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|Learning to Live by Bodkin||14 Review(s)|
|Imhiriel||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/28/2006|
|Oropher's emotions are depicted very evocatively and believably. To first know nothing, just exist. And then slowly learning, and the weight of memory and knowledge getting always heavier and you just can't concentrate on any one detail. The feeling of drifting...|
"It was easier there. There you did not have the solidity of a body to bind you to the earth." - I think this sums up well the disconnect between Námo's Halls and then having to learn to live in the real world again.
His memories of his past paint a picture of his life that fills gaps that fit very neatly into the sparse details of what Tolkien described.
To show the connection between a Wood-Elf and the forest, the give-and-take, is something that you excel at, and here it's again wonderful.
Author Reply: The more I think about those who return from Mandos's Halls, the more difficult I think the whole process must have been - not just for the returnee, but also for those around them! In the Halls, I imagine the fea took as long as it wanted to learn to deal firstly with death and then with all the trials of life - any guilt, any reasons for unfelt guilt - all the gradual development of understanding and coming to terms with actions and inactions - but I feel that it was largely introspective. Returning to a body would bring with it the difficulties of emotion and sensation - and returning to the world would have the strain of dealing with other people and their reactions. And I don't think it's something that Namo could prepare elves to experience. For one thing, I'm not sure he would understand it himself.
Oropher's memories - just came. What surprised me most was finding that he was Sindar 'royalty' on his mother's side rather than his father's! He needs the forest very badly right now. He's too obstinate to learn willingly from instruction - he needs experience and the experience he needs now is a healthy tranquil forest, silence and maybe the arrival of a few - a very few - people who know who he is. (Beneath the surface, that is. Not the King, but the ellon.)
|Redheredh||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/13/2006|
|Boy, this was really good. You have such insight into the soul. And the ability to express that.|
But, what I love most is how you have been peeling back the shroud around Oropher and helping readers appreciate him better. The elf you returned does have a place in the BR along side Finrod and Glorfindel. And he is recovering on his own terms. Not in some cloistered building, but in the open forest where his core (ore) truly resides. Yes, he does need some understanding company. But, he'll be ok. He's faced worst practically on his own.
The idea that the re-embodied spirit faces a greater challenge than when in Mandos is one I fully support. The past cannot be weighed out if it is closed away and essentially forgotten. Forgiveness for our trespasses is found in restitution and penance. Not in denial. The recognition of one's accomplishments is necessary for some people before they can rest from the endeavor. And go on to the next. *sheesh* Just getting way too philosophical and moralistic again...
This was a good story and very well-told. As usual!
Author Reply: Thank you, Redheredh. Poor Oropher is finding the process of fitting himself back into his body quite stressful. Too much noise, too much interest, too much emotion. He is probably right, though, that he needs to get himself off to the forest to recover in his own way. As far as other people are concerned - I think Eleniel and Galenthil might be good for him. Young enough to accept him as he is. Or someone from the distant past - who has been through the same experiences and doesn't need to ask questions.
I think that while in Mandos the spirit can deal with the bigger issues - the philosophy and acceptance and morality of it all, perhaps, but emotions need a body. And living with others - presupposes the presence of others.
I'm pleased you liked it.
|Dot||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/12/2006|
|Wow. Oropher can brood with the best of them! Fascinating look at the process of healing. I suppose I always imagined that the healing took place in the Halls - sorrows and hurts soothed, wrongdoings faced and forgiven - and that they emerge with… I don’t know… a type of wisdom and insight that would put them beyond old concerns. But I found your look at this really interesting. It seems like elves are washed clean and attain a certain innocence – only to be assailed by memories once they try to make a life for themselves in the BR. I suppose it must have been harder in a way once more and more elves left Middle-earth because they bring with them their weariness and pain and memories and those in the BR are faced with this. And Oropher, of course, had much pain and grief to remember. I can hardly stand to think what it must have been like to have memories he thought he’d dealt with suddenly so fresh again. |
You give some beautiful glimpses into his past – his Naneth singing to him, Melian and Thingol looking after him, the coming of the moon and the sun. And hints of other forces directing him – the loss of his adar, the inevitability of his taking up weapons, the arrival of the Noldor…
I’m intrigued by his mother, by the way. She clearly had to make a decision after her husband’s death and chose to stay with her son and it sounds like she put everything she had into his upbringing. He thinks of her with a lot of respect as well as love. I’m charmed by the idea of her ensuring he had such an all-round education! But it must have been a grief to her to know that he couldn’t live a life of peace.
