This post is a part of the online book Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien.
But there is more: strange as it sounds, things are in words for Tolkien. The language of The Lord of the Rings, and even more of The Silmarillion, is not merely a device for communicating thoughts and feelings. The words are nor mere a label for concepts. Rather, it is in the words that the things live and move and have their being; and in the words they come to us. As Martin Heidegger puts it, language is “’the House of Being’. For words and language are not wrappings in which things first come into being and are. For this reason the misuse of language, in idle talk, in slogans and phrases, destroys our authentic relation to things.” (Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 11).
The naming does not consist merely in something already known being supplied with a name; it is rather that when a poet speaks the essential word, the existent is by this name nominated as what it is. So it becomes known as existent [real]. Poetry is the establishing of being by means of the word. (Martin Heidegger, Holderlin and the Essence of Poetry, in Existence and Being, p. 304.
Thus poetry is making, as its name says (poisis). Poetry is not ornament but fundamental speech; prose is fallen poetry. And fundamental speech is an act of creating. And unspeaking is uncreating. “Last of all is set the name of Melkor, He Who Arises in Might. But that name he has forfeited, and the Noldor, who among the Elves suffered most from his malice, will not utter it (Silmarillion, p. 31). And Gandalf will not utter the words on the Ring in the Black Speech of Mordor in the Shire, but only at the Council of Elrond in Rivendell, and even in that safe and holy place the words summon something of the presence of their Hellish source:
“Ash nazg durbatuluk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatuluk agh burzun-ishi krimpatul.”
The change in the wizard´s voice was astounding. Suddenly it became menacing, powerful, harsh as stone. A shadow seemed to pass over over the high sun, and the porch for a moment drew dark. All trembled, and the Elves stopped their ears.
“Never before has any voice dared to utter words of that tongue in Imladris, Gandalf the Grey,” said Elrond, as the shadow passed and the company breathed once more (LOTR, pp. 247-48).
The power of words is based on the fact that real things are found in words. Words are not merely things among a world of things, things with one additional feature, the ability to point to other things. No, words are the encompassing frame of the world of things. Things constitute a “world” only by the creative word of the author, who names them.
And therefore, since the things are encompassed by words, our wonder at the things is encompassed by our wonder over the words.
Kreeft says that the genealogies are the dullest part of the Bible for modern readers, but they were some of the most wonderful for the ancients.
The Black Speech is one of the more fragmentary languages in the novels. Unlike Elvish, Tolkien did not write songs or poems in the Black Speech, apart from the One Ring inscription. Tolkien stated:
The Black Speech was not intentionally modelled on any style, but was meant to be self consistent, very different from Elvish, yet organized and expressive, as would be expected of a device of Sauron before his complete corruption. It was evidently an agglutinative language. [...] I have tried to play fair linguistically, and it is meant to have a meaning not be a mere casual group of nasty noises, though an accurate transcription would even nowadays only be printable in the higher and artistically more advanced form of literature. According to my taste such things are best left to Orcs, ancient and modern. ("Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", Parma Eldalemberon 17, p. 11-12).
The universal images work in synchronism with the Now, and therefore with the Wholeness. They seek to put together, to synthesize, to join. In that way they constitute a common human consensus. We can all agree about them.
But in the consciousness´ identification with thinking and time, the Ego is created. And the Ego uses the negationpower of time to make resistance. The resistance consists in problematizing life itself by comparing with earlier and hoping, desiring or fearing something else. And in this evaluation-process the Ego splits up the universal images. It identifies ifself with one pole in a pair of opposites, for which reason the polar partner is expelled. In this dividing process the collective and personal images arise, and herewith all the disagreements: it is here The Black Speech of Mordor origins.
Consequently the universal language, and the movement of time, reflect themselves in your thinking, but because of the Ego´s evaluations the images are divided in words and analysis; what you could call thinking in opposites (subject as divided from object, good as divided from evil, love as divided from hate, perfect as divided from fiasco) - words and sentences which work in sequences in past and future, extremes, or analyses.
In other words: the Ego, in its identification with opposites, tends to debate, to work against other people, and seeks to demonstrate their flaws.
In accordance with Plotin then The One in its eternal and continual radiation, first of all manifests ifself as thought, which in it´s individualized form shows ifself in the Soul, which again find it´s way to the body, the lowest and the most random expression of being.
