Forum: Dwim's Stories (was Lie Down...)

Discussing: Resurrection

Resurrection

Resurrection.

Summary: Sometimes foresight is false. After Pelennor, the new lease on life is but the beginning. Halbarad, Aragorn, and the journey towards healing. AU.

Note: Juno is an evil woman. That is all.

Dwim

 

 

Re: Resurrection

I love this story. 

Just thought you should know :-)

I know you like to hear something your descriptive than "This RoxZ!1!!!" so I'll work on coming up with something more coherent.  But in the meantime, just thought you should know.

 

 

Re: Resurrection

I love this story.

Just thought you should know :-)



So I gathered from the comment you left earlier! And I'm thrilled that you love it—I certainly thought of you as I was finishing it up, and was hoping you'd read it. Your Halbarad has been a joy to read, and it's nice to think all of our versions of him get a second chance in an AU.

I'll work on coming up with something more coherent.

I'll look forward to reading your review.

Dwim

 

 

Re: Resurrection

This seemed like a good day to reflect further on the life and death and life of one Halbarad Dunadan :-)

Obviously everyone who loves Halbarad wishes he could have survived Pelennor and lived to see Aragorn crowned.    As I was reading your story (I've re-read it at least fifteen times, I think, since I found it) it occurred to me wonder why "Halbarad Lives" AUs are so uncommon.   

After I thought about this for a while, I decided that maybe they're rare because in our canon-loving little minds, we know it's just wrong to let Halbarad live.  We know it's too guilty a pleasure to really enjoy.   Tolkien killed Halbarad to make a point about war and loyalty and sacrifice, I think, and if it's that easy to bring him back, the point is negated.   Halbarad's death is a sacrifice, and one that he willingly made.  To let him live is to unmake that ultimate sacrifice.  It diminishes him, maybe.

And then I thought also of the father in Pet Sematary, who, when he realizes it might be possible to bring back not only his dead cat but his dead son, also recoils instantly because he instinctively knows that it's just wrong to play with death. 

And Halbarad's death, serving a symbolic and perhaps sacred purpose as it does, seems inviolable in a way that, in contrast, even Boromir's doesn't.  Letting Boromir live doesn't unmake him.

So I think you have tread on very delicate ground here.  A Halbarad Lives AU, in order to preserve the integrity of Halbarad as a character, must bow to the original outcome.  It would not do to simply have Halbarad walk hale and hearty from the field of battle as if nothing happened.   It would not be believable.   As much as a reader might want to enjoy it, she would recoil instinctively from it. 

 Rather, it seems to me it ought to closely track the original course of events, swerving barely and at the last possible moment and come to rest in an alternative outcome that is believable only by its sheer tenuousness.  A hard, firm alternate reality would not be convincing, but a shaky, hesitant one, with walls through which one could push his hand could seem real - barely; as it should be. 

"There were long darks in his mind."

The opening line was great.  Not only the words but the wording tell us there is something not quite right about the narrator.  I loved how throughout, Halbarad used  unconventional language that conveyed his tenuous hold on reality and his detachment from it - eerily appropriate since he wasn't supposed to be part of this reality at all.    We're lost with him in time and reality as he wanders, and we don't know what's happening outside just as he doesn't.   

The tense shift was a nice touch; everything seemed to snap into sharper focus as he waits, as if energized by Aragorn's immiment return into hearing and smelling and seeing things of this world and not the dreamworld he'd been lost in. 

When I first read the line, "I have the feeling I should not be here," I of course reacted thinking "LOL, clever Dwim.  That's because you're not!"  But then, as Aragorn shared his own experiences at the Black Gate, and the two of them shared the admission that they are both "not well," it seemed the lines between the realities blurred around the common mortal experience of death.  Halbarad might die on Pelennor, or not; Aragorn might die at the Black Gate, or not; but they will both surely die.  All realities will inevitably converge on that basic and common reality.

