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Re: Magic: Hobbit List

Concerning "The Enchanted River" ---
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
 
Dagor --- Of the three "alternatives" you listed for the possible origin of the magicalness of
 The Enchanted River in the Forest Of Mirkwood -
My own personal preference is for choice #3 -
[ ...something inherent in the waters of the river itself which is independent of the elves, Morgoth's ancient evils, or the Necromancer...]
 
I'm afraid I don't have any "evidence" to back up my opinion - let's just say my opinion comes from my own "intuition" about this...it just feels to me like the river comes up from out of the very ancient ( and not necessarily explained or categorized ) depths of the history of the Middle-earth landscape -[ or, as it is called in "the Hobbit" - "The Wilderland" ] ...---
I even feel like the Forest-Elves would not necessarily have had to "copy" the magic of The Enchanted River - It could have been that either they developed that "tactic" [ of inducing sleep on "intruders" ]
by their own powers, or else it could just be that whole region ( especially "outside of of the Path" ) was heavy with the "atmosphere" of that sleep-enchantment, and perhaps by simply "removing themselves" from a place where they had just been a moment before, they "exposed" whoever the intruder might be to the influence of the  sleepiness in the air? Or, to put it another way, perhaps the "sleepinesss" would rush in to fill the vacuum of the "no-sleepiness zone" that the elves had just vacated?  ---
 
That whole part of the story sure has "sleeping and dreaming" playing a prominent role, at any rate...
A.W.
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Re: Magic: a few definitions.

Doesn't it seem like there had to be some awfully old goblins running around in those goblin-tunnels, if they were so immediately able to "recognize" those swords, Orcrist and Glamdring [ "Biter" and "Beater" to them ]
for what they were - and even to recognize the different "personalities" of these two swords [ which had first been forged and used ages before that point in time ]?
Does this mean that goblins/orcs are "immortal" in the same sense as elves?
Or is this more attributable to the goblins having a heightened awareness of their own "Collective Memory"
--------------------------------------------------
Impression mabey, but I always thought it was a case of those particular swords becoming legends in goblin culture. Somewhat like Excalibur is for us humans.
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Re: Magic: Two Types in Middle-earth?

