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Lit MON MOTHMA IS BACK, Ackbar Approved -- The Lit Forum Ketchup Thread, v3

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Point Given , Sep 12, 2015.

  1. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2005
    There's a very interesting quote from LOTR, where Sam comes across the dead Haradrim soldier:
    ""He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace..."

    There's a number of reasons - the biggest ones being that (a) orcs would be immortal and (b) when they die, would end up in Mandos. It just doesn't make any sense in the mythology of the setting.

    The biggest contention is that humanity shows up late in the game (so to speak), but the early orcs can be seen as 'lesser Maiar' that later (Tolkien indicated somewhere IIRC) were the 'leaders' of the regular orcs.
     
    Gamiel likes this.
  2. CaptainPeabody

    CaptainPeabody Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Yeah, though the basic problem is "imaginative"--Tolkien thought of the Elves as master creators, artists, not easily prone to outright domination, but with enormous creative power over the world and the ability to abuse it. Men, in contrast, are defined by their short-lived, tempestuous nature, their relative lack of power over art and nature, and are much more prone to outright domination and corruption by evil. The Orcs, especially in LotR and afterwards, don't really act like we (or Tolkien) might expect corrupted Elves to act--they're very recognizably "human," based off of Tolkien's experience of the World Wars and the kind of militaristic industrial inhumanity he had experienced and hated. They look a lot more like corrupted men than corrupted Elves. Then there were the legendarium issues that blackmyron pointed out--and later Tolkien was unwilling, based on his Catholic beliefs, to allow the existence of intelligent "naturally evil" creatures made by Morgoth or Sauron.

    Based on these factors, near the end of his life, Tolkien decided definitely that the Orcs were not Elvish, but definitely corrupted Men in origin. The problem with this, though, was the timing, since Orcs show up in the legendarium a long time before the existence of Men. He was in the process of doing a massive timeline revision to make Men come in earlier specifically to fix this issue when he died.

    As to a "canonical" solution to the problem, I figure as the legendarium stands now, Orcs may well be a mix of all three--a few corrupted Maiar, some corrupted Elves, and (probably most of the ones we see) corrupted Men. But it's a big issue with the setting that Tolkien himself struggled with, and Tolkienologists aren't necessarily in agreement about what to do with it.
     
  3. Ulicus

    Ulicus Lapsed Moderator star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Why weren't orcs allowed to be... corrupted orcs in origin?

    Was he worried Blizzard would sue?
     
  4. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2003
    A little off-topic, but this is a published book that completely twists the story, some might find the summary interesting:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Ringbearer

    The novel is based on the premise that the Tolkien account is a "history written by the victors". In Eskov's version of the story, Mordor is described as a peaceful country on the verge of an industrial revolution, that is a threat to the war-mongering and imperialistic faction represented by Gandalf (whose attitude has been described by Saruman as "crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem") and the elves. For example, Barad-dûr, Sauron's citadel, is described in chapter 2 as

    ...that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic. The shining tower of the Barad-dûr citadel rose over the plains of Mordor almost as high as Orodruin like a monument to Man – free Man who had politely but firmly declined the guardianship of the Dwellers on High and started living by his own reason. It was a challenge to the bone-headed aggressive West, which was still picking lice in its log ‘castles’ to the monotonous chanting of scalds extolling the wonders of never-existing Númenor.

    The tale begins by recapping the War of the Ring. The Ring itself is a luxurious ornament, but powerless, crafted by the Nazgûl (a group of ancient scientists and philosophers who take turns as the Nine to guide Mordor through its industrialization) to distract Gandalf and the Elves while Mordor built up its army. Aragorn is portrayed as a puppet of the elves who has been instructed to usurp the throne of Gondor by murdering Boromir (who he had discovered alone after Merry and Pippin were captured) before Gandalf removes Denethor. Arwen, being 3000 years older, holds Aragorn in contempt but uses their marriage to cement Elvish rule over Gondor. Faramir has been exiled to Ithilien where he is kept under guard with Éowyn. The Elves have also corrupted the youth of Umbar, which they aim to use as a foothold into Harad and Khand.

