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The 'Ring' and the remnants of the West
Asia Times ^ | January 11, 2003 | By Spengler

Posted on 01/10/2003 5:18:36 AM PST by Forgiven_Sinner

The most important cultural event of the past decade is the ongoing release of the film version of J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. No better guide exists to the mood and morals of the United States. The rapturous response among popular audiences to the first two installments of the trilogy should alert us that something important is at work. Richard Wagner's 19th-century tetralogy of music dramas, The Ring of the Nibelungs, gave resonance to National Socialism during the inter-war years of the last century. Tolkien does the same for Anglo-Saxon democracy.

Tolkien well may have written his epic as an "anti-Ring" to repair the damage that Wagner had inflicted upon Western culture. Consciously or not, the Oxford philologist who invented Hobbits has ruined Wagner before the popular audience. It recalls the terrible moment in Thomas Mann's great novel Doktor Faustus when the composer Adrian Leverkuhn, finishing his Faust cantata in the throes of syphilitic dementia, announces: "I want to take it back!" His amanuensis asks, "What do you want to take back?" "Beethoven's 9th Symphony!" cries Leverkuhn. Leverkuhn (on the strength of a bargain with the Devil) has written a work whose objective is to ruin the ability of musical audiences to hear Beethoven.

Tolkien has taken back Wagner's Ring. That may be his greatest accomplishment, and a literary accomplishment without clear precedent. To be sure, The Lord of the Rings is not a great work of literature to be compared to Cervantes or Dostoyevsky. But it is a great landmark of culture nonetheless. Its revival in a reasonably faithful cinematic version has far-reaching effects on the popular mind.

Wagner had done as much to Beethoven. "People don't like music; they just like the way it sounds," quipped the English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Beethoven's musical devices are stations along a journey which has a goal. Wagner turned these musical devices into the haunted caves and dells of a world in which the listener wanders capriciously, abandoning all sense of time and direction. Audiences never liked Wagner's music, but they loved the way it sounded. Musical effects in Beethoven, however eccentric, are subordinate to the long-range musical goal. In Wagner, musical effects are capricious events. That well suits the introduction of Wagner's Uebermensch, the hero Siegfried, for reasons I will make clear in a moment.

It is hard for us today to imagine what a cult raised itself around Wagner after the 1876 premiere of his Ring cycle. Compared to it the combined fervor for Elvis, the Beatles, Madonna and Michael Jackson seems like a band concert in the park. Perfectly sensible people attended a Wagner opera and declared that their lives had changed. Bavaria's eccentric King Ludwig II literally fell in love with the composer and built him the Bayreuth Festival, to which the elite of Europe repaired in homage. It was something like the mood that swept the youth of the West in the late 1960s, but an order of magnitude more powerful.

In 1848, Wagner was a disgruntled emulator of French grand opera who stockpiled hand grenades for revolutionaries, a fugitive from justice after that year's uprising. A quarter-century later he stood at the pinnacle of European culture. What precisely did he do?

Wagner announced the death of the old order of aristocracy and Church, of order and rules. Not only was the old order dying, but also it deserved to die, the victim of its inherent flaws. As the old order died a New Man would replace the servile creatures of the old laws, and a New Art would become the New Man's religion. The New Man would be fearless, sensual, unconstrained, and could make the world according to his will. Wagner's dictum that the sources of Western civilization had failed was not only entirely correct, but also numbingly obvious to anyone who lived through the upheavals of 1848. But how should one respond to this? Wagner had a seductive answer: become your own god!

Using elements of old Norse sagas and medieval epic, Wagner cobbled together a new myth. The Norse god Wotan personifies the old order: he rules by the laws engraved on his spear, by which he himself is bound. To build his fortress Valhalla he requires the labor of the giants, and to pay the giants, he steals the treasure of the Nibelung dwarf Alberich. Alberich won the treasure with a magic ring he fashioned from the stolen Gold of the Rhine River. Wotan covets this ring, which gives its bearer world mastery, but is compelled to give it to the giants.

