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Old 07-25-2010, 09:29 AM   #1
Mithadan
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The gods must be... blind?

I was recently reading the Music of the Ainur in Ainulindale, and came across a sentence that I found odd. Following the cessation of the Music, Eru shows the Ainur a vision of their music, "giving them sight where before was only hearing..." Rereading the pragraph again, Iinitially concluded that Tolkien was referring to the Void; that before there had been no light, and therefore no sight, in the Void.

A few pages later, again referring to the vision, Tolkien says, speaking of the Ainur, "and their hearts rejoiced in light, and their eyes beholding many colours were filled with gladness..." Now I question my interpretation. Before the vision, were the Ainur sightless, whether due to a lack of light or otherwise?
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Old 07-25-2010, 09:53 AM   #2
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I would say sightless in that there was nothing to see other than as in blind - then they were given a vision of what was previously only evoked in sound. I do hope that this isn't going to be used ot prove that Tolkien would have preferred the film over the radio adaptation of LOTR
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Old 07-25-2010, 10:16 AM   #3
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I do hope that this isn't going to be used ot prove that Tolkien would have preferred the film over the radio adaptation of LOTR
We need more proof?
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Old 07-25-2010, 11:06 AM   #4
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I tend to think that such words as sight and sound are conventions being used by the Elven authors of the story, attempting to describe perceptions of beings who are by their nature spirit, not matter. The Ainur were pure thought, and prior to Eru showing them a vision of the Music, had no concept of anything incarnate. Eru's revelation was their first exposure to physicality, and while I suspect that for them, it was an experience that went far beyond "opening their eyes" for the first time, to an Elven lore master, that would be the nearest equivalent within his own experience.
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Old 07-25-2010, 11:35 AM   #5
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Good point Ibri... and of course the memories of Elves are more like visions than those of mortals so it is likely that their concepts of these words are different again.. though perhaps closer to that of the Valar.
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Old 07-25-2010, 11:50 AM   #6
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But when [the Valar] were come into the Void, Ilśvatar said to them: 'Behold your Music!' And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing; and they saw a new World made visible before them, and it was globed amid the Void, and it was sustained therein, but was not of it.
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But the other Ainur looked upon this habitation set within the vast spaces of the World, which the Elves called Arda, the Earth; and their hearts rejoiced in light, and their eyes beholding many colours were filled with gladness...
I see this as just the difference between seeing something in a dream, and physically experiencing it.
Before, the Ainur had no knowledge of, nor indeed any use for, sight. Ilśvatar put the vison into their minds, which gave them their first 'preview' of what the Music would be like when it was brought into being. When they actually saw the realm of Arda made physical it was even more amazing to them.

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Old 07-25-2010, 02:58 PM   #7
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Based on the Valar's action (or inaction) during most of the first 2 Ages of Middle-earth, I would have to say they remained blind. And hard of hearing as well.
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Old 07-26-2010, 01:15 AM   #8
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Based on the Valar's action (or inaction) during most of the first 2 Ages of Middle-earth, I would have to say they remained blind. And hard of hearing as well.
Don't forget that by the end of the Third Age they had managed to lose two Istari. Not to mention that out of 5 chosen, exactly one managed to fulfill what they were supposed to do. Sometime I wonder how the Valar came up with that particular combination of them. Why did Manwe let the choices of Saruman (Aule's pupil) and Radagast (who seems the type to be Yavanna's pupil) become a marital spat gone very very wrong?

Does Aule have some kind of chemical floating around in his workshop that makes the beings in there go crazy? Aule makes Dwarves; Sauron becomes a Dark Lord; Saruman tries to become a Dark Lord; Feanor turns into a homicidal paranoid elf; the Noldor in general become nutcase rebels. The only normal one seems to be Mahtam and I bet he secretly runs around killing bugs with a flamethrower or something. You can't be Feanor's father in law and teacher without being half insane.

Not Very Serious Conclusion: Whatever the Valar had that allowed them to be so far out of reality I want some. After all who's to say that Gandalf really got his smoking habit from hobbits and not Manwe and Varda who were too busy smoking to remember the people they were supposed to be watching. "Sauron? Who's tha-AAAAH GIANT PURPLE BUNNY WITH GREEN WINGS AND FLAMES FOR EYES!!!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:57 AM   #9
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Don't forget that by the end of the Third Age they had managed to lose two Istari. Not to mention that out of 5 chosen, exactly one managed to fulfill what they were supposed to do. Sometime I wonder how the Valar came up with that particular combination of them. Why did Manwe let the choices of Saruman (Aule's pupil) and Radagast (who seems the type to be Yavanna's pupil) become a marital spat gone very very wrong?

