The Female Orc Problem

Odola

Well-Known Member
But my whole point is that none of that is relevant to this fictional universe. We have no shared history or classifications at all. Maybe it's a fundamental difference we have of literary theory.
Only if we are not talking about biology, and we do that here. There are no female orcs in the texts itself, their existence is confirmed only in the further legendarium. If we talk biology we do so using biological terms. Even if Tolkien does not use the terms "gestations" or "lactation" or "postpartal depression" (see Miriel), those entities for sure did exists in his fictional world too. To oppose using those terms in this discussion is a bit random and artificial imho?
 
D

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We use the language we have for concepts we can identify obviously. We are told about what in this story is called grass. We assume the grass is just like our grass. No reason to believe it’s not. It’s not ascribed any unusual properties per se. But it isn’t our grass. Even if it’s essentially the same. Regardless, we can safely assume this grass grows. Not a big leap. So we use the word grows. To them guess at the species of grass based on where it’s found in the narrative seems odd however as we’ve no idea about what species of grass exist within this world. We can assume things like orcs grow as we know they have children and for any species to have children, generally you need that offspring to be smaller than you. But to assume the methodology of that is tricky as we’re talking about a radically altered species even compared to other species within fictional universe - some of whom are functionally immortal. There are easy assumptions using basic language which can cross over narratives. Then there is mapping classifications onto beings that simply don’t have real world equals and asking them to obey rules of beings which they are not.

That’s how I approach the stories and I’m not actually saying that is the ‘correct’ way to read it. I don’t think there is a correct way to read stories. I’m trying to lay out my approach though as I think we may be coming at it from two angles which may mean we are bringing different rules of interpretation which will stop us from making headway. Which is totally fine, I just want to lay cards on the table so we can see if we’ll be able to have the same conversation. I think perhaps I’m coming from a different place. I’m very happy to not try to fit Arda into my understanding of things. I am happy to let huge chunks of it just be fantasy. I don’t mind thinking about how orc families might work in that world, but for me Im not super bothered about trying to make sure those families match lessons we know from our world too much. I think I may have exhausted my own thoughts on the matter
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
We use the language we have for concepts we can identify obviously. We are told about what in this story is called grass. We assume the grass is just like our grass. No reason to believe it’s not. It’s not ascribed any unusual properties per se. But it isn’t our grass. Even if it’s essentially the same. Regardless, we can safely assume this grass grows. Not a big leap. So we use the word grows. To them guess at the species of grass based on where it’s found in the narrative seems odd however as we’ve no idea about what species of grass exist within this world. We can assume things like orcs grow as we know they have children and for any species to have children, generally you need that offspring to be smaller than you. But to assume the methodology of that is tricky as we’re talking about a radically altered species even compared to other species within fictional universe - some of whom are functionally immortal. There are easy assumptions using basic language which can cross over narratives. Then there is mapping classifications onto beings that simply don’t have real world equals and asking them to obey rules of beings which they are not.

That’s how I approach the stories and I’m not actually saying that is the ‘correct’ way to read it. I don’t think there is a correct way to read stories. I’m trying to lay out my approach though as I think we may be coming at it from two angles which may mean we are bringing different rules of interpretation which will stop us from making headway. Which is totally fine, I just want to lay cards on the table so we can see if we’ll be able to have the same conversation. I think perhaps I’m coming from a different place. I’m very happy to not try to fit Arda into my understanding of things. I am happy to let huge chunks of it just be fantasy. I don’t mind thinking about how orc families might work in that world, but for me Im not super bothered about trying to make sure those families match lessons we know from our world too much. I think I may have exhausted my own thoughts on the matter
That is a valid position but the issue is I cannot understand where you draw a concrete line between the real-like and pure-fantastical and why. It is a bit arbitrary for me. And the female orc problem is a its core a biological question, and as we do not have nay other biology than ours to address it with. Biology in ME doesn't seem to follow any other rules then the our own - except the (possessed?) spiders (too big for life in our world) and the Melian-Thingol pairing.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Melian is not a problem.She takes the form of an incarnate so by body she is not less human than any elf or hildo.i think that also answers the Question if some orcs could be Maiar.Yes they absolutely could be, and they also in theory could have half-maia offspring too.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Melian is not a problem.She takes the form of an incarnate so by body she is not less human than any elf or hildo.i think that also answers the Question if some orcs could be Maiar.Yes they absolutely could be, and they also in theory could have half-maia offspring too.
That gives another dept to Saruman's ring's question and his marital status ;-). I just hope his involvement in the orc project has not got too... personal.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
"I am your father!"