Dagor wrote:smileysurprised:n another Tolkien site a friend, Stormrider, has asked: "How do you think the Elves and Dwarves were able to put this kind of magic into action?"
This is a vitally important question! I've dipped in The Letters to get an idea as to just "how" JRRT thought magic might work in Middle-earth, and it seems a complex situation. On one hand, there is the idea that "magic" is not magical at all. It is simply "technology," and only seems "magical" to those who do not understand the engineering and science that is being used. Both The Hobbit and LotR are largely narrated from the perspective of the "rustic," ignorant hobbits (not stupid, just not particularly well-versed in the lore of the bigger world about them). So such things as Galadriel's Mirror, The One Ring, or Sting's ability to flash blue flames in the presence of Orcs are seen as "magical" by the hobbits, but may simply be technologies to the Elves/ Maiar. Our "seeing-eye" doors might seem highly magical to the hobbits, and maybe such things as the Wood Elves' closing gate represent nothing more magical than an infra-red beam and a code to keep those without a pass from opening the doors. A magnetic tab worn on one's person could be sensed by the gate so that the individual elves (who had their tabs) could pass, but Bilbo could not.
The Rings of Power, and such items as the Palantiri, Silmarils and the Elven blades seem to be further examples of "scientifically" engineered products, made by a superior technolgy requiring engineers like Feanor and Celebrimbor and the ringsmiths. If we, or the hobbits could understand the science apparently behind such artifacts, they would become explainable, natural objects and so lose their "magical" quality. I think this is what Galadriel was trying to explain when she said to Frodo and Sam that she did not understand what they meant by the term "magic," and that there were, in her mind at least two kinds of such "magic," that produced for "domination," and that produced for benign purposes.
On the other hand, Tolkien in Letter #155, pp 199-200, seems also to be setting up a system whereby only certain classes of sapient beings have access to a genuine "magic" that probably is not at all technology oriented. Here we have the "magic" of Tom Bombadil that seems to emanate from his own person as a part of his own nature. He does "magical" things because he is himself "magical," he has not simply taken courses in "advanced science" in order to have access to a higher technology. He creates things, influences his environment and the people/ creatures about him by direct mental action -- his thought, his SONG (like Eru's song and the Ainur's) has the power to alter the physical world.
So, I think, at this point in our discussion, I see Tolkien presenting us with these two different types of magic -- high technology, which in a sense is not really magical at all; and direct personal power that is inherent in certain beings and does function as a truly magical phenomenon. This "true magic" is something that cannot be reduced to books of spells or formulae like chemistry, it is something that cannot be taught. You are born with it, or you will never attain it:
"Anyway, a difference in the use of 'magic' in this story is that it is not to be come by by 'lore' or spells; but is an inherent power not possessed or attainable by Men as such." (letter #155, p. 200)
In this sense, only beings with a high "spirituality" would have access to performing "real" magic. It might be interesting to see how consistently JRRT applies this axiom -- are there any instances of Mortal Men/ hobbits, practising true magic? How does Aragorn's "true" healing magic, where he defeats The Black Breath, stack up here? Are the Nazgul, some of whom were considered sorcerors BEFORE they got their Rings, able to practice true magic, or were they just using the high technology type of "magic?"
While Frodo bears The Ring, he seems to have access to powers that are supernatural for a hobbit, but the Ring is a bit of technology, not an inherent true magic? But, does it enhance Frodo's inherent "true magic" ability, especially when he starts "true dreaming" about the future? This element of magical foresight seems to continue in him long after the Ring has been destroyed, as when he seemingly, correctly predicts the gender and names of Sam's first several children.
left with more questions than answers at this point!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This brings to mind an old argument, I trip into all too often.
Is magic just a technology we have yet to understand?
If you ever had a conversation about string theory and had a stranger walk up giving you the impression that they think you either insane or incredible, you might wholeheartedly agree. But I've always thought that man's increased understanding of technology has given him an under-appreciation of it.
Magic implies wonder. Most people no longer feel wonder at the sight of technology. Perhaps this is more to do with our increasingly gadget filled culture. We no longer need understanding of the mechanics and chemistry behind a technological process in order to use it.
Magic isn't technology. Technology is magic.
If you don't agree. I ask you if you had a workman install your DSL or Broadband, or did you do it yourself?
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Re: Magic: a few definitions.

TiggerBear:
 
I did have a funny little "vision" [ after I had written in on the subject of Orcrist/Glamdring-Biter/Beater ] ---
Of the "Goblin Family" at home, [ in some small cave-like dwelling among the tunnels in "Goblin-Town" ] ---
with the pictures of "Biter" and "Beater" framed and hung on the walls... The Goblin parents could frighten the little Goblin-children at bedtime with scary stories about "Biter" and "Beater"...
An even more appropriate scenario might be:
A couple of posters down at the Goblin Town Post-Office:
"HAVE YOU SEEN THESE SWORDS? ARMED AND DANGEROUS...PUBLIC ENEMIES #1 & #2"
 
:smileyvery-happy:     Ardo  
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
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Ardo Whortleberry
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Re: Magic: a few definitions.

NOTE --- I think Tolkien's famous essay: "On Fairy-Stories" provides much insight to JRRT's ways of
 thinking - in many ways, it could almost be considered to be the "Key"  to his thinking and his "purposes" -
almost as much as the "Letters" { which I still have not read, except for those that I have found here } --- 
 
I hesitate to quote little bits and pieces from "The Essay", as everything in it is all so inter-connected and inter-dependent, but, in the passage where JRRT is talking about the value of "Escapism" found in fairy-stories, we have this:
 
[          "...But there are also more profound "escapisms" that have always appeared in fairy-tale and
             legend....Some are pardonable weaknesses or curiousities: such as the desire to visit, free
             as a fish, the deep sea; or the longing for the noiseless, gracious, economical flight of a bird...
             There are profounder wishes: such as the desire to converse with other living things.
             On this desire, ancient as The Fall, is largely founded the talking of beasts and creatures in
             fairy-tales, and especially the magical understanding of their proper speech...."         ]
 
Here are some elements that appear in "The Hobbit" - 
We certainly get our "curiousity" satisfied  for the "experience" of the flight of birds, with the Eagles carrying Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves forth and back again, to and from their eyries on the mountain-tops...
The first time ( especially for Bilbo ) it is more of a harrowing experience - but "The second time around" -
it is not quite so terrorizing - the eagle who is carrying Bilbo tells him to relax and enjoy the ride...
 
