Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

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Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by jon on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:38 pm

This post is a continuation of a couple of discussions that took place on Bree and also of one that began on the Trivia thread, p2.

The previous discussions from Bree can be seen at Bree, under the topic "Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur", here:

http://the-hobbit-movie.com/forum/topic/concerning-wizards-necromancers-and-ainur

The trivia thread can be seen here:

http://www.hobbitmovieforum.com/t861p15-tolkien-trivia



Each of the wizards seems to have some sort of elemental nature associated with them.

Gandalf is definitely of a fiery nature, but hidden beneath a cover of smoke: from UT, "The Istari" we have:

"Warm and eager was his spirit (and it was enhanced by the ring Narya), for he was the Enemy of Sauron, opposing the fire that devours and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and distress; but his joy, and his swift wrath, were veiled in garments grey as ash, so that only those that knew him well glimpsed the flame that was within...

...he would work wonders among them, loving especially the beauty of fire..."

Saruman is definitely light, white at first then fractured into many colors once the flaw in his personality becomes obvious.  Radagast is clearly earth or wood (or perhaps both).  So what would that make the Blue?  Initially my own thought was that it would logical to have two: one for the clear blue sky (air) the other for the deep blue sea (water) but what writings we have from Tolkien on the subject seem to indicate otherwise.  Again, from UT:

"Others there were also: two clad in sea-blue, and one in earthen brown..."

So the Ithryn Luin are specifically clad in the color of the sea, which seems to imply water.  But perhaps it implies something else: an affinity with the Ocean perhaps, or an allusion to the sundering seas or perhaps even to Númenor. Perhaps it's an indication of some destination: the Sea of Rhûn or some other large, inland body of water.  It's, of course, impossible to say.

Food for thought...

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by jon on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:51 pm

The above discussion draws heavily on what one might consider to be one of the non-canonical sources, UT, which I haven't discussed in detail yet. Hopefully soon...

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:06 pm

This in the field of free association and wild specualtion but Tolkien comments somehwere (posibly Letters) that he thinks the Blue wizards failed and became the sourc eof mystery cults and the like.

Now I am sure Tolkien would have been aware of the Sumerian creation myths and Epic of Gilgamesh.
And it mentions that the original Gods came up out of the sea and were heavily associated with water.

These myths made there way into the creation story of Genesis much later- which retains the idea of a primeval sea existing before all else over which God moves-

'and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters'

In Egyptian this was Nun and was portrayed as a sea of chaos out of which the universe Ma'at (meaning balance, order, law) arose.

Now all this stuff later found its way into the mystery cults of our world (Ma'at is still a term used in modern Masonry where it retains the original meaning of balance and order from chaos).

So in our world we have actual mystery cult whose origins go back to the earliest recorded beliefs, and those beliefs were original associated with water.

And in Tolkien he presents two Blue Wizards, associated with water who travel to far lands and become the source of later mystery cults.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by jon on Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:37 pm

Interesting thoughts... I wonder how much of this kind of stuff was rattling around in the back of the old professors' head. It makes me think of The Notion Club Papers and other writings about Númenor - how much influence it had on the South (both positive and negative - a subject worthy of prolonged discussion in and of itself...).

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:31 pm

I like to imagine these sort of ideas and wilder were the sort of thing that came up after a few pints and a few pipes in the snug amongst the Inklings.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:47 pm

If Gandalf is fire, thats maybe why he could vanquish the Balrog the Flame of Udun?

''You cannot pass," he said. … "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass."

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:07 am

"There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming."

Always loved that line.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by RA on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:58 am

Fire was a powerful motif throughout Tolkien's works; Even Feanor was the "Spirit of Fire".

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by halfwise on Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:21 pm

If the Blue Wizards were associated with the sea, why did they wander into the East so far from it?

I have to consider UT to be canonical - so much of it was written after the LotR, so represents Tolkien filling in the empty corners.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Elthir on Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:14 pm

halfwise wrote:If the Blue Wizards were associated with the sea, why did they wander into the East so far from it?

Well they wandered off 'into the blue' [note creative use of colour]. Plus they were looking for the other side of the Sea  Twisted Evil 

I have to consider UT to be canonical - so much of it was written after the LotR, so represents Tolkien filling in the empty corners.