Sorry but for my own psychic health i imagine the Istari as being asexual and leave it that way.
 

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
Dragons are part of this world's mythology, whether they are based on crocodiles or whatever, they are part of our world in the human memory and reception of it.
I suspect JRRT knew even less of biology than he did of physics and astronomy, and that's the main reason why he questioned the Rounding of the world but never the winged dragons. Crocodiles and all other vertebrates are tetrapods; they have four limbs by definition. You just can't tack on two more for wings, not in real-world biology. There are zero examples.

This makes it very hard to argue anything from biology in Middle Earth...
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I suspect JRRT knew even less of biology than he did of physics and astronomy, and that's the main reason why he questioned the Rounding of the world but never the winged dragons. Crocodiles and all other vertebrates are tetrapods; they have four limbs by definition. You just can't tack on two more for wings, not in real-world biology. There are zero examples.

This makes it very hard to argue anything from biology in Middle Earth...
Most of Tolkien's dragons are wingless. And reptiles can sometimes regrow lost bodyparts. Enough inborn potential for biotechnological manipulation imho.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
No that is the "second world" influence, the element that is mythological.JRRT had sure the tendency to rationalize things, but he on and off was perfectly ok with some things just being "magic".I guess that is one of the main points of our discussions:magic or rationalized?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
No that is the "second world" influence, the element that is mythological.JRRT had sure the tendency to rationalize things, but he on and off was perfectly ok with some things just being "magic".I guess that is one of the main points of our discussions:magic or rationalized?
Magic, like grace, builds on nature.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
My personal definition of it was always art.Art is the last legit form and true heir of metaphysics.Because you somehow get to the one single point where you cannot define or explain any longer, you cannot say exactly what and why, but it does enchant you, it does work, have a strong impact that is magic.creativity, utopy, charme, that-what-is-not.

Do Dragons work? Not if you think of them as nature.But they work.It is foul magic... but still magic.Elves and fairies of course work too, but they are not foul magic but pure magic, they're elves and fairies after all!
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
My personal definition of it was always art.Art is the last legit form and true heir of metaphysics.Because you somehow get to the one single point where you cannot define or explain any longer, you cannot say exactly what and why, but it does enchant you, it does work, have a strong impact that is magic.creativity, utopy, charme, that-what-is-not.

Do Dragons work? Not if you think of them as nature.But they work.It is foul magic... but still magic.Elves and fairies of course work too, but they are not foul magic but pure magic, they're elves and fairies after all!
That exactly why I think Morgoth could not do it. To creative for him at this state. He can only corrupt what already is there.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I am not convinced. I mean sure, Morgoth did not invent dragons, Tolkien did, and out of his cosmology maybe some unknown long forgotten stone-age shaman did it.

I mean... they are basically demonic snakes.Put feet and or wings on them. More technology than art.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I am not convinced. I mean sure, Morgoth did not invent dragons, Tolkien did, and out of his cosmology maybe some unknown long forgotten stone-age shaman did it.

I mean... they are basically demonic snakes.Put feet and or wings on them. More technology than art.
? Men did what Melkor had not? Given both the technological but also enorm time adwantage? Morgoth knows Yavanna from before time, how could a man have more power over her (sub-)creation?
 
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