    After defeating the Mordorian army, the Elves enter Mordor to massacre civilians with the help of Men from the East, supposedly to eliminate the "educated" classes. Two Orc soldiers ("Orc" being a slur used by the West against foreign men), Haladdin and Tzerlag, are fleeing the battle plain. They rescue Tangorn, a Gondorian noble who had been left buried in the desert for attempting to stop one of the massacres. They locate the mercenaries and kill the Elf, Eloar, taking his possessions.

    Haladdin is soon visited by the last of the Nazgûl, Sharya-Rana, who explains that the physical world, Arda, is linked to the magical world from which the elves came, by the power of Galadriel's Mirror in Lórien and the palantíri. He is given the task of destroying the Mirror in order to separate the worlds and complete the goal of making men truly free. Haladdin is chosen as he is a rare individual in whom there is absolutely no magic, and has a tendency to behave irrationally, for example joining the Mordorian army as a medic to impress his girlfriend and almost dying as a result, instead of putting his talents to better use at home in the university. While the Nazgûl cannot foresee how the quest is to be completed, he is able to provide Haladdin with useful information, including the current location of the palantíri.

    An elaborate plan is devised which involves the forging of a letter from Eloar by a Mordorian handwriting expert. Tangorn manages to arrange a meeting with the Elves in Umbar, while evading Gondor's efforts to eliminate him. He is eventually killed, which convinces the Elves to pass his message on to Eloar's mother, Eornis, a member of the ruling hierarchy of Lórien. She is led to believe that her son is captured rather than killed. A palantir is dropped into Lórien by a Mordorian researcher developing flight-based weapons (under the secret patronage of Aragorn), and Eornis is instructed to bring the palantír to Galadriel's Mirror. This is supposed to prove that she is in Lórien, whereupon she will be allowed to communicate with Eloar.

    At the appointed time, Haladdin brings another palantír to Mount Doom. Gandalf figures out his plan and, concerned that magic will be banished from Middle-Earth, casts a remote spell on the palantír to turn its user into stone, but this has no effect. Saruman, despite opposing Gandalf's methods, believes that Sharya-Rana's hypothesis about the relationship between the magical and physical worlds is incorrect and attempts to reason with Haladdin. However, Tzerlag touches the palantír by mistake and begins to turn into stone. In a bout of irrationality, Haladdin decides to drop the palantír into Orodruin because Saruman is unable to reverse Gandalf's spell. This causes the Eternal Fire to be transmitted to the other palantíri and the Mirror, destroying them and the magic of the Elves.

    Haladdin goes into self-imposed exile and Tzerlag's descendants pass on the story orally, although the historical record officially contains Aragorn's version of events. Although despised by the Gondorian aristocracy, Aragorn finds favor with the people as his policies result in an "economic miracle" and after his death, childless, the throne reverts to the "rightful" king Faramir. The Elves end their occupation of Mordor and eventually leave Middle-Earth, which enters the industrial age.

    Melkor/Morgoth/Satan turned to evil in Tolkien's mythology precisely because he didn't have the ability to create, and he craved it.


     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
    Dr. Steve Brule likes this.
  5. Ulicus

    Ulicus Lapsed Moderator star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Yeah I know that much, but I don't get why the orcs couldn't have just been their own thing initially before Melkor came along and corrupted them.
     
  6. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Yeah. But since Tolkien never intended there to be another influential race (Men and Elves... even Dwarves were an accident, and then balanced with the creation of the Ents and Great Eagles... with Hobbits apparently a form of Men) that makes it hard unless Tolkien re-wrote everything and even edited Lord of the Rings.
     
