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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

In Commemoration of March 25th ~ The Fall of Barad-dûr, with jan-u-wine's "Frodo's Journal".

Posted on 2007.03.24 at 18:17

Comments:


Eandme
eandme at 2007-03-25 23:04 (UTC) (Link)
Well, this is how I look at it.
I came to a complete review of my understanding of the words "true" and "reality" as I studied the philosophy of religious language as the main subject for my degree. I now travel with much more ease between worlds in my mind, or you could say I see the worlds as transparent, and I find myself able to look at both the mythic world and this reality at the same time. In loving Frodo we love all the Frodos of this world, and in trying to be ringbearers in this reality we are living the truth of Lord of the Rings.
For me, it all happened, indeed it is happening still, and that is more true than saying "it never happened". I would be as comfortable celebrating the 25th of March as any day of the church calendar. It is all about celebrating the underlying truth anyway.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-03-26 01:41 (UTC) (Link)
For me, it all happened, indeed it is happening still, and that is more true than saying "it never happened". I would be as comfortable celebrating the 25th of March as any day of the church calendar. It is all about celebrating the underlying truth anyway.

Wow, that's a strong statement. I would have been scandalized had I read your comment just four years ago. Since being swept away by my intense response to the films, and the reviving of my love and knowledge of Tolkien's writings in depth, I am scandalized no longer.

I have toyed with doing a "St. Frodo" icon as one of my Frodo Art Travesties, but never have taken the step, thinking I'd shock faithful people too much. But I guess he's a saint of mine, now, if a saint acts as a sign and mediator of the what belongs to God: truth, goodness, beauty; joy and suffering; courage in the face of terror; perseverance in the face of frailty; mercy and grace to the enemy -- yes, all of that.
Eandme
eandme at 2007-03-26 08:19 (UTC) (Link)
I'd love to see a St Frodo icon!
To me what is truly shocking is how the fandom has veered toward a sexually and/or romantically based interest in Frodo, and while I don't mind a good dosis of slash and ME fanfiction now and then, I don't want to forget what the story is really about. I want to write more about this subject, but I will continue in my own LJ, instead of taking up space here. I don't know that this is the type of discussion you would prefer to have here.

Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-03-26 10:05 (UTC) (Link)
I like to discuss anything Tolkien here, so it's a perfectly good place to discuss it.

Well, as for "sexually and/or romantically based interest in Frodo", I plead guilty. It's not the only way I think about him, but becoming a film fan definitely added that dimension. Hence the manips, for instance. If I hadn't become besotted, I would never have thought to make the manips at all. They began as an homage to his beauty, like an artist in love with his subject. You'll note I never made a manip of anyone else in LotR, lol: no Sam, no Aragorn, no Gandalf, no Boromir. Just Frodo. I love them, but I am not *in* love with them. I love Frodo, too, but now I am also *in* love with him. Not surprisingly, I only wrote a fic about Frodo, not the others.

But it's the source story -- and the Frodo in it -- that holds by deepest love. If romantic/erotic Frodo didn't remain connected to *that* Frodo, Tolkien's Frodo, I couldn't maintain my interest in making manips, screencaps, or fanfics, even if romantic/erotic love is providing the inspirational fire.
Eandme
eandme at 2007-03-26 13:03 (UTC) (Link)
oh Mechtild I didn't mean to sound accusatory ...though I think I did. I adore Frodo and Elijah, and I've had my hand in making things turn the way they have... Seriously, what did PJ expect when choosing the One Lad for the film? *wink*

I'm thinking now that this all goes very deep, or could go very deep. For centuries christianity has been struggling with the dilemma of the asexual Jesus as the expression of true humanity, and the same goes for the image of the Madonna. (I am aware that these are not simple issues, but neither are they issues that one cannot speak of). I think there is a huge need to find an image of God that allows for a sexual/romantic aspect. Perhaps people dare do to Frodo what they don't dare try on the image of Jesus: to let themselves love him in every way.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-03-26 14:26 (UTC) (Link)
No harm given or taken.

Christianity has been struggling for ages with asexual Jesus but it ought not to have done. I think a Jesus who was sexual but abstinent is what would be nearer the mark. A devoted contemplative priest or nun is nevertheless a sexual being, unless they have the very rare gift of true chastity. Most struggled, making a continual, willed effort to pour all the energy and passion that would have been given to a sexually-expressed love and the raising of children, to a life devoted to prayer or service to others. Religious people are often very passionate people, hungering and thirsting for ultimate intimacy. And it can get them in a lot of trouble when they are unsuccessful remaining abstinent as celibates. Most people seek that in its most natural venue, erotic love. But not everyone. Some people simply don't have the opportunity. Others feel they have a mission which fulfilling that sort of love would compromise, whether it's a profession, being an artist or a consecrated religious.