And this "Talking with the animals" also shows up, ( in the case of the Eagles, for just one example )...
 
Although the carrying of the people by the eagles might not exactly be properly called "magic" - it is a rather improbable ( even impossible ) occurance in the "real world"...
 
Ardo
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Re: Magic: a few definitions.

Good Afternoon, Dagor...
 
From that same section of "The Essay" from which I have just quoted in my last post ---
there is another quote, which relates to this same subject and also to something we were discussing in the
"Religion" Thread - and it certainly "backs up" some comments you had made there, about how the way JRRT dealt with the whole concept of "Immortality" in his stories - and that perhaps, what he was saying about the whole idea was that: "Maybe you should be careful what you wish for" ---
 
[        ....And lastly there is the oldest and deepest desire, The Great Escape: The Escape from Death.....
few lessons are taught more clearly in them { the fairy-stories } than the burden of that kind of immortality, or rather, endless serial living, to which the "fugitive" would fly...       ]
 
Ardo
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Re: Magic: Two Types in Middle-earth?

I guess the problem I am having with the whole idea of "Magic as a form of some kind of Technology" all has to do with that term itself: "Technology"...
[ although I realize we are not necessarily talking about exactly the same kind of "technology" that we know by that name in the present-day, modern-day world ]
I guess because although I would hesitate to call Tolkien a "Luddite"
[ or even a "neo-Luddite" ] -
I think his sentiments were not that all that far removed from that philosophy...
Part of his "longing" for simpler, less complicated, more "natural" times also has a bit of that "anti-machine, anti-technology" aspect to it... in fact, that whole section of The Essay  { the part concerning "Escapism" in the Fairy-Tale } seems to be saying:
 "You have the RIGHT to escape from all the ugliness and ills and depravity engendered by the inexorable and immerciful 'March of Progress' - back to a time when nature was still pristine, and things were created by hand, and not by machine, and when all the beauty that was still present had not been prounounced dead by 'Progress', buried, and covered over by all our 'brand-new' technology, industry,
developments and esthetics." ---
[ I was paraphrasing completely, there, of course ] ---
I guess I don't where I'm going with all this, even - except that maybe JRRT's own ideas about what this
"magical technology" might have consisted of might not best be suited to those "analogies" of ( and comparison to our own modern-day ) "scientifically engineered products"...
[ although, I know in one of my previous letters, I was guilty of using that Science-Fiction analogy of
"A Force-Field" to compare to what could be considered a "magical device" in LOTR ]
 
A.W.
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Re: Magic: a few definitions.

I did have a funny little "vision" [ after I had written in on the subject of Orcrist/Glamdring-Biter/Beater ] ---
Of the "Goblin Family" at home, [ in some small cave-like dwelling among the tunnels in "Goblin-Town" ] ---
with the pictures of "Biter" and "Beater" framed and hung on the walls... The Goblin parents could frighten the little Goblin-children at bedtime with scary stories about "Biter" and "Beater"...
An even more appropriate scenario might be:
A couple of posters down at the Goblin Town Post-Office:
"HAVE YOU SEEN THESE SWORDS? ARMED AND DANGEROUS...PUBLIC ENEMIES #1 & #2"
--------------------------------------------------------------
(chuckling) Way too cute, thanks for the laugh Ardo.
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Re: Magic: a few definitions.

Omnibus

Yeah, Ardo, neither of us gets much help from Tolkien's text here, he simply does not provide enough information, sigh, so we are left with mere speculations, but they are quite fun any way!

