Elven Telepathy

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Postby Arail Fordorthien » Wed May 27, 2009 3:28 am

I don't know if this thread is dead, but I've just now read it, and had a thought about telepathy in regards to Galadriel. It's been stated before that Galadriel probably wasn't your ordinary, every-day Elf, and therefore, her being some sort of telepath wouldn't necesseraily mean that all Elves were as well. It has also been proposed that wearing Nenya might be one of the reasons for her great insight into the minds of others. That got me thinking about a quote that was published both in UT and HoME 12. It regards Galadriel's early life in Valinor: "From her earliest years she had a marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others..." Can this simply be that Galadriel was a very good judge of character, and that this ability was then simply enhanced somehow by Nenya, or is it more akin to telepathy in some form?

Personally, I think the points published in the Ósanwe-kenta are very interesting, and they closely adhere to what I had always imagined about telepathy in Middle-Earth.
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Postby Gandalf'sMother » Wed May 27, 2009 8:01 am

Telepathy, as most often defined, describes the "transfer of information on thoughts or feelings between individuals by means other than the five classical senses."

I don't believe that any of the examples thus far demonstrate that the elves had a separate "sense" which allowed them to be telepathic. I believe most of the examples of "telepathy" provided in this thread thus far are simply examples of enhanced intuition and perceptivity - examples where the classical "senses" are the only tools necessary for communication - namely sight (and sometimes, touch). Even where Gandalf "strives" with Sauron from afar, it seems he needs to be able to at least "see" the "shadow" in order to guess, and contend with, the mind behind it. There is no need to infer 'telepathy' from those accounts. Even the passage in Many Partings which describes "thoughts" going "to and fro" and individuals looking from "mind to mind" may be interpreted the same way. People who have known each other for thousands of years probably do not need to talk in order to communicate. Heck, my wife and I have known each other for 7 years, and we can say quite a lot to each other with a mere look!

The more important question here, I think, is can the Eldar wordlessly transmit thoughts to each other, and other races, if they cannot see the object of their transmission. If someone can point to a canonical example of such a communion happening over long distances, where the communers cannot see each other, then I would be convinced.

But as a piece of advice to the original posters (if they are still around) I would not take vague hints and "extrapolate" on them for the purposes of fanfiction. Fanfiction often suffers because of this unfortunate derivative practice whereby the original work's wonderful and evocative mystery is made decidedly unmysterious and mundane. If you include 'hints' of what can possibly be interpreated as 'telepathy,' just as the Old Professor did, then I think your fanfiction will be alot richer. Otherwise, it will get lumped in with alot of the other derivative trash (pardon my harshness) that exists out there.

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Postby MithLuin » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:40 am

I'm not sure...I think that nonverbally telling someone something counts as telepathy, even if a look or touch is involved...if the primary means of communication is some form of 'sharing thoughts' - not the look or touch.

For instance, a Vulcan mind meld involves touching the face, but the information gained is not related to the touch. One would not usually learn the names of traitors or the fact that an individual is pregnant in this way, but Spock does both in the Star Trek movies.

Not that Vulcans have anything to do with elves, but I think mind melds are generally considered a form of telepathy. Understanding the thoughts of a spouse from a look is not quite the same thing. For instance, can you look at your wife and know the answer to a trivia question? You can know that she knows it, but she can't really 'tell' you with just a look, can she?

As for 'out-of-sight' examples, Frodo's dreams in the House of Tom Bombadil come to mind. He clearly saw Gandalf pacing on the top of Orthanc, and he saw the Straight Road to the West. One event was the past, while the other was the future. The Mirror of Galadriel likewise shows events that are not line-of-sight: Sam's Shire was on the other side of the Misty Mountains. I wouldn't call either of those things telepathy, of course, since it's not communication, but I thought they were worth mentioning.

I should probably reread the thread before responding, though....
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