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So that last one.
Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:48am

Do you discuss what Tolkien actually means when he says 'magic'? There's some very telling quotes in the Lothlorien chapters, starting with this from Galadriel:

"[The Mirror] is what your folk would call magic. I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem also to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy. But this, if you will, is the magic of Galadriel."

But even more this exchange:

`Are these magic cloaks? ' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.

`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves. `They are fair garments, and the web is good, for it was made in this land. They are elvish robes certainly, if that is what you mean. Leaf and branch, water and stone: they have the hue and beauty of all these things under the twilight of Lórien that we love; for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make. Yet they are garments, not armour, and they will not turn shaft or blade. But they should serve you well: they are light to wear, and warm enough or cool enough at need. And you will find them a great aid in keeping out of the sight of unfriendly eyes, whether you walk among the stones or the trees. You are indeed high in the favour of the Lady! For she herself and her maidens wove this stuff; and never before have we clad strangers in the garb of our own people.'

Is it magic to weave so much of your environment into a cloak that it can render someone nearly invisible? Is it magic to forge an unbreakable shirt of mithril? Is it magic to make instruments which sound sweeter than a hand-carved pipe, or fireworks which explode gloriously in the sky? How much magic is there in the outer wall of Minas Tirith, built from unbreakable stone, or in Elrond's healing abilities? And how much in a securely locked and hidden treasure-hoard, or the ability to move in silence and keep out of sight of clumsier folk?

The only flashy, swords-and-sorcery magic in LotR comes either from 'the deceits of the Enemy' as Galadriel says (and even here it is usually 'innate abilities' rather than spells and sorcery), or from the Ringbearers: Gandalf's various tricks with fire, Galadriel's Mirror, Elrond's flooding of the river (with Gandalf's assistance), and the invisibility conferred by the One.

I don't really have a coherent point - just the idea that 'magic', as used by Tolkien, is a term rife with deliberate ambiguity.

As to your other quotes: as a fellow sufferer of alwaysdialogitis, I absolutely sympathise. :)


  • So this sounds fun, I think.Snowy the Sane Fangirl, Fri Aug 24 3:18am
    Let's do it, I think. So I open up the latest chapter of my current project and count down ten paragraphs and what do I get but: “What’s your name? What are you doing here?” This is probably the... more
    • So that last one. — Huinesoron, Fri Aug 24 4:48am
      • To some degreeSnowy the Sane Fangirl, Wed Sep 5 3:37am
        The scope of the essay I was writing was bigger than that, so I touched on it only briefly. You make some good points, but I would like to add an additional observation: "magic" in The Lord of the... more
      • It seems to me that Tolkien has a very West African attitude towards magic, wherein magic is created by making things rather than saying words. So the answer to your obviously-rhetorical question... more
        • Not so rhetorical.Huinesoron, Fri Aug 24 10:32am
          Pippin definitely considers the cloaks of Lorien magic; just as definitely, the elves of that wood don't. So the question 'are they magic' has a very Elvish answer - 'both yes and no'. To the elves,... more
        • Stupid HTML... (nm)Scapegrace, Fri Aug 24 9:55am
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