Forum: Research Questions

Discussing: lingering

lingering

I am looking for info for a fic I am writing concerning elves 'lingering', the life cycle in which their fea overwhelms their hroa and they become invisible to mortals. I believe this started at the beginning of the 2nd age. I am wondering how long it would take for an elf to reach this invisible stage and would it have been possible for an elf to have been lingering during Aragorn's reign? is it possible that the elf could be invisible to other elves? And if choosing to appear to a mortal, could they choose to appear as a child or only in their true past physical form? Or I am completely not understanding this part of elven aging?

Any help is greatly appreciated!
NiRi

 

 

Re: lingering

I think that by 'lingering', you mean 'fading'?  POME, in the Appendix on Languages, notes on page 78 that elves 'still lingered in Middle-earth' after the First Age, but I don't think he meant that they were fading - or at least, at that point, 'fading' only meant weariness, one of the consequences of the Doom that the Three were meant to alleviate.

However, on page 79, Tolkien writes of the elves of Mirkwood, 'fading in the fastness of the woods and hills, as Men usurped the lands'.  I think this would be in the Fourth Age and beyond, since there were clearly Elves about through the end of Aragorn's reign and beyond.  I think you're right about the fading elves becoming more fea than hroa, though I can't cite anything of help there.

There is another phenomenon that might be helpful to your story - that of elves who refused the call of Mandos and who were definitely elves without hroar.  Tolkien discusses them in LACE (MG p 223-224) and notes that it became more common for elves to refuse the summons upon death during the 'after-days' (after Sauron).

 

 

Re: lingering

Hi! I'm late to this discussion, having only recently joined, but may I still participate? You write:

Tolkien discusses them in LACE (MG p 223-224) and notes that it became more common for elves to refuse the summons upon death during the 'after-days' (after Sauron).

However, ibid on page 224 the text speaks about the difficulty for mortals to distinguish between the two, the Unhoused and the Lingerers, because both seem invisible and become visible to mortals only if they so choose; "On the one hand the Houseless, who rebels at least against the Rulers, and maybe deeper under the Shadow; on the other hand the Lingerers, whose bodily forms may not longer be seen by us mortals, or seen only dimly and fitfully." And the Houseless may seek shelter in the unsuspecting human who is foolish enough to welcome them into his mind and they may try to wrestle his body from him.

But he continues to say that "Moreover, the Lingerers are not houseless, though they may seem to be. They do not seek bodies, neither do they seek shelter, nor strive for mastry over body and mind."

So, if the Lingerers are faded to the point where their fea has consumed their hroa, but they are not houseless, that means they must still have some kind of a body. But does that 'body' can affect the physical world? If the distinction between Houseless whithout a hroa and Lingerers who are not Houseless should mean anything, I would think the Lingerers must have such a way to affect the physical world, or the distinction between the two kind of invisible Elves would be meaningless; and then, IMHO, there would be no reason why the Lingerers should not desire a body that *can* affect the physical world instead of one that is only a memory of their own fea.

Also, on page 219, Tolkien says that at the end of that process of the hroa becoming a memory of the fea "the Elves are indeed deathless and may not be destroyed or changed." -- Which IMHO also makes only sense when they still can affect the pfhysical world and are not akin to the Houseless.

But there Tolkien leaves us, right in the middle of nowhere, to draw our own conclusions. So, I think the idea that the faded Elves become invisible to mortals if they so choose, but still *can* affect the physical world if they want to, is IMHO as justified as the idea that they become, indeed, just spirits who cannot take true physical form anymore. But in the notes to LACE, there are a few hints that the latter migt also be the case (although in my view, it would make less sense).

Aislynn

 

 

Re: lingering

Also, on page 219, Tolkien says that at the end of that process of the hroa becoming a memory of the fea "the Elves are indeed deathless and may not be destroyed or changed."

And here's a question --  how long does this process of fading take?  We see Cirdan (an Elf of the Journey) at the end of the third age, and he still seems to be quite solid and visible.  It this an illusion?  It this the effect of his wearing Narya for a time?  Enquiring minds want to know.

 

 

Re: lingering

Hi!

And here's a question -- how long does this process of fading take?