Now, if we talk about The Black Speech of Mordor as a speech of absence (no body and heart, no existence and love), then we could talk about Elvish languages as a speech of presence. There is no doubt that in our modern world, words are spoken out of absence. And since words are alive, are creative, words spoken out of absence creates a toxic atmosphere.
Man as a natural being lives in a challenge-reaction relationship. What it is about for the Life Artist, is to look your destiny in the eyes; that is to say: to become your reactions present in passive listening; to observe and feel them completely with the heart and the mind; to observe them neutral as in a mirror without saying yes and no; to feel them deeply and incisively without seeking to achieve anything with it. Shortly said: to omit dividing your reactions in likes and dislikes, good and evil, pleasant and unpleasant. At the very moment you divide them, you become the reactions absent, you relate doubtful, evaluating or offended to them. And then you don´t understand them.
As a Life Artist you could ask yourself, whether you ever have looked at other people without the images you have formed of them - images you have pieced together through many years. You have formed an image of other people, and they have formed an image of you. When it only is these images, which are facing each other, then there is no human relationship between you and the others.
These images arise when you not are your relationship with the surrounding world present. It is the absence, which creates images, because the presence, and therefore truth and reality, in the absence must symbolize itself. The absence is the disproportion between the observer and the observed, the unreality which is characterized by, that emptiness and loss slide in between, create reflections, displacement and darkness. And in this dividing state the Wholeness must symbolize itself. The symbolism of absence and fragmentation is a telescopying of the oneness and coherence of presence and Wholeness. It can't be in any other way.
The question then becomes, whether you can observe other people without condemning, evaluating, without saying whether they are right or wrong - only observing and feeling without letting your prejudices get any influence. Then you will see, that there is a quite different action, which takes place in this presence.
When you give something a name, you tighten it, through the name, to the past. Therefore you observe it with eyes, which the past has affected, and that will say: not in a new way. The past is your images of life, your perspective, and the only thing you see is your own perspective. To observe another human being with the eyes of the past, means, that what you see, is your own perspective of this human being, and not the human being in himself.
As a Life Artist it is important to pay attention to, that when you for instance observe violence, then you often try to justify it, as you say that violence is a necessity if you shall live in this barbaric world, that violence is a part of nature. Why do you do that? You are used to observe in this way, to condemn, justify, or to make resistance. But you can only observe violence with fresh eyes, and an open mind, when you become aware, that you tighten what you see with conceptions about what you already know, your own perspective, individual as cultural, and that you therefore not are observing it in a new way.
In this way the question arises: how are the conceptions created? What mechanism is forming these images? Another person for instance says to you: ”You are a fool!” You are yourself absent in your emotional evaluations, you don´t like it, and it leaves a track in your mind. The other human being says something else, and also that leaves a track. These tracks are the images of memory, and in the memory exist the tracks of the evolution of million of years. It is these condensed reactions, the tracks, which are blended with many other tracks, which form the images in time; a mixture of history and nature. It is a wonderful picture book, the samsarical common human weaving spirit of the fates, reaching deep into beautiful and terrible astral worlds.
But if you are yourself present and the person says to you: ”You are a fool!” if you in that moment are passively aware and feeling, then there is not left any track at all, because there is no displacement between challenge and reaction, but only a being, which is in the middle of itself, and characterized by fulfilment and naturalness. Perhaps the other person is right?
So we can see, that the absence weaves images, because emptiness and loss slide in between. Unreality is emptiness, absence, that to be outside. The concept “absence” indicates, that the unreality not is any emptiness, but an emptiness in relation to something defined. It is the absence of something. Unreality is defined from something, or in opposition to something, namely reality. And the unreal life is lying under for a constant tendency to fill it up. The emptiness has to be camouflaged, covered, forced out. You must keep the world together. And this you do by creating language or images.
The thinking weaves coherence, weaves meaning and weaves patterns. Feelings connect, suspicions suspect ahead, and fantasy creates images. The thinking puts together, associates and remembers the past. Untiring the thinking works and weaves the reality of the self-image and the world-image. And the thinking finds lawfulnesses in the stream of thoughts: laws of association, connections between causes, cyclic structures, archetypical attractors. All this constitutes a part of the dual and dualizing daily fate-weaving activity of the consciousness, and it happens on the background of absence.
But where absence weaves images, presence releases the mind for images. This is very simple. If you become thoroughly present in passive listening when you for instance are angry, then it is not absence, which allows the past to push itself in, creating reflections, and disturbing the actual sensation of the immediate anger.
