This website contains archives of the Tolkien Discussion Group from 2009 to early 2013.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ainur part 1

Tolkien Discussion Group
February 24, 2010
Topic: Ainur
Book Discussion on the Silmarillion sections
"Ainulindalë", "Valaquenta", and "Of the Beginning of Days"

Whiteflame Khandr
Fifi Wickentower
Dominique Darkwatch
Lihan Taifun
InyaRay Oktomica
Wayne Nachtigal
Mugen Hamaski
AelKennyr Rhiano

Starter question: "Are the Ainur angelic helpers? "
The Ainur resemble angels (or archangels) in:
  • They were originally charged with protecting and caring for the Children of Ilúvatar.
  • They sometimes get upset and angry. They have been known to take up swords.
  • They were created by, and subordinate to, Ilúvatar.
The Ainur are unlike angels in:
  • They are frequently more concerned with their own specialties than with the Children of Ilúvatar.
  • Over time, they may have become distracted from looking after the Children of Ilúvatar.
The Ainur resemble deities of the ancient pantheons (Greek, Egyptian, Norse, etc.) in:
  • They are archetypal characters.
The Ainur are unlike deities of the ancient pantheons in:
  • The pantheons have no supreme deity in the role of Ilúvatar.
In becoming Ainur, the spirits began to be more separated from Ilúvatar, having individual thoughts, acting and creating independently, whether like Melkor, or Aulë and the dwarves, or simply each Ainur concentrating on one aspect of the Song.
The Valar especially, expressing archetypes, are one-dimensional. This makes them more limited, less fully-rounded persons, "less evolved". Gandalf, a Maia who had studied under more than one House, and who could relate well to both elves and humans, is an example of a more "complete" personality. How much of this comes from the Ainur's original personalities influencing whether, or in what form, they came to the created world?
There was discussion -- unresolved -- about whether Ainur feel emotions, or embody emotions.
The Silmarillion accounts of creation are like the biblical account in:
  • Ilúvatar takes the role of Creator, existing before and separate from the creation.
  • Creation is accomplished by a sound/spoken word/song.
  • There is a theme of temptation, and of conflict between free will of the created beings vs. the will of the Creator.
The Silmarillion accounts of creation are unlike the biblical account in:
  • No angels/spirit beings are in the bibical account.
It was unresolved how much the Ainur could be considered "helpers" to the Children of Ilúvatar. This may depend on the particular Ainu. The elves of the Third Age (Lord of the Rings era) frequently called on Elbereth/Varda, but it is unclear what Varda ever did in response. Perhaps the act of calling to her was sufficient for the elves.


