August 9, 2008
4 years & 2 kids later & still talking balrogs LOL
As it says in the title, since my last post I and Mrs Brett C have been blessed with 2 children, Alexander [almost 4] and Gwendoline Rose [5 months], but I still cannot escape the most fearsome of all Tolkien debates LOL
In fact, it has been so long I had forgotten my password and changed my email, so I am here in slightly altered form - not unlike the balrog itself, you might say ;)
Anyway, I agree with some of your fundamentals Everret, but not all, as I shall illustrate in this post in reply to another of Michael M's assertions. The important thing to remember is that this is a debate about three pages in a fantasy novel, not the answer to world injustice.
Firstly, let me say that as well worded as Michael's post is on Xenite, he makes a good number of reasonable sounding comments that on closer examination are in no way supported by the text of any of Tolkiens publications, if indeed they are not flatly contradicted.
For example, this bit of suppostion...
"Then we turn to the question of whether Balrogs really CAN fly. The short answer is that they were Maiar and that Maiar can whatever they please."
This is patently untrue in the case of Balrogs, as they are FALLEN Maiar. One only has to look at the example of Morgoth himself - as he becomes more and more corrupt he finds himself trapped in a grotesque, immutable earthbound form. Further, in chapters of Unfinished Tales we learn of Sauron barely escaping the onslaught of the Numenoreans in Eriador with some of his personal gaurd. This would be a very strange passage indeed if the Lord of the Rings could fly.
Now as regards the actual physical nature of the demon, let me put forth some ideas that upheld by text.
First, the Balrogs form does indeed seem to be maleable. Evidence supporting this in text can be found in Gandalf's description of their underground battle.
"His fire was quenched, but he had become a creature of muck and slime, stronger than a strangling snake."
Muck and slime are, of course, highly fluid and pretty much useless for molding into a set shape. The demon in this form seems to be a thing of almost shapeless malice, an anthropomorphic piece of darkness. Now this next is a supposition on my part, but I put forth it is not great leap to read in this passage Tolkiens intention that the Balrogs in general, in their fall, have LOST the ability to take on a constant phsyical form. This in consistent with both the physical devolutions of both Sauron and Morgoth. As such, the demons are consigned to an existence where they cannot assume a set form, but instead must endure immortality as misshapen, shifting enitities.
But does this mean that their wings are physical reality? I would say not. As I stated above, muck and slime are maleable, but they are also fairly insubstantial. The Balrog can certainly alter the size and shape of the shadow-like darkness that surrounds it, but it remains basically without substance. There is no physcial reality in it.
That is my read anyway. As I said some of it is supposition, but it is extrapololation with substance - pardon the pun ;)
Whew, that was a big post. I wont put any more into this post now, but next time I will tackle Michael's interesting conjectures about why a winged Balrog does not fly, in Moria at least.