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Old 12-07-2002, 08:08 PM   #1
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Tolkien Calculus...

Tolkien as Calculus
From a rec.arts.books.tolkien posting dated 21 July 1995.
In an effort to compare the relative strengths of the Maiar, a recent poster to r.a.b.t. compared Sauron's strength to Gandalf's and the Balrog's by stating:

S>G and G=B implies B<S.

It's an intriguing way of stating the problem.But Gandalf the Grey, who fought the Balrog, wasn't as powerful as Gandalf the White. Also remember that we're talking about a Sauron who has invested much of his native power in the Ring, which has weakened him greatly while he is not in posssession of it; he is not as strong as he was with his original native power:

Gg < Gw

Sn = S + R

Sn > S
Now Gandalf was afraid of using the Ring, for fear it would conquer him; yet if he had used the Ring, he would have had enough power to defeat Sauron (Fellowship pp. 70-71 hardback):

Gg < R

Gg + R > S
But if the Balrog had arrived at the Bridge of Khazad-dum first it may have been possible that, though greatly weakened by Gandalf, it might have obtained the Ring. So, if the Balrog had been victorious,

Bv = B + R - Gg
would the Balrog have been able to overthrow a Sauron whose native power had been diminished by the loss of the Ring?:

B + R - Gg > Sn - R
And when Gandalf had returned from death, would he have assisted the Balrog, hoping that

(B + R - Gg) + Gw > Sn - R

Bv - 1/2(Sn-R) < Gw - 1/2(Sn-R) ?
Answers are due at the end of class next week. Be sure to show your proofs.

I got my answers and proofs, how bout you?

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Old 12-07-2002, 09:05 PM   #2
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It's reading things like this that remind me how much I love the internet:

The Truth about Tom Bombadil
From a rec.arts.books.tolkien posting dated 3 May 1996.
At last, the mystery of Tom Bombadil's identity has been solved.


Tom Bombadil and the Witch-king of Angmar are the same person.

1. We never hear of Tom at all during the whole of the First Age. The Nine Rings aren't forged until the Second Age. QED.

2. You never see the two of them together.

3. In the first part of Fellowship of the Ring, the Nazgul are sent to the Shire to look for the wandering Baggins. Interestingly, Tom says to Frodo at the dinner-table: "...I was waiting for you. We heard news of you, and learned that you were wandering... But Tom had an errand there, that he dared not hinder" (Fellowship p.137 hardback, emphasis mine: note the fear Tom has of his master, Sauron!).

4. In Tom's questioning of the Hobbits, JRRT notes that "there was a glint in his eyes when he heard of the Riders." (Fellowship p. 144) I think he was concerned that his double-life might have been noticed. Interestingly, Tom immediately changes the subject of conversation!
Furthermore, the One Ring had no effect on Tom - which seems consistent with Tolkien's observations about how the Nazgul would have handled the same priceless object (Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #246): "They were... in no way deceived as to the real lordship of the Ring."

5. It's also interesting to note that Tom could see Frodo clearly while Frodo was wearing the Ring (Fellowship p. 144 hardback) - just as the Witch-king could see Frodo clearly while he was wearing the Ring at Weathertop! (Fellowship p. 208 hardback)

6. Perhaps most damning, however, is the incident with the Barrow-wights (Fellowship pp. 151-155), where Tom - with nothing more than a few simple words (p. 154) - commands the Barrow-wight to leave. And it does, without argument. Why would the Wight be so completely under Tom's control? Because in his alternate guise as the Witch-king of Angmar, Tom ordered the Wight to inhabit the barrow in the first place! Turning to Return of the King, Appendix A, p. 321, "evil spirits out of Angmar... entered into the deserted mounds and dwelt there." Obviously the Witch-king was reponsible for sending the wights there; just as obviously, the Witch-king (disguised as Tom) would be capable of ordering them to leave!
(This is related to another passage, which has since been brought to my attention. On Fellowship page 158 hardback, Tom is guiding the Hobbits back towards the Road when he gazes towards the borders of Cardolan. "Tom said that it had once been the boundary of a kingdom, but a very long time ago. He seemed to remember something sad about it, and would not say much." Since Tom, as the Witch-king, was the one who destroyed the kingdom of Cardolan, it's little wonder that he wouldn't say much about his involvement. Perhaps his remembering "something sad" reveals some remorse at being the instrument of Cardolan's destruction...?)

...Yep: I think we have an airtight case here.

...It's worth noting that, after the Witch-king was dead, Gandalf said he was "going to have a long talk with Bombadil" (Return of the King, p. 275). Curiously, he never tells anyone about the meeting later... and he's right there at the Grey Havens at the end of the book, undelayed it seems by long conversation. I think we can therefore theorize that Gandalf made it to the Old Forest, but that Tom (once the so-called "Witch-king" had died) was nowhere to be found!

...Of course, all this brings up the curiosity of motive. What would make the Witch-King of Angmar sport such a double identity? I suppose that the Witch-king, once of proud Numenorean ancestry, felt trapped by the guise of evil which Sauron had tricked him into, and in the fullness of time forged this alternate identity for himself so that he could occasionally feel happy, helpful, noble, and more at one with himself and his lineage. The situation is perhaps analagous to a crossdresser who, feeling trapped in a man's body, would occasionally assume the identity of a woman. It therefore makes sense that the Witch-king's other identity would be so peculiarly enigmatic, and perhaps sheds light on JRRT's observation in Letters #144: "And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)."