Wayne Nachtigal: I looks fer the comin of her Majesty.
Lihan Taifun: her Majesty Belanos?
Wayne Nachtigal: perhaps she comes, perhaps shes not. I looks anyhow.
Lihan Taifun: I'm not sure Belanos will make it tonight
Lihan Taifun: I see we have several new people -- beings - tonight. Welcome. How familiar are you with the Silmarillion?
Whiteflame Khandr: are you addressing me?
Lihan Taifun: you and Wayne, yes
Whiteflame Khandr: ahh, I have read it though it has been awhile since
Wayne Nachtigal: New to you, yes bes I that.
Lihan Taifun: new to us
Wayne Nachtigal: you lot, yes. You sees me very little if at all. hehehehehehe
Lihan Taifun: heh heh And are you familiar with the Silmarillion? Are we going to lose you, or bore you?
Wayne Nachtigal: one bes not bored with the new. or the old if wise.
Whiteflame Khandr: boredom is in an element of oneself, and thus to become bored is to lack proper restraint
InyaRay Oktomica: so wise
Wayne Nachtigal: hehehehehehe Funny that, comin from an Equine.
Lihan Taifun: I hope some of you read the sections from the Silmarillion?
Fifi Wickentower: nods
Dominique Darkwatch thinks this will be an interesting discussion: Yes
Whiteflame Khandr: sits down
Wayne Nachtigal: I listens most.
Lihan Taifun: did you find something particularly interesting?
Lihan Taifun: hello, Mugen
{Greetings all around}
Lihan Taifun: We are discussing the 3 sections in the Silmarillion that deal with the Ainur: "Ainulindalë", "Valaquenta", and "Of the Beginning of Days".
Lihan Taifun: perhaps we should start with our "controversial question" for the week: "Are the Ainur angelic helpers? "
Fifi Wickentower: Ainur is 'Holy Ones' in Quenta
Mugen Hamaski: are there angels at all?
Fifi Wickentower: helpers of whom . . might be considered
Lihan Taifun: the Ainur have some resemblance to angels
Whiteflame Khandr: no more so than a stream is one's aid methinks
Dominique Darkwatch: I think they may have started out with that intent
Lihan Taifun: you think they got sidetracked from that intent?
Whiteflame Khandr: is that which is eternal immune to change?
Dominique Darkwatch: Well, eventually they get a bit upset and angry
Lihan Taifun: I thought you, WhiteFlame, were saying the Ainur were not "helpers", not deliberately
Mugen Hamaski: I think "angel" is a judeochristian thing. that said, they get abit upset and angry too, no?
Dominique Darkwatch: But in the beginning they sought to protect Iluvatar's children and care for them
Whiteflame Khandr: I am merely playing devils advocate for myself :-)
InyaRay Oktomica: yes.. they loved the creation so much. They wished to join it, and this i understand
Dominique Darkwatch: Well..some of them did
Lihan Taifun: greetings, Ael
{Greetings all around}
Wayne Nachtigal: Theys more of Archangels, iffen yasks me. Helpers yes, but nots afraid to take up the sword a bit.
Lihan Taifun: can you explain, Wayne? There were certainly some battles
Wayne Nachtigal: did I not? exhasperance hampers even the most pious and benevalent. And as to me spells, Ive only three digits on me paws..
Dominique Darkwatch: The ones thst chose to become Valar seemed to become more seperated from Iluvatar
Lihan Taifun: in what way, Dominique?
Whiteflame Khandr: and yet, was their "separation" a result of their choice or because Iluvatar manifested elements of himself in each one in a compartmentalized fashion.
Whiteflame Khandr: I think that is what you might mean
Dominique Darkwatch: Well, it just seemed like they were more bound to Arda
Mugen Hamaski is still trying to figure the meanong of Exhasperance
Lihan Taifun: "exasperation"?
Wayne Nachtigal: excuses, tis the way I speak.
InyaRay Oktomica: They were bound it seems each to their song. All else of less concern to them than the playing out of that..
Dominique Darkwatch nods: and then some tried singing their own sort of song
Whiteflame Khandr: citation?
Lihan Taifun: Melkor,mostly
Dominique Darkwatch: But even Aule in maing the dwarves
Lihan Taifun: we could spend a whole night on that episode
Dominique Darkwatch: Well, I mention that just to point out that they started differentiating their will from Iluvatar
Lihan Taifun: and did that happen because they came into the created world? or was that happening before?
Whiteflame Khandr: yes, but if it was the will of iluvatar for them to be and do ("Paradise Lost") :-)
Dominique Darkwatch: Melkor did seem to start it
Lihan Taifun: although in some sense Iluvatar was encouraging the Ainur to embellish the song, on their own
Mugen Hamaski: but once they create for themselves, it IS separate from Iluvatar.. whether Iluvatar desired it or not
Whiteflame Khandr: and how is that possible?
Lihan Taifun: how indeed?
Dominique Darkwatch nods: It is interesting how Iluvatar deals with Melkor's dissention. He seems to allow it and add to it. Turning even a bad thing into something good
InyaRay Oktomica: I have wondered if Melkor was given the most difficult song because he was strongest..
Lihan Taifun: hmmm
Fifi Wickentower: none see the whole except Illuvatar
Lihan Taifun: I wonder what Iluvatar was thinking, about Melkor. We may never know
Whiteflame Khandr: you are discussing the bible :-)
Lihan Taifun: similar themes :)
Whiteflame Khandr: literary influence
Dominique Darkwatch: Well, certianly Tolkien incorporated those themes into it
Whiteflame Khandr: yes but it is more than incorporation of themes
Wayne Nachtigal: tis the same all round after all, tis it not?
Whiteflame Khandr: in some instances it is play by play quotation
Mugen Hamaski: it is not
Wayne Nachtigal: tis so, methinks. All faces temptation cept he that makes.
Lihan Taifun: Mugen, what differences are you seeing?
Mugen Hamaski: well, i am no fan of th bible, but i never read Tolkien in that way. I read genesis. how is it the same??
Whiteflame Khandr: It would behoove you to at least do so to understand that JRR Tolkien's literary prowess was not at odds with his beliefs
Mugen Hamaski shrugs: i have no interest in christian beliefs, but i HAVE read the old testament, and i see no correlation
Whiteflame Khandr: the same metaphysical "attributes" we have given to Iluvatar are those which are given to God
Mugen Hamaski: ok
InyaRay Oktomica: and the Valar existed before man as did the angels
Mugen Hamaski: what angels?
Lihan Taifun: although the angels don't show up in Genesis, not in the creation story anyway
Dominique Darkwatch: Perhaps...but in any story with a ceator, the Creator must exist apart from the creation in time and space
Fifi Wickentower: the great song . . the word . . . the om . . . . throughout a similarity
Whiteflame Khandr: notions about freewill against the will of the creator hmm
Whiteflame Khandr: I don't believe that Tolkien is asserting beliefs through the work about Iluvatar
Wayne Nachtigal: hehehehehehee Free will.... The risk of us all.
Whiteflame Khandr: Tolkien quote unquote wanted to create a fantasy world, yet literarily the influence is undoubtabley there
Mugen Hamaski nods
Dominique Darkwatch: But I see the Valar having more in common with the greek pantheon
Whiteflame Khandr: indeed and you are right :-)
Mugen Hamaski smiles
Whiteflame Khandr: I was waiting for that
InyaRay Oktomica: truly this does seem so in the specific characters
Lihan Taifun: all very archetypal characters
Whiteflame Khandr: Tolkien employs the concept of "archetypal divinity" because such things are not unique to the Pantheon of Ancient Greece, how is the concept different from Norse Mythology or Ancient Egyptian
Lihan Taifun: Tolkien had a soft spot for the Norse
Whiteflame Khandr: :-) now considering this, if we are to take the Valar as the pantheon or perhaps the Norse gods there is a problem
Dominique Darkwatch: But the valar seemed more limited than the ainur from which they came
Lihan Taifun: I was waiting to hear what problem WhiteFlame was suggesting
Mugen Hamaski: I gotta fly, thanks for the brainfood
Lihan Taifun: sorry. I hope you can join us again
Whiteflame Khandr: because they answer to Iluvatar, as if to Zeus or any other supreme diety, but Iluvatar is not Zeus characteristically, or any of the other supreme dieties of monotheistic religions
Lihan Taifun: so that is a major difference
{Lihan crashes and relogs.}

