The Lost Road

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Deviant Shadow 29/Nov/2006 at 01:39 AM
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When Elves embark upon the last journey towards Tol Eressea, and " The land falls away beneath their ships " and they follow the Straight Road to the Lonely isle, do they travel in space, in darkness and then miracously ( here meaning without any water to sail upon! ) sail into Avallone ? Or do they never realise that they’re flying in space, and the world just looks normal ?

In the same vein, are Valinor and Tol Eressea floating miraculously in space ?
Stiffler Vaneyar 29/Nov/2006 at 07:46 PM
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No, how I understand it is this. Tol Eressea is an island that is seperate from Valinor, yet is a part of it. It says ’the land’ falls away, not the water. Valinor has mountains completely surounding it, though, and so no one can get into it anymore, but they can land on Tol Eressea. Of course, I could be wrong, and I probably am. But that’s what I understand.

Welcome to the Plaza, by the way!

ThoréandanSilverleaf 29/Nov/2006 at 07:52 PM
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Actually Stiff, I think in this case you are. I believe that Valinor was in fact ripped out of Arda, and is floating in space. It is a strange arrangement, and one that I, probably like many others, have trouble getting my head around. But then it’s no stranger than the world of Eä being flat originally and then being changed to round like a globe.
Qtpie 29/Nov/2006 at 09:08 PM
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Actually Thoredan I believe Stiff may be right on this one. I can’t exactly imagine how Valinor can be ripped out of Arda and is floating in space, when it has water surrounding it and mountains and stuff. Also when you say it is ripped out of Arda you are saying that it is ripped out of the World, and as far as I know the Lords of the West can’t leave Arda, so if their home was outside of Arda they would be violating that rule. And yes, Valinor has mountains surrounding it after Melko destruction of the Two Trees and Tol Eressea can be reached.
Dany 30/Nov/2006 at 03:06 PM
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I don’t think that Valinor is floating in space, I think it’s more floating on the water, and impossible to reach. I mean, essentially I suppose that’s the same thing as it being floating in space; each would make it an entirely unattainable destination. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure it’s firmly (as firmly as an island can be, at any rate) planted in the ocean.
Nenarye 30/Nov/2006 at 08:30 PM
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Thats how I have always thought of if . . .
Ankala Teaweed 07/Dec/2006 at 06:00 PM
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It is a curious thing. "Space" as we understand it is not present in this context, yet one could conceive of Valinor "floating" but almost as though it is in another dimension now separate from that of mortals.
As others have noted, it is not on the seas that mortals can reach, yet it is still surrounded by ocean, and Elves do still arrive by ship.

Yet it is still part of Arda. It is one of those mysteries never entirely explained.

Kaulargorn 13/Dec/2006 at 03:46 PM
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About your question for space. We see Gandalf describes space when explaining his deathly experience with Balrog to Aragorn,Legolas and Gimly. So I think that someone who would take that road, would have such an unnatural experience as seeing the space

Qtpie 13/Dec/2006 at 09:55 PM
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Gandalf left Arda and the world and was summoned directly to Eru.

’Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.’ The Two Towers: The White Rider

Just as a note I believe Gandalf was the only one to take that "road", and I doubt anyone else would’ve experienced what Gandalf experienced when they died, because his death was special. He didn’t go back to Valinor or anything like that but his fea was summoned directly to Eru. The Ainu who entered the world can’t leave it till the world ends and the same goes for the Elves.

’But this condition Illuvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until is is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs.’ The Silmarillion: Ainulindale

geordie 14/Dec/2006 at 12:34 PM
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I looked this up in Hammond and Scull’s LotR: A Reader’s Companion. They quote from The Letters of JRR Tolkien. In letter no. 325 Tolkien wrote:

The ’immortals’ who were permitted to leave Middle-earth... set sail in ships specially made and hallowed for this voyage, and steered due West towards the ancient site of these lands. They only set out after sundown, but if any keen-eyed observer from that shore had watched one of those ships he might have seen that it never became hull-down but dwindled only by distance until it vanished in the twilight; it followed the straight road to the true West and not the bent road of the earth’s surface. As it vanished it left the physical world. There was no return.’