Wagner's audience had no trouble recognizing in Wotan and the other immortal gods the ancient aristocracy of Empire and Church, who made a fatal compromise with capital (the Ring of world domination) and thus sealed their own doom. Siegfried (Wotan's grandson) takes the Ring back from the giant Fafner, and then shatters the god's spear and wins as his bride the immortal Valkyrie Brunnhilde. Through the rest of a silly plot full of love potions and magic disguises, Siegfried is betrayed and stabbed in the back. Brunnhilde immolates herself on Siegfried's funeral pyre and the flames burn down Valhalla as well, gods and all. A New World Order emerges on the basis of heroic will. It is not hard to see how appetizing this stew was for Hitler.

Tolkien himself despised Wagner (whom he knew thoroughly) and rejected comparisons between his Ring and Wagner's cycle ("Both rings are round," is the extent of his published comment). But the parallels between the two works are so extensive as to raise the question as to Tolkien's intent. The Ring of Power itself is Wagner's invention (probably derived from the German Romantic de la Motte Fouque). Also to be found in both works are an immortal woman who renounces immortality for the love of a human, a broken sword reforged, a life-and-death game of riddles, and other elements which one doesn't encounter every day. Here is a compilation derived from sundry websites, along with a few of my own observations. For those who don't know the details of the Tolkien Ring - well, you will before long, because it is a story that everyone will learn.

Alberich forges a Ring of Power Sauron forges a Ring of Power

Wotan needs the giants to build Valhalla The Elves need Sauron to forge their Rings of Power

The Ring gives the bearer world domination The Ring gives the bearer world domination

Wotan uses the Ring to pay the giants Sauron betrays the Elves

The Ring is cursed and betrays its bearer The Ring is evil and betrays its bearer

Fafner kills brother Fasolt to get the Ring Smeagol kills friend Deagol for the Ring

Fafner hides in a cave for centuries Smeagol-Gollum hides in a cave for centuries

Siegfried inherits the shards of his father's sword Aragorn inherits the shards his fathers' sword

Brunnhilde gives up immortality for Siegfried Arwen gives up immortality for Aragorn

Wotan plays "riddles" for the life of Mime Gollum plays "riddles" for the life of Bilbo

A dragon guards the Nibelungs' hoard A dragon guards the dwarves' hoard

The gods renounce the world and await the end The Elves renounce the world and prepare to depart

The Ring is returned to its origin, the River Rhine The Ring is returned to its origin, Mount Doom

Hagen falls into the river Gollum falls into the volcano

The immortals burn in Valhalla The immortals leave Middle-earth

A new era emerges in the world A new era emerges in the world

Men are left to their own devices Men are left to their own devices

The details are far less important than the common starting point: the crisis of the immortals. Wagner's immortal gods must fall as a result of the corrupt bargain they have made with the giants who built Valhalla. Tolkien's immortal Elves must leave Middle-earth because of the fatal assistance they took from Sauron. The Elves' power to create a paradise on Middle-earth depends upon the power of the three Elven Rings which they forged with Sauron's help. Thus the virtue of the Elven Rings is inseparably bound up with the one Ring of Sauron. When it is destroyed, the power of the Elves must fade. More than anything else, The Lord of the Rings is the tragedy of the Elves and the story of their renunciation.

What Tolkien has in mind is nothing more than the familiar observation that the high culture of the West arose and fell with the aristocracy, which had the time and inclination to cultivate it. With the high culture came the abuse of power associated with the aristocracy; when this disappears, the great beauties of Western civilization and much of its best thought disappear with it. That is far too simple, and in some ways misleading, but it makes a grand premise for a roman-a-clef about Western civilization.

Tolkien enthusiasts emphasize his differences with Wagner, as if to ward off the disparagement that The Lord of the Rings is a derivative work. As Bradley Birzer, David Harvey, and other commentators observe, Tolkien detested Wagner's neo-paganism. He was a devout Roman Catholic, and explicitly philo-Semitic where Wagner was anti-Semitic. But this defense of Tolkien obscures a great accomplishment. He did not emulate Wagner's Ring, but he recast the materials into an entirely new form. "Recast" is an appropriate expression. A memorable scene in Wagner shows Siegfried filing the shards of his father's sword into dust, and casting a new sword out of the filings. That, more or less, is what Tolkien accomplished with the elements of Wagner's story. Wagner will still haunt the stages of opera houses, but audiences will see him through Tolkien's eyes.