I'm still hung-up on the similarity of "effect" between the river's magic and the drop-down sleep of the Fairy-rings, but it could just as validly be said that the Elves and the river have no connection.

Running water has always been viewed as a magical impediment to evil. In LotR, the Nazgul have problems crossing water, especially detailed in the important essay "The Hunt for the Ring," ("Unfinished Tales," pp 337 - 354). So, having a river between the dark patches of southern Mirkwood and the Elven kingdom would be a considerable asset in itself. Putting a further spell of enchanted sleep upon its waters would increase its usefulness in that regard. Alas, the river does not flow directly east-west across the entire forest, so it could be flanked to the west, but it would provide partial protection for Thranduil's realm on the south-eastern side.

Yeah, Elves + Sleep-inducement for mortals, I think that is a stock element in the European Fairy Tale complex, I'll see if I can find some examples. And there are several Graeco-Roman and Arabian Nights adventures with "rivers of oblivion," and "sleep," so JRT may just have tossed these sleep-items into the tale to give it a further connection with a pre-existing tradition.

____________________

Tiggerbear -- "Magic implies wonder."

Oooo, yeah! That may in fact, be the only real definition! When the thrill wears off, whether you understand a phenomenon or not, the magic is gone. I still do not understand the technology of my computer, but I can work the thing consistently -- now the magic is gone, it is just a useful tool, its charisma has been routinized...

RE -- "If you ever had a conversation about string theory and had a stranger walk up giving you the impression that they think you either insane or incredible, you might wholeheartedly agree. But I've always thought that man's increased understanding of technology has given him an under-appreciation of it."

I agree! The magical thing about such situations is that occasionally, the WONDER comes back, and we see old, familiar items/ ideas in a strange, fascinating new light! So, does this mean magic is basically an emotional response, hormonal? Works for me!

____________________

Ardo -- wow, you strike gold here! Yes, the "On Fairy-Stories" is an excellent source for understanding JRRT's grasp of "magic!" I'll dig out my copy now! Add to F-S a few Letters, and I think we have the database about covered. Thanks for the heads-up! More, later!
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Re: Magic: Two Types in Middle-earth?

[ Edited ]
This is a great line of thought, Ardo: "I guess the problem I am having with the whole idea of 'Magic as a form of some kind of Technology' all has to do with that term itself: 'Technology'... [ although I realize we are not necessarily talking about exactly the same kind of 'technology' that we know by that name in the present-day, modern-day world ] I guess because although I would hesitate to call Tolkien a 'Luddite' [ or even a 'neo-Luddite ] - I think his sentiments were not that all that far removed from that philosophy..."

Thank you, Ardo. This provokes my tiny little brain enormously. I think what I need here now is a better understanding of Tolkien's categories of magic, and his attitudes towards "technology." In one sense, Tolkien uses technology all the time in the creations of the implements of magic (Silmarils, flash-blade swords, all the Rings of Power, etc) but simultaneously he exhibits a "neo-Luddite," hobbitish reaction to technology in general. Now, of course, even hobbits have technology, but they have a strong respect for the natural world as well, and never allow their own technology to debase nature. So maybe it is a matter of "degree" here? The hobbits (as shown in "The Scouring of the Shire" ) possess the means already of destroying their environment with their current technologies, but, if left to themselves, without Saruman's influence, they do not present a real threat to nature. The hobbits moderate their own technology to create a livable balance with nature. In this sense, Tolkien may not be a complete Luddite, he is not really anti-technology, I think, he merely wants a moderated wise-use of technology?

Here, I think Tolkien's system of two magics comes into play: magic can be classed as that which is moderated to achieve a beneficial effect at the least cost to the environment (social/ political/ economic as well as the natural environment). This is GOOD MAGIC. But magic done to create the technologies of excessive exploitation, done to dominate others or dominate the natural environment are exploitative and therefore are BAD MAGICS. What the Middle-earth narratives show so well is that this is a matter of judgment, when does a bit of magic, a magical technology become exploitative? When does it become too much? Feanor creates great works of magical technology that can be used to preserve the natural balance, or to topple it. The Rings of Power can preserve the vitality of the Elder Ages, or reduce the planet to an industrialized ruin under Sauron's control. Which course the characters choose becomes the vibrant core of Tolkien's tales.