...Who else would be aware of Tom's double-life, I wonder? Since Tom repeatedly claims to have been around "before the river and the trees", and indeed even claims to be older than the Ents (Fellowship p. 142), surely the eldest of the Elves would know he was lying. Elrond plays along with Tom in public, being kind enough not to reveal his secret, but also seems to know that Tom and the Witch-king are one and the same; hence his refusal to give the Ring to Tom for safekeeping (Fellowship p. 278-9): "Power to defy the Enemy is not in him."


Pulp Tolkien
From postings to rec.arts.books.tolkien by Andrew Solovay <>, Caroline Christian <>, The Dark Knight <>, Bob-Nob <> and myself, dated 3 May - 17 September 1995.

It was Andrew Solovay who first hit upon the idea of filming a Lord of the Rings movie in the same style as Quentin Tarantino's film Pulp Fiction. This set off an interesting string of posts on the subject, a few of which I have quoted here.


Posted by Andrew Solovay:

Frodo: And ya know what they call a "Quarter Pounder with Cheese" in the Undying Lands?

Sam: They don't call it "Quarter Pounder with Cheese?"

Frodo: Nah, they got Feanorian weights. They wouldn't know what the fuck a "Quarter Pound" is.

Sam: So whadda they call it?

Frodo: "Valar with Cheese".

Sam: "Valar with cheese..." Whadda they call a "Big Mac"?

Frodo: Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "Big tar-Mac".

Sam: "Big tar-Mac"... whadda they call a Whopper?


Posted by Caroline Christian:

What's it got in the suitcase? The jewels? The rings? The thief, the Vincent, we hates him forever...


Posted by The Dark Knight:

Frodo: Whose horse is that?

Gandalf: That's not a horse, it's a steed.

Frodo: Whose steed is that?

Gandalf: Theoden's.

Frodo: Who's Theoden?

Gandalf: Theoden's dead, baby...Theoden's dead.

Hey...this could work!!!


Posted by Bob-Nob:

Would that mean Frodo had the ring that says "Bad Mother F***er" on it? Would there be a scene in which Sam grabs a hammer, then a shotgun, then a chainsaw, and then ultimately Sting, before storming the tower to save Frodo from goodness knows what? Would Gimli take Galadriel out on the instructions of Celeborn and win the Jack Rabbit Slim's twist contest? And most importantly, who would be The Gimp?


Posted by O. Sharp:

(Restaurant table. Vincent sitting across table from Gandalf.)

Vincent: I heard you did a pilot.

Gandalf: That was my "fifteen minutes".

Vincent: What was it?

Gandalf: It was a show about a team of secret agents called WizForce Five.

Vincent: What?

Gandalf: WizForce Five. "Wiz" as in we're a bunch of wizards. "Force" as in we're a force to be reckoned with (though we're forbidden to use it). "Five" because there's one, two, three, four, five of us. There was a blond one - Saruman O'Neill - he was the leader. The Japanese wizard was a Kung Fu master; the other blue wizard was a demolition expert; Radagast's specialty was sex.

Vincent: What was your specialty?

Gandalf: Fireworks. Character I played - Mithrandir McCoy - his background was he grew up raised by circus performers. According to the show he was the deadliest guy in the world with fire. And he knew a zillion old jokes. His Vala, an old vauevillian, taught him. And if we would've got picked up we would've worked in a gimmick where every time we destroyed a Great Ring, I would've told another joke...

And, much much later, at the foot of Mount Doom, after the Ring has just gone into the Fire...

Frodo: We should be fuckin' dead, man... This was divine intervention. This shit doesn't just happen... What happened here was a miracle, and I want you to fuckin' acknowledge it!


Posted by Andrew Solovay:

Nazgul: Describe Sauron for me.

Saruman: Well, he's dark...

Nazgul: And?

Saruman: ...and he's tall...

Nazgul: Does he look like a bitch?

Saruman: What?

<thud> <scream>


Saruman: No!

Nazgul: Then why'd ya try to fuck him like a bitch?

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Old 12-08-2002, 03:34 PM   #3
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Old 12-08-2002, 06:18 PM   #4
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When does the Star Wars v. Star Trek debate begin?
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Old 12-08-2002, 08:29 PM   #5
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I won't even mention that I have a Star Trek Uniform

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Old 12-09-2002, 06:55 AM   #6
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you will not bring star wars or star trek into this conversation!!


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Old 12-14-2002, 11:46 PM   #7
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Ok, ... so here's my proofs for MY answer... (not that there's any geeks here ;)

The mathematical logic is FLAWED...

If Sn = S + R
Then S = Sn – R
Where you have B + R - Gg > Sn – R

Can be simplified to B + R – Gg > S

Which means S is weaker than anyone with the Ring,

Which, of course, contradicts with the premises that S>G and S>B

The notion that Balrog might have been victorious, and trying to fit it into a mathematical equation is futile, because: 1) The original premise was G=B, who could’ve really win at all?; and 2) Since no mathematical value is assigned, AND given reason #1, you cannot calculate the product sum.

I believe the main problem may be that one has not set a relative value to R…

Because Sn = S + R … means R = Sn – S, which has no relation to Gandalf OR Balrog... no matter how much S < Sn

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