awkwardly

Saturday

Frodo's Run: Logan warns the Hobbits



With these characters, use of magic or proximity to it seems to come at a cost to their spirit or some resource. Gandalf casts spells and is some kind of immortal non-human. The immortal elves have magic in them. Frodo seems drained of his "youthful spirit" just from carrying The Ring for so long. A little like the system in the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game where using spells or magic-items gradually depletes your sanity.

The bit where young Frodo departs Middle Earth to Valinor, the "land beyond the sea", has always bugged the piss out of me. Let's get clear whether this is analogous with Heaven.

1. They're going away and they can never come back.
2. People who live there are immortal.
3. Gandalf says that some of them have to go because they're so old.
4. If I remember correctly, they use the expression "passing on" to the West more than once in the original canonical material.
5. Consider the existing watery afterlife symbols of other traditions: Greeks crossed the River Styx to the afterlife. In ancient Egyptian and other mythologies, East represents birth because that's where the sun comes up, and West represents death because that's where the sun goes down.

So it's not a heavily veiled metaphor.

I realize Frodo and his crew are not exactly committing suicide. They're being rewarded with an early flight to paradise for services rendered, similar to the way Elijah and other Bible characters are supposed to have ascended to the afterlife without dying.

But if it's wrong to commit suicide, is it less wrong to request cutting in line to Heaven this way? If some creator intended humans to live and die on Earth according to some intelligent design, as a test or punishment or learning process or whatever, wouldn't it be wicked for Frodo to avoid the tests and suffering and learning that everyone else has to do? He even tries to convince the other young Hobbits, at least in this clip, that they shouldn't want to leave Middle Earth because they have great things to look forward to in their remaining years -- wives, families, smoking. Nice images, except they aren't enough to persuade Frodo himself that living a mundane life and eventual mundane death would be worthwhile.

I guess if you have a regular trauma in your life that's difficult to deal with, then you're immoral to end your life and cut short the daily remembered suffering. If you have a magical, fantastical trauma in your life, like carrying the burden of an evil ring and sacrificing a finger to save the world, then ending your daily remembered suffering by escaping from the mundane world is not only moral, it's your reward.

Maybe I'm just being selective in my suspension of disbelief. I can suspend disbelief when it comes to dragons and rings of invisibility, but I don't believe we have a magical afterlife in reality, so why should they get one in fantasy stories? Even better than the early trip to paradise, why not fantasize about characters who magically feel less traumatized and have magically adequate coping mechanisms to live out their lives on Earth?

I still enjoy life, even though I know there's bound to be more suffering in it. To me, it's a sad ending that they banish themselves instead of recovering from their traumas and living normally in the mundane world, then dying normally in the mundane world.

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