Section 1: 'Ainulindalë' and 'Valaquenta' Thread 1B (Open)

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Postby Falborn » Tue Aug 20, 2002 5:27 am

I have been reading Garry Wills new book, "Why I Am A Catholic" and came across a discussion of the creation which I believe relates to our discussions in this forum. Wills is a classical scholar and historian whose book on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address won the (US) National Book Award. On pages 309 and 310 he discusses a quote from St Augustine that sees proof of God in the artful design of a worm:<BR><BR>"This ecomium to creation's beauty resembles some arguments used to prove God's existence from the marvelous concinnities of the cosmos - so many complex things, huge and minute, deftly fitting into each other. Planets are as neatly adjusted to each other's orbit as a glovemaker might fit his glove to a customers hand. This is the so-called argument from design. Design is purposive; it implies a designer who has the purpose. Those who relied on this argument were panic stricken when the theory of evolution revealed that there can be design without a designer. Instead of teleology we were left with entelechy, things with their own drive to fit into each other. The long ages implied for the work of evolution also disturbed those who had believed in the compact chronology of Jewish Scripture. John Ruskin said of the new time spans being broken open by the geologists hammers' that his brain rang with the hammers tapping, driving him to dispondency.<BR><BR>But the belief in creation I imbibed with Chesterton's help had nothing to do with argument from design. Even if nothing were to fit into anything else, the mere existence of a single thing is the miracle that is inexplicable except as an arbitrarily willed act. Not the long and gradual shaping of a species but the abrupt and unmediated emergence of anything out of nothingness - not that the glove is made to fit the hand, but that there is a hand at all - that is the creation that Chesterton revered. For him, as for Augustine, creation is not something that was done thousands of years ago, or scientists' billions of eons ago, but something that has to be occuring at each instant, now, for any (even the slightest) thing to exist. Without that flow of creative energy, the entire cosmos would blink out in an instant."
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Postby starlin » Thu Aug 22, 2002 6:21 am

I've joined this study group a month ago and as I had free time, I decided to read earlier sections more carefully. Thus I came to some questions, considering "Ainulindale".<BR>I'm nopt native english speaker, so I have some problems. Like this sentence:<BR>"And this habitation might seem a little thing to those who consider only the majesty of the Ainur, and not their terrible sharpness; as who should take the whole field of Arda for the foundation of a pillar and so raise it until the cone of its summit were more bitter than a needle..."<BR>Does this mean that Tolkien imagined (or, perhaps, "Ainur created"<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> Arda in a form of a pillar with a "cone of its summit bitter than a needle"? Thus, the Earth in JRRT's world is not round...<BR>Talking about Melkor, it is said: <BR>"...controlling the turmoils of the heat and the cold that had come to pass through him."<BR>So how Manwe controls air, Aule - fabric of Earth, Ulmo - waters, so Melkor is associated with fire and cold. I think this is quite clearly said in "Valaquenta', isn't it? By the way, Melkor is an evil character, but we do not consider fire and even cold always evil. So probably this only proves "the two sides of every thing". Like Melkor desired Light at first and so fell to Darkness. Like love is so close to hate... However, Melkor at first even believed to that he desires to make the habitation suitable for Children of Iluvatar, so actually only lying to himself.<BR>I got interested by a Milton-letter, whichis given in the beginning. Tolkien says: "I dislike Allegory". It is truly hard to get rid of "allegorical" thoughts while reading Silmarillion. In any case, if Arda is also called "Earth", it IS connected with OUR life and OUR history.I know, I'm not wholy right-Tolkien didn't negate this in his letter.<BR>Well, these are just a few thoughts...<BR>-starlin-
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Postby wilko185 » Thu Aug 22, 2002 5:16 pm