I need to do some more thinking and reading here. But I'm starting to see (rightly or wrongly) several other ways of interpreting magic here: True Magic is the creative impulse, the thought; then putting that thought into practice may require technology. Perhaps the creative impulse is the only real magic in this chain? The Elves, being "immortal" within a changing/ fading world that has a definite end-time of decay and enthropy, wish to extend the vitality of Middle-earth, to keep their physical environment from decaying through time. They conceive the idea of halting the process of "fading." Then they find a technology to achieve this end, The Rings of Power. But in trying to alter the natural flow of time and its processes of decay, they introduce a magical technology that can, in the wrong hands, actually increase that process of degradation. Sauron, armed with the "good technology" of the Elven Ringsmiths, finds a way to achieve the exact opposite of their original intention (to preserve the world unstained). He perverts their technology to the BAD MAGIC of domination, and threatens global destruction. Hmm, just thinking out loud there, needs more work, LOL!

Message Edited by Dagor on 06-19-2008 12:28 PM
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Re: Magic: Two Types in Middle-earth?

Thank you, Ardo. This provokes my tiny little brain enormously. I think what I need here now is a better understanding of Tolkien's categories of magic, and his attitudes towards "technology." In one sense, Tolkien uses technology all the time in the creations of the implements of magic (Silmarils, flash-blade swords, all the Rings of Power, etc) but simultaneously he exhibits a "neo-Luddite," hobbitish reaction to technology in general. Now, of course, even hobbits have technology, but they have a strong respect for the natural world as well, and never allow their own technology to debase nature. So maybe it is a matter of "degree" here? The hobbits (as shown in "The Scouring of the Shire" ) possess the means already of destroying their environment with their current technologies, but, if left to themselves, without Saruman's influence, they do not present a real threat to nature. The hobbits moderate their own technology to create a livable balance with nature. In this sense, Tolkien may not be a complete Luddite, he is not really anti-technology, I think, he merely wants a moderated wise-use of technology?
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Hmm I thinking that Tolkien may consider a difference between technology and craftsmanship. The former implicating evil and the latter as good.
An example would be the manner in which he describes Goblin blacksmithing and then Elvish.
Goblin swords being wicked, twisted, and cruel. Elvish as pure clean lined noble weapons.
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Re: Magic: Two Types in Middle-earth?

This is just a brief follow-up to something that was discussed earlier - 
 Concerning "Galadriel's Mirror" ---
 
Perhaps another added meaning to Galadriel words:
 
[     "....For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; although I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use that same word for the deceits of the Enemy..."    ]
 [ FOTR -Book 2, Chapter 7 ]
 
Perhaps Galadriel's "magic" is so different from "...the deceits of the Enemy..."
because her Mirror reveals "The Truth" - things as they truly are...
Whereas Sauron's magic tries to only show you what HE wants you to see - his lies ---
what he knows will fill the viewer with self-doubt, fear, loss of hope, dread, or become "brainwashed" into thinking that Sauron really IS right about everything, after all...
Just for one example, Consider Saruman - [ the Saruman that considers himself to be the "New", "improved" Saruman, with his his flashy new "look" ( his "Gown Of Many Colors" ) ]
 - his mind had become all twisted by Sauron having perverted Saruman's sense of what was really Good and what was not... by Sauron's having "mesmerized"
Saruman - and by repeatedly transforming  his Lies into "Truth" ( in Saruman's mind ) ---
 