It really is an interesting question about why some people leave Námo’s Halls before others. I’m thinking that perhaps Oropher wasn’t really as ready as he thought he was – though it’s hard to know what Námo thinks or how the decision is made.
One of my favourite parts of this is the idea that Oropher preferred the night to the day. It’s a reminder of his earlier life and seems like a glimpse of who he really is. And the language throughout is so beautiful. I should probably pick out some phrases but really, the whole thing is just gorgeous and feels so rich and smooth.
I love the ending. Oropher is still Oropher – and he still has the same determination that he always had. He just needed to accept there was a hard road ahead of him and now he can begin to walk it without looking back. You create a wonderful image of a strong, intelligent elf who was just feeling a little lost and overwhelmed. Who knows, he might even learn a little patience as he works through things now! But he needs his wife. And yes, that was a hint ;-) This was a beautiful and insightful piece, Bodkin.
Author Reply: I think I've rather come to the conclusion that, while much of the necessary healing is achieved while in Namo's Halls, the actual resumption of a body brings a whole emotional level to recovery that cannot be started until an elf has returned to his life. And emotions complicate matters. Then, the other aspect of living that simply cannot be tackled in the Halls is how other people react towards you. I think, perhaps, that there is usually an intervening stage where Este's handmaidens (or some group - have you read Redheredh's Beech Leaves?) gently lead the returned into dealing with the influx of emotion. Oropher, of course, decided he didn't need that - and is now faced with dealing with those pressures on his own. He could change his mind and ask for help - but he won't, because he would rather do it all for himself!
I find myself interested in Oropher's parentage! I had always assumed that his father was one of the Sindar princes (somehow) and his mother was possibly Silvan - but they then went and pronounced themselves to be the other way round. His mother chose to invest herself in raising her son - and I think she was killed along with Elu.
Who returns - and when - are fascinating questions. Why did Finrod return so quickly? What about innocents - the children slaughtered at Sirion or in Doriath? Feanor never returned - and neither, I think I remember, did Finwe - but is the choice theirs? Or does Namo decide? You could just spend for ever trying to fit some logic to it all.
The night, I think - well, it reminds him of his childhood, when everything seemed simple and secure. And it is more womb-like to someone who is still rather raw - and the night does have a special beauty.
Oropher has tremendous determination. He needs time and silence and unquestioning support at the moment - from someone who has none of the baggage of past struggles or else from someone who understands him well enough not to demand anything. His great-grandchildren probably offer more comfort than most. Or, as you say, his wife.
Thank you, Dot. I'm glad you liked it.
|Inglor||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/10/2006|
|Daw said it as well as I could have. You really do have a way of letting the reader crawl around inside your characters like very few other writers I have read, professional or otherwise.|
Thanks for the Finrod tease too.
Sucked into yet another of your fics,
Author Reply: Thank you, Inglor. I'm flattered! Poor Oropher is just inundated with memory and the sheer beauty of the world around him at the moment. Sensory overload. But he will learn to control the emotion and settle down.
A first chapter of Finrod is sitting on file waiting to see where it's going next. And for Bridges to finish. (I think that will only be three chapters. Or, at least, that's the plan!)
Glad you liked it!
|Nilmandra||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/10/2006|
|I cannot imagine being reborn into a world with the weight of such memories to contend with. What happened to healing in those Halls! Poor Oropher.. such a struggle, but he will find his place. His confidence and endurance shine through her. Nicely written.... I think we can all identify at times.|
Author Reply: It must be so hard. I think that healing does occur in the Halls - but that an unhoused fea learns without the confinement of a body and in the absence of emotion. And, too, in the absence of contact with other people. Understanding is probably at a very deep level - but once the fea is rehoused the elf has to deal with the physical aspects. Possibly Namo doesn't even really realise this is a problem - after all, the Valar only shrug on bodies for convenience. I suspect there is a system where the returned elves can take their time - in a very calm environment - and learn to deal with their memories. Oropher, of course ... Well - he's just too impatient. And, I think, would rather do it on his own, anyway.