Erotic desire, healthily redirected, can provide tremendous impetus to do many, even great things. The problem is that it can push people to do a lot of bad things as well, especially if it's merely denied or suppressed as something alien and wicked in itself. I think this second way is what has earned the church its bad name in relation to prohibitions about sexual expression. The party line all seems to be, "Give up or refuse to enjoy sexual intimacy because it is sinful or leads to sin." Rather it should be, "if it is your calling, forgo sexual intimacy in order to serve God in some sort of vocation that benefits from that sacrifice."

I think what Jesus did was to forgo sexually-expressed love -- and the getting of children and descendants to follow after him. Not because he was asexual, but because he had something else he needed to do which such a love would hamstring. He needed to remain unattached to do that. And, he needed to remain unattached so that he would not belong exclusively to any one person in love, for his mission was to make manifest the love of God to all, not just to particular individuals.

In the history of Christian spirituality, there is much beautiful, prayerful poetry drawing from poetry written by the Jews who came before them, a lot of it borrowing heavily from neighbouring religions, with the erotic love portrayed between the male (dying and rising) fructifying god and the female god of the earth. This imagery works for me, too, and always has, for it touches my deepest desire: which is for ultimate intimacy.

Yet I know the language is metaphorical. God can't really love me with a physical love. With my love for Frodo, although he has so much in common with the sacrificial god who forgoes personal happiness (including erotic love and its fruits), such as Jesus manifested, Frodo was a small, imperfect, mortal being, not God incarnate, and suitable for imagining fulfilling the role of mortal male lover. It's all AU, of course, but not implausible for the reader who loves him to imagine, "What might have been Frodo's life had it not been his duty to bear the Ring? Would not love have come to him -- the fruitfulness he bequeathed instead to Sam?", or, "What if, even as Ring-bearer, Frodo had managed to respond to love when Love came to him, in the person of one of the people he knew?"
Eandme
eandme at 2007-03-26 19:42 (UTC) (Link)
What a thoughtful, enjoyable reply! I agree with you on everything. And I especially appreciate these lines:

"with the erotic love portrayed between the male (dying and rising) fructifying god and the female god of the earth. This imagery works for me, too, and always has, for it touches my deepest desire: which is for ultimate intimacy."

That really spoke to me. Beautifully put!

I think it a stroke of Tolkien's genius that he made Frodo exactly that which you wrote, a mortal imperfect being. It is very different from C S Lewis' approach in the Narnia series where he created an alternate image of Christ in the Great Lion. (which I also love btw). I am often stunned by the depth of intelligence of Professor Tolkien, and how it was paired with such unusual artistic sensitivity

As for the celibat, I think I have a fairly good understanding of that because I lived for a large portion of my youth in a monastery. I have been priviliged enough to be at the recieveing end of that love, you know. The time, energy, attention and sheer commitment that the sisters and brothers were willing to give to me and many others... I know that it can never be that way between the priests of my church (of which I am one) and the youth there. We just don't have as much space in our lives as someone who is celibat.

Your last paragraph was very interesting too. Can God love us with a physical love? I wouldn't say it's impossible. Isn't that the meaning of the Church as the "body" of Christ, you know, his feet, his hands. I think we can broaden the meaning of the incarnation to mean also that God is somehow present in physical reality through the good deeds we perfom as a service to others. For me God is in us as well as outside of us, and being inside us God might act from there.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-03-26 21:22 (UTC) (Link)
You were in a monastery? How wonderful, even for a time (considering it was a good experience). May I ask which order? I have a Tolkien-friend whose elderly aunt is a Trappist nun and seems to be happy with her life choice. Were you a regular retreatant or an actual postulant/novice/or whatever level you entered into?

Your last paragraph was very interesting too. Can God love us with a physical love? I wouldn't say it's impossible. Isn't that the meaning of the Church as the "body" of Christ, you know, his feet, his hands. I think we can broaden the meaning of the incarnation to mean also that God is somehow present in physical reality through the good deeds we perfom as a service to others. For me God is in us as well as outside of us, and being inside us God might act from there.

I know that the church is Christ's hands, and that God works through means (nature, people and their actions) to show Christ's love and mercy. And I know that mortal spouses or lovers can manifest a degree of the intimacy described between God and Israel (as Daughter Zion, God the lover's wayward Bride), or Christ as Bridegroom to the church. And individuals can experience very intimate union with God in contemplation that has no physical medium at all.

