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 May, 4 2007

A journal for discussion of the story "Reconciliation."


Just what the hook says. I will try actually to reply to any comments in this journal.

Hi Denise and Imhiriel –

Re: In-Arda justifications –

I'm a big fan of those! Particularly for the Haradrim and other nations of Men, this, more than the Orcs or what not, is where one becomes uncomfortably aware of the colonial influence and color-coding in Tolkien. How to handle that in fanfiction is always difficult, and especially given the current political situation, it becomes even more a matter of delicate negotiation between using images that have too much resonance with 'orientalist' mindsets and images that have no obvious relationship with anything Tolkien seems to have indicated.

I loved this in particular about the Haradrim: "[A] people marked by a shattering encounter with the divine." I've not seen it described that way before (although self-evident when I think about it), but it makes the subsequent development of their society within the Unabeauverse very logical…

It is something that stays in the background until one starts thinking about it – we get easily fixed on the represented society and explicit beliefs or contents of belief, and it is not as easy to go back from those to speculate about what manner of underlying relationship with the divine and the world is expressed in the society and those beliefs.

Would Andra have considered Elya's suicide an appropriate Haradric response to the injustice he was suffering? I have the feeling the answer is yes, but I might be misreading that section.

Basically, yes. Andrahar's ambivalence in chapter 12 derives not from any opposition in principle, but to the manner in which Elethil went about his failed attempt. Essentially, he didn't think it was well done on Elethil's part. He didn't do it 'properly', according to Andrahar's sensibilities. Otherwise, Andrahar did explicitly identify something he thought was appropriate in Elethil's reaction: he saw it as a way of saying "I am worthy of respect – when all others fail me, I will preserve my dignity by acting on what is most basic in a warrior."

Of course, he also thinks the Gondorian sense of the unnaturalness or exceptionality of suicide is sentimental rubbish that masks something essential about a warrior's nature, and which makes for much unnecessary pain and confusion.

And why does Haradric honor demand the suicide/death of a lord's avenger anyway (re: Andra's thoughts/statements in Kin-Strife)? Would Andra somehow incur dishonor by killing someone who has caused Imrahil's death? Or, since Andra's blood oath is based on him owing his life to Imrahil, does his life have no value once Imrahil is gone?

Well, I had always read the situation in "Kin-strife" as the latter scenario. Andrahar is required by his oath to serve Imrahil and save his life, returning life for life. If Imrahil were to die before Andrahar could discharge his debt, then that same debt would require him to avenge Imrahil if he could, and then kill himself for his failure, to atone and so to preserve his own honor.

I'm afraid I don't know much about the particulars of the lord-samurai bond, other than that ronin were supposed to kill themselves after avenging their lord. So I can't hazard a guess as to how that whole revenge-suicide cycle was supposed to operate or how comparable it is to this fictional scenario.

I'm also still curious about the look that Imrahil and his father exchanged. Did Adrahil give his son a specific charge to fulfill during their post-Calardin meeting?

To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, silent looks are highly ambiguous. They could mean "Ok, Dad, message received – everything's set on this end and we're ready to go." Or it could mean "Yeah? What are you up to, anyway? Whatever it is, it's about time!" Or "Right! Ok! You want us in the Great Hall, we're going!"


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