the most beneficial thing any one cd. have done
for Frodo! By a situation created by his 'forgiveness', he
was saved himself, and relieved of his burden."
Pity is, it appears, the single most important quality exhibited by
the characters in the book -- it is this that allows them to receive
the grace that saves them and Middle-earth from Sauron.

[c] This passage, and indeed this whole chapter (at least from when
Frodo and Sam finally meet Gollum) is, IMO, crucial to the
understanding of the relationships between these three Hobbits for
the remainder of the book.
Frodo: In this chapter we see the progress of the ennoblement later
commented upon by Saruman ("You have grown, Halfling") and only
glimpsed earlier in Lothlórien and at Amon Hen. Bereft of the
guidance of both Gandalf and Aragorn, Frodo starts developing more
rapidly into the formidable Hobbit we see towards the end -- one
that commands the respect of even the fallen Istar. We also see the
strange understanding between Frodo and Gollum, but with Frodo
clearly in the superior position. And finally there is Sam's vision
which is commented upon independently in [d]
Sam: The most interesting new aspect of Sam's personality in this
chapter is, IMO, his brusque compassion for Gollum. I think we're
getting his views when we learn that "His eyes, filled with anger
and disgust, were fixed on the wretched creature [...]", and "he
could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay grovelling on the
stones whimpering." Later, when Frodo examines the knot around
Gollum's ankle we learn that despite his harsh words about putting
the rope around Gollum's neck, Frodo "found that it was not too
tight, indeed hardly tight enough. Sam was gentler than his words."
Gollum: In this chapter we get the first view of the two sides:
Gollum and Sméagol. The name of the chapter even implies the
emergence of this new 'personality', though it may have been implied
already in /The Hobbit/ when it says about Gollum's suggestion of
the Riddle game that "Asking them, and sometimes guessing them, had
been the only game he had ever played with other funny creatures
sitting in their holes in the long, long ago, before he lost all his
friends and was driven away, alone, and crept down, down, into the
dark under the mountains." It is also strongly implied by Gandalf in
I,2 'The Shadow of the Past' when he told Frodo about Gollum, "Even
Gollum was not wholly ruined. He had proved tougher than even one of
the Wise would have guessed - as a hobbit might. There was a little
corner of his mind that was still his own."
These three characters will accompany each other, in one way or
another, from Emyn Muil to Mount Doom. Bound together by fate, and
incidentally all three ending up as bearers or keepers of the One
Ring. They are all alike in some ways: all Hobbits, and all of them
far more resistant to the influence of the One Ring than anyone
would have guessed. The relationship between Sam and Frodo was more
or less settled already: Frodo was the master and Sam the servant
and protector, but the addition of Gollum into the equation adds a
new dimension even to Sam and Frodo's relationship.
Frodo-Sam: The change here is subtle, but Sam gets to see Frodo in a
new light as a mighty lord, but also as more akin to Gollum than he
would have imagined. Does Sam resent this understanding between his
master and Gollum? Clearly Sam is also developing into more than a
servant with a shrewd understanding of his master: Sam is taking on
the role as Frodo's protector.
Frodo-Gollum: This relationship is, in this chapter, governed by two
things: Frodo's pity for Gollum (strengthening the Sméagol persona)
and Frodo's implicit use of the Ring to cow and dominate Gollum
("Yes, you know, Sméagol. It is before you." [...] "'Down! down!'
said Frodo. `Now speak your promise!").
Sam-Gollum: Sam and Gollum don't 'hit it off': Sam is gentler than
his words, but Gollum doesn't see that, and he resents Sam. Sam on
the other hand has appointed himself as Frodo's protector (well, I
suppose that this was also, in part, done by Gandalf) and sees
Gollum as a danger to Frodo, but is he also influenced by the
kinship he discovers between them -- does he get envious that Gollum
can understand a part of his master that is closed to himself,
and/or does he realise that Gollum is more dangerous because of this
understanding?

[d] When Frodo makes Gollum speak his promise to, but not on, the
Ring, sam has a peculiar vision (and not the last), where "it
appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk: a
tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey
cloud [...]" This clearly echoes similar occasions with other
characters; Gandalf in I,1 where he "seemed to grow tall and
menacing; his shadow filled the little room" when he made Bilbo
leave the Ring and elsewhere as well, Aragorn in I,10 where he
"seemed suddenly to grow taller" and Galadriel when she spoke of
accepting the Ring. It seems that this signifies a greater power in
Middle-earth, and it is noteworthy that Frodo now also exhibits
this.

[e] I have discussed how the storm is used to describe Sauron's
attention on an area, but this is not the first nor the last time
Tolkien use weather phenomena as metaphors for the struggle in
Middle-earth. The most obvious is of course the artificial darkness
that will later spread from Orodruin, the examples are numerous.
I'll admit that it works for me, but how about others -- do these
descriptions of dark storms, glimpses of light (e.g the fallen
head of the king at the cross-roads, and the star Sam sees from
Mordor) and other weather effects work for you as well? Do they work
for everybody, or do they only work for a set of fairy-story-ready
readers?
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

A Thaum is the basic unit of magical strength. It has been universally
established as the amount of magic needed to create one small white
pigeon or three normal sized billiard balls.
- (Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic)
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-09-26 23:21:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
[a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the correct
version of this quotation, which has turned out to be a matter of
whether one quotes the version in I,2 'The Shadow of the Past' or
the version in this chapter. In the spirit of textual comparison I
<now snipped>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to
them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
I've called this 'a'.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
/Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to
them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise
cannot see all ends./"
And I've called this 'b'.

First, I have always assumed that Tolkien would have written the second
passage with the first one in front of him. Can we assume this, and so
discount any misquoting by Tolkien himself?

Second (as you say), do the HoME drafts shed any light on this?
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Apart from the lengths the only obvious difference is in Gandalf's
comment about death.
There are also two minor stylistic changes, which might or might not be
significant (probably not):

1a) And some that die deserve life.
2b) And some die that deserve life.

I am sure these mean the same thing. Do they?

I think 'a' sounds better, and 'b' is less consistent with the rest of
the surrounding sentences. This might emphasize the fact that 'a' is
spoken and 'b' is a memory.

2a) Then do not be too eager
2b) Then be not too eager

This is more obviously a stylistic change, but again, 'a' (to my ear)
sounds better constructed, while 'b' sounds a bit more like a memory
than spoken words. I could easily be imagining this though!
Post by Troels Forchhammer
"Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends" becomes, in
Frodo's memory, "Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see
all ends."
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
does this difference mean anything?
I am convinced it must mean something! My best guess is pretty similar
to yours, emphasizing the fact that Frodo is half-remembering something
he heard, and adding his own feelings - particularly the fear that he
and Sam feel for their safety with Gollum around.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I am thinking in particular of the
differences between "in judgement" and "in the name of justice" as
well as the addition of "fearing for your own safety." Is this
merely capturing the sense of the longer discussion in I,2 as it
applies to the situation in the current chapter?
I think that there is a difference between the use of judgement and
justice here.

a) "Death in judgement" to me is meant to mean "Death as judgement". A
direct statement that the judgement passed is death. The statement is
neutral and does not say whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.

b) "Death in the name of justice" to me implies justice being used to
excuse a death sentence. More in the spirit of "Gollum's done really
nasty things, so we'd better kill him and see justice [=revenge] done".
Frodo's memory saying "in the name of" might be an implicit recognition
of the fact that his logic is false, that he realises (from Gandalf's
earlier version of this statement) that if he did kill Gollum that this
"justice" is only an excuse. Not only is it wrong to think that way, but
Frodo's real motivation is revealed when his memory adds the following:

"fearing for your own safety".

I also find it interesting that "very wise" becomes "wise", though maybe
this is merely to do with Gandalf (who spoke the original statement)
being one of the Wise, while Frodo is not.

I also discussed this difference in the quotes in another post in
August:

http://www.google.com/groups?&selm=UCQSc.4235%24Mo2.46214269%40news-text.cableinet.net

The main point was this:

[BEGIN QUOTE]

Surely Tolkien would have realised this. Is there some deep subtle
meaning here about why Frodo's actions are based not on "What did
Gandalf Say"? but on "What Frodo remembers Gandalf Saying"?

The main change is a bit about "fearing for your own safety". I guess
this might be Frodo subconciously adapting Gandalf's moral to suit his
own situation: him and Sam alone with Gollum in the wild, fearing for
their safety.

This would support the fact that the primary agent here is Frodo's
memory, and not some 'Gandalf virus' prompting him to act correctly.

[END QUOTE]

< snip pity stuff - maybe another time :-) >

There are *lots* of references to pity in LotR!
Could start a whole new thread on that alone.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[c] This passage, and indeed this whole chapter (at least from when
Frodo and Sam finally meet Gollum) is, IMO, crucial to the
understanding of the relationships between these three Hobbits for
the remainder of the book.
Frodo: In this chapter we see the progress of the ennoblement later
commented upon by Saruman ("You have grown, Halfling")
<snip>

Never thought much about it before, but can a case be made for saying
that this ennoblement happens after the Ring goes into the Fire. We see
it most clearly when the hobbits are back in the Shire.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Sam: The most interesting new aspect of Sam's personality in this
chapter is, IMO, his brusque compassion for Gollum
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
despite [Sam's] harsh words about putting
the rope around Gollum's neck, Frodo "found that it was not too
tight, indeed hardly tight enough. Sam was gentler than his words."
I seem to remember some saying that Frodo shows less pity than Sam. Frod
o is the harsher master. At what point do we, or should we, make
allowances for the fact that Frodo might be being influenced by the
Ring?

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
These three characters will accompany each other, in one way or
another, from Emyn Muil to Mount Doom. Bound together by fate,
and incidentally all three ending up as bearers or keepers of the
One
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Ring. They are all alike in some ways: all Hobbits, and all of them
far more resistant to the influence of the One Ring than anyone
would have guessed.
Good points.

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Frodo-Sam: The change here is subtle, but Sam gets to see Frodo in a
new light as a mighty lord, but also as more akin to Gollum than he
would have imagined. Does Sam resent this understanding between his
master and Gollum? Clearly Sam is also developing into more than a
servant with a shrewd understanding of his master: Sam is taking on
the role as Frodo's protector.
But what does Frodo think of Sam?
Same as before or different?
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Frodo-Gollum: This relationship is, in this chapter, governed by two
things: Frodo's pity for Gollum (strengthening the Sméagol persona)
and Frodo's implicit use of the Ring to cow and dominate Gollum
("Yes, you know, Sméagol. It is before you." [...] "'Down! down!'
said Frodo. `Now speak your promise!").
But what does Gollum think of Frodo?
Do we get to see Gollum's thoughts here?

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[d] When Frodo makes Gollum speak his promise to, but not on, the
Ring, Sam has a peculiar vision (and not the last), where "it
appeared to Sam that his master had grown
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
It seems that this signifies a greater power in
Middle-earth, and it is noteworthy that Frodo now also exhibits
this.
Indeed. Nice examples!
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[e] I have discussed how the storm is used to describe Sauron's
attention on an area, but this is not the first nor the last time
Tolkien use weather phenomena as metaphors for the struggle in
Middle-earth. The most obvious is of course the artificial darkness
that will later spread from Orodruin, the examples are numerous.
I'll admit that it works for me, but how about others -- do these
descriptions of dark storms, glimpses of light (e.g the fallen
head of the king at the cross-roads, and the star Sam sees from
Mordor) and other weather effects work for you as well? Do they work
for everybody, or do they only work for a set of fairy-story-ready
readers?
They work for me. Not really as fairy-story stuff, but more as nice
descriptions of natural events and objects.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
GoldenUsagi
2004-09-29 07:58:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
There are also two minor stylistic changes, which might or might not be
1a) And some that die deserve life.
2b) And some die that deserve life.
I am sure these mean the same thing. Do they?
I think they do. However, if you were to break them down to diagram them (and
what modifies what), obviously "some" is the subject in both, but the verb may
be different. In A, "that die" modifies "some," I think, "deserve" is the
verb, and "life" is the direct object. In B, "die" is the main verb, and "that
deserve life" either modifies "some," or would be some sort of clause. There
is no direct object. If you stripped both sentences down, A would be "Some
deserve life," and B would be "Some die."

Britt
Shanahan
2004-10-02 02:24:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
[a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the
correct version of this quotation, which has turned out to
be a matter of whether one quotes the version in I,2 'The
Shadow of the Past' or the version in this chapter. In the
spirit of textual comparison I here quote both passages in
<snip>
<versus snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
First, I have always assumed that Tolkien would have written the
second passage with the first one in front of him. Can we assume
this, and so discount any misquoting by Tolkien himself?
Second (as you say), do the HoME drafts shed any light on this?
Well, in the course of writing my CotW, I looked this up, and was
stunned to discover that HoME has some rather direct light to shed
on this subject! <g> HoME VIII, The War of the Ring, pp.96 and
on, in the HM trade paperback, 2000. Turns out Tolkien rewrote
this speech backwards, revising the earlier version when he wrote
the later one.

On the back of one of the draft pages of "The Taming of Smeagol",
is the revised version of Gandalf's speech, almost as published in
Book I, Ch.II, "The Shadow of the Past". Since he didn't write the
revision on a draft page of "The Shadow of the Past" (then called
"Ancient History"), it seems he didn't have the earlier chapter in
front of him. This revision was very soon written into the
"Ancient History" drafts. The speech as drafted for "The Taming of
Smeagol" was also slightly rewritten and then placed into the
manuscript in /that/ chapter.

Christopher says that these changes were "perhaps not intentionally
different at all points". (But it certainly seems likely.)
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Frodo's memory saying "in the name of"
might be an implicit recognition of the fact that his logic is
false, that he realises (from Gandalf's earlier version of this
statement) that if he did kill Gollum that this "justice" is
only an excuse. Not only is it wrong to think that way, but
Frodo's real motivation is revealed when his memory adds the
"fearing for your own safety".
Interestingly enough, the major change between the two versions is
this very phrase, which was omitted from the "Taming of Smeagol"
version when it was rewritten and placed into the "Ancient History"
version. Very possibly to create the psychological situation you
describe above, and to make Frodo's actions spring from true pity,
not just an excuse.

Ciaran S.
--
And each time that he slew Húrin cried: "Aurë entuluva! Day shall
come again!"
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-02 12:26:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
[The 'some deserve life' quotation]
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the
correct version of this quotation
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
<versus snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
First, I have always assumed that Tolkien would have written the
second passage with the first one in front of him. Can we assume
this, and so discount any misquoting by Tolkien himself?
Second (as you say), do the HoME drafts shed any light on this?
Well, in the course of writing my CotW, I looked this up, and was
stunned to discover that HoME has some rather direct light to shed
on this subject! <g>
THANK-YOU!
THANK-YOU!

:-)
Post by Shanahan
HoME VIII, The War of the Ring, pp.96 and
the later one.
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Christopher says that these changes were "perhaps not intentionally
different at all points". (But it certainly seems likely.)
I must point out that you mean Christopher Tolkien here... I also wonder
if you should reject his opinion. He might have had some reason for
saying so. Maybe "perhaps not" is his understated way of saying "looks
interesting, but we can't really tell". Mayeb he is emphasizing the "at
all points" bit, saying that minor changes are minor, but the one big
change might be significant.
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Frodo's memory saying "in the name of"
might be an implicit recognition of the fact that his logic is
false, that he realises (from Gandalf's earlier version of this
statement) that if he did kill Gollum that this "justice" is
only an excuse. Not only is it wrong to think that way, but
Frodo's real motivation is revealed when his memory adds the
"fearing for your own safety".
Interestingly enough, the major change between the two versions is
this very phrase, which was omitted from the "Taming of Smeagol"
version when it was rewritten and placed into the "Ancient History"
version. Very possibly to create the psychological situation you
describe above, and to make Frodo's actions spring from true pity,
not just an excuse.
The reason for the change is something we have to speculate about, but
at least we now know that the change was deliberately made and in what
order. I'll have to look at the details more closely in my HoME books,
but thanks again for that.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-02 23:56:27 UTC
Permalink
[The differences between the 'Deserves death?' qoutations]
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Shanahan
Well, in the course of writing my CotW, I looked this up, and was
stunned to discover that HoME has some rather direct light to
shed on this subject! <g>
THANK-YOU!
THANK-YOU!
I'll second that -- it was very interesting.
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

My adversary's argument
is not alone malevolent
but ignorant to boot.
He hasn't even got the sense
to state his so-called evidence
in terms I can refute.
- Piet Hein, /The Untenable Argument/
Shanahan
2004-10-03 03:32:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Shanahan
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of
[The 'some deserve life' quotation]
<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Shanahan
Christopher says that these changes were "perhaps not
intentionally different at all points". (But it certainly
seems likely.)
I must point out that you mean Christopher Tolkien here...
Oops, yeah, should have made that clear!
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I also wonder if you should reject his opinion. He might have had
some reason for saying so. Maybe "perhaps not" is his
understated way of saying "looks interesting, but we can't
really tell". Mayeb he is emphasizing the "at all points" bit,
saying that minor changes are minor, but the one big change
might be significant.
Hm, I read it as "I think these changes were intentionally
different, but I don't have enough hard evidence, so I'll throw in
the qualifiers "perhaps not" and "at all points". Although your
second point is a definite possibility, too.

<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
The reason for the change is something we have to speculate
about, but at least we now know that the change was deliberately
made and in what order. I'll have to look at the details more
closely in my HoME books, but thanks again for that.
You're welcome, it was fun. I rarely open up HoME unless I get a
bug in my brain like this one, and then I always enjoy it when I do
start reading!

Ciaran S.
--
"...and just when you'd think they were more malignant
than ever Hell could be, they could occasionally show
more grace than Heaven ever dreamed of.
Often the same individual was involved.
It was this free-will thing, of course.
It was a bugger."
- gaiman and pratchett
TT Arvind
2005-03-02 18:54:45 UTC
Permalink
Wes ðu Christopher Kreuzer hal!
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to
them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
I've called this 'a'.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
/Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to
them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise
cannot see all ends./"
And I've called this 'b'.
<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
The main change is a bit about "fearing for your own safety". I guess
this might be Frodo subconciously adapting Gandalf's moral to suit his
own situation: him and Sam alone with Gollum in the wild, fearing for
their safety.
I think that the two changes together - "in the name of justice" and
"fearing for your own safety" essentially 'adapt' the quote to the
situation of a soldier. It's been remarked how JRRT drew on his own
trench-warfare experiences for describing Frodo and Sam's journey to
Mordor. It seems to me that when a soldier starts feeling that someone
becoming hasty to deal out death, it is likely to be because of a
combination of these very factors - that it is 'just' to kill them, and
that it's either kill or be killed.

In effect, 'a' reads like something a wise counsellor would say as a
general statement, 'b' reads more like something a 'good' soldier would
say to restrain his friends during a war.

--
Arvind

Bad spellers of the world untie!

David Besack
2004-09-20 15:44:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
is it merely co-incidence?
"The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."
[1] It was simply very dark, and [2] the rope reflected what little light
was available, and it was the only thing he was able to see, at least at
that moment.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
The book seems to suggest that the rope can do something most ropes can't,
i.e. shake off a knot when it is pulled loosely.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
unbearable to Gollum?
Story-externally it is clear that the good of the Elves is
unbearable to the corrupted creature Gollum has become, but story-
internally I don't think the question is really ever answered.
I don't think so either. It seems to be left a mystery.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn from
one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that we love
into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought that is
unbearable to Gollum?
Could be, but to the point that the rope physically hurts him? It's very
strange.
aelfwina
2004-09-20 15:55:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Besack
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
is it merely co-incidence?
"The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."
[1] It was simply very dark, and [2] the rope reflected what little light
was available, and it was the only thing he was able to see, at least at
that moment.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
The book seems to suggest that the rope can do something most ropes can't,
i.e. shake off a knot when it is pulled loosely.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
unbearable to Gollum?
Story-externally it is clear that the good of the Elves is
unbearable to the corrupted creature Gollum has become, but story-
internally I don't think the question is really ever answered.
I don't think so either. It seems to be left a mystery.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn from
one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that we love
into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought that is
unbearable to Gollum?
Could be, but to the point that the rope physically hurts him? It's very
strange.
Perhaps it's psychosomatic? Knowing that the rope was made by Elves, he
convinces himself that it is inimical to him. It might explain his aversion
to other things Elvish, as well?
Barbara
Troels Forchhammer
2004-09-21 11:37:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by aelfwina
Post by David Besack
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return
or is it merely co-incidence?
[1] It was simply very dark, and [2] the rope reflected what little
light was available, and it was the only thing he was able to see,
at least at that moment.
How prosaic ;-)

So you reject the explanation implied by Frodo?
Post by aelfwina
Post by David Besack
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
The book seems to suggest that the rope can do something most ropes
can't, i.e. shake off a knot when it is pulled loosely.
The book, as I see it, describes that the ropes comes loose, but the only
suggestions as such to the reason why the rope behaves in this way are
Sam's confidence that this is part of some Elven magic of the rope, while
Frodo seems dubious. I'm not sure that one can actually say that the book
really suggests one in favour of the other.

Personally I tend to agree with Sam that it is an inherent quality of the
rope that it has the ability to come loose when the owner wishes it to.