  7. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
    I had a friend once who, after watching the LOTR movies when they came out, talked about how she thought the orcs should have all been killed. I needled her a bit by asking if the occupying Elf army should have built some kind of special camp where the orcs could have been concentrated into to make it easier to kill them all off, and she just nodded and agreed.

    Whoops.

    I haven't read it, but I think Harry Turtledove wrote a novel about a Nazi soldier from WWII being magically transported to a sort of Middle Earth setting and naturally siding with the Elves. Come to think of it, he also did a story that's basically about a Haradrim officer set in a Middle Earth where Sauron wins. Also one where an elf comes to our world, sleeps with Gaetan Dugas, and causes all of elfdom to die from AIDS.
     
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  8. blackmyron

    blackmyron Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 29, 2005
    It is interesting that orcs were told that elves tortured and murdered captured orcs, which is why they wouldn't allow themselves to be captured.

    But then again, they were complete asses to the dwarves.
     
  9. Gamiel

    Gamiel Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Since people here likes Assassin's Creed this stripe migth be a bit fun
    [​IMG]


    Why is that a problem? The way orc society works and the way they live most of them would die before becoming that old and that would give a reason for why orc leaders are so dangerus.
     
  10. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    I think it must be a philosophical-thematic thing, because this is basically what the lesser Maiar "proto-orcs" that Tolkien did seem to conclude existed would be - but they're a type of spirit/angel/demon, which for Tolkien was considerably different from Elves.

    This conversation has gone on for a surprisingly long time.
     
  11. Ulicus

    Ulicus Lapsed Moderator star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Brief interjection:

    You'll all be unsurprised to learn that the Power Rangers movie was largely disappointing.
     
  12. Ulicus

    Ulicus Lapsed Moderator star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2005
    So this is a thing.

    Posting it before @Karl0413 has the opportunity.

    Unless he already has.

     
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  13. CaptainPeabody

    CaptainPeabody Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 15, 2008
    The big thing that distinguishes Tolkien from later fantasy and sci-fi universes is the overall thematic unity of his project, and his consequent inability to just "add" things to the legendarium. Tolkien wanted to make a coherent "sub-creation," and so for him Middle Earth always had to be a cohesive whole, fitting together thematically and cosmologically and historically and linguistically. Every time he added a random thing in, even for a joke or a random reference, he had to find at least some place for in that overall story and its themes.

    One of those big stories is that of the Children of Eru, the Two Kindreds, Men and Elves, specially created sapient by God, and the intertwining, repeating story of Fall and Redemption that embraces both at different times in different ways (as a Catholic, Tolkien thought of this story as ultimately culminating offscreen in Christ and the Catholic cosmic-Incarnational redemption, but as a mythologist he was absolutely committed to never making that explicit). The Dwarves barely got shoehorned in there as the "other kindred," adopted into the story while not being at its core. Adding a natural, God-created sapient Orcish race would have driven Tolkien to distraction just trying to fit them in.

    Even more than this, Tolkien, again as a Catholic, was bothered enough by the seemingly iredeemable evil of the Orcs as corrupted Elves or Men--the idea of a natural, God-created sapient race corrupted in their entirety by Morgoth and otherwise absent from the main redemptive thrust of his cosmos would have driven him absolutely insane.

    Tolkien came up with "Orcs" from an Old English word for evil spirits and monsters, and when he initially wrote he thought of them very much in this light. Over time, seemingly without much pre-meditation, they got more and more and more recognizably human, and so began to bother him more and more. This is why they remain one of the big problems of the Tolkien mythos.

    I should stop going on and on about this at some point, but I'm studying for exams, and it makes for a good break.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  14. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2013
    It seems odd that he'd have a problem with this, though–Satan and his angels were all God-created. Satan turned against God, and the angels who followed him were all corrupted in their entirety. If orcs are corrupted elves, they're not all that different.
     
