From Tolkien Gateway
Latest comment: 18 March 2012 by Morgan in topic Elaboration


We need to be careful about drawing conclusions about possible correspondences between real-world locations and the legendarium (Tolkien himself refused to analyse the LotR as an analogy). In case no one disagrees, I will remove the (current) note on inspiration.--Morgan 17:18, 16 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed. --Ederchil (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 17:35, 16 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
+1 --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 11:29, 17 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Disagreed (willing to elaborate if asked) Sage 15:34, 17 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
+1 (on the condition that a source to a Tolkien scholar is given, like in the current situation). --Amroth 16:00, 17 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sage: please, elaborate. --Morgan 16:15, 17 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(Side note: whatever is decided here can we at least agree to take this out of an "Inspiration" heading. I doubt we'll get any proof that Tolkien was inspired by the Atlantic Ocean.) --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 16:28, 17 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Disagree --Amroth 16:38, 17 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


First of all I am replying to Morgan's rationale about not drawing conclusions and parallels:
When Tolkien spoke about LotR and analogies he mainly discouraged conclusions such as "Saruman represents Hitler", "The Ring represents the atomic power" and so on. But cosmographic parallels are a wholly different story. In Letter 294 T was asked about such a matter and said "the North-west of ‘Middle-earth’ [is] equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the north shores of the Mediterranean". Of course earlier in the letter he admitted "it would be difficult to fit" M-e's map and prehistorical Earth.
(I am not sure if it was in the same letter where T admits that he didn't take into consideration paleogeological evidence for drawing his maps. When finally someone brought this to his attention, he said that now it would be too late to change the story.)
With the above I want to point out that even if T did discourage drawing parallels on certain topics, in other topics he appeared far from discouraging, negative and dismissive. Although considering scientific evidence was not a priority, causing his creation be hard to fit with reality, he did not say something like "this matter is totally out, as LotR is not an analogy"
Now, I must open the matter of "speculation" vs. "self-evidence".
Must T mention that Erestor is immortal? Would it be "original research" or "unsourced claim" to mention that he is immortal? No. We can and do employ common sense and syllogism for such generic self-evident things: All Elves are immortal; Erestor is an Elf; ergo, it's self-evident that Erestor is immortal. No proof is required.
So if T admits an "equivalence" between the Westlands and Europe, the only straightforward mathematical consequent is "ergo Belegaer is equivalent to the Atlantic"; it's too self-evident to even call it an observation, an assumption, a theory, or an "original research".
Now, if you object with the phrasing "Belegaer is the Atlantic" why object to T's own word "equivalent"? Do we need a scholar to make the self-evident syllogism for us?
I understand that such syllogisms usually fall under the "original research" umbrella in Wikipedia which can be understandable for important real-life topics; but unless TG consciously decides to copy this mentality (to which I'd object if I were asked), I tend to support us being common-sensical over the letter of the law.
PS. I didn't add the "Atlantic" part in the article; I only moved it to another section.

Sage: thank you for a well-considered reply - I will try to find time tomorrow to write some kind of answer or feedback. --Morgan 21:46, 17 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Already in the first version of this article, we find:
"Belegaer corresponds with (and is intended to be) the Atlantic Ocean."
As I suspected, our first version of the article was a copy of a 2005 version the Wikipedia article, which had the same statement. Let's see how WP handled the statement. The first step was to add:
"Belegaer corresponds with (and is intended to be) the Atlantic Ocean and is perhaps of comparable width."
In a second step, considerably softening the claims:
"Belegaer corresponds with (and may be intended to be, as Middle-Earth may represent Europe) the Atlantic Ocean and is perhaps of comparable width."
So, we have two "may" and one "perhaps" in one sentence... No wonder that in the discussion on the Belegaer article, when it was nominated for deletion, one of the arguments was that the article offered:
"brief, speculatory, and unreferenced relations between the fiction of Tolkein and the real-life world."
The article wasn't deleted, but a consequence was that the "Atlantic statement" was removed in a third step.
How do we, then, deal with the statement? Sage appears to argue that we can keep it based on a logical conclusion. The logic would be derived from Tolkien's statements in letter 294 about equivalences in latitude between some locations in Middle-earth and Europe. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy that logic. The issue is much more complex, and involves the question of how the legendarium relates to the real world, the relationship between mythology and history.
Sage gives an example of an apparently similar logic: (1) all Elves were immortal. (2) Erestor is an Elf. (3) Therefore Erestor is immortal. For the "Atlantic statement", we could therefore stipulate something like: (1) all places in Middle-earth correspond to places in the real world. (2) Belegaer is a place in Middle-earth. (3) Therefore Belegaer corresponds to the Atlantic Ocean. However, where does Tolkien say that all places in Middle-earth correspond to places in the real world? In my opinion, it is very speculative to create an argument based on letter 294; it's not self-evident or common sense.--Morgan 14:23, 18 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My logic was rather (1) The Westlands are eq. to Europe (2) the ocean adjacent on the western "side" of Europe is the Atlantic (3) Belegaer is eq. to the Atlantic. And this can be reinforced if we apply the logic on T's word about Numenor and Atlantis.
If we need some input from a "scholar", we can see Lalaith's projection. Simple, plain visual input (which I wouldn't call speculation) tells us that Belegaer fits on the Atlantic.
Of course we can object to the above if we become ritualistic and legalistic to Wikipedia's logic. One can say "Yes, but Lalaith speaks about M-e; he doesn't mention the names "Belegaer" or "Atlantic" in his article so we can't quote him" (come on!) or something like "yes, but then we should add to the Lindon article that Lindon is equivalent Ireland". Well, of course it's not what I mean.
According to the above, "M-e is eq. to Europe" equals to rough generic statements such as "Belegaer is eq. to Atlantic". No, it doesn't mean "all places in Middle-earth correspond to places in the real world" and of course it doesn't mean "Lindon is Ireland" or "Hildorien is Japan". And I trust that common sense can tell us where to stop. Sage 17:40, 18 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see your points. But I don't think it's a matter of being "ritualistic and legalistic to Wikipedia's logic". It's just that we need to have simple and clear guidelines for how to edit on TG. One such is to have references for non-trivial claims in articles. Perhaps it's possible to discuss if Belegaer=Atlantic is trivial or not, but, after all - what do we gain by having the claim that Belegaer=Atlantic? --Morgan 18:06, 18 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]