The Tolkien Professor

Corey Olsen

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The Tolkien Professor podcast is a series of lectures, discussions, and seminars on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien by Corey Olsen, Assistant Professor of English at Washington College in Maryland. Find me on Facebook at "The Tolkien Professor," on Twitter at @tolkienprof, or at my website at www.tolkienprofessor.com. I have also begun a grand new venture: the Mythgard Institute, offering courses on Tolkien studies for credit at the MA level, or just for fun! Join us at www.mythgard.org.


SilmFilm Episode 1-11: Episode 9: the Fall of the House of Ainur (sort of), Part the First

January 12th, 2016

Episode 301 of 322 episodes

Introduction/Review Apologies for delays in posting - website is under redesign with more features, etc. but we have added more Signum personnel to help with the "backstage" end of production. Mythmoot will now be every other year, but 3-4 days instead of a day and a half. Comments from last time: 1) Going back to The Lamps: "the lamps being a 'bad idea' is a bad idea" This is supposed to be the Spring of Arda, and making the Valar selfish at this point cheapens the idea, and makes their "fall" with going to Valinor makes it redundant. If we did it right, it would be a foreshadowing. The lamps would show the beginning of the impulse to do the wrong thing for the right reasons What was the status of light prior to the lamps? If the light was already there, did making the lamps suck it up and create dark corners? Did they make the lamps for the benefit of a select few? Having the lamps (they're still in Middle-earth) creates a "warm bright center with dark edges" With Valinor, they go to the edge and wall off the light, leaving the rest of the world dark The text says the lamps are in the extreme edges, and can work in a mythic concept, but in a visual medium (and physics-wise) doesn't work, thus the idea of moving the lamps to the middle of the world Tolkien's solar system (flat earth with a tunnel) was first Elvish myth, but later on, changed it as the Valar and Elves would recognize the astronomical plausibility, so then he decided it was a myth of Men. Tolkien's later years were less spent storytelling and more time fact correcting The flat earth discussion will be tabled for when we get to the rise of the Sun and Moon (season 3, 2018) 2) Visit of Manwë to Melkor. We don't want to undermine Manwë, and it would be easy to depict Manwë and varda as the clueless husband and wife It's an act of humility on Manwë's part. Morgoth is the one concerned about his dignity, but Manwë isn't. It's a cognizant act of (potential) self sacrifice on Manwë's part They don't yet see Melkor as an enemy. There is now evidence that Melkor is working against them, and he would see that. He is going to believe that Melkor hasn't gone over all the way yet, and will give Melkor every chance to repent. "The more foolish it is, the more right it is." "Let's not rely on great wisdom...let folly be our cloak." There is an embracing of doing the right thing, even if it looks foolish...To follow hope instead of wisdom. Morgoth doesn't get the connection between humility and leadership (servant leadership instead vs. arrogant assertion of power) 3) The leader of the anti-Melkor voice should be Ulmo. Manwë's grace and humility makes him a better king, but Ulmo isn't having it. There should be relatively few Valar who are duped. 1-2 who still believe Melkor is good some who are with Manwë, seeing what he's done but still willing to forgive some with Ulmo, who are simply ready to be done with Melkor Nienna would be aligned with Manwë...not fooled. We don't want pity=foolish. Tulkas might be initially aligned with Melkor, which would explain his later rage/surprise, and leading the battle against Melkor Lorien might be in denial - he's in a place of peace and healing and doesn't want to see that things are falling apart. 4) Why 13 episodes? There's a difference between not having external restrictions (like budget/marketing) and having NO structure (internal) If we adopt 13 episode structure, it helps define story arcs. Not having off times makes it drag on like a soap opera, and the time off builds anticipation for the next season. There's a difference between useful constraints and worrying about restrictions due to "test demographics" Announcements Spring classes start Monday (next week) Corey is teachingthe Modern Fantasy II class - Tolkien's idea about fantasy and why it's important, and how it's evolved over the last 30-40 years. Andrew Higgins's Studying Invented Languages through Tolkien. Elementary Latin I taught by Philip Walsh Full class listing here. New Shaping of Middle Earth series started 2 days ago (Wednesday nights 21:30). Today's episode Things to think about for next time: what sequence does everything happen? We want to come up with a logical sequence of events. We have 3 rebellions to deal with. Aulë should be saved for the end (anticipating the Children/Yavanna's response) Things are bad enough with 2 of the Maiar rebelling, but now one of the Valar, too? This looks like a real crisis. Creation of the Ents as a response to Aule's creation Mairon could tempt Aulë into doing what he does, with the viewers knowing that he has already fallen (or, at least, on his