What does one do when the immortals depart? One acts with simple English decency and tenacity, says Tolkien, and accepts one's fate. The Lord of the Rings is an anti-epic (as Norman Cantor puts it), whose protagonist is a weak, vulnerable and reluctant Hobbit, as opposed to the strong, wound-proof and fearless Siegfried. The Hobbit Frodo Baggins does his duty because he must. "I wish the Ring had never come to me! I wish none of this had happened!" he exclaims to the wizard Gandalf, who replies: "So do all that come to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." No utopian is Gandalf; what one must do is to muddle through.

"I will remain Galadriel, and I will diminish," decides the Elf-Queen of Lothlorien, rejecting the chance to take possession of the One Ring and preserve her powers. The Elves choose between vanishing and accepting a taint of evil, and choose the former.

Modesty, forbearance, and renunciation are the virtues that Tolkien sets against Wagner's existential act of despair. The high culture of the West is gone. The world that remains after the Elves board their gray ships and sail into the West is devoid of beauty and wonder. The kingdom of Men that emerges from The Lord of the Rings is a humdrum affair, in which the best men can do is to get on with their lives. Even the anti-heroes of this anti-epic, the Hobbits who bear the evil Ring to its ultimate destruction, cannot remain in Middle-earth; they sail off along with the Elves.

Those who hold America in contempt for its lack of refinement (this writer always has held the term "American culture" to be an oxymoron) should think carefully about this conclusion. From their founding on Christmas Day 800 AD, when Charlemagne accepted the crown of the revived Roman Empire, the institutions of the West have been formed in response to external threat. The Holy Roman Empire of the High Middle Ages, Tolkien's conscious model for the Kingdom of Gondor, arose in response to the incursions of Arabs in the south, Vikings in the north, and Magyars in the West. Boorish and gruff as the new American Empire might seem, it is an anti-empire populated by reluctant heroes who want nothing more than to till their fields and mind their homes, much like Tolkien's Hobbits. Under pressure, though, it will respond with a fierceness and cohesion that will surprise its adversaries.

Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.

(©2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact content@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies, or to submit a letter to the editor.)


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: americanculture; clashofcivilizatio; emoryuniversity; europeanculture; nietzche; tolkien; wagner
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Good article comparing Tolkien and Wagner. He did get one thing wrong: Sauron did not make, nor help the Elves make their rings. Sauron shared his knowledge with the Elves and vice versa, until he knew enough to make the One Ring. It was designed to dominate the Elvish rings, but not because he had helped the Elves make them.
1 posted on 01/10/2003 5:18:36 AM PST by Forgiven_Sinner
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Wow! Excellent post! Thanks!
2 posted on 01/10/2003 5:31:56 AM PST by TomSmedley
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To: Forgiven_Sinner; dighton; general_re; aculeus; Orual
Good article ... good find ...

I must say though that, after some 40 years of playing in bands and orchestras (grade school, high school, college, and community), I have always liked Wagner's music, particularly "The Flying Dutchman Overture", "Overture from Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg", and portions from "Das Ring des Nibelungen" .. Ride of the Valkyrie specifically .. because of the power behind the notes. Over my 40 years, I have performed Wagner's music on clarinet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, tuba, and percussion and I have never ceased to be amazed at the amazing scope of the music.

My computer boots up in the morning to "Ride of the Valkyrie" and shuts down to Mozart's "Der Holle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen" (Queen of the Night, "The Magic Flute)performed by Kiri Te Kanawa.

It's probably no coincidence that my co-workers look at me a little strangely.