<snip>
Post by aelfwina
Post by David Besack
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
<snip>
Post by aelfwina
Post by David Besack
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn
from one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that
we love into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought
that is unbearable to Gollum?
Could be, but to the point that the rope physically hurts him? It's
very strange.
Perhaps it's psychosomatic? Knowing that the rope was made by Elves,
he convinces himself that it is inimical to him. It might explain
his aversion to other things Elvish, as well?
Barbara
But how about the Lembas? He seems willing enough to taste them, even
though he already knew them to be Elven. And how would he know that the
rope came from Lothlórien?

Though it belongs in the next chapter, I think Gollum's reaction to the
lembas is of the same nature:

" Frodo broke off a portion of a wafer and handed it to him
on its leaf-wrapping. Gollum sniffed at the leaf and his
face changed: a spasm of disgust came over it, and a hint
of his old malice. 'Sméagol smells it! ' he said. 'Leaves
out of the elf-country, gah! They stinks. He climbed in
those trees, and he couldn't wash the smell off his hands,
my nice hands.' Dropping the leaf, he took a corner of the
lembas and nibbled it. He spat, and a fit of coughing shook
him.
'Ach! No! ' he spluttered. 'You try to choke poor
Sméagol. Dust and ashes, he can't eat that. He must starve.
But Sméagol doesn't mind. Nice hobbits! Sméagol has
promised. He will starve. He can't eat hobbits' food. He
will starve. Poor thin Sméagol! '
'I'm sorry,' said Frodo; 'but I can't help you, I'm
afraid. I think this food would do you good, if you would
try. But perhaps you can't even try, not yet anyway.'"

Gollum is disgusted by the smell of the mallorn leaf, but it doesn't hurt
him, and it isn't enough to prevent him from trying the cake. Only when
he tries to eat it ("nibbled it") does he react with a "fit of coughing".
Note also Frodo's assessment that eating the lembas might actually help
Gollum (of course we already know that the lembas were quite special).
The two situations with the rope and the lembas are, IMO, parallels, and
would have the same underlying cause.
--
Troels Forchhammer

Indeed, literary analysis will be a serious undertaking only when it
adopts the mindset of quantum physics and regards the observer as part of
the experiment.
- Flame of the West on AFT/RABT
Dirk Thierbach
2004-09-24 13:05:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Besack
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
is it merely co-incidence?
"The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."
[1] It was simply very dark,
But for some reason Sam can see very well: "It was dim, certainly, but
not as dark as all that. He could see Frodo below him, a grey forlorn
figure splayed against the cliff."

Frodo is literally struck with blindness after he hears the Nazgul-cry.
I don't know why, and I have often wondered about [1] myself, but
I think it is unlikely that [2] is only coincidence. If his blindness
is in any way connected to the Nazgul, then it would be fitting that
something elvish can cure him.
Post by David Besack
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
The book seems to suggest that the rope can do something most ropes
can't, i.e. shake off a knot when it is pulled loosely.
That's how I read it, too, but it's still strange, isn't it? And
it doesn't explain *why* the rope is able to do that.

- Dirk
Eric Schmidt
2004-09-23 05:44:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
the sun, as they rode into the West."
This passage, in my mind, clearly suggests that the storm is the
result of "the dark thought of Sauron" brooding over the area. If
this is the case, how often do we then see this effect? Are the
storms at Edoras and later at Helm's Deep related to this effect?
And what about the description of Sauron's thought at Amon Hen as "a
"Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."
If I recall HoMe correctly, then this storm is supposed to be the
exact same storm that appears at Helm's Deep. Gandalf says in that
chapter, "Behind us comes a very storm of Mordor." Something to think
about.
--
Eric Schmidt
Emma Pease
2004-09-24 01:16:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Schmidt
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
the sun, as they rode into the West."
This passage, in my mind, clearly suggests that the storm is the
result of "the dark thought of Sauron" brooding over the area. If
this is the case, how often do we then see this effect? Are the
storms at Edoras and later at Helm's Deep related to this effect?
And what about the description of Sauron's thought at Amon Hen as "a
"Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."
If I recall HoMe correctly, then this storm is supposed to be the
exact same storm that appears at Helm's Deep. Gandalf says in that
chapter, "Behind us comes a very storm of Mordor." Something to think
about.
Then it is a pretty sluggish storm

From my calculations of the timeline since Frodo and Sam encounter it
on the 29th but the storm at Helm's Deep doesn't take place till March
3.

Emma

ps. People should check my dates for Frodo and Sam.

Timeline:

Feb 26
- Breaking of the Fellowship
- Frodo and Sam cross to the east bank and head off

Feb 27

Feb 28

Feb 29
- evening, Frodo and Sam reach the edge of the Emyn Muil, catch
Gollum, Thunderstorm, hear a Nazgul

Feb 30

Mar 1
- Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go into Fangorn. Meet Gandalf

- Frodo, Sam, and Gollum begin passage of the Dead Marshes

Mar 2
- Early morning, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli reach Edoras
- mid-afternoon, Theoden heads to the fords of the Isen
- evening, Theoden's forces camp after 5 hrs ride

- Frodo, Sam, and Gollum finish the passage of the Dead Marshes

Mar 3
- Afternoon, Theoden's army meets a refugee, Ceorl. Gandalf
leaves. Theoden changes directions to Helm's Deep
- after nightfall, Theoden reaches Helm's Deep
- Night, battle of the Hornberg, thunderstorm
--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-09-24 01:49:00 UTC
Permalink
[about storm encountered by Sam and Frodo in the Emyn Muil]
Post by Emma Pease
Post by Eric Schmidt
If I recall HoMe correctly
Would you (or anyone) be able to find this reference?
Post by Emma Pease
Post by Eric Schmidt
then this storm is supposed to be the
exact same storm that appears at Helm's Deep. Gandalf says in that
chapter, "Behind us comes a very storm of Mordor." Something to think
about.
Then it is a pretty sluggish storm
From my calculations of the timeline since Frodo and Sam encounter it
on the 29th but the storm at Helm's Deep doesn't take place till March
3.
Agreed. There are several storms referred to in the books. There is also
one that passes over Edoras at the point where Gandalf makes a dramatic
gesture and a flash of lightning scares Wormtongue.

The impression I get is that many storms come out of Mordor, maybe even
the one that struck Caradhras earlier in the story. Then we have the
great darkness (maybe volcanic ash and fumes) that comes later.

Hmph! We need a chronology of the weather! Emma...? :-)

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Emma Pease
2004-09-24 02:08:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
[about storm encountered by Sam and Frodo in the Emyn Muil]
Post by Emma Pease
Post by Eric Schmidt
If I recall HoMe correctly
Would you (or anyone) be able to find this reference?
Post by Emma Pease
Post by Eric Schmidt
then this storm is supposed to be the
exact same storm that appears at Helm's Deep. Gandalf says in that
chapter, "Behind us comes a very storm of Mordor." Something to think
about.
Then it is a pretty sluggish storm
From my calculations of the timeline since Frodo and Sam encounter it
on the 29th but the storm at Helm's Deep doesn't take place till March
3.
Agreed. There are several storms referred to in the books. There is also
one that passes over Edoras at the point where Gandalf makes a dramatic
gesture and a flash of lightning scares Wormtongue.
The impression I get is that many storms come out of Mordor, maybe even
the one that struck Caradhras earlier in the story. Then we have the
great darkness (maybe volcanic ash and fumes) that comes later.
Hmph! We need a chronology of the weather! Emma...? :-)
I can try but I don't have one off-hand.

Emma
--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht
Eric Schmidt
2004-09-26 05:24:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
[about storm encountered by Sam and Frodo in the Emyn Muil]
Post by Eric Schmidt
If I recall HoMe correctly
Would you (or anyone) be able to find this reference?
Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring", in
the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol". (Diacritics
removed for Usenet.) On page 95 (in my copy):

"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and the main
battle had passed -- hastening with wind and thunder over the Emyn
Muil, over Anduin, over the fields of Rohan, on to the Hornburg where
the King Theoden stood at bay that night, and the Tindtorras now stood
dark against the last lurid glow."

This corresponds to the passage cited upthread. At this stage, when
Frodo descends from the Emyn Muil, the Helm's Deep Battle happened
that night. The "Note on the Chronology" at the end of this chapter
gives more information. Tolkien revised the sequence of event so that
the battle of Helm's Deep occurred one day later. Because of this,
Tolkien changed this passage to one rather similar to the one found in
TTT. But, as had been pointed out, the Tale of Years puts the battle
four days later (Feb 29 to Mar 3). CRT writes that Tolkien noticed
this ("Chronology wrong. The storm of Frodo was 3 days before
Theoden's ride.") and modified the passage to the final version,
"giving the great storm a more widely curving path" (CRT's words).

While the reference to the Hornburg in the first version does not
appear in the later ones, that Tolkien still tried to revise the
passage to accord with the chronology shows that he had not abandoned
the idea.

So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and it
travelled slowly.
--
Eric Schmidt
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-09-26 08:45:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Schmidt
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
[about storm encountered by Sam and Frodo in the Emyn Muil]
Post by Eric Schmidt
If I recall HoMe correctly
Would you (or anyone) be able to find this reference?
Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring", in
the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol".
<snip>
Post by Eric Schmidt
So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and it
travelled slowly.
Thanks! That clears up that little mystery. I still find it a bit
surprising. Does anyone know if storms really do behave like that
(especially over land - I know hurricanes can behave like this, but they
form and move around over the sea, weakening over land).

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Dirk Thierbach
2004-09-26 16:17:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Thanks! That clears up that little mystery. I still find it a bit
surprising. Does anyone know if storms really do behave like that
(especially over land - I know hurricanes can behave like this, but they
form and move around over the sea, weakening over land).
I only know the little metereology you have to learn for sailing, but
the path of a depression (is this the right word?) and hence of the
strong winds close to it often depends of the presence or absence of
other high- or low-pressure areas. For example, depressions in
Northern Europe usually travel from west to east. If such a depression
hits a stationary high-pressure area overy, say, western Russia, it
will turn north or south. In some circumstances, it may even
travel "backwards" (i.e., from east to west) for a short time. IIRC
this happend at least once at some time during the last year.

Hurricanes weaken over land because they are no more fed by the
vapour of the sea, but this doesn't apply to ordinary thunderstorms.

In any case, I don't think Tolkien thought too deeply about the
meterology of ME.

- Dirk
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-09-26 19:15:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Thanks! That clears up that little mystery. I still find it a bit
surprising. Does anyone know if storms really do behave like that
(especially over land - I know hurricanes can behave like this, but
they form and move around over the sea, weakening over land).
I only know the little metereology you have to learn for sailing, but
the path of a depression (is this the right word?)
I believe so.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
and hence of the
strong winds close to it often depends of the presence or absence of
other high- or low-pressure areas.
<snipped with thanks>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
In any case, I don't think Tolkien thought too deeply about the
meterology of ME.
Oh, it may be silly, but can you be sure of that? He did spend time
getting the chronology to be accurate, and I think the geology is
surprisingly realistic. The descriptions of the landscape and vegetation
are masterful - maybe due to personal experience.

I think that the quote from HoME shows that he did care about the
weather in ME, maybe not to the extent of having realistic weather
patterns (which is what I think you meant), but enough to have important
plot elements like the wind from the sea bringing Aragorn to Minas
Tirith, and the winds blowing away the clouds of Mordor. He also has the
characters comment on how the storm on Caradhras is unseasonal. We have
the fog on the Barrow-downs, and other stuff that I can't remember.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Troels Forchhammer
2004-09-26 20:24:49 UTC
Permalink
In message <news:3zE5d.1574$***@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <***@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I think that the quote from HoME shows that he did care about the
weather in ME, maybe not to the extent of having realistic weather
patterns (which is what I think you meant),
Isn't the whole point about this storm, and about some of the other
weather we see, that it isn't natural? As I read the passage this storm
(and possibly other storms as well) is intended as being the result of
Saruon's mind brooding on the area -- when such things are possible,
then one cannot really expect realistic weather patterns.

The weather that appears unrealistic to me (those instances that I
recall) is always attributed to some supernatural effect, though the
source is not always unambiguously identified (e.g. the storm over
Caradhras).
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

If no thought
your mind does visit,
make your speech
not too explicit.
- Piet Hein, /The Case for Obscurity/
Odysseus
2004-09-26 22:00:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I only know the little metereology you have to learn for sailing, but
the path of a depression (is this the right word?) and hence of the
strong winds close to it often depends of the presence or absence of
other high- or low-pressure areas. For example, depressions in
Northern Europe usually travel from west to east. If such a depression
hits a stationary high-pressure area overy, say, western Russia, it
will turn north or south. In some circumstances, it may even
travel "backwards" (i.e., from east to west) for a short time. IIRC
this happend at least once at some time during the last year.
You also get circulation patterns around highs and lows (in the
Northern Hemisphere, clockwise and counter-clockwise repsectively)
that can carry weather systems in long arcs rather than in a direct
line from one point to another.
--
Odysseus
Troels Forchhammer
2004-09-26 20:08:46 UTC
Permalink
In message <news:***@posting.google.com>
***@safeaccess.com (Eric Schmidt) enriched us with:
<snip>

[The storm in Emyn Muil]
Post by Eric Schmidt
Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring",
in the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol".
<snip>
Post by Eric Schmidt
So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and it
travelled slowly.
Thanks a lot.

Sauron really did give himself time to scrutinize whatever it was he
looked at (good thing he missed the hobbits).
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Taking fun
as simply fun
and earnestness
in earnest
shows how thouroughly
thou none
of the two
discernest.
Shanahan
2004-09-28 03:21:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
<snip>
[The storm in Emyn Muil]
Post by Eric Schmidt
Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring",
in the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol".
<snip>
Post by Eric Schmidt
So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and
it travelled slowly.
Thanks a lot.
Sauron really did give himself time to scrutinize whatever it
was he looked at (good thing he missed the hobbits).
Tolkien apparently had some trouble with the chronology in this
section. He said it was out of sync, and spent many vexatious
hours trying to balance the three story lines. In Letter #85, 14
October 1944, he says to Christopher:

"I have been struggling with the dislocated chronology of the Ring,
which has proved most vexatious, and has not only interfered with
other
more urgent and duller duties, but has stopped me getting on. I
think I
have solved it all at last by small map alterations, and by
inserting an
extra day's Entmoot, and extra days into Trotter's chase and
Frodo's
journey (a small alteration in the first chapter I have just sent:
2 days
from Morannon to Ithilien)."

Would anyone care to speculate on what the problem might have been
in the first place? Apparently 'Trotter' (Aragorn) was a bit
farther behind than he should have been. But why then add an extra
day each to the Entmoot and Frodo's journey? That would seem to be
lengthening the gap, not shortening it.

Ciaran S.
--
Gilligan himself represents the transgressive potentialities of
the decentered ego.
AC
2004-09-24 16:37:02 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC),
Troels Forchhammer <***@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip awesome synopsis>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
is it merely co-incidence?
"The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."
He does seem to suggest that it is the rope: "I could see nothing,
nothing at all, until the grey rope came down. It seemed to shimmer
somehow." But is he right?
And if he is right, what quality of the rope made it have this
effect on Frodo? And what would have happened had Sam not had the
rope; would Frodo have stayed blind for an hour, until morning,
forever?
I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now. I think
at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to the Nazgul. We
know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on Frodo is profound, and I
think this is yet another example. As to the Elvish rope, well, we know the
Nazgul are no fans of Elves, and even the minor enchantment of this rope
might be enough to break any black power that might be overwhelming Frodo.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
the sun, as they rode into the West."
This passage, in my mind, clearly suggests that the storm is the
result of "the dark thought of Sauron" brooding over the area. If
this is the case, how often do we then see this effect? Are the
storms at Edoras and later at Helm's Deep related to this effect?
And what about the description of Sauron's thought at Amon Hen as "a
"Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."
I'm not too sure how much the scene at Amon Hen relates to the storm sent to
trouble Rohan, other than the fact that perhaps we can see how Sauron will
works. Perhaps this is as close as we ever actually get to seeing the way
in which the Ainur could alter the physical world and bend it to their will.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Need we comment on the difference between these descriptions and the
search/light/ effect used in the films?
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself -- when I
called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers to be able of
such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree. Did the rope untie
itself when Sam called, was it the merely the smooth surface of the
rope that defeated Sam's knot once it wasn't pulled tight, or is
Sam's trust in his own skills at knot-tying misplaced?
I'm absolutely certain that Sam was right, and the rope untied itself.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
unbearable to Gollum?
Story-externally it is clear that the good of the Elves is
unbearable to the corrupted creature Gollum has become, but story-
internally I don't think the question is really ever answered.
I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn from
one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that we love
into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought that is
unbearable to Gollum? I'm not sure if it is truly in the spirit of
Tolkien's Middle-earth world-view, but it is the best explanation
that I have been able to come up with.
I think you've probably got it pretty close. Smeagol is one very messed up
fellow, and I think we're just seeing some neurosis of his.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[6] Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.
With Gollum, I think you take what you can get.
--
Aaron Clausen
***@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a whitish
fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields
Dirk Thierbach
2004-09-25 11:42:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now. I think
at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to the Nazgul. We
know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on Frodo is profound, and I
think this is yet another example.
But why should it lead to that particular blindness, that lasts after
the Nazgul is gone? On the other occasions, the effect of the Ring on Frodo
were quite different.
Post by AC
As to the Elvish rope, well, we know the Nazgul are no fans of
Elves, and even the minor enchantment of this rope might be enough
to break any black power that might be overwhelming Frodo.
Probably something like this, yes.

- Dirk
Troels Forchhammer
2004-09-25 21:42:08 UTC
Permalink
In message
Post by AC
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC),
<snip awesome synopsis>
Thanks.
Post by AC
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and
the cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the
cliff face?
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to
return or is it merely co-incidence?
[...]
Post by AC
I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now.
I think at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to
the Nazgul. We know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on
Frodo is profound, and I think this is yet another example.
Possibly combined with being in the area which is being surveyed by the
Eye. I agree that it is not a natural blindness, but I still think it
is a little odd: I don't recall other instances where there's an actual
loss of sight involved -- i.e. not merely unnatural darkness.
Post by AC
As to the Elvish rope, well, we know the Nazgul are no fans of
Elves, and even the minor enchantment of this rope might be enough
to break any black power that might be overwhelming Frodo.
I think you're right, and it is probably useless to ask if it is a
particular quality about the rope: it is Elvish and that is, I think,
enough.
Post by AC
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
<snip>
Post by AC
I'm not too sure how much the scene at Amon Hen relates to the
storm sent to trouble Rohan, other than the fact that perhaps we
can see how Sauron will works.
I don't think it was a storm as such that passed Amon Hen, but I was
thinking of the description of Sauron's thought as causing a darkening
of the sky.

Is there any significance to the difference? Is the storm an expression
of greater wrath or something?
Post by AC
Perhaps this is as close as we ever actually get to seeing the way
in which the Ainur could alter the physical world and bend it to their will.
Good point.
Post by AC
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
[...]
Post by AC
I'm absolutely certain that Sam was right, and the rope untied
itself.
Again we are in agreement. Compared to the effect of their Elven Cloaks
this doesn't even (IMO) seem extraordinary -- just a little piece of
extra usefulness; magic (or perhaps rather Elven Art) of a more every-
day kind.
Post by AC
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope
[...]
Post by AC
Post by Troels Forchhammer
The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
unbearable to Gollum?
<snip>
Post by AC
I think you've probably got it pretty close. Smeagol is one very
messed up fellow, and I think we're just seeing some neurosis of
his.
Do you think that he was actually physically hurt by the rope?

If it is a psycho-somatic reaction, the question, to me, becomes how he
knew that the rope was Elvish?

I am uncertain what to think of this: whether Gollum is physically hurt
by some quality of the Elven Art in the rope, or if he merely
recognises it as Elvish and reacts psychosomatically to that. While
both seems to fit the case, I also feel that both to some extend leaves
some questions to be answered.

That the words of the unknown Elf possibly (I think they do) is the
closest we come to an explanation of the more everyday kind of Elven
Art, is also, to me, interesting. His words remind me also of some of
Finrod's words regarding the difference between Men and Elves in
Athrabeth:

"Now we Eldar do not deny that ye love Arda and all that is
therein (in so far as ye are free from the Shadow) maybe
even as greatly as do we. Yet otherwise. Each of our kindreds
perceives Arda differently, and appraises its beauties in
different mode and degree. How shall I say it? To me the
difference seems like that between one who visits a strange
country, and abides there a while (but need not), and one who
has lived in that land always (and must). To the former all
things that he sees are new and strange, and in that degree
lovable. To the other all things are familiar, the only
things that are, his own, and in that degree precious."