way). Aulë's rebellion can transition into Yavanna and the Ents, rather than being an afterthought (if it happened before or concurrent with the others). Sauron's fall isn't going to be like Anakin Skywalker's relatively instant transition...it would be the beginning of a slow fall. It should be gradual. Perhaps falls in secret (serving as a double agent, staying with Aulë in Valinor). His fall affects the world the most, so drawing it out would be more effective. Aule's fall would be the most serious transgression so it'll be the most dramatic to have last. Ossë would look most like a petulant teenager. His rebellion will be the loudest. We need to plan out their fall plot lines individually, and then fit them together for the episodes. We'd likely have a "rebellion arc" of episodes 9-10 and likely 11. We can work on sequence of events next time. The Dwarves should be troublesome because of Aulë's actions. We as readers have become attached to certain Dwarves, but if you come from the Silmarillion, you see that they were always a troublesome lot. Melkor's rebellion is caused by his pride leading to resentment, shifting towards malice. We don't want him to a cackling baddie just yet. Anakin's fall was more "embrace evil because evil is powerful," rather than doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Sauron/Mairon's rebellion The one redeeming thing about Mairon is that he remained true to his master. The same sorts of things that attracted Melkor would attract Sauron. Some kind of dissatisfaction based on restrictions Part of why he goes bad is because of misplaced loyalty (he's mad that Aulë supports Manwë and not Melkor) He likes Utumno better than Valinor. He might admire Melkor's courage for standing against the rest He could see Manwë's humility as a sign of weakness Melkor is into dominating the wills of others, but with Sauron that's less the case. There is a element of humility in serving Melkor, though it would not be selfless. If he acts as a double agent in Valinor, it's because he thinks it's the right thing to do. Mairon's personal motivation would be about improving his own power. His fall would stem from his sympathy for Melkor, rather than being seduced by him. Manwë might take Aulë (and his posse, which would include Mairon and Curumo) with him when he goes to see Melkor, but it wouldn't be like a "this is an official state visit/embassy to discuss negotiations" but rather Manwë might like others to go visit. There could be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about how to handle it. Melkor would want visitors to show off Utumno. While Manwë and Aulë would expect an informal casual visit, Melkor would be formal and imposing. The rest of the posse might take affront (especially Mairon) to Melkor's arrogance, and then when Manwë doesn't react, Mairon might initially be upset and be against Melkor. But seeing Manwë's humility, he thinks Manwë is being weak and is disgusted by it, would start to rethink. Curumo can be the foil to this, and we see the distance between the two grow. Curumo/Saruman would have a proud, arrogant support of the establishment (Manwë) but Olorin/Gandalf (allied with Manwë) would be the only one to see accurately. Initial conversation between Sauron and Saruman in the Palantir would be really rich...Curumo may have the ultimate grudge against Mairon. Manwë isn't offended by Melkor's making him look like a supplicant, but rather confused. "um...can't we just talk?" Aulë as a grumpy, not so attractive, similar to Vulcan/Haphestus (maybe not an actual plumber's crack, but he's the least fancy dressed.) Not rags so much, but his focus is on making things, not personal adornment Follow this with a solo visit with Mairon and Melkor. Not a seduction/enlistment, but more a meeting of the minds and how they have things in common. The visit could be short, and give a tour of Utumno Maybe it's not until the battle comes that Mairon makes his choice. He might not even see himself as a double agent...he just keeps him apprised. Gothmog probably wouldn't like Mairon. The Balrogs might be rude to him. We could reveal what's going on in Mairon's mind by his dialogue with Curumo and Olorin. Mairon might express admiration, which may anger Curumo Most won't know who Mairon is - it's an obscure thing, so we can reveal Mairon as Sauron when the lines are drawn with great dramatic effect. Ossë's rebellion - key elements Ossë is offered power (the entire realm of Ulmo) if he serves Melkor. He is brought back by Uinen, his wife. Ulmo is the hard line anti Melkor spokesman If Melkor considers anyone his enemy, it's Ulmo, so plotting against him makes perfect sense. Ulmo is the extremist, so it offers a natural gap in the way Ossë looks at things vs Ulmo. Melkor to Ossë: "hey, this is a good way to improve your lot" - there is a hierarchy and Ossë is subordinate to Ulmo Ossë loves violence. It doesn't make him evil, it just makes him unpredictable and unreliable. Ossë is given the government of the waves and the movement of the seas, as well as other water spirits. Ossë would be responsible for coastal waters and hurricanes. Maybe Ossë visits Melkor and Ulmo finds out (paternal influence vs rebellious teenager) Maybe Ossë does something Aulë-like and makes/does something? One of the moments that we have between Ossë and Ulmo is when the Teleri are to...