<b>starlin</b>, this is my interpretation of this:<BR><OL>....to those who consider only the majesty of the Ainur, and not their terrible sharpness; <b>as</b> who should take the whole field of Arda.....</OL><BR>The grammar is a little strange here, but it is <b>as</b> if the whole of Arda became the base of pillar, then considering the greatness of the Ainur would be like just considering the great size of the pillar, and not its extreme fineness. A comparison is being made to an imaginary giant pillar, though the image of the pillar requires that we imagine Arda being flat and not spherical.<BR><BR>Melkor is opposed to the Valar, but it is made clear that he is not opposed to Eru, even if he thinks he is. His input is a necessary part of the pattern. Eru tells him<BR><OL>"And thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secret thoughts of thy mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory."</OL><BR>This is nicely shown by Melkor's heat and cold producing the beauty of clouds and ice from Ulmo's water.
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Postby wilko185 » Thu Aug 22, 2002 5:26 pm

<i>creation is not something that was done thousands of years ago, or scientists' billions of eons ago, but something that has to be occuring at each instant, now, for any (even the slightest) thing to exist. Without that flow of creative energy, the entire cosmos would blink out in an instant.</i><BR><BR>Falborn, isn't that why Eru set the Fire Imperishable at the heart of the world, to sustain it? Eru is distinct from and external to Arda (at least, that point is made in the Athrabeth), and He is said to "intervene" only occasionally, when called upon, which would seem to be at odds with his constant input of "creative energy" being necessary for anything to exist. <BR>Or not. This is straying into ineffable matters <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>
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Postby Falborn » Mon Aug 26, 2002 7:05 am

Ineffable, indeed - particularly for my matter of fact mind!<BR><BR>Good post, wilko. You wrote:<BR><BR>"Falborn, isn't that why Eru set the Fire Imperishable at the heart of the world, to sustain it? Eru is distinct from and external to Arda (at least, that point is made in the Athrabeth), and He is said to "intervene" only occasionally, when called upon, which would seem to be at odds with his constant input of "creative energy" being necessary for anything to exist."<BR>I draw a different conclusion from the Athrabeth. From Tolkien's Commentary on the Athrabeth, Morgoth's Ring, page 345:<BR><BR>"Note 11: This is actually already glimpsed in the Ainulindale, in which reference is made to the 'Flame Imperishable'. This appears to mean the creative activity of Eru (in some sense distinct from or within Him), by which things could be given a 'real' and independent (though derivative and created) existence. The Flame Imperishable is sent out from Eru, to dwell in the heart of the world, and the world then is, on the same plane as the Ainur, and they can enter into it. But this is not, of course, the same as the re-entry of Eru to defeat Melkor. It refers to the mystery of 'authorship', by which the author, while remaining 'outside' and independent of his work, also 'indwells' in it, on it's derivative plain, below that of his own being, as the source and guarantee of its being."<BR><BR>EDIT: I interpret the above to mean that the ongoing creative activity of the Secret Fire/Flame Imperishable is Eru, and that He is, at the same time, distinct from the Secret Fire as well.<BR><BR>There has been a continuing debate in this thread about the ongoing presence of Eru in the narrative of the Legendarium. My understanding is that Eru exists both without and within Arda and participates directly. These personal understandings reflect our own individual beliefs - at least they do in my case. It is my opinion that Tolkien wrote his stories in a way that people with diverse beliefs could find affirmation of their beliefs in his stories. <BR><BR>My understanding of the mystery of God is derived from the Trinity. I am not especially religious and am certainly not trying to promote my beliefs here. But I am saying that Tolkien wrote his stories in such a way that, in his words, they could be "accepted... by a mind the believes in the Blessed Trinity". Thus my reading of the Athrabeth and his statements in private correspondence about the direct workings of God's Grace in LOTR. I agree with those opinions, but do not think that Tolkien would have ever wanted to impose them on any reader. Neither do I. But it seems irrefutable that an understanding of Eru consistant with the Trinity is one valid interpretation of Tolkien's myths. That is not to say that it is the only valid interpretation, it is however the one that I see when I read his works.<BR><BR>My guess is that Tolkien would hope that people with non-trinitarian traditions would also see their fundamental beliefs confirmed in his writing. It seems, when you look at his amazing cross-cultural following, that he succeeded.
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Postby Mahima » Tue Aug 27, 2002 12:39 am