To see in this the reason why magic, or Art, is so much more common
among Elves is probably going too far, but I can't quite shake off the
feeling that these two issues are at least connected.
Post by AC
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[6] Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is
not Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder
why Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.
With Gollum, I think you take what you can get.
I can accept that, though I remember thinking that the master of the
Ring wasn't Frodo (it's a loop-hole in the promise that Frodo ought to
have discovered, IMO). It is also noteworthy that though the loop-hole
was exploited, it was not in the way that I imagined first (this is one
of the few things I recall from my first reading: Gollum doesn't try to
serve Sauron, but rather attempts to make himself the master (which,
IMO, involves some quite twisted logic: betraying both the current
keeper (whom it was the spirit of the promise to obey) and the actual
master of the Ring in order to serve himself as a possible future
holder of the Ring).
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

The trouble with being a god is that you've got no one to pray to.
- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)
John Jones
2004-09-26 12:22:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
In message
Post by AC
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC),
<snip awesome synopsis>
Thanks.
Post by AC
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and
the cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the
cliff face?
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to
return or is it merely co-incidence?
[...]
Post by AC
I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now.
I think at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to
the Nazgul. We know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on
Frodo is profound, and I think this is yet another example.
Possibly combined with being in the area which is being surveyed by the
Eye. I agree that it is not a natural blindness, but I still think it
is a little odd: I don't recall other instances where there's an actual
loss of sight involved -- i.e. not merely unnatural darkness.
I always thought that it was just shock. Admittedly Frodo didn't fall very
far, but the moment in which he slipped must have been destinctly
bowel-loosening.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by AC
With Gollum, I think you take what you can get.
I can accept that, though I remember thinking that the master of the
Ring wasn't Frodo (it's a loop-hole in the promise that Frodo ought to
have discovered, IMO).
Another example of the Ring taking a grip on Frodo? He probably didn't
think this, but subconsciously he must have thought of *himself* as the
master of the Ring. So he accepted Gollum's promise without too much
reservation.
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-09-26 22:10:42 UTC
Permalink
Troels Forchhammer <***@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
In this chapter we return to Frodo and Sam in the barren and broken
landscape of the eastern Emyn Muil on the third evening after they
fled from Parth Galen. It is the 29th of February and elsewhere
Gandalf
Post by Troels Forchhammer
is probably still "walking long in dark thought" being weary after
striving with the Dark Tower, Merry and Pippin are on the way to
Wellinghall in the company of Treebeard and will spend the night
there, Éomer and his éored are still labouring to burn the Orcs and
raise the mound over the fallen riders before they camp at the edge
of Fangorn, and the Three Hunters are struggling across the Eastemnet
in pursuit of Saruman's Orcs before once more settling down for the
night, Legolas expressing hope for the coming day, "Rede oft is found
at the rising of the Sun."
Nice bit of context, especially as we haven't read about Sam or Frodo
for the last ten chapters, and must remember that we are going back to
an earlier time than the last chapter when Pippin was heading to Minas
Tirith with Gandalf and Shadowfax.

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
we get another
sample of the Gaffer's paternal vocabulary: "You're nowt but a
ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee."
Those Gaffer/Sam bits are great fun! I'm now dreaming of a way to
collect all the examples together... For the moment, can anyone think of
any more examples from Sam of this 'rustic' language?

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
About a dozen feet above the ground Gollum falls, curling up like a
spider. Sam rushes him, but soon finds himself in trouble from which
he is saved only by Frodo's intervention with Sting.
It is interesting that Gollum is able to overcome Sam. I also find the
comparison between Gollum and a spider interesting. Does this foreshadow
later events?

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Story-internal Questions
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
Having re-read the passages in question and others ideas on this
blindness, I am not convinced that the blindess was caused by the
Nazgul. I think that the fall could have caused a temporary blindness if
Frodo knocked his head without realizing it. We are told that Frodo slid
feet-first with his hands over his ears, and lands on his feet. Either
that, or the lightning flash left him temporarily blinded (but not Sam).
Frodo does say:

"I thought for a bit that I had lost my sight? From the lightning or
something else worse."
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
is it merely co-incidence?
I would say co-incidence

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
the sun, as they rode into the West."
I want to know which Riders are being referred to here. I initially
thought this was a fast-moving storm and the Riders are the ones led by
Eomer to hunt the orcs. But now, having learnt that this is meant to be
a slow-moving storm, I think that this might describe the course of the
storm over a few days, and the Riders are the army of Theoden going
westwards to the Hornburg and Helm's Deep. The trouble is that they see
the stormclouds moving behind the Sun. Obviously the clouds actually
moved in front of the Sun, and if it was the setting sun then the clouds
had moved in front of the Riders who are riding towards the storm. Does
this sound right? Or does "rode into the West" refer to the clouds and
not the Riders??

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself -- when I
called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers to be able of
such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree. Did the rope untie
itself when Sam called, was it the merely the smooth surface of the
rope that defeated Sam's knot once it wasn't pulled tight, or is
Sam's trust in his own skills at knot-tying misplaced?
Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
This could be similar to the orcs hating sunlight, and the reaction of
orcs to Aragorn's sword Anduril. Do we get a similar reactions from orcs
to lembas or Elvish materials?

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.
Hubris? Frodo is beginning to believe that he can be the Master of the
Ring, and ignoring or forgetting Gandalf's words.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Other Questions
These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
alphabetical notes.
Oh very well! Three-tiered note system indeed! Hmph! :-)
Post by Troels Forchhammer
General Comments
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
This is the first of a series of chapters detailing the journey of the
trio from Emyn Muil and ultimately to Mount Doom. The first three of
these chapters, and some of the later chapters, have always seemed to
me very hard to get through: I feel that I am slowly plodding my way
through the texts with all these ponderous descriptions of the bleak
and depressing landscapes of Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes and the
waste before Mordor. I have come to realise that this impression
probably is the literary equivalent of what the characters are going
through, and if this is deliberate by Tolkien, then it is, IMO, a work
of absolute literary genius.
But you must remember that Tolkien probably always intended to describe
the landscapes around Mordor as bleak and depressing. That and the
depression/burden-type of effects that the Ring has on Frodo both have
the same ultimate source: the will and power of Sauron. It is likely
that the plodding pace of the starts of Book 4 and 6 was inevitable once
these factors were decided upon. Were the bleakness of Mordor and the
surrounding areas, and the effect of the Ring on Frodo, both present
from the earliest drafts in HoME? If so, I would say that the combined
effect might not have been deliberate by Tolkien from the outset, but he
could have realised how well it was working and emphasised it.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
In relation to the characterisation of the three (see [c]) I wonder if
there is some foreshadowing in this chapter.
Ooh. See my spider/Gollum comment above!
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Frodo here use the presence of the Ring to dominate Gollum: is this an
indication that he is himself falling under the domination of the
Ring?
IMO, yes. Especially where Frodo's cowing of Gollum and extraction of a
promise implies that he (Frodo) is the Master of the Ring.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?
I don't quite get what you are saying here...

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Sam is gentler than his words -- sparing Gollum almost in spite of
himself. When Gollum starts whimpering right after his capture, Sam
realises that "he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay
grovelling on the stones whimpering." This is, I believe, mirrored
later on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam found that "he could not
strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly
wretched." It is one thing that the two situations are alike -- that
one mirrors the other, but does the first foreshadow the later?
There is an important difference. In the first case Gollum has not
actually attacked them (only following them and defending himself
against Sam's attack), they only fear that he will betray them to orcs
or the Nazgul. In the second case, Gollum has already betrayed them to
Shelob, and has actually attacked them. Sam's pity in the latter case is
'higher' if you like, more noble and requiring more estel.

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Your thoughts, ideas, comments and questions?
Thanks for a great summary, but even more for some interesting
questions.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Shanahan
2004-09-28 03:40:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO,
"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
the sun, as they rode into the West."
I want to know which Riders are being referred to here. I
initially thought this was a fast-moving storm and the Riders
are the ones led by Eomer to hunt the orcs. But now, having
learnt that this is meant to be a slow-moving storm, I think
that this might describe the course of the storm over a few
days, and the Riders are the army of Theoden going westwards to
the Hornburg and Helm's Deep. The trouble is that they see the
stormclouds moving behind the Sun. Obviously the clouds actually
moved in front of the Sun, and if it was the setting sun then
the clouds had moved in front of the Riders who are riding
towards the storm. Does this sound right? Or does "rode into the
West" refer to the clouds and not the Riders??
Could be that the clouds are at this time somewhat south of the
Riders (over the White Mts.), and the sun not yet that near the
horizon. From the Westemnet, you might then see the clouds first
behind the sun, then overtaking it from below and to the left
(south). Ominous. Foreshadowing, one might almost even say. ;)
Post by Troels Forchhammer
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself --
when I called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers
to be able of such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree.
Did the rope untie itself when Sam called, was it the merely
the smooth surface of the rope that defeated Sam's knot once
it wasn't pulled tight, or is Sam's trust in his own skills
at knot-tying misplaced?
Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is
what made the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when
pulled tight, only when shaken and then pulled. Purest
speculation really.
Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?

What interests me about this question is kind of asking it
backwards: why is Sam full of intuitive faith here, and Frodo the
doubting rationalist? So far in the tale, we've seen a Sam who is
rather a hard-headed practical character. And Frodo has been the
one with his head full of old tales of magic. Though, to be fair,
Sam has his head fairly well-stuffed with Elvish tales, too. But
why on ME would Frodo doubt this little bit of Elvish magic?
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see
repeated in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven
cloaks and his inability to share their Lembas.
This could be similar to the orcs hating sunlight, and the
reaction of orcs to Aragorn's sword Anduril. Do we get a similar
reactions from orcs to lembas or Elvish materials?
The orcs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol react in the same way. "They
seemed to hate the touch or the smell of [the lembas], even worse
than Gollum." Frodo gets most of his lembas back for the rest of
the journey, since the orcs only broke and scattered it.
'Luckily.'

Ciaran S.
--
"There are many mysteries in this world, big and small.
Like, why do we love puppy dogs?
And why, oh why, do blue midgets hit me with fish?"
- The Tick
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-01 20:42:37 UTC
Permalink
Shanahan <***@bluefrog.com> wrote:

[about Sam pulling the Elvish rope in the Emyn Muil, the rope that
seemingly undid itself]
Post by Shanahan
Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?
I like that idea. Several people have mentioned it in this thread. I
would be happy with the calling of Galadriel's name explaining what
happened. Maybe Galadriel herself made that rope. We are told that she
and her maidens wove the cloaks that the Fellowship wear, but not
specifically who made the ropes (at least I don't think we are told).
Post by Shanahan
What interests me about this question is kind of asking it
backwards: why is Sam full of intuitive faith here, and Frodo the
doubting rationalist? So far in the tale, we've seen a Sam who is
rather a hard-headed practical character. And Frodo has been the
one with his head full of old tales of magic. Though, to be fair,
Sam has his head fairly well-stuffed with Elvish tales, too. But
why on ME would Frodo doubt this little bit of Elvish magic?
Maybe there is some sort of authorial intent here? Tolkien wants to make
a point about the ropes and needs a sceptical viewpoint. For whatever
reason, he chose to make Frodo the counterpoint to Sam's wondrous
acceptance that the rope came when he called it. FWIW, I don't think
Frodo really disagrees with Sam, in fact he seems to lose interest:

"'It certainly came [down the cliff] and that's the chief thing. But now
we've got to think of our next move." (The Taming of Smeagol)

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-01 20:59:25 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
[...]
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is
what made the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when
pulled tight, only when shaken and then pulled. Purest
speculation really.
Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
Well said!

Though of course shaking the slack rope might be the 'signal' for the
rope to come loose.

In way, that is ;-)

I'm a bit reluctant to actually call it 'magic' -- that particular word
conjures a specific meaning, which I don't think is entirely fitting
here. The Ring of Power were 'magical', but I don't think the rope was
magical in the same sense. This was not, IMO, the result of the
ropemakers intending the rope to have extra powers, but rather due to a
heightened Elven skill: craft and art melting together to make things
that are 'Elvish', and consequently possess qualities beyond those that
human craftsmen were able to put into their work, but not, to the
Elves, anything 'unnatural'. To the makers these would be perfectly
natural things: why would anyone want to make a rope that didn't come
lose when you wanted it to come lose, but stayed knotted as long as you
wanted that.
Post by Shanahan
Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?
I doubt that Galadriel actually made the rope -- it is mentioned
specifically that she and her maidens wove the fabric for their cloaks,
but there is no such suggestion made for the ropes.
Post by Shanahan
What interests me about this question is kind of asking it
backwards: why is Sam full of intuitive faith here, and Frodo the
doubting rationalist?
That's a good question, IMO (though I have no answer to offer).

<snip>
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the
opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
- Niels Bohr
Huan the hound
2004-10-02 00:38:13 UTC
Permalink
[snip]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Shanahan
Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
Well said!
Though of course shaking the slack rope might be the 'signal' for the
rope to come loose.
[snip again]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Shanahan
Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?
I doubt that Galadriel actually made the rope -- it is mentioned
specifically that she and her maidens wove the fabric for their cloaks,
but there is no such suggestion made for the ropes.
She probably didn't make them. However, Sam says her name twice in a
row, the second time almost in the way that we've heard other characters
say "Elbereth." That's why it seems that Sam's wish for the rope to
come and his speaking of Galadriel's name might have some connection to
the knot releasing.
--
Huan, the hound of Valinor
Larry Swain
2004-10-02 05:18:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Shanahan
Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
Well said!
Though of course shaking the slack rope might be the 'signal' for the
rope to come loose.
Well, this will surely get me into trouble. But what makes
Middle Earth "magical"? The magic we see is the innate power of
divine beings--Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, etc. Even the Rings
are forged by Sauron, save the 3, and those 3 were forged with
knowledge and know how taught by Sauron. So what else is
magical?

b) Frodo doesn't seem to want to allow some magic into a magic
world

c) a well seasoned rope and the right kind of knot will do this
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-02 23:52:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Shanahan
Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay?
<g>
Well said!
Though of course shaking the slack rope might be the 'signal' for
the rope to come loose.
Well, this will surely get me into trouble. But what makes
Middle Earth "magical"?
Tolkien ;-)
Post by Larry Swain
The magic we see is the innate power of divine beings--Gandalf,
Sauron, Saruman, etc.
"But the Númenóreans used "spells" in making swords?"
(note to letter #155)

And of course:
" The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty
helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man.
[...]
And he entered the service of the Dark Tower when it first
rose again, and because of his cunning he grew ever higher
in the Lord's favour; and he learned great sorcery, [...]"
(V,10 'The Black Gate Opens')
Post by Larry Swain
So what else is magical?
The horn that Merry receives from Éowyn and Éomer "was made by the
Dwarves, and came from the hoard of Scatha the Worm" and "he that blows
it at need shall set fear in the hearts of his enemies and joy in the
hearts of his friends, and they shall hear him and come to him." I'm
quite sure that the effect of the horn is more than natural (whether it
is 'magic' or some kind of craft and art not attainable by Men is, IMO,
unimportant -- it is, to Men, supernatural).

I dare say we could find other examples of a similar kind. Whether we
call it actual 'magic' or 'craft and art unattainable by Men' is, IMO,
not important. The point is that the end effect cannot be achieved by
Men, and thus it becomes supernatural for our purposes.
Post by Larry Swain
b) Frodo doesn't seem to want to allow some magic into a magic
world
And yet he was quite willing to attribute his healing from the
blindness to the rope . . .
Post by Larry Swain
c) a well seasoned rope and the right kind of knot will do this
While I can't claim to know every knot ever devised, I am not entirely
without experience with ropes and knots (even in climbing), and I have
never heard of a knot that will to this trick.
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

My adversary's argument
is not alone malevolent
but ignorant to boot.
He hasn't even got the sense
to state his so-called evidence
in terms I can refute.
- Piet Hein, /The Untenable Argument/
Larry Swain
2004-10-03 05:28:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
The magic we see is the innate power of divine beings--Gandalf,
Sauron, Saruman, etc.
"But the Númenóreans used "spells" in making swords?"
(note to letter #155)
So did the Anglo-Saxons and other peoples, but that doesn't make
it magic, at least in the way I'm taking the word. ANd this
could be another fundamental differences: that we understand
different things by magic.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
" The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty
helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man.
[...]
And he entered the service of the Dark Tower when it first
rose again, and because of his cunning he grew ever higher
in the Lord's favour; and he learned great sorcery, [...]"
(V,10 'The Black Gate Opens')
Here again, I don't take "sorcery" to be magic in the way I
thought the original poster meant it. Even in today's world I
can point to a few people I'm aware study "magic" and "sorcery"
and call themselves wizards, but that doesn't mean they can do
the things that Gandalf does. So I don't consider his study of
sorcery to indicate that Middle Earth is any more magical than
our own.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
So what else is magical?
The horn that Merry receives from Éowyn and Éomer "was made by the
Dwarves, and came from the hoard of Scatha the Worm" and "he that blows
it at need shall set fear in the hearts of his enemies and joy in the
hearts of his friends, and they shall hear him and come to him." I'm
quite sure that the effect of the horn is more than natural (whether it
is 'magic' or some kind of craft and art not attainable by Men is, IMO,
unimportant -- it is, to Men, supernatural).
Oh, I don't know. Hearning the blast of a good bugler, or the
bagpipes, or whathaveyou before going into battle or at the
charge has had exactly that effect countless times over without
ever being "magical."
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I dare say we could find other examples of a similar kind. Whether we
call it actual 'magic' or 'craft and art unattainable by Men' is, IMO,
not important. The point is that the end effect cannot be achieved by
Men, and thus it becomes supernatural for our purposes.
Ok, so anything that is not known specifically to Men in Middle
Earth then is "magic." But what about hobbits? There are
things that Men know how to do that hobbits don't: do those
things become "magic" then?
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
b) Frodo doesn't seem to want to allow some magic into a magic
world
And yet he was quite willing to attribute his healing from the
blindness to the rope . . .
He does? Are you referring to the line where he says that he
thought while on the ledge that he had lost his sight UNTIL he
saw the rope come down? That doesn't seem to me to be a causal
statement, more a temporal one. This was the case until that.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
c) a well seasoned rope and the right kind of knot will do this
While I can't claim to know every knot ever devised, I am not entirely
without experience with ropes and knots (even in climbing), and I have
never heard of a knot that will to this trick.
Nor I, but I've been both a cowboy and a commercial fisherman in
my day. In both there are various tasks that take rope with a
knot and in which when the task is done it is desireable to be
able to flick the rope the right way, have the knot become loose
and so be able to recoil the rope rather than have it remain on
the cleat or the animal, and yet during the task for that knot
and loop to be very tight. In fact, very like Sam and Frodo.
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-03 09:27:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
c) a well seasoned rope and the right kind of knot will do this
[about Sam's rope trick in Emyn Muil]
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Troels Forchhammer
While I can't claim to know every knot ever devised, I am not
entirely without experience with ropes and knots (even in climbing),
and I have never heard of a knot that will do this trick.
Nor I, but I've been both a cowboy and a commercial fisherman in
my day. In both there are various tasks that take rope with a
knot and in which when the task is done it is desireable to be
able to flick the rope the right way, have the knot become loose
and so be able to recoil the rope rather than have it remain on
the cleat or the animal, and yet during the task for that knot
and loop to be very tight. In fact, very like Sam and Frodo.
Interesting. Though I think the point here is that Sam denied making any
other knot than one that shouldn't have come loose. As someone said, way
upthread, Sam said that this was "in the family".

I'm leaning towards 'magical' (whatever that means) for the rope, and
hysterical blindness for Frodo. Though it would be interesting to look
at the language used to describe the effect of the Nazgul on people in
general throughout the book. That might lend a lot more credence to the
idea that the Naxgul was more responsible for the blindness than I am
willing to accept for the moment.

There are interesting descriptions of the effect of the Nazgul on Sam,
Frodo and Gollum in the next chapter (Passage of the Marshes); at the
Ford of Bruinen; and on the Gondorians in Minas Tirith.

Christopher
Larry Swain
2004-10-03 18:32:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
c) a well seasoned rope and the right kind of knot will do this
[about Sam's rope trick in Emyn Muil]
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Troels Forchhammer
While I can't claim to know every knot ever devised, I am not
entirely without experience with ropes and knots (even in climbing),
and I have never heard of a knot that will do this trick.
Nor I, but I've been both a cowboy and a commercial fisherman in
my day. In both there are various tasks that take rope with a
knot and in which when the task is done it is desireable to be
able to flick the rope the right way, have the knot become loose
and so be able to recoil the rope rather than have it remain on
the cleat or the animal, and yet during the task for that knot
and loop to be very tight. In fact, very like Sam and Frodo.
Interesting. Though I think the point here is that Sam denied making any
other knot than one that shouldn't have come loose. As someone said, way
upthread, Sam said that this was "in the family".
True, but then he was dealing with a different kind of rope than
that he was accustomed to, much more yielding and pliable. It
is interesting that the narrator never tells us what it was, nor
does Sam find his knot in the rope after it comes down. I don't
think we need follow Sam's thought that it was "magic" just
because it isn't explained in a mundane fashion.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I'm leaning towards 'magical' (whatever that means) for the rope, and
hysterical blindness for Frodo. Though it would be interesting to look
at the language used to describe the effect of the Nazgul on people in
general throughout the book. That might lend a lot more credence to the
idea that the Naxgul was more responsible for the blindness than I am
willing to accept for the moment.
I confess that I haven't followed this whole thread diligently,
but on rereading the text I don't think we need even go so far.
A) it was very dark, even darker where Frodo had slid down to
than up where Sam was, and it is where Sam was that is described
as very dark B) Frodo slid and bumped his head and C) there had
been very bright, searing lightning nearby--similar to
hysterical blindness, bright lights caused by lightning,
explosions and such can cause temporary blindness. One really
need look no further---and add to that the hysterical reaction
to the Nazgul's cry--all very mundane.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-04 18:12:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Larry Swain
Nor I, but I've been both a cowboy and a commercial fisherman in
my day. In both there are various tasks that take rope with a
knot and in which when the task is done it is desireable to be
able to flick the rope the right way, have the knot become loose
and so be able to recoil the rope rather than have it remain on
the cleat or the animal, and yet during the task for that knot
and loop to be very tight. In fact, very like Sam and Frodo.
I don't know any knot that is both secure (not only tight, but
impossible to open by accident) under a heavy load (as it has to be in
this case), and can be opened by "flicking the rope the right
way". Usually, to be secure, the knot "clamps itself", and then can
become really very tight if it has been under load for a while.