3 posted on 01/10/2003 5:40:34 AM PST by BlueLancer (Der Elite Møøsenspåånkængruppen ØberKømmååndø (EMØØK))
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
The Catholic Oxford liguist takes his eternal revenge on Nietche! Fascinating.
4 posted on 01/10/2003 5:42:15 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Interesting read. Bump.
5 posted on 01/10/2003 5:45:36 AM PST by Taliesan (My eyeballs are controlled by radio waves. I must read the taglines.)
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
A fascinating analysis. Great post!
6 posted on 01/10/2003 5:48:23 AM PST by Imal
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To: BlueLancer
It's probably no coincidence that my co-workers look at me a little strangely.

Judging from your profile page, which is one of the most inspiring I've seen, I'm certain it's no coincidence. ;^)

Ride with pride.

7 posted on 01/10/2003 5:56:15 AM PST by Imal
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
For three hundred years the Mírdain - as the Jewel-smiths of Eregion were known - studied at Annatar's (Sauron's) side, and learned the making of magical rings. In about the year II 1500, the first of the Rings of Power was forged. Over the following decades, with Annatar's help, the Elves made sixteen Rings of Power, each set with a gemstone.

Both the Elves and Annatar had their own secret aims, though, and each forged work of their own. Celebrimbor and the Elves made Three Rings more powerful than the others, Narya, Nenya and Vilya, the Rings of Fire, Water and Air. While Sauron made the "one ring".

8 posted on 01/10/2003 5:58:37 AM PST by icwhatudo
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Excellent article, very good. Thanks.
9 posted on 01/10/2003 6:01:26 AM PST by Arkinsaw
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
" The Ring of Power itself is Wagner's invention (probably derived from the German Romantic de la Motte Fouque)."

This statement by the author is also apparently incorrect, as rings of power were not invented by the above, but are scattered not only throughout the Norse legends that were Tolkien's (and Wagner's) inspirations, but also are to be found in many other, including Celtic, mythologies, all of which far predate Wagner and de la Motte.

10 posted on 01/10/2003 6:08:02 AM PST by Sam Cree
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To: BlueLancer
It's probably no coincidence that my co-workers look at me a little strangely.

What do you expect if you're a tuba player? I always thought I should have played the horn, because Mozart is my Lieblingskomponist. (I sometimes play around on an old King double horn, but I'm sure not up to the Mozart concerti -- tuba is my main instrument) That said, Wagner sure wrote some great tuba parts: the "Ride" of course, "Elsa's Procession" from Lohengrin, the Fliegende Hollander and Meistersinger Overtures you mention, etc.

Overall, though, while I like to play Wagner, I can't say I really like listening to it at length. I enjoyed hearing the entire Das Ring des Nibelungen cylcle many years ago, but have never been tempted to repeat the experience, and don't think I've listened to an entire Wagner opera since.

11 posted on 01/10/2003 6:09:00 AM PST by CatoRenasci
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To: BlueLancer; aculeus; general_re; hellinahandcart; MozartLover; Forgiven_Sinner
But for one thing, Wagner would have gone down in history as merely the greatest con artist of all time. He conned friend and foe, monarch and manservant, into providing him with his every need: an opera house (nay, shrine) in which to parade his genius: a press to circulate his manic, self-serving manifestoes; any woman who took his fancy to warm his bed, married or not. That one thing, the quality that made the price Wagner exacted not one cent too high, is the quality of the artwork he produced.

-- Alan Rich, The Simon and Schuster Listener's Guide to Opera, 1980.


12 posted on 01/10/2003 6:12:42 AM PST by dighton
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
I find only one point to quarrel with:
To be sure, The Lord of the Rings is not a great work of literature to be compared to Cervantes or Dostoyevsky.

"To be sure" -- ? And why is that? The novel is beautifully written, its pacing is near-perfect, its characterizations and character evolutions shine, and its themes will resonate down through the ages. So what's missing?

Why is it that everyone feels the need to put these denigratory qualifications on any praise of a popular book -- even when the popular book has all the virtues of any novel ever written?

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit The Palace Of Reason:
http://palaceofreason.com

13 posted on 01/10/2003 6:19:49 AM PST by fporretto
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
In Wagner's "Ring" libretto, Alberich even proclaims himself "Lord of the Ring", IIRC.
14 posted on 01/10/2003 6:21:23 AM PST by RogueIsland
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
I'm not sure I buy all the parallels cooked up here.

