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Thread: Down with Craftsmen!

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You beat me to that one, JonnieA. I thought about mentioning it myself last time I was on here. Although Aule, the greatest craftsman of all, made things for the pleasure of making and gave them away freely, his two greatest servants, Sauron and Saruman were totally different. Tolkien does seem to associate the skill of making with that of coverting and greed. It's something he uses as a weakness with the Dwarves too.

What did Maeglin make?
Oh no, some craftsmen are among the nicest Tolkien heroes!
Take only one of my favourite heroes, Sador, the only true friend of young Turin. A noble, compassionate man, full of wisdom and stoicism. I always felt that he was one of the heroes with whom JRRT identified himself.
And the painter Niggle from "Leaf by Niggle"? And Smith from Wooton Major? Also "alter egos" of JRRT himself!
No, I really don't think Tolkien was particularly prejudiced against craftsmen. On the contrary, he considered himself a craftsman, too!

Cirdan was a craftsman, he built ships, and I know that Tolkien didn't look down on him. So I don't think Tolkien was against craftsmen, he was just against what some of the craftsmen did with their creations.
I think it has to do with knowledge and the misuse of it; the situation is somewhat similar. The crafting itself is not an evil thing, yet when not done for the proper purposes, it leads only to pain and sorrow.
As for Aule, see what happens to Melkor when he makes the Orcs and all those other hideous species; that's just knowledge used in the worst way possible!

Maeglin didn't make any items worthy of note in themselves, but he did learn all that his father and the dwarves could teach him about mining and smithcraft.

I think Tolkien's attitude depends on whether he sees something as 'technology' or simple craftsmanship. So when Cirdan makes a ship, that is good old-fashioned handiwork - I don't suppose there's anything inherently threatening in building a ship. But if Eol makes a sword out of galvorn, or Feanor makes the Silmarils that is something else, it is moving the boundaries somehow and so it is dangerous.
This is shown even more strongly in Melkor's 'genetic engineering' of orcs, trolls, etc and in Saruman's great turning wheels etc in Isengard. I have read many articles on Tolkien that suggest that one of the themes of LOTR is the rejection of technology, perhaps prompted by his experience of industrialised warfare in WWI. This always seemed to be a very general idea until I was writing out a list of craftsmen from his work and one look at the list of names suddenly bought it home to me.
Yes, and this dislike of industrialization is expressed at the very beginning of LOTR in the description of the Shire. Yet hobbits have umbrellas and write letter on paper... where in Middle Earth are then these factories which produce umbrellas and paper?! Unless the umbrella of Lobelia was a hand-made work of art! Smile Smilie
A very good point, Eryan. It does seem strange that 'humble' hobbits appear to posess some more advanced technology than the advanced elves (also the water wheel driving the mill) - perhaps Tolkien was thinking more in terms of cultural advancement, who knows?
To most readers an umbrella would seem mundane and down-to-earth, I suppose.


Pretty much everything they make is either evil or leads to disaster.

We should all be thankful that Sauron was into metal work instead of pottery. Mount Doom would have made a wonderful kiln, I should know, I did a City&Guilds pottery course. (Don't know if I passed though...after we sent in all our work to be examened we never go a reply.)
Can you imagine it? The One Teracotta with Tastefull Brown Glaze to Rule them All!? Big Laugh Smilie
Can you imagine it? The One Teracotta with Tastefull Brown Glaze to Rule them All!?

Lol, Halo, that's evil if u ask me! BWAAAAHAAAHAAA!!!
And if he had been a TV makeover programme host it would have been the 'One Whole-new-colour-scheme-brought-right-up-to-date-with-designer-touches Kitchen to Rule them All!'

The mind shudders.
Anyways... back on subject.

The preface to the Silmarillion discusses "Fall, Mortality, and the Machine."

I don't think JRRT was saying craftmanship is evil. He was saying "the use of these talents with the corrupted motive of dominating: bulldozing the real world, or coercing other wills." This is talking of Machine (or magic). The giant wheels of Sauron were for domination. Which is evil. But the water wheel of the hobbit's mill was good. The Silmarillion also describes magic as art, and for enjoyment, but machine for Power and "tyrannous re-forming of Creation."

It is to confusing for me to understand all of it, but go back and read the preface to the Silmarillion.

Oh and you don't need big polluting factories to create umbrellas and paper. Many of the hobbit's items which are now made in factories. Could have been made before the industrial revolution.
Industrialization just allows them to be sold at a higher price justified by their decreased production cost. There's a logic there, but not a pretty one.

Edit: Oh, I gotcha, and I agree. Industrialization, as a pervasive paradigm sugar, entails "pave the earth." If we could have, say, maybe fifty or a hundred factories in the whole US to supply things we wouldn't otherwise have, we might be alright, but you can't have multi-billionares like our man Bill then. If we cram enough quantity of life into today, the absence of quality (or any other kind) of life for our kids tomorrow won't matter, right?

And thinks for the compliment in the other thread; sometimes, I even amaze myself. I'm reminded of a quote from my grandmother about her brother: "It's easy to get along with Colin; just agree with him."

Moderator Smilie Grondy says, "Please watch the language." Moderator Smilie
Missing the main point of my statement...
It was the bulldozing of the real world that was evil.