Do you know the name, or maybe have the URL of a picture, of the
knot(s) you're thinking of?
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Interesting. Though I think the point here is that Sam denied
making any other knot than one that shouldn't have come loose.
Exactly.
Post by Larry Swain
True, but then he was dealing with a different kind of rope than
that he was accustomed to, much more yielding and pliable.
But that wouldn't make his secure knot into an "open when the
rope flicks" variety. The only thing that can happen to a secure
knot when the material is very different is that the knot doesn't
work under strain, and slips and opens.
Post by Larry Swain
It is interesting that the narrator never tells us what it was, nor
does Sam find his knot in the rope after it comes down.
So the knot must have "unwound" completely.
Post by Larry Swain
A) it was very dark, even darker where Frodo had slid down to
than up where Sam was, and it is where Sam was that is described
as very dark B) Frodo slid and bumped his head
I reread the passage, but I am too stupid to find the place where
it says that he bumped his head. Someone?
Post by Larry Swain
and C) there had been very bright, searing lightning nearby--similar
to hysterical blindness, bright lights caused by lightning,
explosions and such can cause temporary blindness.
But bright lights cause a (short) temporary blindness because the
retina is "overloaded" and cannot adapt fast enough. That goes away
after a few seconds. Frodo stays blind for much longer.

And if it is some sort of hysterical blindness (which seems possible,
after I have know read the descriptions, even though they were not
very detailed in that respect. Thanks BTW), i.e. some psychosomatic
reaction, it doesn't really matter if it is caused by fear, the sudden
flash of lightning, or something else.

I agree that the hysterical blindness theory is the best "mundane"
explanation so far.

- Dirk
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-04 23:04:10 UTC
Permalink
[about Frodo's temporary blindness]

<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Larry Swain
A) it was very dark, even darker where Frodo had slid down to
than up where Sam was, and it is where Sam was that is described
as very dark
Not quite. After Frodo slips down the cliff, we are told:

"He heard Sam's voice out of the blackness above."

A bit later Sam thinks:

"Why could not his master see? It was dim, certainly, but not as dark as
all that. He could see Frodo below him..."

So I think your description of the darkness is misleading, but
regardless, we know that Frodo is temporarily blinded and that Sam can
still see.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Larry Swain
B) Frodo slid and bumped his head
I reread the passage, but I am too stupid to find the place where
it says that he bumped his head. Someone?
He didn't. I would say Larry is mistaken. I did suggest, earlier in the
thread, that Frodo might have bumped his head, but that doesn't really
seem to be specifically stated. The hysterical blindness is, as you say,
probably the best 'mundane' theory.

<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I agree that the hysterical blindness theory is the best "mundane"
explanation so far.
But no-one (I think) has really explored the alternative, 'magical'
reasons for Frodo going blind. The obvious cause would be the cry of the
Nazgul. It would be useful to list as many examples of the effects of
the Nazgul cries as possible. I'm going to try and gather a little list
and see if there are other examples of blindness/deafness/other effects
from the cries of the Nazgul.

In the Shire Nazgul encounters, I couldn't find any extreme effects.

At Bree, there is one strange incident with Merry:

[Merry] seemed to be asleep. "I thought I had fallen into deep water,"
[Merry] says to [Nob], when [he] shook him. [...] [Merry said:] 'I had
an ugly dream, which I can't remember. I went to pieces.' [Strider then
says it was the Black Breath]" (Strider)

Falling into deep water could refer to a deadening of the senses, of
light fading to a dim distance and of sound similarly fading.

The Weathertop encouter seems to involve mostly fear, but at the Ford of
Bruinen strange things happen to Frodo:

"Then the leader, who was now half across the Ford, stood up menacing in
his stirrups, and raised up his hand. Frodo was stricken dumb. He felt
his tongue cleave to his mouth, and his heart labouring. [...] Dimly
Frodo saw the river below him rise [...] With his last failing senses
Frodo heard cries [...] Then Frodo felt himself falling, and the roaring
and confusion seemed to rise and engulf him together with his enemies.
He heard and saw no more." (Flight to the Ford)

It is interesting that Frodo's senses begin to fail here, though whether
due to the Witch-King's spell (which seems to mainly involve paralysis)
or due to the Morgul wound, or due to the Ring, or due to fainting, it
is unclear.

The next encounters are the overflights in Hollin and on the Great
River, but there there seems to be no more than the usual fear and
dread. So we move on to the next overflight near Isengard:

"At that moment a shadow fell over them. The bright moonlight seemed to
be suddenly cut off. Several of the Riders cried out, and crouched,
holding their arms above their heads, as if to ward off a blow from
above: a blind fear and a deadly cold fell on them. Cowering they looked
up..." (The Palantir)

The reference to *blind* fear here is interesting, but not conclusive.

During the siege of Minas Tirith there are many overflights of the
Nazgul:

"Suddenly as they talked they were stricken dumb, frozen as it were to
listening stones. Pippin cowered down with his hands pressed to his
ears..." (The Siege of Gondor)

Then there is the Black Breath or Black Shadow:

"...there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed; and they
called it the Black Shadow, for it came from the Nazgûl. And those who
were stricken with it fell slowly into an ever deeper dream, and then
passed to silence and a deadly cold, and so died." (The Houses of
Healing)

When Aragorn heals Faramir he says:

"Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!"

This Black Breath 'shadow' seems to be psychological, and different from
the blindness that strikes Frodo in the Emyn Muil, as Frodo did not
report any ill feelings other than simple blindness.

When the Nazgul shadow the Army of the West marching to the Black Gate,
we are told this:

"They still flew high and out of sight of all save Legolas, and yet
their presence could be felt, as a deepening of shadow and a dimming of
the sun.." (The Black Gate Opens)

This deepening of shadow and dimming of the Sun is interesting, but
still not enough to show that the Nazgul might be able to cause
blindness. But if this dimming happened at night, it might be mistaken
for blindness.

Then we have the encounters of Sam and Frodo with the Nazgul. Apart from
the encouters in Cirith Ungol (in which there are no references to any
sort of blindness), the encounters are mostly in the 'Taming of Smeagol'
chapter and 'The Passage of the Marshes':

"there came a high shrill shriek [...] it pierced them with cold blades
of horror and despair, stopping heart and breath [...] [Frodo slips down
the cliff and then calls:] 'I'm here. But I can't see' [...] either the
darkness had grown complete, or else his eyes had lost their sight. All
was black about him. He wondered if he had been struck blind." (The
Taming of Smeagol)

"They fell forward, grovelling heedlessly on the cold earth. But the
shadow of horror wheeled and returned, passing lower now, right above
them [...] Frodo and Sam got up, rubbing their eyes, like children
wakened from an evil dream [...] But Gollum lay on the ground as if he
had been stunned." (The Passage of the Marshes)

Rubbing their eyes and reference to dreams sounds more like a Black
Breath-type of effect.

The other overflights of the Dead Marshes are less fearful.

Overall, it seems that the Nazgul are capable of provoking great fear to
the extent of causing physical effects. It might be plausible that
Frodo's blindness was caused by the Nazgul, but the effect is not
consistently present in the other cases, so probably something else is
contributing. Also, the Black Breath seems to be something beyond the
normal Nazgul effect.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Shanahan
2004-11-08 00:48:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
[about Frodo's temporary blindness]
<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I agree that the hysterical blindness theory is the best
"mundane" explanation so far.
But no-one (I think) has really explored the alternative,
'magical' reasons for Frodo going blind. The obvious cause would
be the cry of the Nazgul. It would be useful to list as many
examples of the effects of the Nazgul cries as possible. I'm
going to try and gather a little list and see if there are other
examples of blindness/deafness/other effects from the cries of
the Nazgul.
In the Shire Nazgul encounters, I couldn't find any extreme
effects.
[Merry] seemed to be asleep. "I thought I had fallen into deep
water," [Merry] says to [Nob], when [he] shook him. [...] [Merry
said:] 'I had an ugly dream, which I can't remember. I went to
pieces.' [Strider then says it was the Black Breath]" (Strider)
Falling into deep water could refer to a deadening of the
senses, of light fading to a dim distance and of sound similarly
fading.
<snip Ford of Bruinen stuff>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
The next encounters are the overflights in Hollin and on the
Great River, but there there seems to be no more than the usual
fear and dread. So we move on to the next overflight near
"At that moment a shadow fell over them. The bright moonlight
seemed to be suddenly cut off. Several of the Riders cried out,
and crouched, holding their arms above their heads, as if to
ward off a blow from above: a blind fear and a deadly cold fell
on them. Cowering they looked up..." (The Palantir)
The reference to *blind* fear here is interesting, but not
conclusive.
During the siege of Minas Tirith there are many overflights of
"Suddenly as they talked they were stricken dumb, frozen as it
were to listening stones. Pippin cowered down with his hands
pressed to his ears..." (The Siege of Gondor)
"...there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed;
and they called it the Black Shadow, for it came from the
Nazgûl. And those who were stricken with it fell slowly into an
ever deeper dream, and then passed to silence and a deadly cold,
and so died." (The Houses of Healing)
"Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!"
This Black Breath 'shadow' seems to be psychological, and
different from the blindness that strikes Frodo in the Emyn
Muil, as Frodo did not report any ill feelings other than simple
blindness.
When the Nazgul shadow the Army of the West marching to the
"They still flew high and out of sight of all save Legolas, and
yet their presence could be felt, as a deepening of shadow and a
dimming of the sun.." (The Black Gate Opens)
This deepening of shadow and dimming of the Sun is interesting,
but still not enough to show that the Nazgul might be able to
cause blindness. But if this dimming happened at night, it might
be mistaken for blindness.
Then we have the encounters of Sam and Frodo with the Nazgul.
Apart from the encouters in Cirith Ungol (in which there are no
references to any sort of blindness), the encounters are mostly
in the 'Taming of Smeagol' chapter and 'The Passage of the
"there came a high shrill shriek [...] it pierced them with cold
blades of horror and despair, stopping heart and breath [...]
[Frodo slips down the cliff and then calls:] 'I'm here. But I
can't see' [...] either the darkness had grown complete, or else
his eyes had lost their sight. All was black about him. He
wondered if he had been struck blind." (The Taming of Smeagol)
"They fell forward, groveling heedlessly on the cold earth. But
the shadow of horror wheeled and returned, passing lower now,
right above them [...] Frodo and Sam got up, rubbing their eyes,
like children wakened from an evil dream [...] But Gollum lay on
the ground as if he had been stunned." (The Passage of the
Marshes)
Rubbing their eyes and reference to dreams sounds more like a
Black Breath-type of effect.
The other overflights of the Dead Marshes are less fearful.
Overall, it seems that the Nazgul are capable of provoking great
fear to the extent of causing physical effects. It might be
plausible that Frodo's blindness was caused by the Nazgul, but
the effect is not consistently present in the other cases, so
probably something else is contributing. Also, the Black Breath
seems to be something beyond the normal Nazgul effect.
This is apparently part of the opposition of 'Light' and 'Dark'
that's wound into the fabric of LotR. Tolkien says in note to
Letter #131, re the Silmarils and the Two Trees of Valinor:
"*As far as all this has symbolical or allegorical significance.
Light is such a primeval symbol in the nature of the Universe, that
it can hardly be analysed. The Light of Valinor (derived from light
before any fall) is the light of art undivorced from reason, that
sees things both scientifically (or philosophically) and
imaginatively (or subcreatively) and says that they are 'good' - as
beautiful."

(The Evil in question, of course, being a 'Dark' Lord, and an
embodied spirit whose very food is Light and who produces a
Darkness which is a thing in itself, not merely a lack of Light.
Ungoliant's darkness defeats even Tulkas; Shelob's darkness is of
the mind as well as the eyes: "....a black vapour wrought of
veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought
blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the
memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of
thought." (TT, 'Shelob's Lair') )

Back to the Nazgûl, I find it indicative that "the Black Breath"
and "the Black Shadow" are used interchangeably, as shadow causes
blindness.

I'm reading /The War of the Ring/ right now, and found an
interesting reference in Part Three, Ch.1, 'Addendum to 'The
Treason of Isengard'. It's from a manuscript page found after CJRT
had published /The Treason of Isengard/. He believes it to be the
earliest recorded conception of the events of Book V (last pages of
the already-published outline):

"The forces of Minas Tirith and Rohan under Aragorn and Gandalf
cross the Anduin and retake Elostirion [Osgiliath]. The Nazgûl. How
Gandalf drove them back. */Wherever the shadow of the Nazgûl fell
there was a blind darkness./* Men fell flat, or fled. But about
Gandalf there was always a light - and where he rode the shadows
retreated." [emphases mine]

Seems like evidence that the effect of blindness was one of the
effects of the Nazgûl's power. Perhaps the variation we see in
'the blindness effect' is because the Nazgûl can control this
effect; but I tend to believe that the effect is due to the
circumstances of the individual experiencing it. As Frodo in the
Emyn Muil.

Ciaran S.
--
"There is no human situation so miserable
that it cannot be made worse by the presence of a policeman."
- brendan behan
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-11-08 00:02:01 UTC
Permalink
[about Frodo's temporary blindness in Emyn Muil cliff scene as Nazgul
flies overhead - snipped a list of several Nazgul effects in published
LotR]
Post by Shanahan
This is apparently part of the opposition of 'Light' and 'Dark'
that's wound into the fabric of LotR.
Funnily enough I was just reading about this on the train. I am reading
a book called "Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World"
(by Verlyn Flieger). She talks about Light and Dark being central and
opposing themes in LotR. She places particular emphasis on Owen
Barfield's theory of Poetic Diction. (Barfield was one of the Inklings,
though not based in Oxford like Lewis and Tolkien). Intriguing stuff,
but not light reading. (That pun was _not_ intended).
Post by Shanahan
Tolkien says in note to
"*As far as all this has symbolical or allegorical significance.
Light is such a primeval symbol in the nature of the Universe, that
it can hardly be analysed. The Light of Valinor (derived from light
before any fall) is the light of art undivorced from reason, that
sees things both scientifically (or philosophically) and
imaginatively (or subcreatively) and says that they are 'good' - as
beautiful."
This resonates a lot with the stuff I'm reading in Flieger's book. I
guess that as I carry on reading the book, that Letters quote will crop
up somewhere...
Post by Shanahan
(The Evil in question, of course, being a 'Dark' Lord, and an
embodied spirit whose very food is Light and who produces a
Darkness which is a thing in itself, not merely a lack of Light.
Ungoliant's darkness defeats even Tulkas; Shelob's darkness is of
the mind as well as the eyes: "....a black vapour wrought of
veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought
blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the
memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of
thought." (TT, 'Shelob's Lair') )
This sounds like the Nazgul, but almost worse!
Post by Shanahan
Back to the Nazgûl, I find it indicative that "the Black Breath"
and "the Black Shadow" are used interchangeably, as shadow causes
blindness.
I'm reading /The War of the Ring/ right now, and found an
interesting reference in Part Three, Ch.1, 'Addendum to 'The
Treason of Isengard'. It's from a manuscript page found after CJRT
had published /The Treason of Isengard/. He believes it to be the
earliest recorded conception of the events of Book V (last pages of
"The forces of Minas Tirith and Rohan under Aragorn and Gandalf
cross the Anduin and retake Elostirion [Osgiliath]. The Nazgûl. How
Gandalf drove them back. */Wherever the shadow of the Nazgûl fell
there was a blind darkness./* Men fell flat, or fled. But about
Gandalf there was always a light - and where he rode the shadows
retreated." [emphases mine]
Brilliant! Another nugget discovered in/rescued from HoME!
Post by Shanahan
Seems like evidence that the effect of blindness was one of the
effects of the Nazgûl's power. Perhaps the variation we see in
'the blindness effect' is because the Nazgûl can control this
effect; but I tend to believe that the effect is due to the
circumstances of the individual experiencing it. As Frodo in the
Emyn Muil.
It is very tempting to think this. I would agree that Frodo's temporary
blindness in the Emyn Muil is almost certainly either an intended
implication of this effect, or a remnant of an effect that is more
clearly described in older (lost) drafts. It does sound, though, as if
Tolkien toned down his unsubtle "blind darkness" with Gandalf's causing
the shadows to retreat, and left only hints here and there, or made the
language more vague. This may have been a desire to be more subtle, or
it might have been a conscious effort to avoid too much overt 'magic'. I
think the published text has a better 'balance' than some of the drafts,
and we should be careful about placing too much importance on events
that Tolkien may have deliberately removed or played down the
significance of.

OTOH, we do have this about the Nazgul and Gandalf:

"...under the wings of the Nazgul the shadows of death fell dark upon
the earth. [...] Upon the hill-top stood Gandalf, and he was white and
cold and no shadow fell on him." (The Field of Cormallen)

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Dirk Thierbach
2004-11-08 09:23:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Funnily enough I was just reading about this on the train. I am reading
a book called "Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World"
(by Verlyn Flieger). She talks about Light and Dark being central and
opposing themes in LotR. She places particular emphasis on Owen
Barfield's theory of Poetic Diction. (Barfield was one of the Inklings,
though not based in Oxford like Lewis and Tolkien). Intriguing stuff,
but not light reading. (That pun was _not_ intended).
I have been looking for that book for some time, but it seems out of
print. Is this a new printing? Would you recommend it? How does it
compare, e.g., to Shippey? Might make a new Christmas present :-)

[interesting stuff about Nazgul causing "mental" blindness snipped]

- Dirk
Geirroeth
2004-11-08 20:05:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I have been looking for that book for some time, but it seems out of
print. Is this a new printing? Would you recommend it? How does it
compare, e.g., to Shippey? Might make a new Christmas present :-)
I just ordered this from www.barnesandnoble.com (the ISBN for
the revised paperback I have is 0873387449. I've only read the first
couple of chapters and so can't really say whether I recommend it
or not. (I ordered several other books at the same time.) She discusses
some otherwise little-noted Tolkien pieces (e.g., his paper on
"Chaucer as a Philologist") and the Barfield influence, so it certainly covers
some territory which other books on Tolkien don't.

Steve Morrison
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-11-08 21:32:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Funnily enough I was just reading about this on the train. I am
reading a book called "Splintered Light: Logos and Language in
Tolkien's World" (by Verlyn Flieger). She talks about Light and Dark
being central and opposing themes in LotR. She places particular
emphasis on Owen Barfield's theory of Poetic Diction. (Barfield was
one of the Inklings, though not based in Oxford like Lewis and
Tolkien). Intriguing stuff, but not light reading. (That pun was
_not_ intended).
I have been looking for that book for some time, but it seems out of
print. Is this a new printing?
I have the second (revised) edition, which was published in 2002. The
first edition was published way back in 1983. I only bought my copy a
few months ago by mail-order from a specialist Tolkien dealer, but it
should also be available through most bookstores. It is published by the
Kent State University Press, so you should also be able to obtain it
through their website if all else fails:

www.kentstateuniversitypress.com
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Would you recommend it? How does it
compare, e.g., to Shippey? Might make a new Christmas present :-)
I would definitely recommend it, though I am only past the first few
chapters. There are a lot of small chapters, so it sometimes reads like
a collection of essays, but the arguments are clearly laid out and make
a lot of sense so far. Maybe I'll comment more after I've finished
reading it!

Comparing to Shippey. Hmm. To draw a crude distinction, Shippey is a
philologist. Flieger is a professor of English and looks at the literary
side of Tolkien. Apologies if I've made any crass oversimplification
here (and thinking on it, I probably have). Even though Flieger looks a
lot more at the imagery of the words (as opposed to the mythological and
philological history), you can't avoid philology in a study of Tolkien's
writings!

Oh, and something that was a source of confusion to me until I actually
started reading the book. The subtitle: 'Logos and Language in Tolkien's
World' actually refers to the Greek meaning of /logos/ - not the modern
meaning of logos. To make another simplification, logos might loosely
translate as 'word', but that is central to Flieger's whole point, so
I'll let her book tell you that!

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Shanahan
2004-10-04 04:33:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Larry Swain
Nor I, but I've been both a cowboy and a commercial fisherman
in my day. In both there are various tasks that take rope
with a knot and in which when the task is done it is
desireable to be able to flick the rope the right way, have
the knot become loose and so be able to recoil the rope rather
than have it remain on the cleat or the animal, and yet during
the task for that knot and loop to be very tight. In fact,
very like Sam and Frodo.
Interesting. Though I think the point here is that Sam denied
making any other knot than one that shouldn't have come loose.
As someone said, way upthread, Sam said that this was "in the
family".
I'm leaning towards 'magical' (whatever that means) for the
rope, and hysterical blindness for Frodo. Though it would be
interesting to look at the language used to describe the effect
of the Nazgul on people in general throughout the book. That
might lend a lot more credence to the idea that the Naxgul was
more responsible for the blindness than I am willing to accept
for the moment.
And there's Merry's "I thought I had fallen into deep water" when
he blacked out in Bree under the Black Breath. Of course, that was
at much closer hand. You know, I've forgotten what my opinion was
on this, entirely. You people keep doing that to me.