But what I meant was that what was described in stories like 'The Da Vinci Code' -- bodily union with God incarnate -- is not possible. One might make love and experience an intimacy that seems to touch the divine, but it is experienced with a living, mortal partner, not God directly. That is what I meant.

And, as mortal partners go, I personally can't think of one preferable to Frodo. Too bad he's fictional. Yet even if he's fictional, I think in many ways he stands for the best that is in any of us, in spite of our great frailty. To be able to love him, I think, is to draw that much nearer to loving each other, and our own selves, with the same sort of love: passionate and warm, and shot through with mercy.

pearlette
pearlette at 2007-03-26 22:00 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, Mechtild and Eandme, what a great discussion you've got going here between you! Really perceptive comments about the differences - and the connections - between divine love and erotic love.

I agree with Mechling about the reasons why Jesus stayed celibate - not because He was asexual but because His mission, in loving the world, excluded Him (by choice, I believe) from the exclusive nature of human love with a spouse.

As for Frodo, I have always seen him as representing the best that is in any of us, as Mechtild said. This is so true of Book Frodo, who I see as a pilgrim ... his spiritual beauty found a pleasing incarnation in the very beautiful Film Frodo gifted to us by PJ!

(Somebody once wrote a very funny fanfic about Book Frodo meeting about ten versions of the luscious-lipped, huge-eyed, dark-curled, smouldering Frodo who features so prominently in Fanfic World.)

Seriously: I have room in my imagination and my heart for the two versions of Frodo - Tolkien's, and the Frodo who arose in the fandom's imagination as the ideal lover, or an ideal of love.

I'm glad you like Narnia, Eandme: the Aslan concept certainly works for me. :)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-03-27 01:41 (UTC) (Link)
Pearl, it's not the most elevated remark but right off the bat I want to say I ADORE your icon. I know it's from the FotR EE scene watching the Elves, but the person who made the icon did wonderful things with it. Thank you so much for posting it here -- twice!!!

You know I agree with the image of Frodo as a pilgrim (rather than as an actual Christ figure), although he shared much with the self-sacrificing heros that went before him in literature, legends and religious accounts.

(Somebody once wrote a very funny fanfic about Book Frodo meeting about ten versions of the luscious-lipped, huge-eyed, dark-curled, smouldering Frodo who features so prominently in Fanfic World.)

Do you remember what it was called or who wrote it? It sounds very funny!
pearlette
pearlette at 2007-03-27 20:35 (UTC) (Link)
Not the most elevated remark?? Never! :) Yes, it's a gorgeous icon. Made for me as a Christmas present by erunameundomiel. She's done a wonderful job, I love the soft dark liquid brushstrokes she's used in the manip. And Frodo looks so wistful and yearning and sad, somehow, as he watches the Elves ...

I'm afraid that I don't remember either the title or the author of that story. Sorry. :( It was very funny ... all the alternative versions of Frodo were slash Frodos. Poor Book Frodo was most amazed!
Eandme
eandme at 2007-03-26 23:13 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, amen to that.

I was in the Taizé community. The girls are looked after by the sisters of St Andrew, a catholic order. But it's all about ecumenism there.
I have spent longer and shorter times there, ranging from a week, to half a year, to seven months one time. I've been there for several years, if you add it all up. Yet I never did become a novice.
The sisters are pretty much my favourite people in the whole world, and I owe them so much. I feel the same way about the brothers. But I always wanted to marry and have kids. If I hadn't felt that way I would have definitely tried to stay in Taizé as a sister. It's a tough life though. I don't flatter myself that I would have made a great nun... lol
Mechtild
mechtild at 2007-03-27 01:37 (UTC) (Link)
I know about Taizé from the liturgical music, although I have heard somewhat about it, all good. Our liturgy professor (this was twenty years ago) spent several months there and loved it -- but not enough to give up his wife and children! (Sound familiar?)
pearlette
pearlette at 2007-03-27 20:29 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, Eandme, that is fascinating. :) I am Protestant, and pretty evangelical, but I have a great respect for Catholic spirituality, especially the contemplative traditions.

I visited Taizé in the summer of 1990. It was very hot - the community is in central France, and that central plateau bakes like an oven at the height of summer. It was the summer after the Iron Curtain fell and there were thousands of young people from Poland and Eastern Europe ... the first time they had ever been out of their countries. It was moving.
pearlette
pearlette at 2007-03-28 21:42 (UTC) (Link)
Hey, what happened to my icon? Maybe because I changed the word settings on my user pics ... sigh.

Here it is again. :)
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