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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:10 pm 
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I'm sorry to read that, Alatar. This is a discussion, and the topic is a complex one, so people are going to disagree. Not agreeing that one element is flawed does not make the discussion a "fan party" or mean that anyone here sees no flaws at all in the book. You have a strong perspective and a lot to contribute, and I hope you will return.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:52 pm 
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Alatar wrote:
And I think that the desire of some to find no fault makes them blind to the obvious flaws. I don't WANT Tolkien's books to have flaws, but I'm not so blind as to refuse to see those that are there. But I see I'm completely wasting my time here, so I'll withdraw. I thought we were have an actual discussion, not a fan party.


There's only one way to respond to a comment like that:

:pancake:


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:20 pm 
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But leaving insults aside, I find the ambiguity of the relationship between Sauron and the various evil denizens that populate the wide lands of Middle Earth to be preferable, in terms of verisimilitude, to a straighter or cleaner treatment. There's something deeply mysterious and horrifying about these demon wolves being specifically compelled to attack Frodo, without a clear explanation. Yes, this begs the question: why aren't the orcs of Mordor drawn to Frodo in the same way? I think that's covered in the narrative. In FOTR, all Sauron's thought is bent on recovering the Ring. By the time Frodo and Sam are in Mordor, Sauron's mind is bent on destroying the powers of men, elves and dwarves to his west, as a prerequisite for hopefully seizing the Ring from an embattled Aragorn. Tolkien sets up this "diversion" of Sauron's energies quite well, which for me more than adequately reconciles the behaviors of the wargs and other denizens in FOTR, with those of the orcs in ROTK.

And please, Al, try to respond to this interpretation without insulting my intelligence. I am perfectly capable of criticism where I believe it is due. I expect far better from someone as thoughtful as you.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:31 pm 
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I'm not insulting your intelligence. I am saying you are willfully ignoring the obvious in order to believe something you would prefer to be true. Occam's razor applies here as in all things. I don't see that there's much more to discuss, if ever that term applied to this exchange, as there is no attempt here to engage, merely to deny. If something as blatantly obvious as this is to be explained away as part of the grand design and adding to the ambiguity and "versimilitude" of the work, rather than a simple writers error, how are we to proceed? How can we ever hope to discuss the subtler details if the obvious is deliberately ignored or refuted?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:35 am 
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Occam's razor is a rule of thumb, meaning it generally applies. Not always.

Furthermore, I did not realize we were discussing whether or not Tolkien "erred" as a writer, in directing his wargs at Frodo in FOTR while not doing the same for his orcs in ROTK.

Whether or not Tolkien intended such an "inconsistency" (which I don't believe it is), is beside the point, IMO.

I am talking about the simple fact that I believe the story not only works despite this perceived discrepancy, but is improved by it. Tolkien's intentions do not factor into it.

And if we are to discuss the "error," I have not yet heard a convincing explanation for why it should be characterized as such. In FOTR, as Gandalf tells us, Sauron's mind is bent on recovery of the Ring. We also know from Tolkien that though the evil denizens of the world may not all be under Sauron's direct control, they are all influenced by his powerful (if diffuse) will. In this context, the wargs of FOTR are, quite logically, being influenced (rather than directed or commandeered by) Sauron, and this draws them to the Ring.

In ROTK, Tolkien makes a big to-do about Sauron's mind being diverted from his borders. He believes Aragorn has the Ring, and is planning an assault. So he puts his mind into ginning up a massive pre-emptive strike. For Sauron, this pre-emptive strike becomes an absolute prerequiste to recovering the Ring. Because without totally subduing the captains of the West, he cannot hope to recover the Ring from Aragorn.

Thus, Sauron's denizens in Mordor, heavily influenced by his will, are focused on marching off to war. "Ring recovery" isn't in their minds.

And of course, all these narrative complications service a very important theme about the hubris of the powerful. Sauron, bent on crushing his enemies in ROTK, simply cannot imagine that the free peoples would attempt to destroy the Ring in Mordor.