I think Tolkien might have discarded or forgotten this reference to 'blue' wizards. In a later [later than this essay in Unfinished Tales] letter he doubts the other two wizards had distinctive colours, and I think never after [in texts published so far] refers to them as blue...

... or luin-ish.
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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Radaghast on Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:47 pm

Mrs Figg wrote:If Gandalf is fire, thats maybe why he could vanquish the Balrog the Flame of Udun?
Except in the movie.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:58 pm

That scene differs from the book in quite a few ways.

In the book the Balrog is described as man sized with a huge shadow around it and it has flaming hair. When the Balrog strikes Gandalfs sword with its it breaks into pieces, showing it could not whitstand the craftmanship of the elves of Gondolin. All in all I got a more active impression that Gandalf actually defeated the Balrog from the book.

"There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming."

Gandalf was measured and his power for good was greater than the Balrogs power for evil.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by RA on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:08 pm

I need to go have another read soon.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Mrs Figg on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:12 pm

I think the Balrog scene in the film was magnificent, it was ground breaking at the time, we hadnt seen anything like it in cinema before. I could nearly feel the shimmering boiling heat from its fire

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:24 pm

Visually it has some very impressive moments, but I think much of its reveal is ruined by Sarumans Big Picture Book of ME Monsters they show us before they even get to Moria  :facepalm: And the omission of the Beater of the Drums scene- that not only sets up the encounter but also seriously ups the stakes for it as Gandalf is so drained he cant even provide light at that point, making you wonder just what the hell was in there and when its revealed adds so much more peril to the confrontation.
I never got why PJ thought a big troll fight a collapsing staircase and a dwarf tossing joke provided more tension than what happens in the book, because its quite the opposite.

Its similar to how I cant grasp why at Weathertop he omits to mention the knife point in the wound working its way to Frodo's heart- its the perfect tension maker for the rest of the journey- Frodo has a ticking time bomb in him.
Hitchock once said all you need to create tension in a film is a clock ticking down.
Yet Pj leaves it out entirely for reasons best known to himself as its a gift to script writer.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Radaghast on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:30 pm

Also, Gandalf's declaration to the Balrog that its fire "won't avail" it has no visible effect on its fire.


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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Radaghast on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:32 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:Its similar to how I cant grasp why at Weathertop he omits to mention the knife point in the wound working its way to Frodo's heart- its the perfect tension maker for the rest of the journey- Frodo has a ticking time bomb in him.
Hitchock once said all you need to create tension in a film is a clock ticking down.
Yet Pj leaves it out entirely for reasons best known to himself as its a gift to script writer.
I think he thought a Morgul wound was akin to food poisoning. I really do have to wonder if he only read the book once.
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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:34 pm

True. That's another thing that's in the book scene and not the movie scene.

How the Balrogs fire and power is decreased by Gandalfs words.

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Radaghast on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:43 pm

Bluebottle wrote:True. That's another thing that's in the book scene and not the movie scene.

How the Balrogs fire and power is decreased by Gandalfs words.
This was actually brought to my attention on a blog recently.

http://entropy2.com/2013/03/fuck-you-peter-jackson/

Found it pretty interesting and it's what set off the light bulb in my head that Gandalf's skill with fire (which was effected or augmented by Narya, the fire ring) is what enabled him to dim the Balrog's flame.
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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Bluebottle on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:51 pm

Haha, that title. It doesn't leave much room for speculation on his views on the movies does it.  Laughing

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Radaghast on Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:03 am

Laughing

Though he was actually defending the Balrog scene against someone even more crabbit Very Happy

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Bluebottle on Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:09 am

Haha, I might have to have a look then.  Nod 

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by jon on Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:30 am

halfwise wrote:If the Blue Wizards were associated with the sea, why did they wander into the East so far from it?

I have to consider UT to be canonical - so much of it was written after the LotR, so represents Tolkien filling in the empty corners.

