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Eä Tolkien Society Meeting Notes July 2016

by Hawke published Aug 20, 2016 10:08 AM, last modified Aug 20, 2016 10:08 AM
The Eä Tolkien Society's July 2016 meeting took place at the annual Tolkien Moot Convention, July 16th. Here are the notes from that meeting & broadcast. Thanks Brian for the notes!
Eä Tolkien Society Meeting Notes July 2016

The Return of the Shadow is the first volume of of the The History of The Lord of the Rings and the sixth volume of The History of Middle-earth.

July 2016 Notes @ Tolkien Moot XII

Video of meeting available here:

Past 12 years of Tolkien Moot videos can be found here:

(Sorry Google keeps changing the URLs unfortunately)

Attended: Hawke, Richard, Brian, and the Tolkien Moot crowd.

1. Hawke welcomed Michael Martinez online to the meeting. Michael has joined us before for other Tolkien Moots as well as "Raw Hobbit" for the Middle Earth Talk Radio.

2. Brian read the notes for June's meeting.

3. Hawke noted the theme of Tolkien Moot XII: Tolkien's Undead. Michael made the humorous objection that there is no proof Tolkien is undead.

4. Definition of undead in Middle-Earth left somewhat open; "anything that was either spiritual, or without a spirit but animated (skeleton, disembodied spirits). Examples: wraiths, wights, dead marshes, faded Elvish spirits, Halls of Mandos, Sauron, Morgoth, Nazgul, Necromancer, and the magical rings.

5. Richard's question to Michael: What's your opinion re: the invisibility as a side-effect on Bilbo and Frodo, as opposed to its main function? The discussion ranged from the power of the ring over the bearer (its link to Sauron) and the sensitivity it gives to the "other" world. Michael made the point here that in Tolkien's view there were not actually two worlds they lived in, but one world both flesh and spirit, but the humans just don't see that reality. Glorfindel example. Reference to Michael's essays in Understanding Middle-Earth.

6. Tolkien's view of magic was talked about. Didn't defy the laws of physics... just part of the world, linked to the story.

7. Brian commented on apparent differences between the etymology of wight and wraith, and wondered if Tolkien used it that way. Michael brought up JRRT's consistent use of dialect in LOTR. Wight was used in parts of Eriador like the Shire and Bree. Wraith is used by the kingdoms of elves and men.

8. Hawke read from Return of the Shadow p. 401 revision. Elrond's comment. Kinship or understanding between barrow wights and wraiths... the story evolved. As Tolkien developed backstory of Angmar, had to include more details in Appendices about the ringwraiths. "Many elf-wraiths in the world." At one version early on, Sauron gave 3 rings to men and many rings to elves.

9. The power of the ring... Richard's comment about Gandalf's rebuke of Bilbo's story. Bilbo originally was named "Bingo." Hawke read more from the Return of the Shadow ( A wraith's senses were dulled, except for its sense of smell, which was sharper.

10. Brian compared the wraiths as robbing others of their lives (making others into wraiths via the Morgul-blades) whereas the wights took possession of either dead bodies or living hosts.

11. Michael referred to how Tolkien went through many transitions in his writing. Re: two worlds again, how do you relate to the afterlife if you haven't died yet? Gandalf has been in "both". Hawke made the analogy of a veteran who returns from a war. Michael echoed that with High Elves able to perceive more, because they had been to Aman, the Blessed Realm, and had seen the light of the Two Trees. Yet it is not just 2 separated places; there is one world of Arda in which all this occurs.

12. Brian said that it reflects Tolkien's experience of industrialization removing beauty... to erect a testament to man, yet often left brokenness. Our primary world contained both spiritual and physical realities that were sometimes in tension. As an artistic subcreation, Middle-Earth was inherently spiritual and physical for Tolkien.

13. Michael followed up with an extended comment (quoted in full): "It's a Judeo-Christian concept... in the Protestant point of view that I grew up with. So I don't know how similar this is to the Catholic thought on this, but in Protestant thought man is a fallen creature, and we've lost our spiritual awareness. We're not able to commune directly with God because of our sinful nature. It's when you accept Christ's salvation, that is kind of restored to you through the gift of the Holy Spirit. So in Middle-Earth, man has already fallen, but that salvation has not yet come. And so we're following the adventures of mostly spiritually good characters who were not able to commune on that level that the angels are able to commune with God. And so I think that's what really was feeding into Tolkien's idea of the dual worlds... it's not that they're separate and distinct realms, so much as they're two layers of something that is supposed to be together. And it's been broken from man's fall. The Elves had their fall, but their fall was different."

14. Further discussion re: characters who do what is heroic at great personal cost, characters are easier to relate to when they've suffered. Elf-Lords: Glorfindel, Elrond. Difference of Elves and men spiritual not physical. Hawke's stats for listings of terms spirit, ghost, wraith, dead, mortality, immortality, etc. "The real theme of the Lord of the Rings is death and immortality."

15. Were the trolls sentient beings with "souls"? Or just animated rocks? They had personalities, but is this meant to be definitive? Or embellishment by the narrator?

16. Michael's point that the narrator in the Hobbit was not Tolkien... retelling it to a childlike audience.

17. Hawke: Being careful about what Tolkien intended, but from RPG perspective it's all good grist for the mill!

18. Sympathetic portrayals of Middle-Earth in RPG (heroic), but there's freedom to elaborate on the kernel.

19. Discussion raised by Richard re: the dragons being powered by gold. This refers to Michael's essay "Magic by Melkor: No Returns Accepted" ch. 28, Understanding Middle-Earth. The Morgoth element. Gold vs. silver vs. water.

20. Discussion about Tolkien's poems--gathered pieces using England as the framework for mythology.

21. What are the Dead Marshes... dead Elves? An enchantment, not really explained. Not really elvish spirits. Like phantoms of First Age. Contrivances.

22. The ways Tolkien referred to wars in the history of Middle-Earth... how World War I impacted him.

23. Authority structure of evil... Morgoth was replaced by Lieutenant Sauron (vying for power), but Sauron did not have one to replace him... there could no longer be a physical manifestation of the evil spirit of Sauron. Witch King the logical one to follow? The authority structure of Sauron is symbolized by Barad Dur, but in the destruction of the ring, even the foundation of Barad Dur was destroyed and emptied of power.

24. The destinies of the races when they die... fate of men to leave Middle-Earth, Elves to Aman. Immortal existence and peace.

25. The next Ea Tolkien Society meeting will be on August 20, 2016... we will resume reading Letters of Tolkien #125, Vinyar Tengwar, and the next essay by Michael Martinez.

Respectfully submitted by the Smial Secretary,

Brian Huseland

The Return of the Shadow - Tolkien Gateway
The Return of the Shadow is the first volume of of the The History of The Lord of the Rings and the sixth volume of The History of Middle-earth.


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