Ardo 
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Re: Magic: "On Fairy-Stories"



oldBPLstackdenizen wrote:
NOTE --- I think Tolkien's famous essay: "On Fairy-Stories" provides much insight to JRRT's ways of
thinking - in many ways, it could almost be considered to be the "Key" to his thinking and his "purposes" -
almost as much as the "Letters" { which I still have not read, except for those that I have found here } ---
I hesitate to quote little bits and pieces from "The Essay", as everything in it is all so inter-connected and inter-dependent, but, in the passage where JRRT is talking about the value of "Escapism" found in fairy-stories, we have this:
[ "...But there are also more profound "escapisms" that have always appeared in fairy-tale and
legend....Some are pardonable weaknesses or curiousities: such as the desire to visit, free
as a fish, the deep sea; or the longing for the noiseless, gracious, economical flight of a bird...
There are profounder wishes: such as the desire to converse with other living things.
On this desire, ancient as The Fall, is largely founded the talking of beasts and creatures in
fairy-tales, and especially the magical understanding of their proper speech...." ]
Here are some elements that appear in "The Hobbit" -
We certainly get our "curiousity" satisfied for the "experience" of the flight of birds, with the Eagles carrying Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves forth and back again, to and from their eyries on the mountain-tops...
The first time ( especially for Bilbo ) it is more of a harrowing experience - but "The second time around" -
it is not quite so terrorizing - the eagle who is carrying Bilbo tells him to relax and enjoy the ride...
And this "Talking with the animals" also shows up, ( in the case of the Eagles, for just one example )...
Although the carrying of the people by the eagles might not exactly be properly called "magic" - it is a rather improbable ( even impossible ) occurance in the "real world"...
Ardo





Tolkien's essay "On Fairy-Stories" has always troubled me. He seemed to be so earnestly speaking about very important matters, but I never quite seemed comfortable with my level of understanding after each serious attempt to read this particular work. I finally resorted to outlining his statements individually, and concluded that, for me, the essay just did not hold together. I simply could not agree with the list of definitions he provided as his starting points, so the rest of his supporting/ developmental arguments always seemed suspect. Just recently I found that someone far better equipped to analyze Tolkien's version of "Fairy-Stories," Jack Zipes, also had trouble accepting Tolkien's definitional apparatus -- but, Zipes was able to go beyond that obstruction and gain a useful understanding of JRRT's meaning anyway. In my attempts to go through Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories" one more time, I find Zipes' analysis to be the most helpful aid to my own comprehension so far. The following extended quote is particularly apropos in this discussion because Zipes feels that, for Tolkien, the entire concept of "Faerie" was "Magic."

_______________

"Tolkien's purpose in writing his essay "On Fairy-Stories' was three-fold: he wanted to define them, trace their origins and discuss their function. The first two points are dealt with in cursory fashion, and, like Bloch, Tolkien misinterprets the meaning and origins of folk and fairy tales. He, too, reduces the categories of the folk and fairy tale so that they become indistinct, and he underestimates the value of historical anthropological studies about the evolution of the folk tale. The result is a vague definition: 'A "fairy-story" is one which touches on or uses Faerie, whatever its main purpose may be: satire, adventure, morality, fantasy. Faerie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic -- but it is a magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific magician.' (fn 11) Faerie is also defined as the 'Perilous Realm, which cannot be laughed at or explained away.' It must be taken seriously, for 'the magic of Faerie is not an end in itself, its virtue is in its operations: among these are the satisfaction of certain primordial human desires. One of these desires is to survey the depths of space and time. Another is (as will be seen) to hold communion with other living things.' (p. 13) Such a definition of folk or fairy tales has no basis in history, nor does it enable us to grasp the origins of the tales which have been studied much more thoroughly by other scholars. (fn 12) Nevertheless, Tolkien's comments are most significant for an understanding of his own fairy tales. Like Bloch, he was primarily concerned with the socio-psychological effect of the tales as they are received by contemporary audiences. Thus, his fusing of folk and fairy tales into one genre is acceptable as long as we bear in mind that he wants to analyze how fairy tales and fantasy are esteemed and used today. Here his humanistic and idealistic concerns are remarkably similar to those of Bloch, but before such parallels are drawn, let us examine the latter portion of Tolkien's essay which deals with the value and function of fairy tales in the present.