Does Aule have some kind of chemical floating around in his workshop that makes the beings in there go crazy? Aule makes Dwarves; Sauron becomes a Dark Lord; Saruman tries to become a Dark Lord; Feanor turns into a homicidal paranoid elf; the Noldor in general become nutcase rebels. The only normal one seems to be Mahtam and I bet he secretly runs around killing bugs with a flamethrower or something. You can't be Feanor's father in law and teacher without being half insane.

Not Very Serious Conclusion: Whatever the Valar had that allowed them to be so far out of reality I want some. After all who's to say that Gandalf really got his smoking habit from hobbits and not Manwe and Varda who were too busy smoking to remember the people they were supposed to be watching. "Sauron? Who's tha-AAAAH GIANT PURPLE BUNNY WITH GREEN WINGS AND FLAMES FOR EYES!!!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"
True and funny. I think that while in the Void there was no light and nothing to see. But when they came onto Arda there was stuff to see so there had to be light. Unless YOU want to be running into trees and stubmling over rocks! (then Melkor would have said: let's steal the Flame Imparshable! And the other would have beat him up. What? Punish him and he might not have done anything )
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:58 AM   #10
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Don't forget that by the end of the Third Age they had managed to lose two Istari. Not to mention that out of 5 chosen, exactly one managed to fulfill what they were supposed to do. Sometime I wonder how the Valar came up with that particular combination of them. Why did Manwe let the choices of Saruman (Aule's pupil) and Radagast (who seems the type to be Yavanna's pupil) become a marital spat gone very very wrong?
to reluctanctly get more serious after a unfloolowably funny post but to go slightly off topic - I think I read in "Mr Baggins" that Tolkien reconsidered and felt that Radagast did not entirely fail but that his special relationship with the birds facilitated the eagles' crucial interventions in both the Quest of Erebor and at the end of The War of the Ring.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:36 PM   #11
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Radagast did do good but I question the particular wisdom of sending him and Saruman both. Usually when you want something done like the destruction of the dark lord you at least chose members who won't belittle other member of the group. Saruman on the other hand seem s to feel free to make fun of Radagast.

And besides if it were me I wouldn't have chosen any of Aule's followers. Whether it is the desire to make things or something else, they seem far too easy to lead astray
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:40 AM   #12
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Maybe it was setting a thief to catch a thief - one follower of Aule might best understand another and be more effective in the fight against them. It didn't work out but it doens't mean it was wrong to send him.

It was the sequence of events catalysed by Saruman's treachery that gave the quest a chance of success.
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Old 07-27-2010, 01:52 PM   #13
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I have long wondered about the fact that Sauron and Saruman both started out as Maiar of Aulė. A while back it occurred to me that perhaps the issue that lead both of them, as well as Melkor and Aulė himself, into trouble (and why there was so much conflict between those two Valar) is one of materialism. Not necessarily materialism as we think of it (although heaven knows it was a failing of Melkor's) but rather that both Aulė and Melkor dealt heavily with the very material aspects of Arda. A love for the substances of the incarnate world can, in the right (or wrong) kind of mind be all too easily twisted into a lust. Aulė loved those things so much he strayed into error because he wanted to teach the incarnate Children before it was time for them to awaken; in Melkor and the others, it became a desire to control/own the incarnate world. Obviously, most of Aulė's people avoid that failing, but one might suppose that they are familiar with the desire. Thus it may have made perfectly good sense to send one of his Maiar as an Istar, presuming that they may have better insight into the workings of Sauron's mind — though I would've been leery about letting someone who was so eager to go have the job. (I feel the same way about a lot of politicians. )
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Old 07-27-2010, 05:35 PM   #14
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Interesting thought.

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Melkor was jealous of him, for Aule was most like himself in thought and in powers... [both] desired to make things of theirown that should be new and unthought of by others, and delighted in the praise of their skill.
However, Aule
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did not envy the work of others, but sought and gave counsel.
Thus Aule was not materialistic in the sense of desiring things. His making of the Dwarves was merely a function of his desire to bring new things into being; it was in his nature. Nonetheless, he "remained faithful to Eru and submitted all that he did to his will."