Whiteflame Khandr: each step is a more specific attribution of Iluvatar
Dominique Darkwatch: Less angelic
InyaRay Oktomica: closer to Illuvitar yet not as evolved as beings
Whiteflame Khandr: or perhaps more physical hehe
InyaRay Oktomica: perhaps even uanble to evolve
Whiteflame Khandr: they bridge the conceptual world with the physical world
InyaRay Oktomica: yes
Whiteflame Khandr: it is Plato's metaphysics hehe
Lihan Taifun: can someone give me a one-sentance summary of where we are now?
Whiteflame Khandr: Iluvatar is God in concept, while the Valar act like the gods in the pantheon, who have become more connected with the physical world and thus are more like persons
Dominique Darkwatch nods
Lihan Taifun: ok
InyaRay Oktomica: but unable to be as full persons..
Lihan Taifun: because being an archetype is rather one-dimensional?
Whiteflame Khandr: indeed, Gandalf remember, was more able to sympathize with man, because he spent time in more than one house
Lihan Taifun: or maybe he spent time in more than one house because he was a more rounded personality to begin with?
Wayne Nachtigal: Stormcrows thirst for knowledge and inatiable curiousity is what makes him socialize. er, apologies... Gandalf.
Lihan Taifun: heh heh, such a tactful little dragon
Dominique Darkwatch: Well, Orome seemed to have a special place for the elves compared to the Whiteflame Khandr: but that is personality.Before one exists in Arda one is an archetype, not really a "person"
Fifi Wickentower: the Ainur are spirits
Whiteflame Khandr: indeed, archetypal ones
Dominique Darkwatch: Or maybe the archtypes were most attracted to the creation
Whiteflame Khandr: can you explain further?
Dominique Darkwatch: well, each who choose to come to Arda was bent toward a particular part of it, But not all chose to come
Whiteflame Khandr: and the maiar that went to Arda in physical form
Lihan Taifun: we know very little about the ones who did not chose to come
Whiteflame Khandr: do you think that might be a reason why they chose? they had a proclivity?
Wayne Nachtigal: they has fear. as all do.
Dominique Darkwatch nods: yes