I liked the acknowledgment that Aragorn, too, faced nearly-certain death and might have some "not well"ness to overcome in the days ahead.  And I liked how the story led me to wonder how it must have been for him in this reality, leaving Halbarad behind when he left for the Black Gate, and then returning possibly without knowing if he yet lived.  It made me smile to think of his joy as he approached that figure sitting on the bench.

One of the most touching lines of the story was when you have Aragorn's voice, "recall[ing] a man to duty."  Aragorn is his strength and his purpose, and I liked how Aragorn's return is what really recalls him to life.  I loved seeing this joyful reunion that could only be possible in a story that does not have Halbarad simply dying, or simply living, but somehow barely scraping past the closing door before it slams shut and emerging like a stumbling, dust-covered survivor from a collapsed building.     Resurrection, indeed. 

  

 

 

Re: Resurrection

This seemed like a good day to reflect further on the life and death and life of one Halbarad Dunadan :-)

Indeed it is!

As I was reading your story (I've re-read it at least fifteen times, I think, since I found it)

LoL! Glad it reads well on repeats.

it occurred to me wonder why "Halbarad Lives" AUs are so uncommon.

After I thought about this for a while, I decided that maybe they're rare because in our canon-loving little minds, we know it's just wrong to let Halbarad live. We know it's too guilty a pleasure to really enjoy. Tolkien killed Halbarad to make a point about war and loyalty and sacrifice, I think, and if it's that easy to bring him back, the point is negated. Halbarad's death is a sacrifice, and one that he willingly made. To let him live is to unmake that ultimate sacrifice. It diminishes him, maybe.
[snip-paste]

And Halbarad's death, serving a symbolic and perhaps sacred purpose as it does, seems inviolable in a way that, in contrast, even Boromir's doesn't. Letting Boromir live doesn't unmake him.


That's an interesting point, and I think you're onto something, there. For me, even BoromirLives!AUs are pushing into that same area where something essential to the character is at stake. For any character who dies in the canonical story, there is a sense in which that is defining of how we understand that character. If the character does not die, we the readers feel a dissonance, because it alters how we view the character.

I think in some sense, we recognize that when the character 'comes back' or cheats death thanks to a fanfiction author's intervention, she or he is not the same person anymore (for us). And while the characters themselves, of course, can't know that in the way we know it, since ours is the impossible viewpoint on their lives, I think there is a need for this point to emerge somehow in the story. The story tends to work better, I think, when this is acknowledged, if some kind of in-frame representation of that difference can be contrived. Once a character has been killed, and we've understood him or her from that final end, in some sense, there is no coming home again: even if they do, in some sense, they never come back to themselves because those selves are grasped against the background of their canonical deaths.

With Halbarad, I find it's easiest (yes, I have actually wasted hours on thinking of alternate ways of 'resurrecting' him, enough to have a preferred way of doing it) to give that impossible perspective a place by allowing that foresighted moment to function still, to give him an in-frame way of occupying our own impossible position. In this way, he becomes a stranger to himself, someone whose identity has fallen apart and who is no longer at home in the world. But that requires him to go straight through the valley of the shadow of death and to let that journey drive him away from himself—to let him die, in a sense, and take him outside of the identity and sense of self he had had prior to Pelennor and prior to his confrontation with the Door.

In that way, I try to accomplish what amnesia, in combination with Gimli and Legolas' perspective accomplish for Boromir in EdorasLass's brilliant "Shadow of Himself", and what the heavenly chorus, guilt, and excruciating, chronic physical pain accomplish in Aeneid's equally brilliant "Adraefan." They both manage to give a plausible representation of our own god's eye perspective within the story itself, thereby injecting, as it were, our sense of dissonance and alienation into the characters' own reactions. Done well, it's very powerful, and allows the author to take into account of what is essential in a character, and also essentially bound up with the character's (manner of) death, even while refusing it in a certain sense.

And then I thought also of the father in Pet Sematary, who, when he realizes it might be possible to bring back not only his dead cat but his dead son, also recoils instantly because he instinctively knows that it's just wrong to play with death.

