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Old 10-11-2015, 01:51 AM   #30
Haunting Spirit
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Nurn
Posts: 73
Alcuin has just left Hobbiton.
Tolkien describes the Rings as machines, though I don’t think he meant of the cog-and-wheel (or steampunk) variety: they seem more like computers on steroids. (Phones, cars, televisions, and nearly all lmodern appliances are computerized machines of this sort.)

I understand the US government has sponsored research into implantable computer chips, leading to a chip that has undone some of the memory loss of Alzheimer’s patients.

This idea lends itself immediately to the Rings of Power. Offsetting memory loss, alleviating the pain of PTSD, or allowing immediate access to massive database and computing power are all tremendous boons. Of course, there is no such thing as an unhackable computer. Moreover, anyone with a chip implant is vulnerable to (1) EMP, corresponding roughly to what happened to the Nazgûl when the One Ring was destroyed (and to a lesser extent to the Guardians of the Three: that’s probably why Elrond left Middle-earth: his phenomenal memory began to fail); and (2) “hacking” by Sauron via the One Ring, to whom the mind of anyone with a Great Ring was open as long as Sauron possessed the One.

Nor do I believe the Great Rings made the Noldor of Eregion invisible. One of the principal incentives to the Elves in making the Rings was arresting the process of fading, which caused their bodies (hröa) to be “consumed” by their spirits (fëar). Had the Rings made their Elven makers invisible, it would negate one of their most important reasons for making them! The effect on Men, however, could be quite different, since their hröa and fëar stood in a different relationship than those of Elves - the hröa of Men died and their fëar always left Arda, while the fëar of Elves could never leave Arda regardless of the condition or life of their hröa. There was no effect on Dwarves.

As for Bombadil, in Letters of JRR Tolkien #19, Tolkien says he is “the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside”; and in Letter #144, he calls Bombadil an “intentional” enigma. In a footnote to Letter 153 regarding Goldberry’s description, "He is," Tolkien remarks, "I can say ‘he is’ of Winston Churchill as well as of Tom Bombadil, surely?" in other words, Bombadil is not Eru. In Letter 237, Tolkien tells Rayner Unwin that Bombadil was "inserted" into the Lord of the Rings: the character existed before LotR, even before The Hobbit.

Going back to Letter 144, Tolkien continues,
… Bombadil is not an important person – to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a “comment”. [H]e is just an invention … and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely. I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function. I might put it this way. The story is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, … and so on; … both sides in some degree … want a measure of control. But if you have … taken “a vow of poverty”, renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, … then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless. It is a natural pacifist view... [T]he view of Rivendell [is] that it is an excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in fact things with which it cannot cope, upon which its existence nonetheless depends. Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron.
What is this mysterious “comment” to which Tolkien refers? What function does Bombadil serve for Tolkien? Is it so obvious we miss it?
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