Ciaran S.
--
"This wallpaper and I are in a duel to death. One of us must go."
- oscar wilde, on his deathbed
Yuk Tang
2004-10-03 11:00:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Troels Forchhammer
The horn that Merry receives from Éowyn and Éomer "was made by
the Dwarves, and came from the hoard of Scatha the Worm" and "he
that blows it at need shall set fear in the hearts of his enemies
and joy in the hearts of his friends, and they shall hear him and
come to him." I'm quite sure that the effect of the horn is more
than natural (whether it is 'magic' or some kind of craft and art
not attainable by Men is, IMO, unimportant -- it is, to Men,
supernatural).
Oh, I don't know. Hearning the blast of a good bugler, or the
bagpipes, or whathaveyou before going into battle or at the
charge has had exactly that effect countless times over without
ever being "magical."
Bagpipes in War
http://sites.scran.ac.uk/jmhenderson/web/collection/pipes/warpipes.htm

In battle the pipers proved their worth, not only as soldiers, but in
boosting morale amongst the rank and file. Apocryphal stories of
incidents abound through regimental lore and the columns of the press.
Fraser’s, one of the regiments in the command of James Wolfe in 1760,
reacted badly to the pipers being disallowed from playing in the
mornings on their retreat from Quebec. The officer-in-charge, contrary
to the General’s decision, challenged his superior in his decision.
"Then", said the General, "let them blow like the devil if that will
bring back the men." This was not the first, nor will it be the last
time that the pipes have been associated with the antics of "Auld
Nick".

General Sir Eyre Coote commanding the 73rd (MacLeod’s Highlanders) in
India in 1778 described the bag-pipes as sounding like, "A useless
relic of a barbarous age!" He was to change his opinion some three
years later at the battle of Port Novo when the 73rd lead all the
attacks to the strain of the pipes and won the day despite being vastly
outnumbered. Sir Eyre Coote shouted to the ranks and pipers of the
73rd, "Well done my brave fellows, you shall have a set of silver pipes
for that." As good as his word each piper was given £50 and each set of
pipes was inscribed with the General’s thanks. (MANSON 119-120)

The heroic bravery of individual pipers playing in the heat of battle
has been documented by the regiments from as far back as the 17th
century. At the battle of the Haughs of Cromdale on 30th April 1689,
ending the Scottish Civil War, one Piper Hamish, a Jacobite, was badly
wounded but managed to scramble onto the top of a large boulder and
continued to play tune after tune, spurring on his men in their battle
on Cromdale Hill against the Royalist forces until he collapsed and
died. In memory, the stone was christened Clach A Phiobair – "The
Piper’s Stone".



Ladies from Hell
http://www.geocities.com/pentagon/bunker/3351/allmen/pipers.html

It is not generally known that, during conflicts involving British
Commonwealth nations, men playing tunes on the bagpipes often join the
regular soldiers in battle. They are unarmed, their only weapon sheer
courage. These are military pipers, and they are a tradition among
nations with strong Scottish (or Irish) heritage. Of course, the
foremost nation to make use of military pipers is Great Britain, with
her lands emcompassing Scotland itself. In the UK, the Highland
regiment tradition reaches back to the middle ages and even to Roman
times, and includes the names of many large scale battles-- Culloden
Moor, Waterloo, Balaclava, the Somme, Jerusalem, Dunkirk, El Alamein,
Liri Valley, Gold and Sword Beaches, Singapore, and even up to the
Falklands war and Desert Storm. Commonwealth nations, notably Canada,
make use of military pipers. The Canadian tradition reaches back to the
Boer War, and is marked with great battles well known to Canadians--
Ypres 1915, Vimy Ridge 1917, Mons 1918, Dieppe 1942, Ortona 1943, Juno
Beach 1944, and a slew of others. The other major Commonwealth nations,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India have all heard the
sounds of the pipes in battle, at places like Gallipoli, New Guinea ,
Tripoli and Benghazi.



It's notable that in the ending of the film 'Infernal Affairs', set in
an HK police officer's funeral, there's a piper playing alongside the
HKSAR's flag. Clearly pipes and other instruments are associated with
courage in battle.
--
Cheers, ymt.
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-03 15:58:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Larry Swain
The magic we see is the innate power of divine beings--Gandalf,
Sauron, Saruman, etc.
"But the Númenóreans used "spells" in making swords?" (note to
letter #155)
So did the Anglo-Saxons and other peoples, but that doesn't make
it magic, at least in the way I'm taking the word. ANd this
could be another fundamental differences: that we understand
different things by magic.
Since the note was put in specifically to 'refute' the claim in the
letter that Men could not do magic, I think you're stretching here.

The full text is:

" Anyway, a difference in the use of 'magic' in this story
is that it is not to be come by by 'lore' or spells; but is
in an inherent power not possessed or attainable by Men as
such. Aragorn's 'healing' might be regarded as 'magical',
or at least a blend of magic with pharmacy and 'hypnotic'
processes. But it is (in theory) reported by hobbits who
have very little notions of philosophy and science; while
A. is not a pure 'Man', but at long remove one of the
'children of Luthien'.[2]"
[2] "Alongside the final paragraph, Tolkien has written: 'But
the Númenóreans used "spells" in making swords?'"

Tolkien saw that the spells on the barrow-blades were a problem with
respect to the claim in the letter that magic was not attainable by
Men. As such he must have meant that these spells were actual magic
evoked by Men.

[The Mouth of Sauron]
Post by Larry Swain
"[...] and he learned great sorcery, [...]"
(V,10 'The Black Gate Opens')
Here again, I don't take "sorcery" to be magic in the way I
thought the original poster meant it.
Every other occurence of the word in LotR clearly implies the actual
use of magic.

<snip>
Post by Larry Swain
So I don't consider his study of sorcery to indicate that Middle
Earth is any more magical than our own.
He didn't 'study' sorcery: he "/learned/ great sorcery" (my emphasis),
which is quite different.

But I don't, in this particular case, argue that this is 'magic' in the
more traditional sense of the word, but rather in the sense of Elven
Art:

" I have not used 'magic' consistently, and indeed the
Elven-queen Galadriel is obliged to remonstrate with the
Hobbits on their confused use of the word both for the
devices and operations of the Enemy, and for those of the
Elves. I have not, because there is not a word for the
latter (since all human stories have suffered the same
confusion). But the Elves are there (in my tales) to
demonstrate the difference. Their 'magic' is Art, delivered
from many of its human limitations: more effortless, more
quick, more complete (product, and vision in unflawed
correspondence). And its object is Art not Power,
sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of
Creation."
(Letter #131)

I prefer to attempt to avoid this inconsistent use by making the
distinctions where possible.
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Larry Swain
So what else is magical?
The horn that Merry receives from Éowyn and Éomer
[...]
Post by Larry Swain
Oh, I don't know.
I could have guessed that ;-)

This seems to me to at the heart of a number of the ways we interpret
the texts differently; our different views on the role of 'magic' (in
the broader, inconsistent, sense) in Middle-earth.

I do not doubt, nor argue, that your interpretation is consistent with
the texts (if 'spells' and 'sorcery' is interpreted in the way you do
above), but I cannot accept it: I prefer the 'magical world'.

Your interpretation is, of course, strengthened by Tolkien's assertions
in e.g. letter #183 (1956):
"The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we
now live, but the historical period is imaginary."
(Though it should also be noted that he elsewhere refers to Middle-
earth as an 'imaginary world').

You interpret the imaginary part to refer only to history, while I
prefer to interpret it more broadly: as also referring to quality; to
powers.

It is, I think, my turn to suggest that we're at an impasse. The most I
think we can hope for is a mutual recognition that both interpretations
are possible, and that it is, by now, impossible to ascertain how
Tolkien himself intended Middle-earth in this respect (unless there are
texts on this question that I do not know).
Post by Larry Swain
Whether we call it actual 'magic' or 'craft and art unattainable
by Men' is, IMO, not important. The point is that the end effect
cannot be achieved by Men, and thus it becomes supernatural for
our purposes.
Ok, so anything that is not known specifically to Men in Middle
Earth then is "magic."
I think I used the word 'supernatural', but using 'magic' in the
inconsistent way Tolkien described would work just as well for me.

It is not a matter of knowledge, but of ability. The powers that are
/unattainable/ to Men by any means do, IMO, fall under the heading of
supernatural abilities (or 'magic', if you will). This obviously
doesn't mean that magic in itself is completely unattainable for Men in
Middle-earth.


<snip>
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Gravity is a habit that is hard to shake off.
- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)
Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message
2004-10-05 19:46:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
So what else is magical?
The horn that Merry receives from Éowyn and Éomer
Dunno if anyone has mentioned it yet on this thread, but
Faramir says to Frodo and Sam that the staves he gives them have
on them "a virtue of finding and returning". IIRC this is a
complete dead end, since other than Sam cracking his over
Gollum's back, they are never mentioned again. However it is
interesting that Faramir, who has the only "religious" moment in
the whole trilogy, seems to claim that humans were capable of
causing (or requesting) supernatural things to happen to matter
in this way.

--Jamie. (a Dover edition designed for years of use!)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)
AC
2004-10-06 15:09:33 UTC
Permalink
On 5 Oct 2004 19:46:45 GMT,
Post by Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
So what else is magical?
The horn that Merry receives from Éowyn and Éomer
Dunno if anyone has mentioned it yet on this thread, but
Faramir says to Frodo and Sam that the staves he gives them have
on them "a virtue of finding and returning". IIRC this is a
complete dead end, since other than Sam cracking his over
Gollum's back, they are never mentioned again. However it is
interesting that Faramir, who has the only "religious" moment in
the whole trilogy, seems to claim that humans were capable of
causing (or requesting) supernatural things to happen to matter
in this way.
This is one area where the good professor really buggered up. I think he
clearly didn't like the idea of Men having sufficient will and stature to be
able to do these sort of
magical/supernatural/material-altering/reality-altering things, and yet at
the same time we have the Druedain making carvings that are given some sort
of animation and we have things like the strength of Orthanc and these
staves. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think JRRT was wrong to
try state that the Second Born didn't have some small share in the gifts we
see in the Ainur and the Elves.
--
Aaron Clausen
***@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields
Larry Swain
2004-10-06 20:52:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
On 5 Oct 2004 19:46:45 GMT,
Post by Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Larry Swain
So what else is magical?
The horn that Merry receives from Éowyn and Éomer
Dunno if anyone has mentioned it yet on this thread, but
Faramir says to Frodo and Sam that the staves he gives them have
on them "a virtue of finding and returning". IIRC this is a
complete dead end, since other than Sam cracking his over
Gollum's back, they are never mentioned again. However it is
interesting that Faramir, who has the only "religious" moment in
the whole trilogy, seems to claim that humans were capable of
causing (or requesting) supernatural things to happen to matter
in this way.
This is one area where the good professor really buggered up. I think he
clearly didn't like the idea of Men having sufficient will and stature to be
able to do these sort of
magical/supernatural/material-altering/reality-altering things, and yet at
the same time we have the Druedain making carvings that are given some sort
of animation and we have things like the strength of Orthanc and these
staves. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think JRRT was wrong to
try state that the Second Born didn't have some small share in the gifts we
see in the Ainur and the Elves.
Generally I agree. In his defense though, how much of the
"Numenorean" magic is part of their ancestry--that is, how much
of it derives from Elros and family, how much were skills taught
by Elves of Middle Earth and handed down, and how much was
taught by Elves from the Blessed Realm when they yet visited
Numenor, and so again was passed down even among the realms in
Exile?.
AC
2004-10-06 22:08:59 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 15:52:21 -0500,
Post by Larry Swain
Generally I agree. In his defense though, how much of the
"Numenorean" magic is part of their ancestry--that is, how much
of it derives from Elros and family, how much were skills taught
by Elves of Middle Earth and handed down, and how much was
taught by Elves from the Blessed Realm when they yet visited
Numenor, and so again was passed down even among the realms in
Exile?.
Oh, I think that a huge share of what special gifts the Numenoreans had came
from their High Elven heritage (it was in the genes, so to speak). However,
that still doesn't explain the supernatural powers the Druedain had, which,
to my mind, resembles not a small bit the sort of enchantment represented by
the Ruling Ring. I'll confess that the only Men we see with any kind of
supernatural abilities are the Numenoreans and the Druedain (unless you
count Beorn in there as well), and that most Second Born, other than the
Gift of Men, just don't really have anything of the kind.
--
Aaron Clausen
***@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-07 07:51:39 UTC
Permalink
in <***@aaronclausen.alberni.net>,
AC <***@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
<snip>
Post by AC
This is one area where the good professor really buggered up. I
think he clearly didn't like the idea of Men having sufficient will
and stature to be able to do these sort of magical/supernatural/
material-altering/reality-altering things,
I think his position on this developed over time. In some of the drafts
in PoMe (IDHTBIFOM) there is something about the Men of Rhudaur taking to
sorcery under the influence of Angmar, but this was not included in the
published version (I take that as an indication that even when revising
LotR he wanted to limit the use of magic by any humans; apparently only
to the Edain and their Númenórean descendants). In letter #155 from 1954
we get the statement that magic was unattainable to Men with the note,
"But the Númenóreans used "spells" in making swords?" This would be a few
years after the texts in PoMe and I take it to imply a shift in attitude
with a recognition that what was done couldn't be undone: that some Men
were able to attain magic (it is, perhaps, noteworthy that the texts in
UT 'The Drúedain' are much later[1]).
Post by AC
and yet at the same time we have the Druedain making carvings that
are given some sort of animation and we have things like the strength
of Orthanc and these staves.
As well as various other instances in LotR.
Post by AC
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think JRRT was wrong to try
state that the Second Born didn't have some small share in the gifts
we see in the Ainur and the Elves.
I agree.

Trying to recall what instances we know of Men using magic, I can't
remember any instance of other than Edain (in particular the Drúedain)
and their Númenórean descandants using magic -- I would in general put
that down to what they learned from visiting Eldar in Númenor, and
possibly, for the line of Elros, an additional power from their
Eldarin/Maiarin ancestry (in letter #155 Tolkien also invokes Aragorn's
descent from Lúthien as part of an explanation of his healing powers).


[1] I've trusted the datings in the Mellonath Daeron here:
<http://www.forodrim.org/daeron/md_hm.html>
--
Troels Forchhammer

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to
anger.
- Gildor Inglorion, 'LotR' (J.R.R. Tolkien)
R. Dan Henry
2004-12-14 09:15:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see
repeated in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven
cloaks and his inability to share their Lembas.
This could be similar to the orcs hating sunlight, and the
reaction of orcs to Aragorn's sword Anduril. Do we get a similar
reactions from orcs to lembas or Elvish materials?
The orcs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol react in the same way. "They
seemed to hate the touch or the smell of [the lembas], even worse
than Gollum." Frodo gets most of his lembas back for the rest of
the journey, since the orcs only broke and scattered it.
'Luckily.'
The orcs leave Merry and Pippin's elvish cloaks on them when they are
captured and don't seem bothered by them at all.

R. Dan Henry
***@inreach.com
h***@netscape.net
2004-09-28 16:24:26 UTC
Permalink
On Sep 26, Christopher Kreuzer wrote in <C7H5d.1688$***@text.news.blueyo...:

[snip]
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.
He also spoke the name of Galadriel.
--
But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom, nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor; and he took his foe by the throat and pinned him down.
Troels Forchhammer
2004-09-28 21:02:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
we get another sample of the Gaffer's paternal vocabulary: "You're
nowt but a ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee."
Those Gaffer/Sam bits are great fun! I'm now dreaming of a way to
collect all the examples together... For the moment, can anyone think
of any more examples from Sam of this 'rustic' language?
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
About a dozen feet above the ground Gollum falls, curling up like a
spider. Sam rushes him, but soon finds himself in trouble from which
he is saved only by Frodo's intervention with Sting.
It is interesting that Gollum is able to overcome Sam.
Shouldn't we expect that?

Gollum put up a fight against Aragorn, biting him, and I don't think it's
surprising that a creature, who've lived as Gollum has, would be able to
overcome Sam at this point even if Sam has been in a hard school since
leaving the Shire.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I also find the comparison between Gollum and a spider interesting.
It is certainly a very odd reflex he displays.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Does this foreshadow later events?
It would be an extremely obscure piece of foreshadowing, I think, though
that obviously isn't the same as saying it isn't. It is a very unnatural
reaction for other creatures than spiders, I think, to curl up when they
fall (we would rather, like the cat, try to fall on hands and feet). Who
knows? I'm not sure either way.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Story-internal Questions
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
Having re-read the passages in question and others ideas on this
blindness, I am not convinced that the blindess was caused by the
Nazgul. I think that the fall could have caused a temporary blindness
if Frodo knocked his head without realizing it.
I don't think that any one cause is satisfying; the Nazgûl by itself
doesn't have this effect anywhere else, nor does Sauron's awareness (e.g.
on Amon Hen) . . .
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
We are told that Frodo slid feet-first with his hands over his ears,
and lands on his feet. Either that, or the lightning flash left him
temporarily blinded (but not Sam).
And I don't think that these, by themselves, provides a satisfying
explanation either. As you say, Frodo "had slid and not fallen" a few
yards, "coming up with a jolt to his feet on a wider ledge." Being struck
temporarily blind by that (in itself) would, to me, seem incredible, and
the same goes for the lightning by itself.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
"I thought for a bit that I had lost my sight? From the lightning or
something else worse."
My guess is that this should have been an 'and' rather than an 'or'.

My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness is no mere
accident, but is the result of several factors: the lightning, the storm,
the slide and the unexpected effect of the Nazgûl's cry ("out here in the
waste its terror was far great: it pierced them with cold blades of
horror and despair, stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect of
Sauron's attention.

One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had this effect,
only in combination do they blind Frodo.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return
or is it merely co-incidence?
I would say co-incidence
Inasfar as I don't believe that the rope in itself healed Frodo of a
supernatural blindness, I agree. On the other hand I don't think that
Frodo would have regained his sight as quickly had Sam lowered an
ordinary rope (he would probably have had to wait for the sun to reach
the cliff face).

Once more I don't see the supernatural as the only explanation: I see it
as speeding up and increasing the effect of more natural events (the same
goes for Frodo's blindness) rather than casuing these effects by
themselves.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
<snip quotation>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I want to know which Riders are being referred to here. I initially
thought this was a fast-moving storm and the Riders are the ones led
by Eomer to hunt the orcs. But now, having learnt that this is meant
to be a slow-moving storm, I think that this might describe the
course of the storm over a few days, and the Riders are the army of
Theoden going westwards to the Hornburg and Helm's Deep.
I agree.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
The trouble is that they see the stormclouds moving behind the Sun.
Obviously the clouds actually moved in front of the Sun, and if it
was the setting sun then the clouds had moved in front of the Riders
who are riding towards the storm. Does this sound right? Or does
"rode into the West" refer to the clouds and not the Riders??
This is, by Eric's account, the storm that strikes at Helm's Deep, and it
must be the one referenced in III,7 'Helm's Deep' as coming out of the
east (from behind the riders):

" There were no clouds overhead yet, but a heaviness was in
the air, it was hot for the season of the year. The rising sun
was hazy, and behind it, following it slowly up the sky, there
was a growing darkness, as of a great storm moving out of the
East."

Surely this is the selfsame storm rolling "slowly over Gondor and the
skirts of Rohan" after having cast "its shadow over Minas Tirith with
threat of war."
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
[...]
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.
I don't disagree.

It is often tempting to think that these effects are magical in nature:
the same goes for the camouflaging effect of the cloaks and the
strenghtening effect of the lembas, but I don't think it's quite the
right way to look at it.

It is, I believe, supernatural in the sense that it is not achievable by
Men, but we are not, IMO, speaking strange incantations or gestures (such
as e.g. Galadriel breathing on the water to create the mirror), but
rather a natural effect of the craft and art of the Elves in particular:
a bit of extra usefulness built into the things they make (to some extent
also achievable to Dwarves, as for instance in the horn Merry gets from
Éowyn and Éomer).

The infamous Barrow blades were "wound with spells" and the Mouth of
Sauron had "learned great sorcery", but to the Elves there is something
that is not magic, but rather a mix of art, craft and "the love of all
that [they] love": not magical, but still, to Men, supernatural. To Men
there is only magic, and consequently the Hobbits don't distinquish.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
This could be similar to the orcs hating sunlight, and the reaction of
orcs to Aragorn's sword Anduril. Do we get a similar reactions from
orcs to lembas or Elvish materials?
The Orcs that captured Frodo didn't like the lembas: "I guess they
disliked the very look and smell of the /lembas/, worse than Gollum did,"
Frodo said to Sam in VI,1.

I don't doubt that this has the same cause for Orcs and Gollum, they are
repelled and disgusted by anything associated with goodness, whether the
sun or the Elven lembas: the question is if there is any story-internal
explanation other than that they shun goodness?
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.
Hubris? Frodo is beginning to believe that he can be the Master of the
Ring, and ignoring or forgetting Gandalf's words.
Nice -- I like it ;-)
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Other Questions
These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
alphabetical notes.
Oh very well! Three-tiered note system indeed! Hmph! :-)
Bah, you're just envious you didn't invent it ;-))

(Note for the unwary: the above was written entirely in jest)
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
This is the first of a series of chapters detailing the journey of
the trio from Emyn Muil and ultimately to Mount Doom. The first
three of these chapters, and some of the later chapters, have always
seemed to me very hard to get through: I feel that I am slowly
plodding my way through the texts with all these ponderous
descriptions of the bleak and depressing landscapes of Emyn Muil,
the Dead Marshes and the waste before Mordor. I have come to realise
that this impression probably is the literary equivalent of what the
characters are going through, and if this is deliberate by Tolkien,
then it is, IMO, a work of absolute literary genius.
But you must remember that Tolkien probably always intended to
describe the landscapes around Mordor as bleak and depressing. That
and the depression/burden-type of effects that the Ring has on Frodo
both have the same ultimate source: the will and power of Sauron.
Indeed. And of course reading about such a dismal place -- and slowly
having the effect of the journey on Frodo revealed -- will seem
depressing.