Another interesting point. Obviously, we're dealing with fictional death, and all power over it is purely virtual. But insofar as that fictional death has some real impact or reveals something about death or warfare (or whatever context it nests in), does it, perhaps, put us in a position where the desire to meddle with that for our own enjoyment betrays something cavalier in us with regard to a 'truth of the text', precisely insofar as the story refuses simply to conform itself to our fantasies?

[snip]

The opening line was great. Not only the words but the wording tell us there is something not quite right about the narrator. I loved how throughout, Halbarad used unconventional language that conveyed his tenuous hold on reality and his detachment from it

Thanks, that was certainly the aim. Everything flickers in and out for him, as if he himself is flickering in and out of the world for awhile (which he is); but once the world acquires some consistency, it lacks all substance even as he himself does.

The tense shift was a nice touch

That wasn't planned, it just happened. I actually had to go back and make it a feature after the fact. I'm glad it worked out well.

When I first read the line, "I have the feeling I should not be here," I of course reacted thinking "LOL, clever Dwim. That's because you're not!" But then, as Aragorn shared his own experiences at the Black Gate, and the two of them shared the admission that they are both "not well," it seemed the lines between the realities blurred around the common mortal experience of death. Halbarad might die on Pelennor, or not; Aragorn might die at the Black Gate, or not; but they will both surely die. All realities will inevitably converge on that basic and common reality.

There is a set of passages (actually, the whole treatise) that I love from Simone Weil's analysis of force in Iliad, and that I had in mind as I was writing this: "[F]or those whose soul is bent beneath the yoke of war, the connection between death and the future is not the same as for other men. For others, death is a limit imposed on the future. For soldiers, it is the future itself, the future their vocation allots. That men should have death for their future is unnatural…. The soul undergoes duress every day. Each morning it amputates itself of all aspiration, for thought cannot travel in time without encountering death… one has abolished in oneself the thought that to see the light of day is sweet…" ('Iliad' or the Poem of Force, 58-60).

Both Aragorn and Halbarad have gone through that, and managed, somehow, to hold onto the ability to think that the light of day actually does matter, to desire it because it is sweet, or at least they arrive there eventually. But it takes Halbarad longer, because he's been brought closer to death than Aragorn has, and his thinned, listless, meaningless world reflects the guttering of desire in him, and his sense of lacking any meaningful relationship to the people and things around him.

I liked how the story led me to wonder how it must have been for him in this reality, leaving Halbarad behind when he left for the Black Gate, and then returning possibly without knowing if he yet lived. It made me smile to think of his joy as he approached that figure sitting on the bench.

I imagine Aragorn would have vacillated between hoping Halbarad would recover and thinking it might be kinder if he died, especially if the Quest failed. I imagine that at some point, they'd have a very interesting conversation about those moments of despair when Aragorn might well have regretted not simply letting Halbarad go, or actively administering the coup de grâce while he had the chance. All part of measuring their sickness.

One of the most touching lines of the story was when you have Aragorn's voice, "recall[ing] a man to duty." Aragorn is his strength and his purpose, and I liked how Aragorn's return is what really recalls him to life.

How else could it be? And I think, too, that it was important that Aragorn be a little exposed here, that he show his vulnerability and his need for Halbarad to stay with him. That ultimately proves to be what reaches Halbarad first and most substantially, and commits him to live in the world again, however much it hurts, rather than let himself sleepwalk through it.

I loved seeing this joyful reunion that could only be possible in a story that does not have Halbarad simply dying, or simply living, but somehow barely scraping past the closing door before it slams shut and emerging like a stumbling, dust-covered survivor from a collapsed building. Resurrection, indeed.

Nice image!

Well, I have to be up and about early, but I did want to respond to this before I collapsed into bed. Thank you for such a lengthy, thoughtful response—after the day I've had, it was lovely to find this in my inbox. Once again, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this so, but think of it as repayment for your lovely Thorongil-Denethor story… (Hurry up and come, May, so I can justify my addictions!)

Dwim

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

We're sorry. This is a closed discussion. Content is available only to invited readers.

« Back to Dwim's Stories (was Lie Down...)