Captain Bingo 14/Dec/2006 at 02:50 PM
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My thought is of it as a kind of ’fork in the road’ but one fork is closed off to (most) mortals & they never even see it, let alone are able to take it - for them it doesn’t exist.

I wouldn’t press analysis too far though - I think sometimes ’poetry’ communicates truth better than ’facts’. I’m sure someone could come up with a theory based around quantum singularities & wormholes into different dimensions that would please some of the more literal minded, but I personally don’t care for that kind of thing....
Bjorn 16/Dec/2006 at 04:42 PM
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"For even after the ruin the hearts of the Dunedain were still set westwards; and though they knew indeed that the world was changed, they said: ’Avallone is vanished from the Earth and the Land of Aman is taken away, and in the world of this present darkness they cannot be found. Yet once they were, and therefore they still are, in true being and in the whole shape of the world as at first it was devised.’"  My italics.
This could be implying that the Lonely Isle and Aman still exist, somewhere, as physical entities. Our first thoughts turn to space... but, then, wouldn’t they be noticed? I verily doubt that this is so, and so I tend to think that yes, they do exist, however not as physical entities within the context of the world.

"Thus in after days, what by the voyages of ships, what by lore and star-craft, the kings of Men knew that the world was indeed made round, and yet the Eldar were permitted still to depart and to come to the Ancient West and to Avallone, if they would. Therefore the loremasters of Men said that a Straight Road must still be, for those that were permitted to find it. And they taught that, while the new world fell away, the old road and the path of the memory of the West still went on, as it were a mighty bridge invisible that passed through the air of breath and flight (which were bent now as the world was bent), and traversed Ilmen which flesh unaided cannot endure, until it came to Tol Eressea, the Lonely Isle, and maybe even beyond, to Valinor, where the Valar still dwell and watch the unfolding of the story of the world."
Again, this could imply that a ship ’flies’ - but to where? A magical floating island? Again, I would think that they are still sailing on water, but that’s not to say this ’water’ is completely material. "As it were a mighty bridge invisible that passed through the air of breath and flight, and traversed Ilmen which flesh unaided cannot endure". My reasoning is that once one is on this path, there is no going back. You have passed the veil seperating one world from the other. You are no longer a physical being (in the context of the world you just left). At a viewpoint from the world you just left, you are now a ’spirit’. You cannot return, and if by some grace you did, not in the same form. Let’s say a mortal boat was closely tailing an Elvish vessel bound for this path (they are both travelling at the same speed for the entire journey), the mortal boat and the men on board not given permission to traverse upon it, of course. How I see it is that once the Elvish vessel strikes this path, it starts to "speed up" (not really, but it seems like it to the mortal eye) and eventually simply vanishes in the distance. By the time this happens, let’s say, the mortal boat has now reached the far east (whilst the Elvish vessel has anchored in Avallone). Quite simple. Now pretend your on the Elvish vessel, what do you see in front and about you? Sea. Behind you the mortal boat has ’lagged’ (not really ), it only seems that way because your now on a different road). What the mortals just experienced was not a speed-boost, nor did time speed up about them, they simply witnessed the Elvish vessel pass through a veil, one which their ungraced mortal flesh is too "heavy" to pass. And those mortals who had been graced to traverse this path, could never come back. For the condition is, simply, death.

Its quite an abstract concept, actually! And yet all mythologies have them - take Yggdrasil and the nine worlds as an example.

Arandorion 20/Dec/2006 at 06:26 AM
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bjorn: I must say that’s quite an impressive theorie you have there. And it all seems well plausibel. But can it only be Elvish vessels ... made especially for that trip that can pas there or can a vesel of mortals or hobbits ( i know hobbits don’t sail) can do the trip also if they where granted permission ? I’m eager to hear what  you’re theorie says of this