I don't, for myself, complain about the pace of the story in these
chapters: it is the right pace, the pace and feeling that fits the story
at this point (in a very brilliant way, I'd like to add), and emphasises
the emotional setting of these chapters.

I am deeply impressed with the writing in these chapters: not only with
the way it emphasises the mood of the chapters, but also with what
appears, at least from a modern point of view, a very daring move: to let
the pace of the story die down that much after the stirring chase and
battles of book 3. I do, however, understand if others, used to the
faster pace of more recent stories, find the pace boring and impossible
to get through (or rather; I don't understand it as such, but I realise
that there are some that do think like that and leave the book for it).
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
It is likely that the plodding pace of the starts of Book 4 and 6 was
inevitable once these factors were decided upon.
To a large extend I think they were -- unless one would be satisfied
merely with reading that it was depressing and then on to the next
stirring battle ;-)
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Were the bleakness of Mordor and the surrounding areas, and the
effect of the Ring on Frodo, both present from the earliest drafts
in HoME?
Without knowing, I suspect so, but it would be nice to have it confirmed
(or disconfirmed, if that is what it will be).
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
If so, I would say that the combined effect might not have been
deliberate by Tolkien from the outset, but he could have realised how
well it was working and emphasised it.
That might be it.

<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Frodo here use the presence of the Ring to dominate Gollum: is this
an indication that he is himself falling under the domination of the
Ring?
IMO, yes. Especially where Frodo's cowing of Gollum and extraction of
a promise implies that he (Frodo) is the Master of the Ring.
I'll leave that in; the first hint of the hubris brought about be Frodo
slowly succumbing to the effect of the Ring, and ultimately leading to
him claiming it for his own at the Cracks of Fire . . .
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?
I don't quite get what you are saying here...
I am thinking in particular of the way that the Ring in both cases is
used to cow and dominate Gollum.

In this chapter we have Frodo using the presence of the Ring to force
Gollum to make his promise, and on the slopes of Mount Doom we have a
more direct threat of Gollum, again using the Ring to break him.

There is, I think, a close similarity between the two situations,
differing mainly in severity -- the strength with which Frodo uses the
Ring, and my question is if there is also a direct link between the two:
does the second instance become unavoidable once the first has taken
place?
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Sam is gentler than his words -- sparing Gollum almost in spite of
himself. When Gollum starts whimpering right after his capture, Sam
realises that "he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay
grovelling on the stones whimpering." This is, I believe, mirrored
later on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam found that "he could not
strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly
wretched." It is one thing that the two situations are alike -- that
one mirrors the other, but does the first foreshadow the later?
There is an important difference. In the first case Gollum has not
actually attacked them (only following them and defending himself
against Sam's attack), they only fear that he will betray them to orcs
or the Nazgul. In the second case, Gollum has already betrayed them to
Shelob, and has actually attacked them. Sam's pity in the latter case
is 'higher' if you like, more noble and requiring more estel.
More in line with what Tolkien wrote in a footnote to letter #246:

"In the sense that 'pity' to be a true virtue must be
directed to the good of its object. It is empty if it is
exercised only to keep oneself 'clean', free from hate or the
actual doing of injustice, though this is also a good motive."

In the first case (in this chapter) Sam's pity seems more directed
towards avoiding an injustice ("But what he means to do is another
matter.") while in the second case it really is "folly" ("To 'pity' him,
to forbear to kill him, was a piece of folly, or a mystical belief in the
ultimate value-in-itself of pity and generosity even if disastrous in the
world of time." Letter #181).
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Your thoughts, ideas, comments and questions?
Thanks for a great summary, but even more for some interesting
questions.
It was a rewarding task -- there was so much that I wanted to discuss in
relation to this chapter already before I started on the introduction,
and more appeared as I went deeper into it. And how could I justify to
myself to do less than my best with such a great chapter and for this
group of excellent people ;-)
--
Troels Forchhammer

The idea of being *paid* to govern is terribly middle-class :-)
- Igenlode on AFPH
Dirk Thierbach
2004-09-29 20:39:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness is no mere
accident, but is the result of several factors: the lightning, the storm,
the slide and the unexpected effect of the Nazgûl's cry ("out here in the
waste its terror was far great: it pierced them with cold blades of
horror and despair, stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect of
Sauron's attention.
One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had this effect,
only in combination do they blind Frodo.
How should those factors combine to cause blindness? That's not really
an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon that is described here.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return
or is it merely co-incidence?
I would say co-incidence
Inasfar as I don't believe that the rope in itself healed Frodo of a
supernatural blindness, I agree.
Its Elvish nature had probably something to do with it. There are other
hints that the rope is more than an ordinary simple rope, e.g in "The rope
seemed to give him confidence".
So far I certainly don't see a natural explanation.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I see it as speeding up and increasing the effect of more natural
events (the same goes for Frodo's blindness)
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness? Dizzyness,
yes. But complete, utter blindness? The best natural explanation I
can think of is that it is psychosomatic in some way; that Frodo's
fear expresses itself by making him feel to be blind. Once he gets
more confident (when he sees the rope), the blindness goes away.
(So "hope" seems to be involved in some way or other). But then I
have never heard of a psychosomatic blindness -- that's a much too
strong effect for my taste.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
but to the Elves there is something that is not magic, but rather a
mix of art, craft and "the love of all that [they] love": not
magical, but still, to Men, supernatural.
Certainly. So would you agree that something out of the ordinary,
supernatural-to-man seems to be at work here? If yes, can anyone make
some more sense of it (i.e., make it less supernatural :-) ?

- Dirk
Jeff George
2004-09-30 14:01:16 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 22:39:30 +0200 I used my godlike powers to observe
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
I once went blind at an AC/DC concert. Someone gave me something
really good to smoke but shortly after smoking it my vision started to
fade. It didn't go out all at once but dimmed as if someone was
turning down the lights, with everything at first turning purple,
until I was completely unable to see. I told my friends that I
couldn't see and I could feel them waving their hands in front of my
face but could see absolutely nothing. It probably lasted no more than
5 minutes but it felt like an eternity when I wasn't sure whether I
was going to get my sight back or not. I still remember my one friend
saying, "Shit. He's my ride home."
--
"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
- The Who

"Who? What? There's an old saying in Guatemala. I know
it's in Nicaragua. Meet he new boss. We don't get fooled
again in teenage wasteland."
- George W. Bush
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-09-30 19:17:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff George
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
I once went blind at an AC/DC concert. Someone gave me something
really good to smoke but shortly after smoking it my vision started to
fade.
So Frodo neglected to mention that he'd been overdoing the pipeweed just
before he went temporarily blind? :-)
Jeff George
2004-10-01 15:00:28 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 30 Sep 2004 19:17:49 GMT I used my godlike powers to observe
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Jeff George
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
I once went blind at an AC/DC concert. Someone gave me something
really good to smoke but shortly after smoking it my vision started to
fade.
So Frodo neglected to mention that he'd been overdoing the pipeweed just
before he went temporarily blind? :-)
Well at least Frodo's friend was more concerned about him than mine
was.
--
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."
- The Chimp 13-Sep-01 (the same day he was flying bin Laden's relatives out of the country)

"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."
- The Chimp 13-Mar-02 (less than six months later)
Dirk Thierbach
2004-09-30 17:14:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff George
On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 22:39:30 +0200 I used my godlike powers to observe
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
I once went blind at an AC/DC concert. Someone gave me something
really good to smoke but shortly after smoking it my vision started to
fade.
Sure, intoxicants can do this. But Frodo didn't eat any mushrooms :-)
So that's out, too.

- Dirk
Shanahan
2004-10-01 05:58:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness
is no mere accident, but is the result of several factors: the
lightning, the storm, the slide and the unexpected effect of
the Nazgûl's cry ("out here in the waste its terror was far
great: it pierced them with cold blades of horror and despair,
stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect of Sauron's
attention.
One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had
this effect, only in combination do they blind Frodo.
How should those factors combine to cause blindness? That's not
really an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon that is
described here.
Well, let's see. One question we could ask is "What *is* the
Nazgûl's cry, anyway?" Frodo says there are words in the cry, and
other statements in the book hint at this too. So why does the
Ringwraith go flying around over the Dead Marshes and the Emyn
Muil, screaming his lungs out? He's scouting for the Ringbearer.
So maybe his cry is a spell aimed at finding, or incapacitating,
the Ringbearer. Perhaps the horror of his voice and his words
(Black Speech?) incapacitates any susceptible listener, and makes
the world literally go black under a weight of "horror and
despair".

<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
but to the Elves there is something that is not magic, but
rather a mix of art, craft and "the love of all that [they]
love": not
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
magical, but still, to Men, supernatural.
Certainly. So would you agree that something out of the ordinary,
supernatural-to-man seems to be at work here? If yes, can anyone
make some more sense of it (i.e., make it less supernatural :-) ?
Maybe the Elves, as a matter of course, weave a slight lightspell
into the twisting of hithlain, so that they can see the rope in the
dark (a useful thing). Probably they'd use starlight as the source.
So Frodo's blindness, which is temporary anyway, is broken by the
lightspell on the rope's fibers once they are nearer to him.

Ciaran S.
--
Death to all fanatics!
Jens Kilian
2004-10-01 17:16:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Well, let's see. One question we could ask is "What *is* the
Nazgûl's cry, anyway?" Frodo says there are words in the cry, and
other statements in the book hint at this too. So why does the
Ringwraith go flying around over the Dead Marshes and the Emyn
Muil, screaming his lungs out? He's scouting for the Ringbearer.
So maybe his cry is a spell aimed at finding, or incapacitating,
the Ringbearer. Perhaps the horror of his voice and his words
(Black Speech?) incapacitates any susceptible listener, and makes
the world literally go black under a weight of "horror and
despair".
_The Black Gate Opens_:

"And out of the gathering mirk the Nazgûl came
with their cold voices crying words of death;
and then all hope was quenched."
--
mailto:***@acm.org As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish,
http://www.bawue.de/~jjk/ so is contempt to the contemptible. [Blake]
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-02 19:55:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Dirk Thierbach
How should those factors combine to cause blindness? That's not
really an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon that is
described here.
Well, let's see. One question we could ask is "What *is* the
Nazgûl's cry, anyway?" Frodo says there are words in the cry, and
other statements in the book hint at this too. So why does the
Ringwraith go flying around over the Dead Marshes and the Emyn
Muil, screaming his lungs out?
Because terror is associated with the Nazgul, and that is one
way to express this terror?
Post by Shanahan
Perhaps the horror of his voice and his words (Black Speech?)
incapacitates any susceptible listener, and makes the world
literally go black under a weight of "horror and despair".
Quite possible. But then we are back to "supernatural" (which is ok
with me).
Post by Shanahan
Maybe the Elves, as a matter of course, weave a slight lightspell
into the twisting of hithlain, so that they can see the rope in the
dark (a useful thing). Probably they'd use starlight as the source.
Interesting idea. (Again "supernatural").
Post by Shanahan
So Frodo's blindness, which is temporary anyway, is broken by the
lightspell on the rope's fibers once they are nearer to him.
I think it doesn't really matter if it's a "lightspell" or some
general elvish "magical" property -- in both cases, there's a
"supernatural" reason. The details are IMHO not so important.

- Dirk
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-03 00:18:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Shanahan
So why does the
Ringwraith go flying around over the Dead Marshes and the Emyn
Muil, screaming his lungs out?
Because terror is associated with the Nazgul, and that is one
way to express this terror?
I've just read 'The Passage of the Marshes' and I got an impression of
definite strategy from the overflights of the Nazgul. I'll say more in
my reply to that chapter discussion.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Yuk Tang
2004-10-01 11:51:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
Dizzyness, yes. But complete, utter blindness? The best natural
explanation I can think of is that it is psychosomatic in some
way; that Frodo's fear expresses itself by making him feel to be
blind. Once he gets more confident (when he sees the rope), the
blindness goes away. (So "hope" seems to be involved in some way
or other). But then I have never heard of a psychosomatic
blindness -- that's a much too strong effect for my taste.
A chap called Blithe in Band of Brothers becomes blind in the middle of
a battle, and does not recover until his CO has a chat with him. Dunno
how much of that is true, since I don't have the book with me. But
then again, IIRC some of the details in the programme are contradicted
by the book.
--
Cheers, ymt.
Jette Goldie
2004-10-01 18:39:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yuk Tang
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
Dizzyness, yes. But complete, utter blindness? The best natural
explanation I can think of is that it is psychosomatic in some
way; that Frodo's fear expresses itself by making him feel to be
blind. Once he gets more confident (when he sees the rope), the
blindness goes away. (So "hope" seems to be involved in some way
or other). But then I have never heard of a psychosomatic
blindness -- that's a much too strong effect for my taste.
A chap called Blithe in Band of Brothers becomes blind in the middle of
a battle, and does not recover until his CO has a chat with him. Dunno
how much of that is true, since I don't have the book with me. But
then again, IIRC some of the details in the programme are contradicted
by the book.
"Hysterical blindness" is a well known phenomenom. Your mind
can play some horrible tricks on you - psychosomatic illnesses,
rashes, pain, paralysis, amnesia, blindness, deafness, loss of
voice, panic attacks that make you *feel* like you are dying -
terror, panic...... they are powerful emotions.

And then again, the mind can *conquer* pain - I've known
people who used self hypnosis to manage childbirth, the
pain of dental treatment (including extractions). Panic
can give you amazing strength - small women lifting multi
ton trucks to rescue their children for example.
--
Jette
"Work for Peace and remain Fiercely Loving" - Jim Byrnes
***@blueyonder.co.uk
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/
Yuk Tang
2004-10-01 20:00:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jette Goldie
"Hysterical blindness" is a well known phenomenom. Your mind
can play some horrible tricks on you - psychosomatic illnesses,
rashes, pain, paralysis, amnesia, blindness, deafness, loss of
voice, panic attacks that make you *feel* like you are dying -
terror, panic...... they are powerful emotions.
And then again, the mind can *conquer* pain - I've known
people who used self hypnosis to manage childbirth, the
pain of dental treatment (including extractions). Panic
can give you amazing strength - small women lifting multi
ton trucks to rescue their children for example.
I wonder if 'hysterical blindness' and other such things are just an
over-reaction to a surfeit of adrenaline.
--
Cheers, ymt.
Jette Goldie
2004-10-01 23:58:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Yuk Tang
Post by Jette Goldie
"Hysterical blindness" is a well known phenomenom. Your mind
can play some horrible tricks on you - psychosomatic illnesses,
rashes, pain, paralysis, amnesia, blindness, deafness, loss of
voice, panic attacks that make you *feel* like you are dying -
terror, panic...... they are powerful emotions.
And then again, the mind can *conquer* pain - I've known
people who used self hypnosis to manage childbirth, the
pain of dental treatment (including extractions). Panic
can give you amazing strength - small women lifting multi
ton trucks to rescue their children for example.
I wonder if 'hysterical blindness' and other such things are just an
over-reaction to a surfeit of adrenaline.
I think you are more likely to be into physics and biology
than studying psychology.
--
Jette Goldie
***@blueyonder.co.uk
Apache and Dakota
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/kitties.html
Yuk Tang
2004-10-02 07:19:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jette Goldie
Post by Yuk Tang
I wonder if 'hysterical blindness' and other such things are just an
over-reaction to a surfeit of adrenaline.
I think you are more likely to be into physics and biology
than studying psychology.
That's what I mean. I know that adrenaline is supposed to block pain
and heighten reactions for a short period, but I'm wondering if, in
some situations and in some individuals, the body may produce (or
consume) too much, leading to unlikely effects. Such as hysterical
blindness, superhuman feats, etc.
--
Cheers, ymt.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-02 19:58:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jette Goldie
"Hysterical blindness" is a well known phenomenom.
I have never heard about it. Could you give any pointers to more
information?
Post by Jette Goldie
Your mind can play some horrible tricks on you - psychosomatic
illnesses, rashes, pain, paralysis, amnesia, loss of voice, panic
attacks that make you *feel* like you are dying -
I can believe all of those, but
Post by Jette Goldie
blindness, deafness,
are new to me.

- Dirk
Jette Goldie
2004-10-02 21:24:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Jette Goldie
"Hysterical blindness" is a well known phenomenom.
I have never heard about it. Could you give any pointers to more
information?
Well, I usually find Google quite good.
--
Jette Goldie
***@blueyonder.co.uk
Some people are like Slinkies . . . not really good for anything, but you
still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.
Taemon
2004-10-03 09:42:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jette Goldie
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I have never heard about it. Could you give any
pointers to more information?
Well, I usually find Google quite good.
So, where did you find it? Especially the deafness thing? That's
intriguing.

T.
Jette Goldie
2004-10-01 18:39:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness is no mere
accident, but is the result of several factors: the lightning, the storm,
the slide and the unexpected effect of the Nazgûl's cry ("out here in the
waste its terror was far great: it pierced them with cold blades of
horror and despair, stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect of
Sauron's attention.
One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had this effect,
only in combination do they blind Frodo.
How should those factors combine to cause blindness? That's not really
an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon that is described here.
One could say that it was "hysterical blindness" caused by
the terror (ie, his eyes were seeing fine, his mind was *not
recognising* what his optic nerve was telling him) and the
faint shimmer of the Elven rope "cured" it.
--
Jette
"Work for Peace and remain Fiercely Loving" - Jim Byrnes
***@blueyonder.co.uk
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-02 23:35:13 UTC
Permalink
In message
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness is
[...]
Post by Dirk Thierbach
How should those factors combine to cause blindness?
I don't really know.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
That's not really an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon
that is described here.
I agree. It is at most a step on the way towards an explanation; a
suggestion as to how such an explanation might be approached.

<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Inasfar as I don't believe that the rope in itself healed Frodo
of a supernatural blindness, I agree.
Its Elvish nature had probably something to do with it. There are
other hints that the rope is more than an ordinary simple rope,
e.g in "The rope seemed to give him confidence".
Fair point. I do not, however, argue that Frodo would have been healed
of his blindness at that point without the rope.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
So far I certainly don't see a natural explanation.
If by 'a natural explanation' you mean an explanation relying solely on
natural events and phenomena that would explain both events, including
the timing, then I will be happy to agree.

It was probably badly phrased before -- I'll see if I can do better.

What I meant was that the supernatural phenomena were not alone
responsible for either event -- Frodo's blindness was, IMO, not caused
exclusively by supernatural phenomena, and neither was, again IMO, his
healing.

I see this as akin to when we hear that the Rings of Power "enhanced
the natural powers of a possessor" -- the ultimate cause of the events
is not, when used in this way, the Ring itself, but the natural powers
of its possessor. Likewise I don't think that the supernatural
phenomena in this case can serve as the root cause for Frodo's
blindness and healing. The Nazgûl cry or Sauron's attention were not
meant to cause blindness -- there was not spell of blinding in the cry.
And in the same way there was no power for curing blindness in the
rope. The supernatural phenomena, as I see it, caused an enhancing of
natural phenomena as well as enhancing the effect of the natural
phenomena. The most promising explanation for Frodo's blindness is,
IMO, that of 'hysterical blindness' caused by a combination of shock
and terror, but the level of shock and terror necessary for producing
this effect would not have been attainable without the supernatural
phenomena (and the cause of terror itself is, of course, supernatural).
The same goes for the rope: there are evidence suggesting subconscious
visual processing in people suffering from hysterical blindness, and
that would explain why seeing the rope (even before consciously
registering to see it) could have an effect on Frodo -- the faint
sheen, the knowledge of whence it came and the comfort that thought
brought him. But the sheen wasn't entirely natural, and the comfort of
knowing the rope was made by the Elves was, I think, enhanced by the
Elven craft and art that went into the making: "the thought of all that
[they] love" that the Elves put into all that they made made the rope
more trustworthy, perhaps.

<rearranging>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
The best natural explanation I can think of is that it is
psychosomatic in some way; that Frodo's fear expresses itself by
making him feel to be blind. Once he gets more confident (when he
sees the rope), the blindness goes away.
That seems quite close to what I am suggesting, with the addition that
I don't think the natural phenomena would have been sufficient by
themselves (even in combination) -- only when the effect is enhanced by
the supernatural is the effect strong enough to cause and heal Frodo's
blindness. As for your reservations about psychosomatic blindness, see
below.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
(So "hope" seems to be involved in some way or other).
Good point. "Estel" in the powers of the Elves.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I see it as speeding up and increasing the effect of more natural
events (the same goes for Frodo's blindness)
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
Dizzyness, yes. But complete, utter blindness?
[...]
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But then I have never heard of a psychosomatic blindness -- that's a
much too strong effect for my taste.
Blindness, deafness, paralysis -- you name it.

I googled a bit -- unfortunately there is (as I discovered) a film
named "Hysterical Blindness" that takes up most of the results, but
when combining that search term with "conversion disorder" things got
better:

" The term hysterical blindness refers not to a medical
condition, but rather a rare psychological condition in
which trauma from an injury or illness results in a
patient's assumed inability to see. The emotional turmoil
experienced by people suffering from hysterical blindness
causes them to block off visual impulses from the eyes to
the brain.
Also known as a conversion disorder, dissociative
reaction, or psychological factors affecting medical
conditions, hysteria presents itself as an affliction of a
sensory organ, in this case, the eyes. Depression, anxiety
and other emotional symptoms may also be present.
More common in females and young adults, hysterical
blindness is a case to be handled by a psychiatrist, not an
eye care professional."
<http://www.alasiksurgeonnearyou.com/vision/blindness/hysterical.html>

Some of the ressources state that 'hysteria' and 'hysterical' isn't
used nowadays -- the clinical names of mental disorders have, I
supposed, always been particularly vulnerable to redefinition when
adapted into vernacular language.