For one thing, the Eldar - the Elves - were doomed to leave Middle Earth regardless of the Rings' fate.

That wasn't true of the gods in Wagner's Ring.

15 posted on 01/10/2003 6:27:34 AM PST by The Iguana
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To: fporretto
I agree with your point, after all I think maybe most of the "greats" that have actually endured started out popular. Shakespeare is an example, I believe.

But there's lots of other things to take issue with here, along with some outright mistakes, such as the author's assumption that Wagner invented the ring of power.

As to "what's missing," I think it is the "emporer's new clothes" that the literati so love. They like to think that they are the only ones to understand real literature. So they would deny such a label to anything that has wide appeal.
16 posted on 01/10/2003 6:37:14 AM PST by Sam Cree
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To: fporretto
to be sure .... it is liberal arrogance that assigns the creation of an idea to a person like Wagner rather than a Tolkien - when in fact the truth is it came from the Norse and Finnish etc legends that inspired them. Wagner was a statist and spiritualist. Very devilish influence on his times. His music does not have the same sway or influence today. (This is true of all music - Beatles caused people to faint - then - but now its just good music etc) 1848 was a bad year spiritually based on all the events that happened - including Wagners Music and some spiritualists that became popular. Anyway - its not suprising a liberal would denegrate Tolkien - A Christian whose works are meant to influence the reader in a godly way and show the greatness of freedom and the horror of unchecked power and the flawed nature of man - liberals hate freedom, desire control over others and want a world empire controlling everything. Tolkien:Wagner = Conservative:Liberal in America today
17 posted on 01/10/2003 6:39:09 AM PST by artios
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To: The Iguana
That wasn't true of the gods in Wagner's Ring.

I'm not sure. I think the gods were irrevocably doomed. Wotan tried to cheat the fate of the gods by seizing the Ring, which itself was the event that sealed the fate of the gods. Circular reasoning, I guess, but that's fate for you I guess. The doom of the gods was sealed by Wotan's prideful attempt to cheat doom.

18 posted on 01/10/2003 6:39:35 AM PST by RogueIsland
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Boorish and gruff as the new American Empire might seem, it is an anti-empire populated by reluctant heroes who want nothing more than to till their fields and mind their homes, much like Tolkien's Hobbits. Under pressure, though, it will respond with a fierceness and cohesion that will surprise its adversaries.

Excellent!

19 posted on 01/10/2003 6:47:16 AM PST by Elenya
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
He got another thing wrong. Tolkien despised Democracy he stated that his preference was either for anarchy or an "unconstitutional"( absolute) monarchy( which in practice tends to be the most libertarian form of government).
20 posted on 01/10/2003 6:50:49 AM PST by weikel
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
bump
21 posted on 01/10/2003 6:52:51 AM PST by Centurion2000 (Islam and Arabs = uncivilized barbarians.)
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To: artios
"liberals hate freedom, desire control over others and want a world empire controlling everything"

What Tolkien described as the "dominion over other free wills."

Yeah, good points.

22 posted on 01/10/2003 6:55:44 AM PST by Sam Cree
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To: weikel
I guess it bears noting that democracy is supposedly one of the foundations of socialism.
23 posted on 01/10/2003 6:58:19 AM PST by Sam Cree
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To: Sam Cree
No supposedly about it. After the 30 years war the western world was a pretty stable place until "Democracy" was imposed by Wilson upon everyone.
24 posted on 01/10/2003 7:01:30 AM PST by weikel (Long live the House of Hohenzollren)
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To: weikel
I am not that familiar with the time and concepts of which you speak, tho they sound interesting.

