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Old 01-23-2005, 06:05 PM   #59
littlemanpoet
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Tolkien

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Is there a difference between [1] the notion of characters as visible souls and [2] the idea of external characterization as opposed to internal (which has been discussed in a few other threads)? Or to put it another way - is there a difference between the nature of the characters and the techniques of portrayal of the characters? - Aiwendil
I had to reread your question a number of times! Not least to discern how they were two ways of asking the same thing! Allow me to analyze the question(s).

Regarding the second, I would distinguish between the techniques and portrayal. Techniques are just tools, and not the only, in portrayal. Art includes technique, but is not limited to it, especially in terms of meaning; and meaning is at the heart of your question and the topic of this thread, I think.

So whereas techniques are used to portray characters, that is not the sum of the portrayal. Significantly, the portrayal may not be the sum of the character as sub-created in the mind of the author. Thus far we have not even considered the reader's interaction with the story! (Nor will I for now; I think that discussion belongs to the Canonicity thread.) So, does the nature of the character reside in the mind of the author, or in the written narrative? When that author dies, what then? The only answer I can arrive at would derive from Leaf by Niggle; that which was in the mind of the subcreator was taken up into the creation of the Creator, and both subcreator and his subcreation are in the mind of the Creator and find joy therein.

It seems I've gone beyond your question into my own. It also seems to me that I needed to do so in order to answer yours.

I would say that there is a difference; but technique, though only a part of the whole, is essential to bringing the whole to realization in narrative.

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Perhaps it is because, at least in my mind, Tom is not equated in scope but merely in nature to Arda. Just as a patch of earth can be known as earth, it both is and is not Earth, if you take my meaning. Perhaps he is so close to the stuff of Arda itself that he can be said to be indistinguishable in some characteristics. He is a "moss-gatherer," and thus is covered in the essence of Arda or is sinking into it, becoming "tree-ish" as the Ents might say, and thus he does not wander but has put down roots. - Lyta Underhill
What precisely 's the difference between scope and nature, the way you're using the terms? It's a good try, but it seems to me that you're confounding some things that deserve to be distinguished, such as Tom Bombadil as a living, breathing being walking and dancing on the face of Arda rather than as a kind of projection of Arda. With the "moss-gatherer" quote, I think you're stretching a metaphor to its breaking point. On the other hand, I like how you're pointing to a broken unity in the term, 'earth'.

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Is this externalization merely symbolism made concrete? Is this not in the nature of myth itself? Perhaps this whole "visible soul" business is simply an aspect and "symptom" of a myth-based story, and that would explain the fact that Middle Earth is indeed a living character and shows these outward characteristics as much as any other moving character in the story.
Yes, it is in the nature of myth. You are, again, referring to mythic unities, as I call them. The word "symptom" makes me cringe a little - I would use a word like "attribute" myself, seeing how symptom connotes disease...

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Fractals again?- davem
How you mean this is beyond me!

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Perhaps 'Tom Bombadil' is simply that aspect of the spirit of Arda made manifest in that particular time & place? Dion Fortune famously wrote 'All the gods are One God'......
No. I don't think this is the right direction. It seems you're taking the myth in directions that don't fit well.

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 01-23-2005 at 08:31 PM.
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