Whiteflame Khandr: do the Valar and Ainur have emotions?
Wayne Nachtigal: tis it not written so?
Whiteflame Khandr: or do they embody concepts of emotions
InyaRay Oktomica: I see them as conceptual
Wayne Nachtigal: either or they bears the elements.
Whiteflame Khandr: Nienna embodies pity
Dominique Darkwatch: Well, I thought it was interesting that they had spouses...
Whiteflame Khandr: I did too hehe but that is not unlike the greek pantheon
Dominique Darkwatch: So that indicates some form of connection and relatinship....emotion
Whiteflame Khandr: ---or correlation between their concepts: as in history Vaire and Namo destiny
Wayne Nachtigal: which stands to reasons bein they were CREATED long with evrythin else.
Lihan Taifun: is having emotions different from embodying emotions?
Whiteflame Khandr: yes, having emotions means you exist to feel them. to embody emotion means everything one does is representative of that emotion, so you don't feel it, you "are" it
Lihan Taifun: how does that mean not feeling it?
Wayne Nachtigal: they are within embodied or haved. to be, one must feel.
Whiteflame Khandr: not necessarily, sociopaths don't feel any emotions, that is another story however hehe
Wayne Nachtigal: Im havin disagreeables to that.
Whiteflame Khandr: okay primary sociopaths don't
Wayne Nachtigal: they feels along with us all. theys just fights it more.
Dominique Darkwatch: But Melkor DID have emotions.... He felt hate and fear
Fifi Wickentower: jealousy, greed
Whiteflame Khandr: or did he embody those concepts?
InyaRay Oktomica: such a sad and difficult song..
Whiteflame Khandr: and it was sauron who felt them
Fifi Wickentower: it says that he felt those things
Whiteflame Khandr: hmm
Fifi Wickentower: clearly stated inthe first chapter
Whiteflame Khandr: no, I know fifi, I am just thinking hehe
InyaRay Oktomica: easy it is to sing the joys of Spring... but the song of jealousy... such poison
Lihan Taifun: are you stealing my lines,Inya?
InyaRay Oktomica: never
Whiteflame Khandr: got it, Melkor is the outcast right the one that differs tremendously and emodies the contradictions to the others. would he not embody the concept of feeling itself? when the others embody and don't feel (this is gettign rather abstract)
Lihan Taifun: well, you lost me a while back
Dominique Darkwatch thinks the horse is just trying to be difficult now
Dominique Darkwatch giggles
Fifi Wickentower: we were to discuss - specifically - from the three versions of the creation, so, since you didn't have that info :))). everything I said could be gathered from what you guys said hehe
Fifi Wickentower: we often get verrry abstarct lol.
Lihan Taifun: maybe he is being data
Wayne Nachtigal: O.o
Fifi Wickentower: why look at this!!!! just the mere mention of the joy of spring song manifested a flower!!!!
InyaRay Oktomica smiles
Whiteflame Khandr: I have stated that I am a skeptic, I merely speak the logical progression of what surrounds me, like seconds in the day, the continuum of causality