<i>My guess is that Tolkien would hope that people with non-trinitarian traditions would also see their fundamental beliefs confirmed in his writing. It seems, when you look at his amazing cross-cultural following, that he succeeded. </i><BR><BR>Hey, cool, Falborn. Your post started me thinking about whether there were any parallels with what Tolkien wrote and Hindu Mythology (I call it mythology, I could get spanked for doing so <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>). And there are, loads. We also have the Trinity (the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer) and like the Valar, there are a series of "lesser" Gods, each one responsible for one of the forces. Sun, wind, water, air and a few more for education, love etc. Then one on them is lord too, like Manwe. Then there is of course the Devil (who is NOT the Destroyer - hes a God. Cool, eh ???)<BR>There are parallels with the creation of Arda, and the Valar. And evenutally the joining process at the Valar's Kingdom for a "forever life". The Spiritual life, the Spiritual Kingdom.<BR><BR>In Norse Mythology too, there is Odin (the God of Gods) and other Gods like Thor (rain and thunder).<BR><BR>I never thought of the parallels much while reading Sil (am still am doing so), maybe because I don't really believe in it. But, it is something I've been brought up with, so maybe it was actually easier for me to accept.<BR><BR>Actually, if you really think of it, the basic fundamentals between cultures are very-very similar, which is probably why Tolkien has such a cross-cultural following<BR>
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Postby starlin » Mon Sep 02, 2002 5:36 am

Thank you Wilko, you truly helped me. <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR>Well, I'm intrigued by Ainulindale ever more. See, for example, the word <i>Ea</i>(sorry, on this computer there is no "character map" to make umlauts and the like). Im have recently come across 2 more things related to this word.<BR>1.Ursula le Guin's wonderful "Earthsea trilogy", where "Ea" is an oldest island of the world.<BR>2.Ea was a babylonian god-creator.<BR>Le Guin's trilogy was written (or at least published) after Tolkien's death (btw, today's the 29th year after this event...), so she might have borrowed it from him. Le Guin writes very nicely about the creation of Ea, obviously wanting to say: "You have to be silent, and then you'll hear".<BR>About babylonian god, it might be the source from which Tolkien actually took this word. A god-CREATOR Ea was, together with Anu, nd there I'd like to remind meaning of "Ea" in Sil: The world that is. That IS. "To BE" is a deep word. It's like in the Bible: "May it be light" (sorry, dunno how it's in english).Or in a spell binding "so mote it be".<BR>I'll try to find something more about "Ea" and then perhaps express it in english, although it's difficult. (really)<BR>-starlin-
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Postby Gorhaur » Wed Jul 16, 2003 9:03 pm