According to Tolkien the worth of fairy tales depends on their function which is connected to estrangement: 'They open a door on Other Time, and if we pass through, though only for a moment, we stand outside our own time, outside Time itself, maybe' (p. 32). By entering the realm of Faerie, Tolkien did not believe that we were entering a false or make-believe world. The fairy tale is a sub-creation of truth. If creation is the world and the creator, God, then the artist as sub-creator believes in his or her own creation which transports us to another world from which we can view and perhaps better grasp the primary forces acting upon us. Tolkien noted four factors which account for the magic power of the fairy tale: fantasy, recovery, escape, consolation."

extended quote from -- Jack Zipes, "Breaking the Magic Spell," pp 160-61 chpt V, "The Utopian Function of Fairy Tales and Fantasy," 2002

fn 11 -- "The Tolkien Reader," 1966, pp 13 and 32

fn 12 -- see Stith Thompson, "The Folktale," 1946 and Jack Zipes, "When Dreams Come True," 1999.

____________________________

From this material, I am starting to see that Tolkien's Middle-earth is in itself, in his estimation, a place defined by its basic magical nature. In this sense, there is "magic" in every page, every sentence of his Middle-earth writing -- and when we search for discrete examples of "magic" (like gates that open by word command, or fireworks, or ropes that come undone by themselves when needful) maybe we are somewhat missing his point? There may seem to be nothing magical in the Shire or about the hobbits themselves (as Tolkien says in the preface), and yet EVERYTHING about them is still highly magical, their very existence is in itself the most real manifestation of Magic?
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niki
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Re: Magic: "On Fairy-Stories"

According to Tolkien the worth of fairy tales depends on their function which is connected to estrangement: 'They open a door on Other Time, and if we pass through, though only for a moment, we stand outside our own time, outside Time itself, maybe' (p. 32). By entering the realm of Faerie, Tolkien did not believe that we were entering a false or make-believe world. The fairy tale is a sub-creation of truth. If creation is the world and the creator, God, then the artist as sub-creator believes in his or her own creation which transports us to another world from which we can view and perhaps better grasp the primary forces acting upon us. Tolkien noted four factors which account for the magic power of the fairy tale: fantasy, recovery, escape, consolation."
_____________________________________________________________________

What an interesting essay. I've read through many of these posts and I'm finding them fascinating and well thought out. The recent one by Dagor, made me think of Magical Realism. I don't know a lot about it, and I'm not sure I could define it. I found a few links. Looks like "what it is" does not have an easy definition. This did make me wonder if what you are talking about could have also been the genesis of Magical Realism and may be closer to that in modern literature than most modern fantasy?

http://www.writing-world.com/sf/realism.shtml
http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/MagicalRealism.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism
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Dagor
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Re: Magic: "On Fairy-Stories"



niki wrote:

What an interesting essay. I've read through many of these posts and I'm finding them fascinating and well thought out. The recent one by Dagor, made me think of Magical Realism. I don't know a lot about it, and I'm not sure I could define it. I found a few links. Looks like "what it is" does not have an easy definition. This did make me wonder if what you are talking about could have also been the genesis of Magical Realism and may be closer to that in modern literature than most modern fantasy?

http://www.writing-world.com/sf/realism.shtml
http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/MagicalRealism.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism




Hi, Niki!

Just finished an initial read of the three sources you presented, VERY INTERESTING! My first reaction is that there are several ways that I think the "magic-realism" structure might be successfully applied to Tolkien's Middle-earth, but some of the categories listed seem less useful in my (very limited) understanding of this paradigm. I'll chew on this new "cud" of interpretation tonight and see if I can find any fruitful ways of applying it to Middle-earth. Meanwhile, what do you think? Could we approach this using the hobbits as one culture, the Elves and Dwarves (with their various magics) as the alternative culture to get the idea of the "hybrid" situation? Very intrigued here...

THANKS, Niki -- "I'll be back!"
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: Magic: "On Fairy-Stories"

Good Afternoon, Dagor [ and Company ] ---
 
Yes, you are right - looking at things in that way, one could easily say that the whole work is "magic", altogether - there IS "magic" on every page, whether something "magical" happens to be happening at any given moment, or not...
 