<http://www.psychnet-uk.com/dsm_iv/conversion_disorder.htm>
<http://www.pediatriconcall.com/fordoctor/DiseasesandCondition/hysteria
.asp>
<http://www.priory.com/psych/neurosis.htm>
<http://brain.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/full/124/1/232>
<http://www.ellenwhite.org/refute4.htm>

And, very relevant for our subject;
" Veterans from World War I and II experienced PTSD through
'conversion disorder,' symptoms such as hysterical blindness
or suddenly not being able to walk, for example."
<http://www.alaskastar.com/stories/081904/new_20040819027.shtml>

Is there reason to think that Tolkien was not aware of this? There is
no details in the article, but I seem to recall something about various
psychophysiological disorders being the result of grenade shock in the
first world-war.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
but to the Elves there is something that is not magic, but rather
a mix of art, craft and "the love of all that [they] love": not
magical, but still, to Men, supernatural.
Certainly. So would you agree that something out of the ordinary,
supernatural-to-man seems to be at work here?
I hope that my explanation above is a bit more clear than my previous
attempt. Indeed I agree that these effects would not have been achieved
without the enhancing effect of the supernatural phenomena.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
If yes, can anyone make some more sense of it (i.e., make it less
supernatural :-) ?
As I said I think that the 'hysterical blindness' suggestion offers the
best way to understand the situation. It allows us to explain also why
the elven rope could help Frodo even if it didn't, in itself, have any
healing powers.
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

My adversary's argument
is not alone malevolent
but ignorant to boot.
He hasn't even got the sense
to state his so-called evidence
in terms I can refute.
- Piet Hein, /The Untenable Argument/
Jette Goldie
2004-10-02 23:48:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But then I have never heard of a psychosomatic blindness -- that's a
much too strong effect for my taste.
Blindness, deafness, paralysis -- you name it.
I googled a bit -- unfortunately there is (as I discovered) a film
named "Hysterical Blindness" that takes up most of the results, but
when combining that search term with "conversion disorder" things got
" The term hysterical blindness refers not to a medical
condition, but rather a rare psychological condition in
which trauma from an injury or illness results in a
patient's assumed inability to see. The emotional turmoil
experienced by people suffering from hysterical blindness
causes them to block off visual impulses from the eyes to
the brain.
Also known as a conversion disorder, dissociative
reaction, or psychological factors affecting medical
conditions, hysteria presents itself as an affliction of a
sensory organ, in this case, the eyes. Depression, anxiety
and other emotional symptoms may also be present.
More common in females and young adults, hysterical
blindness is a case to be handled by a psychiatrist, not an
eye care professional."
<http://www.alasiksurgeonnearyou.com/vision/blindness/hysterical.html>
Some of the ressources state that 'hysteria' and 'hysterical' isn't
used nowadays -- the clinical names of mental disorders have, I
supposed, always been particularly vulnerable to redefinition when
adapted into vernacular language.
Well, strictly speaking "hysterical" and hysteria come
from the Greek for the womb - implying that it is a purely
*female* problem, caused by having a womb. It wasn't so
very long ago that it was thought that a "hysterectomy"
(surgical removal of the womb) would cure women of
many psychological problems. By mid 20th C it was
becoming practically *standard* to give middle aged
women a hysterectomy, even for conditions that weren't
immediately connected with the womb.

Imagine if doctors were to suggest that cutting off mens'
b*lls would cure most of their problems!
--
Jette
***@blueyonder.co.uk
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
The difference between men and boys
is the cost of their toys"
Jeff George
2004-10-04 16:14:19 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 02 Oct 2004 23:48:20 GMT I used my godlike powers to observe
Post by Jette Goldie
Imagine if doctors were to suggest that cutting off mens'
b*lls would cure most of their problems!
It might curb certain warmongering we see.
--
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."
- The Chimp 13-Sep-01

"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."
- The Chimp 13-Mar-02
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-04 18:16:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
If by 'a natural explanation' you mean an explanation relying solely on
natural events and phenomena that would explain both events, including
the timing, then I will be happy to agree.
Ok. I misunderstood.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
The supernatural phenomena, as I see it, caused an enhancing of
natural phenomena as well as enhancing the effect of the natural
phenomena.
Yes, sure. That motive appears quite often.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I googled a bit -- unfortunately there is (as I discovered) a film
named "Hysterical Blindness" that takes up most of the results, but
when combining that search term with "conversion disorder" things got
Thanks. I didn't knew the term "conversion disorder". Also thanks for
the links. I would have liked a more detailed case description,
though -- just out of curiosity.

- Dirk
Jim Deutch
2004-10-06 16:18:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness? Dizzyness,
yes. But complete, utter blindness? The best natural explanation I
can think of is that it is psychosomatic in some way; that Frodo's
fear expresses itself by making him feel to be blind. Once he gets
more confident (when he sees the rope), the blindness goes away.
(So "hope" seems to be involved in some way or other). But then I
have never heard of a psychosomatic blindness -- that's a much too
strong effect for my taste.
google <psychosomatic blindness> 4180 hits

"In response to the severity of their premigration trauma, some older
Cambodian women
have developed nonorganic or psychosomatic blindness"

www.psychiatrictimes.com/p980764.html

OTOH, a large proportion of the hits seem to point to _fictional_
episodes of psychosomatic blindness, and a large proportion of the
rest refer to the above Cambodians...

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--
Don't question authority. What makes you think they know anything?
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-01 21:11:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
<snip>

Story-internal Questions
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?
I don't think that any one cause is satisfying
I like the hysteric blindness idea suggested elsewhere. Maybe Tolkien
had heard of such cases during WW1? Shell-shock or something?

<snip>

[about the storm over Emyn Muil]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
This is, by Eric's account, the storm that strikes at Helm's Deep,
and it must be the one referenced in III,7 'Helm's Deep' as coming
" There were no clouds overhead yet, but a heaviness was in
the air, it was hot for the season of the year. The rising sun
was hazy, and behind it, following it slowly up the sky, there
was a growing darkness, as of a great storm moving out of the
East."
Surely this is the selfsame storm rolling "slowly over Gondor and the
skirts of Rohan" after having cast "its shadow over Minas Tirith with
threat of war."
Yes. I just find the account in 'The Taming of Smeagol' gives no
indication or clue that the description is moving so far into the
future. I am pretty sure it is, but only after reading all those other
references. A bit confusing.

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Other Questions
These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
alphabetical notes.
Oh very well! Three-tiered note system indeed! Hmph! :-)
Bah, you're just envious you didn't invent it ;-))
(Note for the unwary: the above was written entirely in jest)
<considers devising seven different types of notes....>

[about story writing in Book 4]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I am deeply impressed with the writing in these chapters: not only
with the way it emphasises the mood of the chapters, but also with
what appears, at least from a modern point of view, a very daring
move: to let the pace of the story die down that much after the
stirring chase and battles of book 3.
This might be a case where a modern editor would have told Tolkien that
he 'must not write the story this way'. Luckily Tolkien was enough of an
amateur (in the sense of writing in his spare time) to not know whether
he was doing some things 'wrong'. In fact, they were quite brilliantly
right!

<snip>

[about Frodo using the Ring to cow Gollum]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?
I don't quite get what you are saying here...
I am thinking in particular of the way that the Ring in both cases is
used to cow and dominate Gollum.
In this chapter we have Frodo using the presence of the Ring to force
Gollum to make his promise, and on the slopes of Mount Doom we
have a more direct threat of Gollum, again using the Ring to break
him.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
There is, I think, a close similarity between the two situations,
differing mainly in severity -- the strength with which Frodo uses the
Ring, and my question is if there is also a direct link between the
two: does the second instance become unavoidable once the first has
taken place?
I see what you mean now, and I would say: yes, the second incident at
Mount Doom is not independent of the first incident. It is perhaps the
continuation of the previous confrontation.

a) "Swear by it, if you will. For you know where it is. Yes, you know,
Smeagol. It is before you. [...] Down! down! Now speak your promise!"
(Frodo speaking to Gollum in 'The Taming of Smeagol')

b) "Frodo flung him off and rose up quivering. 'Down, down!' he gasped,
clutching his hand to his breast, so that beneath the cover of his
leather shirt he clasped the Ring. 'Down you creeping thing, and out of
my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot betray me or slay me now.'
[...] 'Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you
shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.'" (Frodo speaking to
Gollum in 'Mount Doom')

In particular, the phrase 'Down, down!' is repeated. But the references
to betrayal and slaying in the second encounter are probably a reference
to what happened at Cirith Ungol and Shelob's Lair.

[about Sam's two moments of sparing Gollum: in 'The Taming of Smeagol'
and in 'Mount Doom']
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
There is an important difference. In the first case Gollum has not
actually attacked them (only following them and defending himself
against Sam's attack), they only fear that he will betray them to
orcs or the Nazgul. In the second case, Gollum has already betrayed
them to Shelob, and has actually attacked them. Sam's pity in the
latter case is 'higher' if you like, more noble and requiring more
estel.
<snip bits from Letters #246 and #181 on pity - thanks for those>

Not much more to add! :-)

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Yuk Tang
2004-10-02 07:21:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I like the hysteric blindness idea suggested elsewhere. Maybe
Tolkien had heard of such cases during WW1? Shell-shock or
something?
Considering he took part in the Somme campaign, he's probably seen it
in RL.
--
Cheers, ymt.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-09-29 20:24:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.
But that does not work with "proper" knots -- you cannot open them by
shaking the line, and then pulling. And Sam was very insistent that he
"put as fast a hitch over the stump as any one could have done, in the
Shire or out of it". And he knew how to make a "proper" knot, as it
was "in the family, as you might say".

- Dirk
Igenlode Wordsmith
2004-11-03 01:30:07 UTC
Permalink
On 26 Sep 2004 Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

[snip]
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Having re-read the passages in question and others ideas on this
blindness, I am not convinced that the blindness was caused by the
Nazgul. I think that the fall could have caused a temporary blindness if
Frodo knocked his head without realizing it. We are told that Frodo slid
feet-first with his hands over his ears, and lands on his feet. Either
that, or the lightning flash left him temporarily blinded (but not Sam).
"I thought for a bit that I had lost my sight? From the lightning or
something else worse."
One thing that does occur to me is the relative positions of the two
hobbits: Sam was at the top of the cliff, looking down, and Frodo was
down on the ledge, talking to Sam above him, and thus in all probability
*looking almost vertically up*. This might account for one and the same
flash blinding Frodo, and yet not Sam.

(On the matter of the rope, I don't think it magically cured him - but
I do think it may well have shone in the dusk, even if only after the
manner of 'high-visibility' garments which catch and reflect what
little light there is :-)
--
Igenlode <***@nym.alias.net> Bookwraith unabashed

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar
Jim Deutch
2004-10-06 16:18:22 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC), Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself -- when I
called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers to be able of
such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree. Did the rope untie
itself when Sam called, was it the merely the smooth surface of the
rope that defeated Sam's knot once it wasn't pulled tight, or is
Sam's trust in his own skills at knot-tying misplaced?
Long ago, I used to believe that it was a nylon rope: as you say, too
slippery for the standard knots and it just came loose, luckily not
too soon. Nowadays I subscribe to Sam's theory.

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--
"The treacherous are ever distrustful." - Gandalf
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-10-24 21:25:55 UTC
Permalink
I am more than a month behind in these posts and so have taken to
responding just to the initial summary and discussion points in order
to at least touch base with the chapter while catching up, saving the
detailed in-depth discussions for savoring in the future when there is
more time available. This runs the risk of repeating points others
have made during the earlier discussion; my apologies in advance if
that happens.

On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC), Troels Forchhammer
<***@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

(snip)
Post by Troels Forchhammer
There has been a good deal of talk about /On Fairy Stories/ lately,
and I have tried to come up with an ingenious way to link this chapter
to that essay, but without much luck.
Does it help any to view it from a different perspective, say, as
Frodo's first wholly independent steps on a path that will eventually
lead him to Valinor?
Post by Troels Forchhammer
One connection I do see is in the (false, as it turns out) promise of
the redemption of Sméagol as the potential eucatastrophe of the books
(the potential eucatastrphe, as I see it, lies in the, aFAIK very
Christian, promise that redemption and absolution /is/ possible --
even for Gollum).
Not a false promise so much as a failed potential...truly a Christian
concept that JRRT and his audience had fully internalized. In that
perspective, far more people fail than achieve redemption, so this is
a very realistic and believable result for Gollum.

Too, here I'm drawn to that part of "On Fairy-stories" (excluding its
epilogue as that presumably was added later on some time, whereas the
original essay springs from the same time as when JRRT was beginning
work on "The Lord of the Rings") where Tolkien discusses "the most
nearly pure ... and so (when achieved) the most potent" form of Art,
which he defines as Fantasy.

Fantasy, of course, starts out with an advantage: arresting
strangeness. But that advantage has been turned against it,
and has contributed to its disrepute. Many people dislike
being "arrested."

It's hard to imagine anyone in the story possessed of more "arresting
strangeness" than Gollum, at once fascinating and repellent. Indeed
he usually stirs up a strong desire in those who encounter him to
arrest him (g). Coincidence or has JRRT neatly solved the problem of
overcoming the reader's dislike of being 'arrested'?

A little further on in the essay, while still on the topic of Fantasy,
the Master says:

Fantasy may be, as I think, not less but more sub-creative;
but at any rate it is found in practice that "the inner
consistency of reality" is more difficult to produce, the more
unlike are the images and the rearrangements of primary
material to the actual arrangements of the Primary World. It
is easier to produce this kind of "reality" with more "sober"
material. Fantasy thus, too often, remains undeveloped; it is
and has been used frivolously, or only half-seriously, or
merely for decoration: it remains merely "fanciful."

The "more 'sober' material" in this case may have been, as mentioned
above, the ongoing issue of Gollum's possible redemption, something
that JRRT would have known would make his Christian audience identify
with a central character whom he therefore gave the darker side of the
"visions of 'fantasy.' Not all are beautiful or even wholesome, not at
any rate the fantasies of fallen Man."

Had Gollum actually been redeemed, I think the story would have
suffered greatly and becoming more fanciful and not that "rare
achievement of Art: indeed narrative art, story-making in its primary
and most potent mode" that JRRT referred to in "On Fairy-stories" and
succeeded in writing.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Can others come up with other ideas to how Tolkien's vision of fairy-
stories as put down in OFS has influenced this chapter?
I never thought of this until now, but it makes sense to look into it
because JRRT was beginning "The Lord of the Rings" at around the time
he spoke "On Fairy-stories" and while he frankly admitted there that
"[fairy-stories are] not an easy form" he ended up presenting us with
a masterpiece. This chapter is a good one for it, as it starts Frodo
and Sam on the most important part of their journey. The realm they
are entering is Perilous indeed and they will get to know it
intimately (compare with Faramir's upcoming comment to Frodo that
Frodo had passed through 'the Perilous Realm' in Lorien but little
understood its power).

There are a number of things that clicked in a comparison between OFS
and this chapter, but the major one was this:

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more
complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic
or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that
hears it, when the "turn" comes, a catch of the breath, a beat
and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by)
tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and
having a peculiar quality.

Even modern fairy-stories can produce this effect sometimes.
It is not an easy thing to do; it depends on the whole story
which is the setting of the turn, and yet it reflects a glory
backwards.

For me this turn comes at the very end (and always draws tears) when
Sam draws that deep breath and says, "Well, I'm back." So certainly
the opening of this chapter

'Well, master, we're in a fix and no mistake,' said Sam
Gamgee. He stood despondently with hunched shoulders beside
Frodo, and peered out with puckered eyes into the gloom.

is a part of the setting for that final turn. I can definitely see
the glory reflecting backwards here.

Other things I'll just mention in passing and see if they click for
anyone else:

**********************
OFS: "But how powerful, how stimulating to the very faculty that
produced it, was the invention of the adjective: no spell or
incantation in Faerie is more potent."

This chapter:
-- "the *barren* slopes and stones of the Emyn Muil"
-- "this *strange twisted* knot of hills" whose outward faces are
*"sheer, high and impassable"* and frown over plains beyond its
"*tumbled* skirts" at *"livid festering* marshes"
-- "a *tall* cliff, *bare and bleak*" behind which rose "*broken*
highlands" while "a *chill* wind" blew and night gathered over
*"shapeless* lands" whose *"sickly green"* was fading into *"sullen
brown."*

That's 19 adjectives in the first three paragraphs of the chapter.
JRRT was weaving a mighty spell!

This leads into...

**********************
OFS: "Fairy-stories were plainly not primarily concerned with
possibility, but with desirability. If they awakened desire,
satisfying it while often whetting it unbearably, they succeeded...The
dragon had the trade-mark of Faerie written plain upon him. In
whatever world he had his being it was an Other-world. Fantasy, the
making or glimpsing of Other-worlds, was the heart of the desire of
Faërie. I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my
timid body did not wish to have them in the neighbourhood, intruding
into my relatively safe world, in which it was, for instance, possible
to read stories in peace of mind, free from fear. But the world that
contained even the imagination of Fáfnir was richer and more
beautiful, at whatever cost of peril. The dweller in the quiet and
fertile plains may hear of the tormented hills and the unharvested sea
and long for them in his heart. For the heart is hard though the body
be soft."

This chapter's (to my mind) deliberate effect, as Troels describes
Post by Troels Forchhammer
This is the first of a series of chapters detailing the journey of the
trio from Emyn Muil and ultimately to Mount Doom. The first three of
these chapters, and some of the later chapters, have always seemed to
me very hard to get through: I feel that I am slowly plodding my way
through the texts with all these ponderous descriptions of the bleak
and depressing landscapes of Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes and the waste
before Mordor. I have come to realise that this impression probably
is the literary equivalent of what the characters are going through,
and if this is deliberate by Tolkien, then it is, IMO, a work of
absolute literary genious.
Yep.
**********************
OFS: "Let us assume for the moment, as this theory [of nature myth]
assumes, that nothing actually exists corresponding to the "gods" of
mythology: no personalities, only astronomical or meteorological
objects. Then these natural objects can only be arrayed with a
personal significance and glory by a gift, the gift of a person, of a
man. Personality can only be derived from a person...When the
fairy-tale ceased, there would be just thunder, which no human ear had
yet heard.

This chapter: That "brooding thought of Sauron" thunderstorm, with
thunder we would not have been able to hear had it not been
personalized as JRRT has done.

**********************
OFS: "I do not deny that there is a truth in Andrew Lang's words
(sentimental though they may sound): 'He who would enter into the
Kingdom of Faerie should have the heart of a little child.' For that
possession is necessary to all high adventure, into kingdoms both less
and far greater than Faerie. But humility and innocence- these things
"the heart of a child" must mean in such a context-do not necessarily
imply an uncritical wonder, nor indeed an uncritical tenderness."

This chapter: "Sam...seemed to sense that there was something odd
about his master's mood and that the matter was beyond argument. All
the same he was amazed at Frodo's reply....Frodo drew himself up, and
again Sam was startled by his words and his stern voice."

**********************
OFS: "I do not think that the reader or the maker of fairy-stories
need even be ashamed of the "escape" of archaism: of preferring not
dragons but horses, castles, sailing-ships, bows and arrows; not only
elves, but knights and kings and priests."

This chapter: Units of measure in ells and fathoms. These weren't in
common use in the 20th Century, were they?

**********************

Barb

Conquer anger with love,
Evil with good,
Meanness with generosity,
And lies with truth.
-- Dhammapada
Odysseus
2004-10-24 22:41:52 UTC
Permalink
Belba Grubb From Stock wrote:
[snip]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
This chapter: Units of measure in ells and fathoms. These weren't in
common use in the 20th Century, were they?
Certainly not "common" in the sense of universal, but likely
lingering in certain trades, which can be very conservative.

The latter has long standing among sailors as the measure customarily
used for soundings, and may even still be in use by some -- even in
otherwise 'metricated' sources nautical speeds are often given in
knots, and I believe the international aviation industry uses
(thousands of) feet for altitude.