I do believe that the average citizen has been better off under monarchies than under outright socialist governments like the U.S.S.R., or governments derived from similar roots as the socialists, such as the fascists states.
25 posted on 01/10/2003 7:22:21 AM PST by Sam Cree
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To: BlueLancer
Saw your USNA-

USNA 1960, 20th co.
26 posted on 01/10/2003 7:28:57 AM PST by KeyWest
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To: Sam Cree
Even Russia didn't go straight from Tsarist rule to Bolshevism. There was a "democratic" provisional government 1st.
27 posted on 01/10/2003 7:32:30 AM PST by weikel
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
That last paragraph is fancy daydreaming by the author. To compare Tolkien's created world with our country is a travesty, faulty logic 180 degrees off center. Where is LaBelleDameSansMerci when we need her literary sense?
28 posted on 01/10/2003 7:53:40 AM PST by junta
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To: weikel
I couldn't agree more. Absolute monarchy is the ultimate private property state. Since the kingdom is his private property, a wise king will always act with rational self-interest to increase its worth and value, thus bringing benefit to its inhabitants. On the other hand, a representative government, while "owned" by the citizens in theory, is actually owned by the bureaucratic mandarin class that administers it, a group with no stake in the welfare or success of the state outside of making sure the checks go out on time. It's the difference between FedEx and the United States Postal Service.

Incidentally, I love Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg. Herr Wagner himself is a different matter. "Lieb der Kunst, Hass der Kunstler."

29 posted on 01/10/2003 8:15:52 AM PST by B-Chan ( Former MM3, USS ENTERPRISE [CVN-65])
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Comment #30 Removed by Moderator

To: BlueLancer
Wow, that's a fabulous home page.
31 posted on 01/10/2003 11:09:11 AM PST by 2rightsleftcoast
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To: icwhatudo
Is that from the Silmarillion?
32 posted on 01/10/2003 11:14:28 AM PST by MrLeRoy
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Great article. I noticed the similarities between LOTR and Der Ring Des Nibelungen a long time ago. It's my opinion that both Tolkien and Wagner based their works on the same mythic elements.

Peter Jackson is probably well aware of the similarities. In particular, by having Arwen instead of Glorfindel carry Frodo to the ford shows a parallel to the valkyrie Brunnhilde.

33 posted on 01/10/2003 11:57:20 AM PST by Alouette
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
"Boorish and gruff as the new American Empire might seem, it is an anti-empire populated by reluctant heroes who want nothing more than to till their fields and mind their homes, much like Tolkien's Hobbits. Under pressure, though, it will respond with a fierceness and cohesion that will surprise its adversaries."
34 posted on 01/10/2003 12:18:28 PM PST by victim soul
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35 posted on 01/10/2003 12:18:53 PM PST by Mo1 (Join the DC Chapter at the Patriots Rally III on 1/18/03)
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
"The New Man would be fearless, sensual, unconstrained, and could make the world according to his will."

The basis of Communism, Nazism, or any other Liberalism. And also a basic principle of satinism, specifically "Be your own God".
36 posted on 01/10/2003 12:34:20 PM PST by Dead Dog
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
There are a few things wrong with the analogy. The Elves don't leave the world. They "go into the West", to Valinor, but are still in the world. They are part of the world, hence their immortality. (Men, on the other hand, are not tied to the world the way the Elves are. They were given "the gift of death" by Illúvatar and thus leave the world.) The Elves don't leave Middle Earth "because of Sauron". They were called to Valinor by Manwë and the other Valar ages earlier. They weren't supposed to be in Middle Earth. Those that were there, the Moriquendi and the Noldor, were disobeying the Valar.
37 posted on 01/10/2003 12:52:16 PM PST by Redcloak (Tag, you're it!)
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
This is a great article. For us now, though, Tolkein does look derivative of Wagner. Maybe our grandchildren will see things differently. In his own day, Wagner, must have struck many as just an imitator of old myths.

But the problem with "Spengler's" article is that Wagner's own "Parzifal" has already been seen as an answer or response to the Ring and its worldview. The innocence, repentence, modesty, and chastity that the author celebrates in Tolkien already found their way into Wagner's later works.

The modest, unprepossessing "English" way in the arts was ridiculed by generations of aesthetes. Today, it's finally come into its own, and that's a good thing. But in art, final victories and final defeats are rare. So I don't think Wagner can be counted out.

