Lindariel's Tom Bombadil Theory

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Merry
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Post by Merry » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:46 pm

I guess it depends on what one means by 'tied to matter', Mark. True, that each of them rules his/her own element, in a way, but they are not reducible to that element. Their existence goes way beyond the existence of that element. Contrast that with Goldberry: I think if there were no water, there would be no Goldberry.

I'd love to see the context of Tolkien's statement that the Secret Fire is like the Holy Spirit. The Wiki article doesn't give much about the source.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:26 pm

I think that gets to the crux of the disctinction. The Ainur sang the world into being, elaborating Iluvatar's theme. Those that descended to Arda as the Valar and Maiar then set about creating materially what they had created in song. They made the rocks, the water, the stars, they shaped the material world. I would see Elementals as more the indwelling, sustaining spirit of these creations. 'Every flower has it's fairy' and all that. But Tolkien never defined all of this, of course.

Tolkien's "spirit that desires knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are 'other' and wholly independent of the enquiring mind, a spirit coeval with the rational mind, and entirely unconcerned with 'doing' anything with the knowledge..." is the epitome of the Oxford intellectual, loving knowledge for itself alone. No wonder Tolkien thought Tom was the spirit of the Oxfordshire countryside!
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

54markl
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Post by 54markl » Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:00 pm

Happy New Year, everyone! Here is where the discussion stands at the beginning of 2011. It appears evident that Tolkien himself did not delve too deeply into the true nature of Tom; this was due to the fact that he disliked extremely explaining his most profound philosophical musings; also he did receive a few adverse reactions from people pressing him on why Tom had no father (the Anglican cleric). It seems that the Professor inadvertently opened a can of worms when he stated Tom was fatherless, raising divine implications. It is manifestly clear that Tom couldn't be Iluvatar Himself; but the problem remains that he is parentless, which only God or something like God could be. I know this is not a popular idea, but I think the only rational explanation (dare we look for rationality here?) is that Tom had to have been an aspect of Iluvatar, but distinct from Iluvatar (oh dear, confer the Holy Trinity). Lindariel's central thesis, which I agree with, is that Tom is a sentient manifestation of the Sacred Fire (she seems to think the two nonetheless are distinct, which she has not explained yet). Tolkien's statement (the core of my theory) that the Sacred Fire is somewhat analogous to the Holy Spirit would seem to bear out my "aspect" premise. This has to be from his Letters, but I will get the exact attribution (Wikipedia's source) in my next post. The web gets more tangled as we proceed. Many people will hem and haw, and say things like Tom can't be an avatar, that would make him too grand, but the Professor himself has nebulously laid the groundwork for this interpretation. We cannot "lose" the idea that Tom has no father, inconvenient though it may be, so we have to reconcile it to what is known and what little was said. If anyone can tell me another way Tom can have no father and yet not be God or an aspect thereof, please explain away below. I am open to any sensible theory. But I think mine is probably the most likely explanation, though I'm not sure how it would sit with the Professor. Maybe he was hoping to sneak this idea past the High Anglicans. As for Goldberry, maybe all of the elementals were offshoots of Tom, since he seemed to be the elemental of the entire Universe. But if Goldberry is to be Tom's wife, maybe Iluvatar Himself created her, which is more likely. After all, Iluvatar indisputably created the Ainur. Hoping to hear some reactions to this soon. Bye for now.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:51 pm

The web gets more tangled as we proceed
Indeed it does! I'll have to think a bit more about things before commenting, but as is always the case when trying to get to grips with Tom - who I think Tolkien has placed beyond really understanding - some of the concepts just make my head hurt :lol: . I confess that I don't understand the nature of a) the Sacred Fire b) the Holy Spirit and c) Tom Bombadil, in almost equal measure. But this is all still fascinating!
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

54markl
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Post by 54markl » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:46 pm

Iolanthe, if it makes you feel any better, I think this stuff confused Tolkien himself! He probably woke up on certain mornings and said "Aha! THIS is what Tom is!" Then a couple of days later, he would reread what he had written and go: "Huh! Now whatever possessed me to write that? I'll have to rethink this! That pesky Christopher is going to be all over me for this one!" But, as Sherlock Holmes once said, mysteries exist to be solved. That's why this is so much fun! Just think of Tolkien as Professor Moriarity, the Master Confuser!