I'm not sure about the former measure's currency in Tolkien's time,
but it may have still seen use as a measure of cloth (and rope?), or
perhaps by land surveyors, who would at least have to be familiar
with the conventions used in old deeds and other records -- which I
imagine are replete with measures like chains, poles, & roods.
--
Odysseus
Pete Gray
2004-10-25 19:23:47 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@yahoo-dot.ca>, odysseus1479-***@yahoo-
dot.ca says...
Post by h***@netscape.net
[snip]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
This chapter: Units of measure in ells and fathoms. These weren't in
common use in the 20th Century, were they?
Certainly not "common" in the sense of universal, but likely
lingering in certain trades, which can be very conservative.
The latter has long standing among sailors as the measure customarily
used for soundings, and may even still be in use by some -- even in
otherwise 'metricated' sources nautical speeds are often given in
knots, and I believe the international aviation industry uses
(thousands of) feet for altitude.
I'm not sure about the former measure's currency in Tolkien's time,
but it may have still seen use as a measure of cloth (and rope?), or
perhaps by land surveyors, who would at least have to be familiar
with the conventions used in old deeds and other records -- which I
imagine are replete with measures like chains, poles, & roods.
When I was at primary school in the 60s all these different measures
were printed out in tables on the backs of our exercise books.
--
Pete Gray
while ($cat!="home"){$mice=="play";}
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-26 11:17:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Odysseus
This chapter: Units of measure in ells and fathoms. These weren't in
common use in the 20th Century, were they?
I wouldn't be surprised if they were, in Tolkiens time. And anyway,
Tolkien should have seen them in many other, older texts ("full
fathoms five my father lies...").
Post by Odysseus
Certainly not "common" in the sense of universal, but likely
lingering in certain trades, which can be very conservative.
The latter has long standing among sailors as the measure customarily
used for soundings, and may even still be in use by some
BTW, all nautical charts I have seen so far now use meters and tenth
of meters for soundings. The international "Chart 1" ("Symbols,
Abbreviations, Terms Used on Charts") doesn't list fathoms as an
alternative. But AFAIK old charts, esp. british ones, used fathoms
even in the 20th Century. I am not sure when exactly this was changed.
Post by Odysseus
-- even in otherwise 'metricated' sources nautical speeds are often
given in knots,
Nautical speeds are still nearly always given in knots, and there's a
good reason for it: One knot is one nautical mile per hour, and one
nautical mile is one sixtieth of a degree (i.e., one arc minute) of
latitude. As nearly all charts have marks for latitude, it is easy to
measure nautical miles with a compass on a chart, and hence it is easy
to determine the speed in knots. Or, the other way round, if you know
your speed in knots, it's easy to plot the distance made good in a
certain time. Kilometers per hour or (land-) miles per hour would be
an rather unpractical measure in comparison.

- Dirk
Odysseus
2004-10-27 05:19:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Nautical speeds are still nearly always given in knots, and there's a
good reason for it: One knot is one nautical mile per hour, and one
nautical mile is one sixtieth of a degree (i.e., one arc minute) of
latitude.
There are a few different versions of the nautical mile kicking
around, depending on which parallel is used as a standard, and
whether the measurement is 'rounded off' in terms of another unit:
cf. "Admiralty mile", "sea mile", "international nautical mile", &c.
Then there's the "geographical mile", one minute of *longitude* at
the Equator.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
As nearly all charts have marks for latitude, it is easy to
measure nautical miles with a compass on a chart, and hence it is easy
to determine the speed in knots. Or, the other way round, if you know
your speed in knots, it's easy to plot the distance made good in a
certain time. Kilometers per hour or (land-) miles per hour would be
an rather unpractical measure in comparison.
According to the original definition the metre was supposed to be one
ten-millionth of a quadrant (from the North Pole through Paris). The
survey on which it was based turned out to be a little off, but it's
close enough for most purposes. So while nautical miles certainly
work most conveniently with the degree-minute-second system,
kilometres would integrate similarly with grads -- if only the charts
were so marked! Of course there's always the metric UTM grid, which
most GPS units can be configured to use.
--
Odysseus
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-27 14:35:20 UTC
Permalink
So while nautical miles certainly work most conveniently with the
degree-minute-second system, kilometres would integrate similarly
with grads -- if only the charts were so marked!
But they aren't -- which is why one uses knots :-)
Of course there's always the metric UTM grid, which most GPS units
can be configured to use.
I am not sure this would be a good idea. It's a bit embarassing
when you have to send out a mayday, and you cannot give your position
in such a way that it's easy for others to find you ... :-)

- Dirk
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-11-08 22:04:07 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 24 Oct 2004 22:41:52 GMT, Odysseus
Post by Odysseus
I'm not sure about the former measure's currency in Tolkien's time,
but it may have still seen use as a measure of cloth (and rope?), or
perhaps by land surveyors, who would at least have to be familiar
with the conventions used in old deeds and other records -- which I
imagine are replete with measures like chains, poles, & roods.
Indeed. In 1980-82 I took a minor in surveying, and they did indeed
cover chains and rods and where they came from. They were pretty old
fashioned and wouldn't let us use the (then) new electronic equipment
until we proved ourselves familiar with the older stuff (not actual
chains, but a tape that was marked in chains as well as feet/inches as
I recall; the only rod in use then was the quite-unrelated
Philadelphia rod that we sighted on).

Barb
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-24 22:44:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
I am more than a month behind in these posts and so have taken to
responding just to the initial summary and discussion points
<sympathy>

But do you have time to respond to responses?? :-)
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC), Troels Forchhammer
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Fantasy, of course, starts out with an advantage: arresting
strangeness. But that advantage has been turned against it,
and has contributed to its disrepute. Many people dislike
being "arrested."
It's hard to imagine anyone in the story possessed of more "arresting
strangeness" than Gollum, at once fascinating and repellent. Indeed
he usually stirs up a strong desire in those who encounter him to
arrest him (g). Coincidence or has JRRT neatly solved the problem of
overcoming the reader's dislike of being 'arrested'?
<groan> That is a terrible pun!
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
This chapter is a good one for it, as it starts Frodo
and Sam on the most important part of their journey. The realm they
are entering is Perilous indeed
I thought 'perilous' in OFS had more of a meaning than just malevelent
danger. Is it not more an unwitting, sometimes non-malevelent, danger of
bewitchment and enchantment and the dangers of an alien and non-human
country? Perilously fair, as Faramir says of Galadriel.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
and they will get to know it
intimately (compare with Faramir's upcoming comment to Frodo that
Frodo had passed through 'the Perilous Realm' in Lorien but little
understood its power).
Well, maybe when you get to that chapter ('The Window on the West')...

Nah! I'll stick the discussion in here:

"'You passed through the Hidden Land,' said Faramir, 'but it seems that
you little understood its power. If Men have dealings with the Mistress
of Magic who dwells in the Golden Wood, then they may look for strange
things to follow. For it is perilous for mortal man to walk out of the
world of this Sun, and few of old came thence unchanged...'" (The Window
on the West)

I'm not quite sure why you believe Faramir when he says that the hobbits
have not understood Lothlorien (though maybe you need to distinguish
between Lorien as part of the external reader's Faërie that is
Middle-earth, and Lorien as an internal Faërie _for_ Middle-earth). I've
always thought of this comment as an extension of the comments made by
Boromir and Eomer about the Golden Wood, and the general fear by Men
about the unknown of Lorien. I've never believed Faramir when he says
this, but rather have thought that _he_ does not truly understand
Lorien.

I've quoted Faramir's lament for Boromir in that chapter discussion, but
it is worth quoting the first bit again:

"Boromir, O Boromir! What did she say to you, the Lady that dies not?
What did she see? What woke in your heart then?"

Faramir is saying that he thinks Boromir was influenced by Galadriel.
And this resonates with the reader who recalls that Galadriel did indeed
look long and hard at the members of the Fellowship, provoking reactions
from most of them.

Sam, later in the chapter says:

"...it's my opinion that in Lorien [Boromir] first saw clearly what I
guessed sooner: what he wanted. From the moment he first saw it he
wanted the Enemy's Ring!"

There was a discussion back in that chapter (The Mirror of Galadriel)
about whether Galadriel's look at Boromir was the catalyst that caused
him to desire the Ring, but I can't remember what the consensus was.

Sam's comment also shows that he does understand something of the power
of the Golden Wood.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
**********************
OFS: "But how powerful, how stimulating to the very faculty that
produced it, was the invention of the adjective: no spell or
incantation in Faerie is more potent."
Though the adjective is a potent unit of language in general, and not
just for writings set in Faërie. You have to examine the particular
usages of the adjectives, not just that they are used.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
-- "the *barren* slopes and stones of the Emyn Muil"
-- "this *strange twisted* knot of hills" whose outward faces are
*"sheer, high and impassable"* and frown over plains beyond its
"*tumbled* skirts" at *"livid festering* marshes"
-- "a *tall* cliff, *bare and bleak*" behind which rose "*broken*
highlands" while "a *chill* wind" blew and night gathered over
*"shapeless* lands" whose *"sickly green"* was fading into *"sullen
brown."*
That's 19 adjectives in the first three paragraphs of the chapter.
JRRT was weaving a mighty spell!
I see this as more a feature of good writing. Powerful writing should be
able to describe a scene to the reader, allowing her to create it in her
imagination. In this case, the adjectives used here create the desired
atmosphere of gloom and oppression. Maybe such a wide vocabulary is
required for the perception of Faërie?

I sometimes get the impression that JRRT, when talking about Faërie, is
talking more about a realm of the mind, an imagined world, than any
grain of truth in the folk tales and legends. The Perilous Realm that
readers and writers of fairy-stories enter is their own mind, with its
mix of culture, history and language?
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
OFS: "I do not think that the reader or the maker of fairy-stories
need even be ashamed of the "escape" of archaism: of preferring not
dragons but horses, castles, sailing-ships, bows and arrows; not only
elves, but knights and kings and priests."
:-)

You managed to avoid mentioning the 'magical' rope!

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-30 23:10:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
I am more than a month behind in these posts and so have taken to
responding just to the initial summary and discussion points in
order to at least touch base with the chapter while catching up,
saving the detailed in-depth discussions for savoring in the
future when there is more time available.
Ah, and here I've been quoting heavily from OFS in the discussion of
IV, 5 'The Window on the West' ;-)

Still, I've been looking forward to your comments on this chapter
(and then I take a week to respond, but I've been busy in other
threads and in off-line life, having my birthday among other
things).
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC), Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
There has been a good deal of talk about /On Fairy Stories/
lately, and I have tried to come up with an ingenious way to link
this chapter to that essay, but without much luck.
Does it help any to view it from a different perspective, say, as
Frodo's first wholly independent steps on a path that will
eventually lead him to Valinor?
I'm not sure. Tolkien doesn't discuss different story structures or
skeletons, and I don't see Frodo's departure to or arrival in
Valinor as part of the 'happy ending', the eucatastrophe, of LotR
(it's part of the ending, certainly, but it isn't happy, I'd say).
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Troels Forchhammer
One connection I do see is in the (false, as it turns out)
promise of the redemption of Sméagol as the potential
eucatastrophe of the books (the potential eucatastrphe, as I see
it, lies in the, aFAIK very Christian, promise that redemption
and absolution /is/ possible -- even for Gollum).
Not a false promise so much as a failed potential...
Yes, I agree.

The use of 'promise' was, however, intentional. The story, where
this chapter ends, leaves the reader in doubt as to whether it (the
story itself) is promising redemption for Gollum. It turns out that
it 'only' promises the possibility of redemption, not the
actuality.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
truly a Christian concept that JRRT and his audience had fully
internalized.
Certainly.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
In that perspective, far more people fail than achieve redemption,
so this is a very realistic and believable result for Gollum.
Yes. And the interesting thing about this chapter is that it not
only sets the scene for Gollum's near redemption, but it also has an
effect on the ultimate victory, the Grace that made possible the
eucatastrophe in the Sammath Naur.

[...]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
It's hard to imagine anyone in the story possessed of more
"arresting strangeness" than Gollum, at once fascinating and
repellent. Indeed he usually stirs up a strong desire in those
who encounter him to arrest him (g).
;-)
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Coincidence or has JRRT neatly solved the problem of overcoming
the reader's dislike of being 'arrested'?
I'm not sure. I don't mind being arrested myself, and indeed I
require of a story that it is arresting (though not necessarily by
strangeness) if I am to like it much, but I think that those who
dislike being arrested would possibly dislike even stronger to be
arrested by something as strange and ambiguous as Gollum/Sméagol.

The films play up the good side of Gollum as well as his treachery
and with good effect, I think. At least Gollum is one of the
characters in the films that have received a lot of praise. It seems
that at least the film audience has liked being arrested by Gollum,
but I don't think this is really comparable: a film is meant to be
arresting while it lasts.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
A little further on in the essay, while still on the topic of
Fantasy may be, as I think, not less but more sub-creative;
[...]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
It is easier to produce this kind of "reality" with more
"sober" material. Fantasy thus, too often, remains
undeveloped; it is and has been used frivolously, or only
half-seriously, or merely for decoration: it remains merely
"fanciful."
The "more 'sober' material" in this case may have been, as
mentioned above, the ongoing issue of Gollum's possible
redemption,
My impression of the above passage was that the 'more "sober"
material' was meant as a contrast to Faërie; literary material that
deals with the primary world.

As such Gollum would still, IMO, fall under the category of the less
sober material. That said I don't think that Tolkien agreed as such
on the designation of 'more "sober"' -- the use of the quotation
marks implis, IMO, that he didn't think that fairy-stories were any
less sober than e.g. the social realism of his day, and Gollum is an
excellent example of why such designations of 'sober' or 'frivolous'
based on the category of fantastic vs. realistic are misplaced at
best, and a result of a basic misunderstanding of both the primary
world and literature at worst.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
something that JRRT would have known would make his Christian
audience identify with a central character whom he therefore gave
the darker side of the "visions of 'fantasy.' Not all are
beautiful or even wholesome, not at any rate the fantasies of
fallen Man."
Well spotted that one.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Had Gollum actually been redeemed, I think the story would have
suffered greatly and becoming more fanciful
And more frivolous and consequently less believable, I'd say. It is
inevitable that Gollum would have to reject the opportunity for
redemption, and that is one of the things that makes all the
scene-setting for this opportunity so interesting, and the reason
why a promise of actual redemption would have to be false (I agree
that this is not the promise that is made by the story -- it is a
promise that Gollum will have an opportunity for redemption, but it
might, I think, by some readers be seen as a promise of actual
redemption).
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
and not that "rare achievement of Art: indeed narrative art,
story- making in its primary and most potent mode" that JRRT
referred to in "On Fairy-stories" and succeeded in writing.
Precisely.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Can others come up with other ideas to how Tolkien's vision of
fairy- stories as put down in OFS has influenced this chapter?
I never thought of this until now, but it makes sense to look into
it because JRRT was beginning "The Lord of the Rings" at around
the time he spoke "On Fairy-stories" and while he frankly admitted
there that "[fairy-stories are] not an easy form" he ended up
presenting us with a masterpiece.
Exactly.

Looking at /The Lord fo the Rings/ as a whole, it is, I think, easy
to spot some of the places where the ideas he expressed in /On
Fairy-stories/ have also influenced his writing, but the influences
are not as clear in the details. To some extent this is natural as
OFS doesn't deal with details of the story, but trying to trace
these cross-pollinations (I think tat OFS is as influenced by his
thoughts about the work he was embarking on as is the case the other
way around) is interesting, IMO.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
This chapter is a good one for it, as it starts Frodo and Sam on
the most important part of their journey. The realm they are
entering is Perilous indeed and they will get to know it
intimately
And, to me more significantly, by leaving the rest of the Fellowship
behind, they almost begin a new story. Frodo and Sam have been in
the shadow of the others in the Fellowship -- everybody knew that
Frodo was the important figure, the centre of the whole quest, but
even though Gandalf deferred to Frodo's decision of whether to go
through Moria or not, and Aragorn put the decision of the road after
Amon Hen in Frodo's hands, it was still not Frodo who was the front
figure. Frodo has not yet grown to the stature where he is able to
actually enter Mordor -- he has a lot to learn, and that would be
impossible if he had stayed with a figure such as Aragorn.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
(compare with Faramir's upcoming comment to Frodo that Frodo had
passed through 'the Perilous Realm' in Lorien but little
understood its power).
An interesting comment. How did Frodo in particular misunderstand
this -- he knew better than Faramir the source of the power of
Lothlórien; and how could Faramir know the power of Lothlórien?
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
There are a number of things that clicked in a comparison between
It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more
complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic
or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that
hears it, when the "turn" comes, a catch of the breath, a beat
and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by)
tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and
having a peculiar quality.
I think that I could list more than a score places in LotR where I
feel this way every time I read it, and indeed in at least a dozen
of these the reading is accompanied by tears (so, I'm a hopeless
sentimentalist <G>).
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Even modern fairy-stories can produce this effect sometimes.
And in the case of LotR it does so (for me) several times ;-)

<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
OFS: "But how powerful, how stimulating to the very faculty that
produced it, was the invention of the adjective: no spell or
incantation in Faerie is more potent."
I'm reminded also of the description of Minas Morgul when Frodo
first looks at it in 'the Stairs of Cirith Ungol'. Does adverbs
count as well (I'd say they do) -- the description of the storm
("the dark thought of Sauron") in this chapter is also a powerful
incantation.

<snip>

[The plodding pace of the story-telling in this and the next
chapters]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
This chapter's (to my mind) deliberate effect, as Troels describes
I'm glad you think it's deliberate, too.

It is possible that the effect was not deliberate in the beginning,
but I think that Tolkien would soon have realised the effect he was
achieving and have deliberately strengthened it. But then I am eager
to attribute to him all possible honour ;-)

<snip>

I'll just snip the rest -- the OFS quotations certainly 'clicks' for
me. In particular the one about personification of meteorological
phenomena doesn't as much click as it strikes a large gong ;-)
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.
- (Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times)
the softrat
2004-10-30 23:32:11 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 30 Oct 2004 23:10:22 +0000 (UTC), Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
(and then I take a week to respond, but I've been busy in other
threads and in off-line life, having my birthday among other
things).
Hoppy Barfdeag, You Troll, err, uh, Troels, you!

the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:***@pobox.com
--
Frisbeetarianism: The belief that when you die, your soul goes
up on the roof and gets stuck.
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-31 23:16:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by the softrat
On Sat, 30 Oct 2004 23:10:22 +0000 (UTC), Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
(and then I take a week to respond, but I've been busy in other
threads and in off-line life, having my birthday among other
things).
Hoppy Barfdeag, You Troll, err, uh, Troels, you!
Why 'thag you very buch!'

I will have you know, however, that as my name reportedly means Thor's
Spear (or Thor's Arrow or Thor's some other pointed instrument meant to
create unpleasant holes in enemies) my 'original' namesake would have
been used to /kill/ trolls (or at least the giants of Norse myth) ;-)
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

"He deserves death."
"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some
that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too
eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see
all ends."
- Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring
Igenlode Wordsmith
2004-11-03 01:47:01 UTC
Permalink
On 20 Sep 2004 Troels Forchhammer wrote:

[snip]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
As we follow Frodo and Sam the third day turns lucky: they come across
a gully that leads to the edge of the hills, and at the end they find
a manageable climb[+].
Frodo gives the impression here of knowing something about
rock-climbing - he knows how to size up a pitch by eye before embarking
on it, and he's capable of suspending his entire weight by his fingers,
something (as I can attest!) which takes practice. Are there rocky
fells in the Shire like those of the Lake District, where his
explorations might have taken him in his tweens? There certainly aren't
any mountains...

And on the subject of climbing, how *does* Gollum, essentially a
hobbit-like creature, contrive to climb head-downward, apparently on
sticky hands and feet? (I suppose one might as well ask how a hobbit
could ever evolve the ability to see in the dark by the glow of his own
eyes, however long he spent underground... ;-)
--
Igenlode <***@nym.alias.net> Bookwraith unabashed

* He who loses his temper has lost the argument *
aelfwina
2004-11-03 13:47:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by h***@netscape.net
[snip]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
As we follow Frodo and Sam the third day turns lucky: they come across
a gully that leads to the edge of the hills, and at the end they find
a manageable climb[+].
Frodo gives the impression here of knowing something about
rock-climbing - he knows how to size up a pitch by eye before embarking
on it, and he's capable of suspending his entire weight by his fingers,
something (as I can attest!) which takes practice. Are there rocky
fells in the Shire like those of the Lake District, where his
explorations might have taken him in his tweens? There certainly aren't
any mountains...
Or possibly he and the other hobbits might have learned a bit about it while
trekking through Hollin. If I remember correctly, some of that territory was
rocky, and Aragorn and Boromir might have taught them a little bit, in case
they needed to know later.
Post by h***@netscape.net
And on the subject of climbing, how *does* Gollum, essentially a
hobbit-like creature, contrive to climb head-downward, apparently on
sticky hands and feet? (I suppose one might as well ask how a hobbit
could ever evolve the ability to see in the dark by the glow of his own
eyes, however long he spent underground... ;-)
--
* He who loses his temper has lost the argument *
Prai Jei
2004-11-03 18:26:03 UTC
Permalink
Igenlode Wordsmith (or somebody else of the same name) wrote thusly in
Post by h***@netscape.net
[snip]
Post by Troels Forchhammer
As we follow Frodo and Sam the third day turns lucky: they come across
a gully that leads to the edge of the hills, and at the end they find
a manageable climb[+].
Frodo gives the impression here of knowing something about
rock-climbing - he knows how to size up a pitch by eye before embarking
on it, and he's capable of suspending his entire weight by his fingers,
something (as I can attest!) which takes practice. Are there rocky
fells in the Shire like those of the Lake District, where his
explorations might have taken him in his tweens? There certainly aren't
any mountains...
More likely he's trusting to his instincts. Remember one thing - as hobbits
are only half our *height* they would have - for similar body proportions -
only one eighth of our weight. A rocky ledge that would break under the
weight of a man may well be able to support the weight of a few hobbits
without cracking.
--
Paul Townsend
Pair them off into threes

Interchange the alphabetic letter groups to reply
R. Dan Henry
2004-12-14 09:15:41 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC), Troels Forchhammer
Post by Troels Forchhammer
This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
'Chapter of the Week' (CotW) project. For more information visit the
CotW homepage at <http://parasha.maoltuile.org/>.
Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
And who, or rather what, is the hero of this chapter? The rope! No
more doubting the wisdom of Celeborn, please.

R. Dan Henry
***@inreach.com
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