The mind is pieced together by words and associations of thoughts, images and symbols, that are manifestations of the common human structure of belief and knowledge, which the images in time constitute. The evaluations originate from this historical background. Words such as God, love, Socialism, Communism, duty, necessity, etc. have an extremely important role in our life. Words have neurological as well as psychological meaning in accordance with the culture in which you have been raised. To a Christian some words and symbols have immensely meaning, and to a Moslem some other words have an equivalent vital meaning. And the evaluations take place within this area.
As we have seen, then the past is the foundation of the self-image and world-image, which form your perspective on yourself and life; and what you usually see, is your own perspective. The one who worship is therefore the worshipped. To adore another is to adore yourself. The world-image is a projection of yourself, only you divide yourself from it in the formation of the Ego, the self-image.
The fate weaving activity of absence is based on a desire after becoming something, to find secureness, meaning and coherence, and that which is weaved is the mutually dependent self-image and world-image, which divide themselves from each other in a subject-field and an object-field. This activity contains everything from dark and fateful movements, murmurous incantations, to highly raised epistemology, religious dogmatics and philosophical system-building. It is the Black Speech of Mordor.
Your world-image, weaved by the past, by books and prayers, reflects, after all, only your own historical background, your self-image and perspective. You have yourself created it, even though many others also have had part in this image-weaving proces of creation. You choose that which is satisfying you, and what you choose is your own preconceived opinion. Your world-image is your intoxicant, and it is cut out from your memory. You worship yourself through the world-image, which your own thought has created, and thereupon divided itself from. Your devotion is love to yourself, camouflaged by the song your mind sings. The world-image is yourself, it is a reflection of your own self-image. And such a devotion is therefore a kind of self-deceit, which only leads to sorrow and isolation, and that will say: unreality.
The only thing humans can maintain is a projection of the known, their own perspective, but the unknown can't be maintained through the known. That which has a name is not that, which can't be mentioned, and when humans give a thing a name, they only awaken the determinated reactions. How noble and pleasant these reactions might be, they are not real. Humans react to stimulus, but reality doesn't stimulate, it is.
The fate weaving activity of absence consists of speculation and imagination. Speculation and imagination are hindrances for the truth. The mind, which speculates, can never know the beauty in the present; it is caught in a net, which is weaved by its own images and words. No matter how widely it, like Orpheus, wanders around in its image-creation, it will still be in the shadow of its own structure, and will never be able to see what is lying beyond itself. The sensitive mind is not a mind with a big imagination. The ability to create images limits the mind historical; such a mind is tied to the past, to memory that makes it dull. Only the silent mind is sensitive. Any kind of accumulation is a burden; and how can a mind be free when it is burdened? Only the free mind is sensitive; the open is that which can´t be measured and scaled, the wordless, the unknown. Imagination and speculation hinder the open, the sensitive.
Everybody lives within his own web, my in mine, the others in theirs. But will there ever be a possibility for breaking through this web, just like the butterfly, which breaks out from its cocoon? This web, this cloth, this case, is language, and it consists of your worries for your own person, and the others for theirs, your wishes contrary to theirs. This capsule is language, and language is the past, which have with personal and collective images in time to do. The web consists of all this. It is not one defined thing, but a whole heap, which the mind is carrying. I have my burden to drag on, the others have theirs, and in such a way we ramble through the world, alienated to each other. Can these burdens ever be put away, so that the mind meets the mind, the heart meets the heart? This is the actual question of the Life Artist.
It is clear that a human relationship, which rests on various fate-weaved images of life, never can be peaceful, because these images of life are fictional and you can't live in an abstraction. And yet this is what we all do: we live in ideas, in theories, in symbols, in conceptions we have created about ourselves and others, and which haven´t anything with reality to do at all. All our relationships, in respect to property, ideas or people, largely build on this image formation, and therefore there is always conflict.
The whole wish about, through image formation, to weave meaning and coherence, is based on a wish about creating permanence, secureness for the Ego. But on the contrary it creates anxiety, anxiety of that this pattern, this condensation, shall end. It is the anxiety of death.
Death is the unknown, which always threatens the known, the patterns you have created. The paradox is, that you can´t be afraid of the unknown, because you don´t know what the unknown is, and therefore there is nothing to be afraid of. Death is a word, and it is the word, the image, which creates anxiety. The word is a manifestation of your self-image and world-image. For as long as the image exists - the image from where the thought origins - the thought must constantly create anxiety. Then you rationalize your mortal dread and build a defence against the inevitable, or you invent countless faith-conceptions, which can protect you against the anxiety of death.