54markl
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Post by 54markl » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:43 am

While we are marshalling our arguments, here is a little story of the First Age which I submit for your perusal (I guess you can call it "fan fiction"). I hope you enjoy it. When it came time for the Host of the Valar to proceed to Beleriand to overthrow Morgoth, it became apparent that only three of the greater Valar would accompany them; these were Aule, Orome and Tulkas. The three friends met near the Ring of Ezellohar and debated over which of them should lead the Host. "Clearly I should," said Aule. "Was it not I who built the Earth? I alone can triumph over Morgoth without grievously damaging it." Orome laughed and said "What does a stone-mason know of battle? I have hunted countless creatures of Morgoth, and know their nature well. My great expertise is needed here." "Expertise?" sniffed Tulkas. "What is needed is main force! Neither of you chained Morgoth with Angainor, I did. I must lead!" "You?" sneered Orome. "Were that your intellect was as strong as your sinews!" "You fought Morgoth for millennia with no effect!" shouted Tulkas. "Both of you are far too clumsy for this job!" insisted Aule. "Eru will be angered by the damage you do!" "Good day, gentlemen!" said Eonwe, strolling up. "None of you three shall lead." "Maia, how do you dare to speak to us thus!" cried Tulkas. Eonwe drew himself up to his full height and said "Maia I may be, but I am the herald of Manwe, who rules us all. It is his express wish that I lead the Host as his proxy; he will not come himself, for he fears cataclysmic damage to Arda as a result of this conflict. If such harm occurs, it is on your heads, gentlemen! Now prepare yourselves for battle, for the time has come!"

54markl
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Post by 54markl » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:31 am

Hey, how come nobody is saying anything more? Have we exhausted the topic? I'm sorry if you didn't like the fan fiction story, it was just something I wanted to share; it admittedly is not part of the topic. I would erase it and put it elsewhere, but apparently you can't erase on this site. Oh well, no matter who Tom really is, Lindariel's theory makes a lot of sense and I commend her for it. I guess that's the main point I was trying to make. Bye for now.

Lindariel
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Post by Lindariel » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:45 am

Hi Mark! No problem with the story. I think we have all been side-tracked with putting together our respective entries for the annual Yule Creative Writing Contest and debating some rule changes, etc. My entry turned out to be a grand 27 pages long, 16,458 words, so I have been a tad crazed with writing it over the holidays. Now, of course, school is back in session for my children, and I'm back at work, which creates additional time constraints. Have no fear! This discussion will perk back up all in good time.
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

54markl
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Post by 54markl » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:36 am

Great! I'm looking forward to reading your story, Lindariel, and I wish you the best of luck with the contest. It sounds like a monumental work! Looking forward to resuming the Tom Bombadil analysis, which I find very interesting. You make some very good points. Talk to you soon. :)

Lindariel
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Post by Lindariel » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:00 am

You are very kind! My story has been posted in a series of installments in the Annual Yule Creative Writing Contest thread and is now complete. I hope you enjoy it, as well as Serinde's lovely story and some truly wonderful poems by Iolanthe, Marbretherese, and Merry. Hopefully, more folks will submit entries as well before the deadline of Jan. 15!
Lindariel Image

“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:47 pm

You'll find all the Yule competition stories and poems here, Mark. We have been rather absorbed by it! If you have any other stories we actually have a whole creative forum where you can post away to your heart's content as long as it complies with the thread rules, which you'll find in the opening post. Basically the stories and characters should remain true to Tolkien's universe. You'll find the forum here:

Members' Art, Prose and Poetry

And we have our creative competition every year, each time with a different theme or challenge. Sometimes it's prose and poetry, sometimes an essay competition.

We'll pick this discussion up again - for me I need to come back to this when I have time to read back over the last few points!
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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