38 posted on 01/10/2003 1:15:47 PM PST by x
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
I haven't yet digested the fulsome article as yet, yet must comment as some little wisdom I have discovered about Wagmer's Ring Cycle. It is about the waning days of the Roman Empire in Ravenna, that is the germanic roots. Not german at all: Roman.

39 posted on 01/10/2003 1:20:00 PM PST by bvw
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To: weikel
"unconstitutional"( absolute) monarchy( which in practice tends to be the most libertarian form of government).

That is a foolish myth spread by Hoppe and other Rockwellites. You could certainly make a case that there was greater liberty and smaller government before the French Revolution than after it. Or that it was easier to evade rulers in pre-modern societies.

But the oriental despotisms of the world prove beyond question that absolute monarchy is far from "the most libertarian form of government." Or, if it is, that says very little for libertarianism.

And while feudalism allowed much freedom from the state and its ruler, it subordinated individuals to other lords to a great extent. Those who take this view ignore what it would have been like to have been bound to the land, and exaggerate the difference between taxes and feudal dues.

40 posted on 01/10/2003 1:38:25 PM PST by x
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To: x
Look at Western Europe between the time of the 30 year's war and WWI. The Middle East has never really had any nice government of any variety either before or after Islam. It should be noted the best run Arab states are the monarchies of Jordan and Bahrain( Saudi Arabia is a monarchy in name only its a government by clan associated with theocrats).
41 posted on 01/10/2003 1:43:57 PM PST by weikel (Raistlin Majere Master of the Tower of Palanthas)
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To: weikel
That precisely shows how provincial the argument is. It's based wholly on European experiences within a rather limited time frame. Take Russia, China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Ancient Near East, the Aztecs and Incas into account and you may come up with a different picture.

The argument has much to do with the modern development of technology, which enables governments to be more distructive and intrusive. It also has much to do with the "decadent" characteristics of monarchy after the Wars of Religion: Monarchs no longer sought to compel their subjects to think or believe in a certain way, and they were increasingly uncertain about the security of their thrones and, hence, more inclined to compromise.

When a form of government is not too sure of its authority, it's also not inclined to do much damage, but it shouldn't be assumed that that form of government is inherently and essentially less dangerous.

42 posted on 01/10/2003 5:06:41 PM PST by x
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To: x
bttt
43 posted on 01/11/2003 1:30:20 AM PST by f.Christian (Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.)
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Wagner will still haunt the stages of opera houses, but audiences will see him through Tolkien's eyes.

Not necessarily; they might see him through Sergio Leone's eyes. The music which you hear as you watch Tuco running around in circles in the cemetary until his vision melds into a sort of a golden circle is nothing more or less than a slight transmogrification of Richard Wagner's ring theme. Morricone called it "The Ecstasy of Gold".

Richard Wagner is not going to be killed off by Tolkein. There's a hell of a lot more to Wagner than just the ring cycle. My own choice of Wagner's operas would still be the ghost story, Flying dutchman.

44 posted on 01/11/2003 4:47:32 AM PST by merak
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To: merak
bttt
45 posted on 01/11/2003 1:49:44 PM PST by f.Christian (Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.)
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To: f.Christian
"I was a communist (( DEVILCRAT // liberal // lunatic // evolutionist // orc )) for 30 years . . .

and I listened to so much of this demagoguery ((lies // ideology // spin // left rhetoric )) that now - - -

with my democratic (( conservative // creationist // REPUBLICAN )) views - - -

I can no . . . longer(link) - - - stand it,"

46 posted on 01/12/2003 12:21:31 PM PST by f.Christian (Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.)
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To: f.Christian
bttt
47 posted on 01/13/2003 6:27:24 AM PST by f.Christian (Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.)
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To: icwhatudo
Here are some more comments on the article, from the Letters section of the Asia Times.

