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Old 03-06-2019, 09:45 PM   #7
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
I'm not sure if it's helpful when discussing Tolkien to think of "power" as something quantifiable, a number on a dice-roll table. Power is a very broad word which applies to all sorts of things, including natural phenomena and intangible ideas. A bear is powerful; so is a bulldozer, a Browning M2 , and Bach's B-minor Mass.

Of course here we're talking about what Hobbits clumsily mis-call "magic"; but even there Galadriel's Mirror and Thranduil's automatic gates aren't really the same sort of "magic" power. It's not like saying, "See! Eonwe has a Level 30 Magic Blast, but Galadriel with a +12 Nenya Bonus has the equivalent of a Level 32!"
This is good perspective and certainly correct. But to be fair, and not to put the brakes on fun too much, even Tolkien did a good bit of direct power ranking. When these questions come up, I usually have in mind the Nazgul fleeing Glorfindel's revealed wrath, or Gandalf on one side of a door with Durin's Bane on the other: metaphysical conflicts in which spiritual wills press on one another. That dynamic has always made intuitive sense to me, like the Devil fleeing from the sign of the cross or something, and Tolkien's vocabulary of power seems to imply he often had something similar in mind. Power is often something recognized and its proof by manifestation as some technique or other seems rarely necessary, except when two powers are fairly evenly matched.
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