Obama as Gollum

Wretchard writes:
It may be that provided no Biblical disasters happen that Obama will be remembered kindly by history as the man who exposed America's weaknesses while essentially dodging the bullet. Perhaps the 8 years will be just bad enough to serve as an innoculation; to make America realize the folly of its ways without enduring the harsh vae victis that typically accompanies such lessons.

Bad things occasionally have a way of turning into something positive, provided one survives them long enough to see the benefits. The reason for this deserves some thought. Most readers are familiar with the accidentally heroic role played by Gollum in the plotline Lord of the Rings. It was not Frodo who destroyed the Ring, but Gollum who through his own incompetence tripped over the edge of the abyss and fulfilled the Quest. .
Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. ... Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.
And so it did. But why does accidental heroism exist?
Tolkien's answer to that question is not obvious, though it is clear. I mean by that remark that it is clear what Tolkien thought, but in the story no mechanism is given nor more than barely suggested. The answer is obscure, not obvious, in the tale. You have to read the Silmarillion, and particularly the Ainulindalë, to understand what Tolkien thought was at work. It is a metaphysical picture most aligned, oddly enough, with Hinduism. It is like the message of the Bhagavad Gita except that the ultimate being is much more active in Tolkien's view. The discord of evil wills is answered by the divine, woven back into the thread of the whole so that it only deepens the beauty of creation.

Tolkien was extremely well-read -- I continue to discover how well-read, as it is rare that I read an ancient or Medieval primary source without realizing that he read it first. He read the Pre-Socratics, I am sure, and preferred among them Heraclitus: for Heraclitus said, in an idea that Christians would later adapt, that everything comes to be in accordance with Logos. Tolkien left us a sign of this in the way he describes the creative element of the divine being in his stories as "the Secret Fire" or "the Flame Imperishable." Heraclitus also held that fire, of the elements, was the true arche.

That is not the answer Wretchard gives. He credits another divine being, Randomius Factoria, the Lady of Fate. Yet he seems to credit her in her bright aspect: Agatha Tyche, also known as Eutykhia, the goddess of good luck. I love that goddess myself, but she like we is a part of creation. Her powers are granted, like ours, even if they are greater than our own.

4 comments:

Dad29 said...

Joseph Pearce wrote several essays on Tolkien's 'Ring,' and he contends, forcefully, that it was mercy-forgiveness (not quite the same as pity) that moved Bilbo at the end of the story.

It is clear that Tolkien's work is mythology informed very heavily by his Catholicism, says Pearce.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I'm with you on this. Tolkien was certainly very Nordic in his view of Fate, but that force is always impersonal, run by some Personality farther up and deeper in.

Had he not written fiction, we would only know him for his Beowulf and his Sir Gawaine, and perhaps his commentary of The Battle of Maldon. Those works all touch on that point in the history of NW Europe when the older beliefs in unalterable fate "What can a man do but to dies on his dying day?" are not being replaced by Christian beliefs but transformed by them. The idea that Fate itself has something over and above it, and that morality transcends even our designated fortune, is firmly established; yet the older elements remain quite visible.

Jason said...

I'm not convinced that Gollum's "heroism" was accidental at all, though he certainly didn't aspire to self-sacrifice. Remember, he'd sworn "by the Precious" to serve Frodo. By stealing the ring he betrayed that oath. I don't have the text in front of me, but IIRC, Frodo said something along the lines of "you will throw yourself into the fire if you should betray me" when Gollum made his vow.

So Gollum's death was no accident, just the consequence of his own betrayal of his given word.

Ah, here's the text I was thinking of, though apparently this monologue happens well after Gollum swears his oath:

"You will never get it back. But the desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it back. In the last need, Smeagol, I should put on the Precious; and the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care Smeagol."

Ymar Sakar said...

Hussein is much closer to Saruman the Wise or the White. Interesting voice there.

To be the Eye, one would have to have mystical or military powers, which Islam fits better into with their prophet-slaver Mohammed.

Gollum is like the guy who can't get off his alcohol addiction and keeps killing people, on accident, whenever he drinks. He has his moments of lucidity and regrets, but his Willpower is too weak.