[  Or, alternately, using the term Tolkien himself probably would have preferred to have used:
 there is "enchantment" on every page... ]
 
I think your essay there could considered to be the "definitive" one on this subject ---
( at least,as far as our discussions here are concerned ) ---
 
We can still continue to compile our listings of magical occurrences, devices and what-not --
( I mean,  why not? ) ---
This has turned out to be a very "profitable" Thread, indeed! ---
 
A.W. ---
 
 
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: Magic: Two Types in Middle-earth?

Hello, TiggerBear ---
 
I too, was thinking that maybe "craftmanship" was a better-sounding term [ compared to "technology" ]
-- although, in a way, that could just be a matter of semantics - after all, there is a kind of "technology"
involved in any kind of craft - or even in the most basic kind of tool-making, etcetera...
 
I still think probably that Tolkien [ whenever he concieved of these "magical devices" ] was not concerning himself so much with how something magical was being accomplished, as much as simply that it was
being accomplished...
 
There is certainly much in the idea that the Goblins and Orcs ( apparently, often under the direction of
"Higher Authorities" [ such as Sauron or Saruman ] ) - were  not concerned with making anything of great beauty or gracefulness;  and that much of what they did make could be considered to have been "manafactured"; and that all their weapons and instruments of torture would have been constructed
mainly with the idea of inflicting the most pain and terror possible...
 
A.W.
 
          
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
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Dagor
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Re: Magic: "On Fairy-Stories"



oldBPLstackdenizen wrote:
Good Afternoon, Dagor [ and Company ] ---
Yes, you are right - looking at things in that way, one could easily say that the whole work is "magic", altogether - there IS "magic" on every page, whether something "magical" happens to be happening at any given moment, or not...
[ Or, alternately, using the term Tolkien himself probably would have preferred to have used:
there is "enchantment" on every page... ]
I think your essay there could considered to be the "definitive" one on this subject ---
( at least,as far as our discussions here are concerned ) ---
We can still continue to compile our listings of magical occurrences, devices and what-not --
( I mean, why not? ) ---
This has turned out to be a very "profitable" Thread, indeed! ---
A.W. ---





Ardo, absolutely, seeing the magic in the fabric of the tale will certainly not stop my production of further check-lists of "incidental magic" along the way! LOL!
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TiggerBear
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Re: Magic: Two Types in Middle-earth?

I too, was thinking that maybe "craftmanship" was a better-sounding term [ compared to "technology" ]
-- although, in a way, that could just be a matter of semantics - after all, there is a kind of "technology"
involved in any kind of craft - or even in the most basic kind of tool-making, etcetera...
I still think probably that Tolkien [ whenever he concieved of these "magical devices" ] was not concerning himself so much with how something magical was being accomplished, as much as simply that it was
being accomplished...
There is certainly much in the idea that the Goblins and Orcs ( apparently, often under the direction of
"Higher Authorities" [ such as Sauron or Saruman ] ) - were not concerned with making anything of great beauty or gracefulness; and that much of what they did make could be considered to have been "manafactured"; and that all their weapons and instruments of torture would have been constructed
mainly with the idea of inflicting the most pain and terror possible...
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Well craftsmanship is not able to mass produce, technology is.
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oldBPLstackdenizen
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Re: Magic: "On Fairy-Stories"

Good Afternoon Dagor ( and Company ) ---
 
I want to go ahead and add a couple of items to "The Hobbit List" - please feel free to re-add these same items and to and to expound further upon them:
 
( A ) The Arkenstone ---
 
Not entirely clear just what its magical qualities are, exactly - that is, it doesn't seem to "do" anything ( in the same way that the Ring does, for instance ) except for captivating one with its brilliance and great beauty -
and provoking that fierce jealousy in the heart of Thorin...
 
( B ) Bard's Black Arrow ---
 
Again, not necessarily "magic" in of itself, and yet there does seem to be something "extra special" about it - it is a "family heirloom" - Bard always made sure to "recover" it, after whenever it had been used, and -
 
[    "...If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now, and speed well!..."   ]
               [ The Hobbit, Chapter XIV ] 
 
Ardo
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
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