Bump to get this thread out of the archiving monster's line of sight <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0> (even though there are over two months to go).<BR><BR>While I'm posting here, I might as well not waste this "bump" post, and post some information! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR><BR>Here is a passage about the Vali (Valar/Valier) that I found interesting (I don't know if some of this has been posted on this thread, for I don't have time to read all of it yet):<BR><BR><UL>Behold, Manwë Súlimo and Varda the Beautiful arose. Varda it was who at the playing of the Music had thought much of light that was of white and silver, and of stars. Those twaiin gathered now wings of power to themselves and fared swiftly through the three airs. Vaitya is that which is wrapped dark and sluggish about the world and without it, but Ilwë is blue and clear and flows among the stars, and last came they to Vilna that is grey and therein may the birds fly safely.<BR><BR>[...]<BR><BR>Thereafter came Ulmo and Aulë, and with Ulmo were none, save Salmar only who was after known as Noldorin, for good though the heart of that mighty one he thought ever deep thoughts alone, and was silent and aloof and haughty even to the Ainur; but with Aulë was that great lady Palúrien whose delights were richness and fruits of the earth, for which reason has she long been called Yavanna among the Eldar.<BR><BR>[...]<BR><BR>Now behind those great chieftans came Falman-Ossë of the waves of the sea and Ónen his consort, and with them the troops of the Oarni and Falmaríni and the long-tressed Wingildi, and these are the spirits of the foam and the surf of ocean. Now Ossë was a vassal and subordinate to Ulmo, and was so for fear and everence and not for love. Behind him there came Tulkas Poldórëa rejoicing in his strength, and those brethren the Fánturi, Fantur of Dreams who is Lórien Olofántur, and Fantur of Death who is Vefántur Mandos, and those twain also who are named Tári for they are ladies of great worship, queens of the Valar. The one who was the spouse of Mandos, and is known to all as Fui Nienna by reason of heer glooms, and she is fain of mourning and tears. Many other names has she that are spoken seldom and all are grevious, for she is Núri who sighs and Heskil who breedeth winter, and all must bow before her as Qalmë-Tári the mistress of death. But lo, the other was the spouse of Oromë the hunter who is named Aldaron king of forests, who shouts for joy upon mountain-tops and is nigh as lusty as that perpetual youth Tulkas. Oromë is the son of Aulë and Palúrien*, and that Tári who is his wife is known to all as Vána the fair and loveth mirth and youth and beauty, and is happiest of all beings, for she is Tuilérë or as Valar said Vána Tuivána who bringeth spring, and all sing her praises as Tári-Laisi mistress of life.<BR><BR>[...]<BR><BR>(...)there came still hurrying late Makar and his fierce sister Meássë(...)both were spirits of quarrelsome mood.†<BR><BR>[...]<BR><BR>Last of all came Ómar who is called Amillo, youngest of the great Valar, and he sang songs as he came.‡<BR><BR><i>Book of Lost Tales I</i> (<i>The Coming of the Valar</i> p. 65-7)</UL>*As you can see, Aulë and Palúrien (Yavanna) were mother and father to Oromë in the early drafts of the Ainulindalë; this shows that the 'spouse' idea was true and some of the Vali had children. Another example is Fionwë (later changed to Eonwë) who was originally the son of Manwë and Varda.<BR><BR>†Makar and Meássë were supposed to be the Vali of War (such as Ares in Greek Mythology (Mars in Roman Mythology)).<BR><BR>‡Ómar was obviously edited out of the first draft, along with the Vali who turned into Maiar after the revisions (and the others that changed names).<BR><BR>---------------<BR><BR>Sorry if this post isn't too informative, or is repetitive (or doesn't make any sense toward the general conversation). I was just trying to bump this thread, and I decided to add some things while I was at it <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0>.<BR><BR><UL><UL><UL><UL><UL><UL>-----------<BR>|GORH|<BR>-----------</UL></UL></UL></UL></UL></UL>
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Postby jammi567 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:30 am

I know that this discussion is really old, but i've thought of something that i'm not sure that has been discussed before (not having read the whole of the thread).

It's said that the Ainar looked at Eru's vision of the world and such. Well, surely they mustve seen their actions and the concenquences of them, as it's said to have reached near the end of the universe. And yet, for example, Alue is shocked and raises his hammer to destroy the darves when they're first made. But he must've seen the impact they had on the world in that vision of Eru's? This is a bit confusing for me...
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Postby Arvegil » Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:51 am

The original vision was a "big picture" view and the Ainur were not given crystal clear vision of all the minutiae.
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Postby jammi567 » Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:16 pm

Yeah, but surely the awakening of the Elves and the making of Dwarves would be on there, and yet there's no indication that either Orome or Aule knew what was happening beforehand (in fact, i think that the Sil says that Orome was suprised when he first saw the elves).
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Postby tony789 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:06 am

Going back the the themes.

Manwe was the instrument of the second theme and Eru, the third. There is some confusion in my mind whether the Elves come in the second or third theme, but we know that Man comes in the third theme. If the Elves come in the second theme would this imply that they are more attuned to the Valar and that Men, coming in Eru's third theme, would be more attuned to Eru? That is basically what happens: the Elves live with the Ainur for all Time, men go to Eru.
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