So, yesterday I was reading through some of JRRT's late metaphysical writings, during which I came across the following passage while looking for something else entirely:
The Valar feared to meddle with the Children . . . Also Eru had forbidden them to coerce their wills, daunting their minds by dread of the power of the Valar, or even amazing them with wonder of their beauty and majesty. But they [the Valar] deemed that since the rule of Arda was committed them, it was within their authority to hinder any creature from deeds of evil, or to restrain it from what might prove hurtful to itself or to others. By 'coercing the will' they understood the dominion or enslaving of the mind of a lesser creature, so that it might say 'I will', assenting to this or that against its true nature and inclination, until it lost, maybe, the power of choice.
The context of this lies in some commentary to The Converse of Manwe with Eru about elvish reincarnation.
What's interesting here is that reversing this line of thought leads to a means that satisfies some of the basics of The Problem with Orcs. What if Melkor the Morgoth, with his love of domination and free of any scruples his fellow Valar might feel as to the consequences of their work, imposed his will on the proto-orcs until they too 'lost, maybe, the power of choice'?
Not altogether satisfactory, but an interesting addition to Tolkien's various attempts (all ultimately unsuccessful) to sort out the problem of a race that is (a) sentient (b) free willed and (c) irredeemably evil.
--current reading: J. M. W. TURNER: THE MAN WHO SET PAINTING ON FIRE by Olivier Meslay (another Thames & Hudson, but this one small-sized)
1 day ago