Lihan Taifun: so, while the Ainur are limited in their archetypalness ...are we "helpers" to the Children? the elves and humans
Whiteflame Khandr: in so far as we embody help hehe
InyaRay Oktomica: on behalf of Illuvitar.. more than on our care for each as a creation perhaps
Fifi Wickentower: i don't think so . . . not in the 'personal' way
Wayne Nachtigal: agreed.
Fifi Wickentower: yes . . . agrees with Inya
Whiteflame Khandr: do you think that "personal" way is perhaps left up to the maiar like I
Fifi Wickentower: in all cultures . . the native ppl make petitions to the gods, elementals etc . . the same i think is so in ME
Wayne Nachtigal: and creatures as I.
Fifi Wickentower: and you are saying that being dragons, and equine, you are maier?
InyaRay Oktomica: I must depart.. thank you so much
Wayne Nachtigal: no, Im sayin my lot is as theirs is.
Whiteflame Khandr: nah, just my character hehe
Wayne Nachtigal: Stewardly.
Lihan Taifun: in Lord of the Rings, the elves were always calling on Elbereth to help (that is, Varda) but it was never clear what Elbereth could or would do to help. I found that a little strange
Whiteflame Khandr: do you perhaps think that calling upon her was help for themselves
Wayne Nachtigal: perhapes twas the outcome that spoke.
Fifi Wickentower: ppl always want there to be a 'higher' something that can rescue/fix/ or salvage their life
Fifi Wickentower: yes . . . the asking is enough sometimes
Fifi Wickentower: i regret i must leave
Lihan Taifun: maybe we should call it a night. A lot of people have to leave
Dominique Darkwatch: aye
Fifi Wickentower: lovely to see you all tonight :) most interesting to hear new views
Lihan Taifun: do we want to continue the same topic next week?
Fifi Wickentower: sure :)

Whiteflame Khandr: oh one quick question, how might one join the ainur group? I rp as maiar
{Answer: any member of the Ainur group can invite new members.}


{February 24, 2010}
Another dose of statistics:
The current version of the Tolkien Discussion Group has been running for 5 months, which is a very long time in Second Life.
There have been 16 meetings, with an average attendance of 5.6 people per meeting.
26 people have attended, which makes more than 1.6 new people per meeting.  Nearly half of those -- 12 -- have (already) come back to more meetings.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Directions for 2010

Tolkien Discussion Group
February 17, 2010
Topic: Directions for 2010

AelKennyr Rhiano
Dominique Darkwatch
Lihan Taifun
InyaRay Oktomica
Fifi Wickentower

AelKennyr Rhiano: Tonight we wanted to look at the way the discussion group is currently handled and discuss ideas that may make it more enjoyable.
The group decided to continue meeting weekly.
Roughly once a month, we will read and discuss a section from one of Tolkien's works.
People enjoy topics related to their own character, and enjoy discussing the role-play implications of the week's topic.
It would be fun to have some controversial questions to discuss:
InyaRay Oktomica: it might be fun to set it up such that one is able to give an opinon or vote on something ... are dragons bad... should the elves have stayed ... are the Ainur really very angelic..and post results :)
Old discussions are posted here in the archives. People can add comments, and people who can't attend a meeting can participate that way
In addition to the group notices (which not everyone reads), people like announcements in group chat. Several people arranged "buddies" to remind them when it is meeting time.

Dominique Darkwatch: In Sylvhara, I am a cleric and my deity is Eru Iluvatar. So I am very much interested in the Valar and the implications.
We have quite a few Ainur roleplaying scattered around Arda.

Next week will be a "book discussion", covering the three short sections in the Silmarillion that deal with the Ainur: "Ainulindalë", "Valaquenta", and "Of the Beginning of Days"
Question for the week: "Are the Ainur angelic helpers?  Or do mortals expect too much from them?"