Session 198, “Counting Days in Rivendell” Takeaways

MattfromWI

New Member
Only got a few bites on last week's idea to have a comment thread in which classmates can post their insights and takeaways from each episode--because in class itself, between trying to pay attention to the Professor and the class I invariably feel that I miss some great perspectives--but I'll try again. Admittedly the night of the subsequent class is not great timing (haha) but if you're so inclined, post takeways as responses!
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Almost every post on 'Let's talk about the course' or on 'Questions for Narnion' that has been posted since the last class is either an insight or takeaway from the last class, or an insight or takeaway from previous classes. (There are a few that are more concerned with future classes).

Just look at them and you will get plenty of insights and takeaways.
 

MattfromWI

New Member
I'll go first.

1. Rivendell's creation or "virtue" as a product or outcome of Elrond's Elven-Ring. I have always resisted this because I think, inevitably, the most obvious exemplar of an Elven-ring in use is Lothlorien--and that's not a necessarily a good use. It's beautiful and timeless, yes, and recalls somewhat the freshness and beauty of Beleriand in the First Age, but it just feels...well, not quite right. If Galadriel, in creating it, was attempting to arrest or 'freeze' time, then she's arrogating Eru-like power to herself; in its isolation it seems to be less a contributing element of Middle-Earth's fight against the Darkness but rather like an elite fortress or gated community. But Galadriel rebelled in the manner of Feanor, seeking lands to rule without tutelage, and her use of the Elven-ring bears out her wish. But I think my mind has changed with regard to Elrond. Rivendell, as a place of lore, preserves the past but in a positive way--travelers (even dwarves!) can come and go, finding refuge and accessing the lore, and receiving wisdom (after all, that is why everyone shows up for the Council). Out of Rivendell, no doubt at least partially by the virtue of Elrond's ring, comes Aragorn and the Dunedain, sustained over the long years to contest Sauron and save/renew the kingdoms of the Numenoreans; also comes the "counsels stronger than Morgul-spells," and no doubt many other wise words and people who do good deeds. And I think there's importance to Elrond's role as a healer, too, for Bilbo and Frodo, but I haven't thought very deeply on that yet.

2. The star of much debate. What does it mean that the star is apparent to Frodo as a "glaring eye," amid the "health and hope" and enjoyment of the present brought on by the Hobbits' stay in Rivendell? Is there room in the present to be aware of future implications? From a narrative standpoint, the red star is a clear omen of disquiet; we the readers readily conflate it with Mars and the coming wars. I don't think we need boggle (to borrow JRRT's phrase) about what Mars means to inhabitants of Middle Earth, we can sense it's ominous implications by the way Frodo perceives it. Perhaps exposure to the One Ring has made Frodo more sensitive, and he already perceives his enemy's malignantly watchful and horribly searching presence as "the Eye;" Bilbo was also exposed to the Ring and made the same association in Bag End. And even more after the Nazgul-wound, Frodo may sense clearer than most the intensity of Sauron's watchfulness and baleful regard on Rivendell, even if he (Frodo) doesn't give yet consciously name the source of the 'glaring eye' he feels as Sauron. Maybe, by this time, the unhorsed Nazgul have made it back to Mordor and Sauron is bending his thought on Rivendell, aided perhaps by the Palantir of Minas Morgul, knowing the Ring is there.

3. On the brief conversation about whether C.S. Lewis's clear and lucid explanations align with ideas that play out in Tolkien's narratives, I think it's lovely to keep both authors 'in conversation' when talking about their books. If their discourse was at all as Tolkien represented it in The Notion Club Papers (10/10 would recommend), then they obviously discussed many of the things we're pulling out of LOTR. But on the subject of 'the present,' I think it's interesting that Lewis (in The Screwtape Letters) writes that "the present is all shot through with eternal rays," making the present an explicitly moral place. If we, readers of The Screwtape Letters (also 10/10 would recommend) wish to be moral, it is our activity and response to the present that matters. Tolkien seems to be saying something different, though not contrasting: "[In Rivendell, t]he future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them." In this perspective, living in the present is broadly associated with health and hope. I want to anchor a bit on that internally, because I think characters who concern themselves chiefly with the past (Gondorian loremasters and presumably kings/stewards, Denethor particularly) and those who concern themselves chiefly with the future (Boromir, Saruman) tend to have little hope. Gondorian loremasters make houses of the dead greater than houses of the living, Denethor despairs, Boromir loses himself to the ring (briefly), and Saruman bids for mastery of the world, but none of these--in their worst moments--take regard for the present and end up unequal to the task set before them. They are also immoral, so point Lewis there too.

Ok. Rambled on. Feels good try to put these into words. See you all at class tonight!
 

MattfromWI

New Member
Almost every post on 'Let's talk about the course' or on 'Questions for Narnion' that has been posted since the last class is either an insight or takeaway from the last class, or an insight or takeaway from previous classes. (There are a few that are more concerned with future classes).

Just look at them and you will get plenty of insights and takeaways.
Fair enough. I should probably do more research. Thanks for posting.
 
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