"Wagner's immortal gods must fall as a result of the corrupt bargain they have made with the giants who built Valhalla. Tolkien's immortal Elves must leave Middle-earth because of the fatal assistance they took from Sauron. The Elves' power to create a paradise on Middle-earth depends upon the power of the three Elven Rings which they forged with Sauron's help. Thus the virtue of the Elven Rings is inseparably bound up with the one Ring of Sauron. When it is destroyed, the power of the Elves must fade. More than anything else, The Lord of the Rings is the tragedy of the Elves and the story of their renunciation."

The author of The 'Ring' and the remnants of the West, Jan 11, is very confused. The elves were the ones who made the rings first. Celebrimbor made Vilya, Narya and Nenya, the three greatest of all the elven rings. Sauron deceptively disguised himself as a friend to learn their secret craft, and then made for himself a ring greater than any they had made (doubtless he was able to do this only because he is similar to a fallen angel, though with greater power, whereas elves are just inhabitants of the earth that lack the same kinds of power). When Celebrimbor found out about this, he took the rings and fled immediately. The elven rings are the only ones that Sauron didn't get a hold of.

The reason that the elves are leaving Middle-earth is something entirely different. If you read the Silmarillion, this story is explained in full, but the fact is, Middle-earth is exile for elves. A good number of the elves used to live in the Blessed Realm of Valinor (not the same as heaven - this is where the demigods, or Valar, that helped create and care for the earth reside), but then due to events too complicated to explain and the interference of fallen Vala Morgoth (the angelic being Sauron was only one of Morgoth's generals), an elf named Feänor rebelled and took a host of elves with him back to Middle-earth. The Valar then decreed that the elves could not return from Middle-earth if they left because of the evil deeds they had done as they were leaving (mainly the kinslaying at Alqualondë, but that's another story). Morgoth returned to Middle-earth and made war on the elves, and he was so assured of victory that one elf, Eärendil, risked the punishment of the Valar to sail back across the sea and beg for their help. They came, and after they defeated Morgoth and shut him outside of the world, they allowed the exiled elves to return. Not all of them did at first, but one by one they began to sail away to the west to return to Tol Eressëa, the island nearest to Valinor. If you didn't follow all that I'm sorry, but Tolkien takes several hundred pages to explain it, so it's not very easy to sum up in a paragraph. That kind of changes the article, but it's incredibly important not to mangle Tolkien's meaning.
Stephanie Rumpza (Jan 13, '03)


Spengler [The 'Ring' and the remnants of the West, Jan 11] makes some very interesting and well-taken points about Tolkien, Wagner and Western culture, but his comments about the Elves require correction in one area:

Spengler writes, "Tolkien's immortal Elves must leave Middle-earth because of the fatal assistance they took from Sauron. The Elves' power to create a paradise on Middle-earth depends upon the power of the three Elven Rings which they forged with Sauron's help."

I don't have the text in front of me, but Tolkien states many times that the Three Rings were made by the Elves alone, before the One was forged, and "(Sauron's) hand never touched them nor sullied them". That is why, during the Third Age when the One Ring was lost and Sauron slept, the Elves were able to use the Three (as Tolkien, through Elrond, says) for

"understanding, making, healing, to preserve all things unstained". "These things," he continues, "the Elves of Middle-earth have in some measure gained, though with sorrow."

It is true that, had Sauron recovered the One, the Three would have been subject to his will, and after the One was destroyed, the Three were shorn of their power. The fate of the Elves, however, was not due to their relationship with Sauron. For the Noldorin exiles especially (such as Galadriel and Elrond's ancestors), it goes back to their rebellion against the Valar during the First Age, when they forsook the Undying Lands of the West and returned to Middle-earth in pursuit of Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, to regain the Silmarils which he had stolen. This long sad story, which has many Wagnerian elements of its own, is told in "The Silmarillion." A minor point, perhaps, but one that a Tolkien geek like myself feels required to raise.
Lee Agnew
Oklahoma City, US (Jan 13, '03)
48 posted on 01/13/2003 8:27:00 AM PST by Forgiven_Sinner
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To: *Tolkien
Bump. New comments just above this one.
49 posted on 01/13/2003 8:28:51 AM PST by Forgiven_Sinner
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
bttt
50 posted on 01/13/2003 10:59:23 AM PST by f.Christian (Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.)
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