The difference between Aule and Morgoth was the desire of mastery. Sauron shared this desire. Saruman may have merely learned it or became corrupted by it by studying Sauron too closely. I wondered if the Balrogs were of Aule's people but the Silmarillion at least does not confirm this. If this were the case, your argument may have carried greater weight with me, Ibrin.

And welcome to the Downs, Absinthe. Good post! Hmmm, what older member here seemed to be a fan of absinthe?
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Old 07-27-2010, 06:17 PM   #15
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Well, I wasn't meaning that Aulė himself was materialistic or that being one of his followers naturally led to it. One can assume that a true follower of the Smith would also learn his humility toward his work and his love of the One. It's just that I've known a lot of artistic-types who let the praise for their work go to their heads — and some who let their lack of praise (comparatively speaking) embitter them. The depiction of Salieri in Amadeus comes to mind, and makes me think of Saruman. It may be that Aulė's people were a target for Melkor because of the rivalry between him and Aulė, or that some of them were more vulnerable to his wiles because he understood how to get to them, but as far as I know, Tolkien never mentioned it. It's just speculation on my part.
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:19 PM   #16
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Interesting topic and ideas. I don't feel "tuned in" enough to start any bigger speculation, but let me just add my two cents.

First, to the lastly remarked thing - Ibri's idea is quite good, in my opinion. I would say it the way that the failure of Sauron and Saruman (as well as Melkor, but that's another thing, he wasn't a Maia of Aulė) was the "possessiveness", once again, looking at Tolkien himself, I think it's a thing which can come easily to any (sub-)creator (I think he was aware of this danger and he was hinting at it in parts of his Leaf by Niggle and On Fairy-Stories. And, of course, in LotR and Sil). The problem is that anybody who works with some material is more prone to fall into this "possessiveness", "privatising" his works (like Fėanor, for example - and later, even those which are not his, as with Sauron and Saruman etc.). Aulė is a prime example of somebody who resisted the temptation, he is a shining ideal role model for anybody like that - he is willing to give up his works, "his" Dwarves; after he allows somebody else to interact with his work (or in fact, accepts - because Eru had power over his creation all the time, only Aulė did not realise it - interesting, isn't it? And quite funny. But quite realistic. Just think of it), after he ceased to "privatise" it for himself, the Dwarves were given their own life and also their own independant personalities, changing from subjects to partners of Aulė, something he alone would have never achieved! Remember what the Ainur liked about the Children of Ilśvatar when they saw them first: "Therefore when they beheld them, the more did they love them, being things other than themselves, strange and free..." (Ainulindalė)

And just a second remark related to the general topic. In the book "Music in Middle-Earth" advertised also on this site (as some members here had also their hands in its making), there is a very interesting chapter by Jonathan McIntosh focusing largely on the question mentioned in the title of this thread. I will just sum it up very briefly here, the point McIntosh makes - and which is true, one only often does not think of it - is that the creation of Arda is "gradual", or with the "foreshadowings", where each step is eventually becoming richer and richer and more perfect, leading up to the creation itself. That is, you have the Music, which is a "blueprint" only in sound (perhaps metaphorically, as it was mentioned by some above, but that's not of our concern in this case), later "shown" in Vision, which is something more - "sight where there was only hearing" - but still the Vision is not full, and only after the Creation of Eä the world exists in its fullest.

Or perhaps not even then... maybe the quantitative switch, the re-making of Arda with the Music at the end of the days, will mean perfecting Arda even further? To Tolkien's cosmology, and considering his Roman Catholic faith, well, that really won't be anything unimaginable - quite the opposite. So all the unperfect things in "this" Arda we know are only a foreshadowing of the unmarred Arda, the re-made Arda, which will come to be after the end of the days? "Then the themes of Ilśvatar shall be played aright, and take Being in the moment of their utterance, for all shall then understand fully his intent in their part, and each shall know the comprehension of each, and Ilśvatar shall give to their thoughts the secret fire, being well pleased." Sounds like that to me, especially combined with other Tolkien's beliefs I know about, and including one of my favourite quotes from his "On Fairy-Stories":

Quote:
All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and as unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know.
The parallels to what I just said about Arda, I believe, are obvious... so, perhaps this is a plausible conclusion to make.
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