One of the more ingenious death-images is The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It is a kind of trailmarker and pathfinder, or travel catalog in the conditions after death, meant to be read loudly by a master, or congenial, to one, who is about to die, and also after death has occured. But it still is lying within the area of the known, it is a philosophical mapping of death, the unknown. And the map is not the landscape. In the same way with the Egyptian Book of the Dead; the reason why the ancient Egypts´ religious god- and symbolic world has fascinated people at all times - and given occasion to many mystical and enigmatic interpretations, which still have a splendid time - is perhaps due to, that it is a manifestation of some death-images which penetrate everything in ancient Egypt, architecture, art, politics etc., and that death is the greatest mystery of all. We like to have an explanation.
But it is still a religious conception made with the purpose of protection against the anxiety of death. Therefore there is an abyss between you yourself and what you are afraid of; that is to say: you are creating a distance to death by relating theorizing to it. In this abyss, which consists of time and space, there must be conflict; that will say: anxiety, worry and self-pity.
The mind can only be in peace when it doesn't experience anything; that is to say: when it doesn't determine and name, register and store anything in memory. It is not only the upper layers of the mind, which all the time name and register, it is all the various layers of consciousness. But when the superficial mind is silent, the deeper mind can send up signals. And when the whole of the consciousness is silent and in peace, free from the eternal self-producing becoming - this shutting itself away from life - when there is spontaneous openness for, and self-forgetful being one with life itself, not until then will that, which can´t be measured, reveal itself: the new and unknown.
Propaganda is about using the meaning of the words to provoke a desired effect in the recipient. The propagandists ignore any direct communication, and use instead the many possibilities of language for manipulation. What they want is to organize sense impressions, the religious or the political sense impressions, the social or the private sense impressions, so that what you see, is the image the propagandists have created.
Neither the religious, nor the temporal propaganda, speak about truth. Propagandists are using, as Habermas expresses it, an instrumental usage of language on human relations, where it actual only should have been used on technical problems. They relate to humans in a strategic and controlling way, rather than the understanding way, which characterizes a communicative usage of language.
We are not only naming things in order to communicate to each other, but also in order to give an experience continuity and content, to reanimate it and repeat its sense stimulations, because this gives strength and continuity to the observer, to the wish about permanence, to the common elevation of the memory. Propaganda is always, in some way, about supporting this self-centred becoming something, the formation of the self-image, by integrating it in the world-image the propagandists seek to manipulate through. And they use words such as duty, necessity, God, freedom, homeland, reward, punishment etc.
The past is based on the images of time, which are of a linguistic kind. They manifest themselves as symbols. Language itself is a symbol, and we are used to symbols: we see the tree through the image, which is a symbol for the tree, we see our neighbour through the image we have created of him. It is apparently about the most difficult for Man, to observe something directly instead of through images, opinions, conclusions, which altogether are symbols. In the same way symbols play a great role in dreams, and therefore dreams are so deceptive and dangerous. The meaning of a dream is not always clear, though we realize that it consists of symbols, which we try to decipher. When we see something, we speak so spontaneous about it, that we don´t realize, that the words also are symbols.
All this shows, that there perhaps is a direct communication in technical questions, but rarely in human relationships, and in the human comprehension. There is no need for symbols when we are getting beaten. It is a direct communication. Zen masters often use unexpected strokes in order to provoke their disciples to let go of themselves.
This is an interesting point: the mind denies seeing the things directly, to be them present without the word and the symbol. You for instance say, that the sky is blue. The one who hears it, interprets it from the conception he has about blue and reproduces it to you in his own code. In that way we live in symbols, and dreams are a part of this symbolic process. We are not able to perceive directly and immediate without the symbols, the words, the prejudices and the conclusions.
The reason for this is clear enough: It is a part of the self-centred becoming something, the will to power with its defence, resistance, escape and anxiety, and where you shut yourself away from life, are getting absent in evaluations and analyses, and where emptiness and loss slide in between, create reflections, displacement and darkness. The Black Speech of Mordor. In this unreal state reality can only communicate itself symbolically. The symbol is a telescopying, a representing quintessence of the Wholeness, the informationquantities, and the greater clarity, which is connected with reality and presence, but which the absence can´t contain, because it splits, shuts itself inside, or shuts itself away from.
It is lying in Man as a natural being that the brain is a reaction converted to code language, and that dreams therefore necessarily must be symbolic, because we in the awaken state not are able to react, or perceive, directly.
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