Tolkien does not say, except that aparently the text given in LACE is meant to talk about our modern times, or at least the time when Aelfwine brought the whole thing back to Ennor; the passage I quoted above in MR p. 219 says that the process "has been already achieved in many regions of Middle Earth", but that is apparently set far down the Fourth Age (or later).

So, IMHO, apparently the process is taking longer than just Three Ages and at the end of the Third Age, Cirdan was not there yet; or maybe the process is also linked or enhanced by the replacing of the Second Theme of the Music by the Third, and after the end of the Third Age, it got faster.

(Of course, it could also be that Tolkien was not completely decided about the whole process and did not settle on one meaning. One of the notes to LACE does speak of the faded elves *becoming spirits no less than tose in Mandos* in an earlier version, after all, although he seems to have rejected that one in the end.)

 

 

Re: lingering

I don't think you can put a specific time frame on fading.  The impression I've gotten from LACE and such is that it's a highly variably process, dependent largely on the temperment of the individual.  It seems to be fed by disengagement: when Elves surrender to the fact that "this too shall pass."  When you can't bear where Time is taking you, you can either go West or spend as much time as possible in those vivid Elven memories.

Cirdan is clearly extraordinary: he has never surrendered, never disengaged (at least not by the end of the Third Age).  Perhaps the fact that the Sea doesn't change helps.  (The shore changes hourly, daily; but the waves never.)  Keeping Narya for a time wouldn't hurt, either.

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Re: lingering

(Of course, it could also be that Tolkien was not completely decided about the whole process and did not settle on one meaning. One of the notes to LACE does speak of the faded elves *becoming spirits no less than tose in Mandos* in an earlier version, after all, although he seems to have rejected that one in the end.)

Tolkien may have rejected the LACE entirely at the end.  We really have no way of knowing, since he never saw fit to publish it.

One thing I have noticed is the change from reincarnation of elf spirits to the passage through Mandos with eventual re-embodiment.  That is a significant change in concept.

I find I like Adaneth's suggestion that fading depended on the individual temperament of the elf.  Le Chaim!  Wink

 

 

Re: lingering

 it's a highly variably process, dependent largely on the temperment of the individual.  It seems to be fed by disengagement: when Elves surrender to the fact that "this too shall pass."  When you can't bear where Time is taking you, you can either go West or spend as much time as possible in those vivid Elven memories.

Ai!  Do you know this sounds exactly like what happens to old people?  Some withdraw from life and become 'elderly' while others of the same age are still actively engaged in life.  I suppose it's a matter of having a reason to hang around and keep interested.

 

 

Re: lingering

>>Cirdan is clearly extraordinary: he has never surrendered, never disengaged (at least not by the end of the Third Age). Perhaps the fact that the Sea doesn't change helps. (The shore changes hourly, daily; but the waves never.) Keeping Narya for a time wouldn't hurt, either.

I've always believed that Cirdan never used Narya - Tolkien does not mention Mithlond being among the elven realms that benefited from the Rings in the Third Age (ref Silm, 'Rings of Power'), and it doesn't seem to have had much effect when he gave it to Mithrandir. In any case, he couldn't have used it for more than the first thousand years of the Third Age.

Rather, I think there are two elements at work here. First, Cirdan was Sindarin and thus not subject to the Doom. I don't think that means he would never fade, but that he wouldn't be subject to the weariness of the Noldor, and perhaps thus slower to fade. Second, as you suggest, he remained vital and involved. Imladris and Lorien became living museums by the end of the Third Age, but Cirdan is supposed to have remained until the last ship sailed (and was requested to do so by Ulmo, which might also have an effect).

 

 

Re: lingering

I've always believed that Cirdan never used Narya - Tolkien does not mention Mithlond being among the elven realms that benefited from the Rings in the Third Age (ref Silm, 'Rings of Power'), and it doesn't seem to have had much effect when he gave it to Mithrandir. In any case, he couldn't have used it for more than the first thousand years of the Third Age.

Same here: giving the Ring of Fire to the Shipwright seems so . . . antithetical.  Just the thing you'd do if you wanted it kept safe but not used.  Perhaps, given the often negative connotations of fire in Middle-earth, it was considered too, um, hot to handle.  Wink

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

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