I have a tendency to think along similar lines, only in my mind there's a division of all of his stuff into different levels of canon.  First there are the works published in Tolkien's lifetime, specifically tLotR and tH (but also tAoTB) - clearly Tolkien took these publications of part of his legendarium seriously - seriously enough to either A) make a point of never changing certain parts of his mythology since they appeared in published form or B) if he must alter any of it he'd make a point of making the emendation in a later edition of the work (for example changes he made to the appendices in one of the later edtions - this is assuming my memory serves me correctly).

Second in line in my mind are the complete works published posthumously - The Silmarillion and the Children of Hurin.  Third, tho, are those unfinished (or finished, in the case of the Athrabeth, et c.) works that serve to fill in the mythology without too much (or any) contradiction to the first two levels of "canon" noted above.  This would include a lot of the stuff from tHoME.  But I suppose all this depends on how you choose to define the word "canon".  There's a whole thread on the subject over at Bree:

http://the-hobbit-movie.com/forum/topic/canon-what-the-hell-is-it

We should probably start a similar thread here if we want to get deeper into the subject.  (I'm not too inspired to do so just yet...)


Last edited by jon on Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:37 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Minor spelling emmendations)

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by jon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:41 am

The previous thread on Wizards over on Bree, noted above, concerned itself largely with what one might call "pure" canon or "simple" canon - i.e.: those works either published by Tolkien himself during his lifetime or those works which one might call "complete" and published as such posthumously.  My intent in that thread, however, was to also discuss the "non-canon" sources found in UT, tHoME and elsewhere.  It seems that discussion has already begun so I'll continue it here along that vein.

Elthir wrote:I think Tolkien might have discarded or forgotten this reference to 'blue' wizards. In a later [later than this essay in Unfinished Tales] letter he doubts the other two wizards had distinctive colours, and I think never after [in texts published so far] refers to them as blue...

... or luin-ish.

Forgotten is the likely scenario.  Discarded is more debatable I think.

The essay given in UT is an important one and is presented as such there.  That's the essay that includes the reference to 'the Blue Wizards', the Ithryn Luin and so forth.  It was originally written with the intent of inclusion in the original abandoned and complex indices of the Lord of the Rings whose "size and cost were ruinous" according to Tolkien (See UT, p. 12).  This is important, I think, because it was actually part of the original "canon" to be published in tLotR (tho it's inclusion was abandoned out of necessity).  So it carries much more weight than other "non-canonical' writings.

The essay was written sometime between 1954 and 1956.  There is also a letter from 1958 (#211, Letters) which I think is the one Elthir is referring too, in which Tolkien does indeed say that he doesn't know their color:

"...I have not named the colours, because I do not know them.  I doubt if they had distinctive colours..."

It is frequently the case w/Tolkien, however, that he will forget what he has once written.  You really see a lot of that if you read tHoME closely.  He does seem to remember it later on, tho, in a hasty scribbled note to himself written c. 1972 on the subject, noted in tHoME v. XII, The Peoples of Middle-Earth, p 385:

"A note made on their names and functions seems now lost, but except for their names their general history and effect on the history of the Third Age is clear."

So here he has misplace it but has not forgotten it.

Also, it should be noted that in the newer edition of Letters any time there is a discrepancy like the one just noted there is always a footnote referring the reader back to the essay in UT noted above.  These notes almost consistently refer to the two as "The Blue" or the Ithryn Luin.  Once you start to dig around it seems to me pretty obvious that the other two really are "Blue."  It is true, however, that outside of this singular essay Tolkien never again refers to the other two as "The Blue" or as the Ithryn Luin.  So... point well taken.


Last edited by jon on Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:44 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : minor formatting changes)

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Re: Concerning Wizards, Necromancers and Ainur (II)

Post by Elthir on Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:23 pm

Jon wrote: It was originally written with the intent of inclusion in the original abandoned and complex indices of the Lord of the Rings whose "size and cost were ruinous" according to Tolkien (See UT, p. 12).  This is important, I think, because it was actually part of the original "canon" to be published in tLotR (tho it's inclusion was abandoned out of necessity).  So it carries much more weight than other "non-canonical' writings.

A fair point, but I would say that while it may be mere happenstance that a given something wasn't published in the first edition, once that becomes a fact, Tolkien is yet free to niggle again.