  15. CaptainPeabody

    CaptainPeabody Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Ha, I don't know how deep you wanna go into Catholic theology here...but it really has to do with the central role that free will and responsibility play within Catholic doctrine on evil. In Catholic tradition Satan and his demons were created good, but each of them specifically chose to reject God and so (because of their immaterial angelic nature) were fixed in this choice beyond the possibility of redemption. It is, then, ultimately their own choice and its effects that makes demons evil and corrupted beyond repair, not their created nature. In general, Tolkien's Catholic theology of creation did not allow for the idea of anything created evil "by nature," which is one reason why he eventually denied entirely to Morgoth and Sauron the ability to create true natural kinds, giving them only the power to corrupt and twist.

    Still, even if not evil in their creation, the basic idea of Orcs as rational, material creatures evil not because of their own free will but essentially from birth, because of Morgoth/Sauron's machinations, and without the hope of redemption, could hardly be anything but deeply troubling to Tolkien as a Catholic.

    As for the idea of making them a separate, naturally good but entirely corrupted race, here Tolkien was I think affected in large part by the (especially Medieval and Late Antique) theology of creation that emphasized the Divine order of creation and the unique value and place of each natural kind within that order: thus, while Satan and his demons were entirely corrupted, most angels remained faithful to God and received the Beatific Vision as a reward, providing an overall redemption and eschatological fulfillment for angel-kind as a whole. If Orcs were a true separate natural kind from humans or elves, having their entire race corrupted to evil and lost entirely to God would be a breach of Divine providence to a degree beyond what Tolkien likely would have been willing to entertain. Having them as corrupted Elves or Humans at least gave them a place within the overall story of Elf- and human-kind and the redemption and fulfillment of these kinds.

    Again, the direction that Tolkien was led in over time was to a vision of Orcs as ordinary human beings warped and twisted almost beyond recognition by an evil, abusive society and culture, genetically and socially engineered to serve as sociopathic cogs in a vast, indifferent military-industrial machine--a logical extremity of the kind of large-scale de-humanization he saw firsthand in the World Wars. This idea Tolkien could at least live with, even if it profoundly disturbed him--especially since, in Catholic theology, such a state of affairs would not completely shut the door on the possibility of redemption for individual Orcs (since it would lessen personal moral responsibility and so leave some room for divine grace to operate).

    Again, this is very detailed Catholic theological stuff: but Tolkien was of course very invested in all this, and much of the inner structure of Tolkien's legendarium is defined by it, right alongside with the influences of Norse and Finnish mythology and language.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  16. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
  17. darthcaedus1138

    darthcaedus1138 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2007
    now that's a policy I can get behind
     
  18. Revanfan1

    Revanfan1 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Right, no, I'm not saying Satan and his angels were created evil, just that they were irredeemable after they chose evil. But I get what you're saying now; I think I just misunderstood earlier.
     
    CaptainPeabody likes this.
  19. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Some new and old Star Wars images:
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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  20. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Registered:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Please put massive image dumps behind spoiler tags. This is not the first time we've asked this.
     
  21. Amon_Amarth

    Amon_Amarth Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Love Grant Gould's SW art! I was quite bummed when I had to cancel Celebration trip in 2015, his exclusive "Legends of Thrawn" artwork was gorgeous! I emailed him about it later, but it was all sold out.
     
  22. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    You know, I've said a lot about Invincible over the years - pretty much all of it negative - but I do have to admit I thought it was sorta cool when for a split-second there I honestly could not tell if that image was Rey and Kylo or Jaina and Caedus.

    (Although granted that probably had more to do with the way the red reflections made an ordinary red lightsaber look like Kylo's crosshilt saber than anything else. But still).
     
  23. AdmiralWesJanson

    AdmiralWesJanson Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 23, 2005
    Anything Reylo can go burn in a fire.
     
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  24. Vthuil

    Vthuil Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 3, 2013
    ...what exactly do you take me for, sir?
     
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  25. Gamiel

    Gamiel Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2012
    a bit late maybe, but still fun
    [​IMG]
     
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