Thank you, Nilmandra.
|ziggy||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/10/2006|
|This is so utterly right - I love the idea of the returned emerging like a butterfly - beautiful imafe, emphasises the fragility and trembling newness but returning to being flesh and blood- a really complex and wonderful image. And the weight of his thoughts slows down the pace and I really took time to think about the implications of returning- thought provoking indeed without lecturing. Yes, you need time sometimes to take on your mistakes and to live with yourself in your own skin- I love that idea that it is easier i=without the body to feel emotions etc. |
Author Reply: Returning to live again must be such a difficult experience. In the Halls, I think, the fear of the elves learn without the pressure of physical existence and in the absence of emotion - so that when they are rehoused they have to start again, almost, in learning to cope with who they are. And Oropher, of course, being rather impatient, wants it all to happen at once - and then finds that he needs to sift through his past and acknowledge it before putting it away so that he can move on.
Thank you, ziggy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
|meckinock||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/9/2006|
|You've made me well believe how the newly re-housed could be drawn into endless brooding. Especially a re-housed Oropher! This line said it all: He was not ready for the weight of memory that came with being Oropher.|
Such wonderful, deep questions came out of his brooding, too. Why do some return and not others? What of one's old life still matters? Should the past be forgotten, or not? So much to think about, and for them, all the time in the world to do it.
Your descriptions, as always, are breathtaking. You do amazing things with sky and water, particularly!
Author Reply: Oropher - being Oropher - rushed his return a little, I think. I suspect there is a system to help returned elves adjust to dealing with the influx of emotion that comes with the body and offers training in filing away all that freshly stirred memory. Then there is the problem of dealing with others - their hopes and expectations and recollection of a past that might seem quite different to you.
And the questions as to why some return and not others - well, you only have to start writing in the BR for questions like that to get you brooding in the night! Not that I have come to any conclusions! And then, learning to deal with your mistakes - acknowledging and understanding your errors and forgiving yourself and your enemies ... well, what good does that do when you return to a world where most people have not undergone Namo's methods and you are surrounded by those who neither forgive nor forget? It is a fascinating topic. I'm not surprised Oropher is spending a lot of time contemplating it all.
Thank you, Meckinock. I'm flattered!
|Gwynhyffar||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/9/2006|
|This was really really great. Oropher trying to come to terms with his past is very angsty, as it would be. He has certainly seen a lot in his life and now coming back and dealing with it all.|
I found his thoughts and feelings very realistic and your desciptions of things like orc multiplying like maggots in a corpse painted a vivid picture.
Author Reply: Thank you, Gwynhyffar. Oropher would find it hard to adjust to living, I think. Too many memories and all of them far too fresh. He really needed to take advantage of the Valar's counselling scheme - but, typically, he rejected that because he wanted to do it on his own.
I'm glad you found his brooding realistic - it must be almost impossible to turn towards the future when the past is weighing you down.
|lwarren||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/9/2006|
|I like how you have taken us into Oropher's thoughts as he struggles to live and understand this new life in the Blessed Realm. It must be very difficult to be released from the Halls - rehoused in a new body, with a new measure of wisdom, yet still with the memories of the old life and all the regrets and pain that come with them. Oropher has much to deal with from his past...I hope his wife will soon join him, to help anchor and ground him to this new life he is facing. A lovely, thoughtful story, Bodkin! |
(I have decided that being brain-dead is not conducive to coherent reviewing...I hope this made more sense than I think it does! *vtg*..that's 't' as in 'tired') lol
Author Reply: I do think return must be a very difficult process. (I hate to think how chaotic it must have been when first Namo started sending people forth. At least now they have systems!) The freshness of every memory must have made everything seem like yesterday - and it must have needed strength of mind to put them away and move on.
Leaders, too, have so many choices to regret - so many for whom they were responsible - that it's not surprising that some of the earliest still haven't returned. Perhaps, (thinking as I go), later leaders have a better understanding of the likelihood of error and a better realisation that they cannot be responsible for everything.
I hope his wife returns to him. I think she will become aware of his need and respond to it.
Sleep! Rest! And then immerse yourself in fun stuff. Are you back with the cockroaches yet? What type of kids will you have this year, I wonder!
Thank you Linda. Glad you liked it.
|Ellie||Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 8/9/2006|
|THis was wonderful. Poor Oropher. This was so very insightful and his pain and frustration and desolation are so real but it is all tempered by his need to go on and his fierce determination. Now you need to write one where his wife returns to him.|
Very well done!
Author Reply: Oropher is very determined. Not to mention obstinate! He didn't think he needed help readjusting to life - and now finds that he does. But he will learn - the forest will help him and he will learn to deal with his memories. And fingers crossed his wife will return to him - I can't think of anything that will help him more than that.