IMO, even if Tolkien intended to go back and "reconcile" these two seemingly contradictory treatments of Sauron's lackeys, I do not at all believe that there is an "error" in logic here. To me, the narrative logic holds, and is further reinforced by the thematic strength of Sauron's folly. Like other very powerful tyrants in history, he overlooks the fine details of his intelligence-gathering. A much more realistic autocrat than his Orwellian counterpart.

And yes, your assertion that I am "willfully ignoring the obvious in order to believe something you [I] would prefer to be true" is balderdash, and insulting balderdash at that. We are not talking about objective truths here. We are talking about a story. And this particular element of the story is not, IMO, a flaw.

I made the mistake of expecting you to actually respond the points I made earlier. I won't make that mistake again.

ETA: Or, what Dave said:

Quote:
I don't think one has to read this section as implying the wolves had been sent from Mordor by Sauron with specific instructions to waylay the fellowhip in Hollin. Rather, imagine them in the same light as the Watcher, the Balrog, and Shelob--ancient, malignant spirits of some sort awakening as Sauron's shadow grows over the land. They are Sauron's natural allies, but not precisely in his service.


There's certainly nothing to suggest, to me, that Sauron "knew" the company tried to cross the Redhorn, or was heading for Moria. Those wargs were, IMO, simply drawn to the company (and to Frodo) because of Sauron's general influence on Middle Earth, especially the evil folk and beasts. Sauron is, after all, an earth-bound devil, much like his Christian counterpart, Satan. The earth and the beings in it are part of his DNA.

If Sauron having such a "Satanic," rather than human, influence on the world is a writing "error," than it's a wonderfully evocative error, and I am glad there are so many errors like it!


Last edited by Passdagas the Brown on Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:52 am 
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It seems almost ludicrous that I have to say this, but having a different opinion does not mean "ignoring the obvious". You may not mean to be insulting, Al, but it certainly coming across that way. Further posts of that nature will be removed.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:18 am 
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I should have stuck with my original intention and bowed out then. I will do so now. I may continue to read but I won't bother you with any more discussion.

PdG, suffice it to say that you and I have very very differing opinions on this and I can see no common ground worth exploring in discussion.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:45 am 
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Al,

I'm actually quite curious about your interpretation of events, and why you feel so strongly that this is an example of error on Tolkien's part. But I understand if you would rather bow out.

Best,
PtB

ETA: Namely, I would be interested in your response to NE Brigand who makes an important point about the storm at the Redhorn Pass. It is very easy for readers to assume that the characters have perfect information. In the case of the storm, Gandalf merely guesses that Sauron might somehow be involved. He does not (and cannot) know. As NE Brigand states:

Quote:
In the book, there are four possible agencies behind the storm on Caradhras: (1) the storm could simply be a natural, purposeless storm; (2) the storm could be caused by the spirit of the mountain Caradhras, whose bad reputation is known to Dwarves and Elves; (3) that spirit could in fact be the malice of the Balrog, which Celeborn later suggests; or (4) the storm could be caused by Sauron's "long arm". Tolkien never makes it clear who is to blame.


That, to me, is a far cry from "Sauron knows where the fellowship is!" There's deliberate ambiguity here, as evidenced by the differing interpretation among characters in the book, including Celeborn.

Whatever Tolkien's intentions, this is clearly not the open and shut case you characterized it as.


Last edited by Passdagas the Brown on Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:49 am 
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Just an observation: A discussion can take place between people with completely opposing views as long as they state their own views calmly and refrain from disparaging those with differing views. Then it is an exchange of viewpoints that sheds light rather than lighting fires of destruction.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:23 pm 
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I'm sorry it bothers you so much Alatar, but I really do think the text is much more ambiguous than you make it out to be. Just a few pages after Gandalf raises the possibility that Sauron could attack them from afar, for example, Gimli attributes the snowstorm to the malevolent spirit of Caradhras itself.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:13 pm 
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And then when we enter Lothlórien, Celeborn suggests that it may have been the balrog that caused the storm!

There's a very realistic fog of war running throughout the books, and this examples slots into that rather neatly, I would say.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:10 pm 
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I understand where you guys are coming from, but for me this screams so loudly I can't ignore it. Its like trying to discuss art when we can't agree on the colour blue. There's just no common ground to work from.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:28 pm 
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Fair enough. Plus, WampusCat's red eyes are freaking me out.


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