We know, for instance, that Tolkien's interpretation of the name Radagast in this text [The istari] was revised. Again we cannot know if the older characterization of the name had simply passed from his mind -- but my point here would be, even if it had, Tolkien is still creating when it comes to the later idea, and he is not bound by the earlier notion whether he remembers it or not.

Tolkien also never again seems to think that there were any more that five wizards sent to Middle-earth, compared to what he writes in the Istari essay. Granted, later 'silence' on the matter isn't the best evidence, but I too find this detail at least questionable with respect to my internal imagination of Middle-earth. The author-published text suggests [at least] 'only' five wizards, although granted Tolkien could arguably play with that a bit.


Also the circa 1954 Istari text notes that the Blue Wizards had 'no names' save Ithryn Luin 'the Blue Wizards', concerning which Christopher Tolkien notes: '(meaning of course that they had no names in the West of Middle-earth)', and Christopher notes this distinction because in a different note Tolkien can, and does, give the two wizards Quenya names, as these would still not be 'names', in a different and more specific sense, known [or at least well enough known] in the West of Middle-eath.

That said, the Istari text yet seemingly includes the 'Blue Wizards' as a name of sorts in the West of Middle-earth, so not only in comparison to the later letter where Tolkien writes about these wizards not having distinctive colours, compare also a much later text on the Wizards: 'No names are recorded for the two wizards. They were never seen or known in lands west of Mordor.' The Peoples of Middle-Earth, Last Writings

Why not again, no names save Ithryn Luin? One can argue that here Tolkien means no 'individual names' like Alatar and Pallando, however the statement is also in perfect accord with the 'Blue Wizards' being an abandoned idea.

A second late note:

'the 'other two' came much earlier...' Here Tolkien will give the 'other two' different Quenya names, thus not (I would assume) names in the West of Middle-earth.


It is frequently the case w/Tolkien, however, that he will forget what he has once written.  You really see a lot of that if you read tHoME closely.  He does seem to remember it later on, tho, in a hasty scribbled note to himself written c. 1972 on the subject, noted in tHoME v. XII, The Peoples of Middle-Earth, p 385: "A note made on their names and functions seems now lost, but except for their names their general history and effect on the history of the Third Age is clear."

So here he has misplace it but has not forgotten it.

Right but the arguable reference here [not that you said otherwise], and the reference Christopher Tolkien himself notes as probable, is not the 1954-ish Istari text but the text that refers to the choosing of the wizads by the Valar, in which the names of the other two wizards are indeed different: that is, Tolkien forgets the first two Quenya names -- he thus devises two new ones: Morinehtar and Romestamo/Rome(n)star.

Which names have more weight, despite the text each one hails from?

Also, it should be noted that in the newer edition of Letters any time there is a discrepancy like the one just noted there is always a footnote referring the reader back to the essay in UT noted above.  These notes almost consistently refer to the two as "The Blue" or the Ithryn Luin.  Once you start to dig around it seems to me pretty obvious that the other two really are "Blue."  

I can't agree with this last statement however. Once I started digging into this it seems to me that people might be simply used to accepting the 'Blue Wizards' as a given, or employing the term for convenience. The Istari is a well known text by now, and so is the letter, but the comparative external chronology between the two is not necessarily very well known, or as well known...

... and as last year's loremaster I must [by imagined contract] challenge this notion, no matter how popular. I guess that maybe external chronology is a big factor here, and repetition on the web without noting the external chronology. Although even if 'correct enough', who knows if any of the points I'm making will change any views on this matter.

It is true, however, that outside of this singular essay Tolkien never again refers to the other two as "The Blue" or as the Ithryn Luin.  So... point well taken.

Thanks.

And you have made some good points here. I may not wholly agree with all of them [if I understand them correctly], but that doesn't mean I find them unreasonable.

In the end I take The Istari as a solid enough text from which to draw from for my personal internal Middle-earth, but not in all details, and I can't accept those things I find questionable due to the fact that the text as a whole was once intended to be part of the author-published corpus...

... incidentally I'm not wholly sure we are looking at its final form necessarily, although admittedly that's hard to say in any case. The Istari contains a marginal paragraph for example, but I admit it yet seems more 'finished' than certain other posthumously published texts, at least.
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Elthir
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