15 Mar 05 1:36 PM
Reply To: 38922
What an interesting thread: Denethor as Mathematician. A lot of things come into perspective.
I can't help but feel that anything I post will be redundant, but I just couldn't resist to jump in.
It is not hard to see the manifestations of a logical mind in Denethor (and I am indebted to Raksha for putting it into my mind to search for examples of mathematical people to better understand the concept) in the things you've all mentioned: his wanting to have everything under control, the evidences of ordered reasoning as we see in the arguments he makes in the book, his quest for truth (his gazing into the palantiri? could this be read as him trying to find causes and, by glimpsing at the future, find answers, or only as his wish to use information to gain power over his enemy?) And this makes me come closer to my point: What is the end of reason, in his case? Why would Denethor have developed this way, and what does it indicate in terms of his relationship with those around him, and the world where he lives? Is this intrinsic to the individual, or is this inclination developed by culture, society, family?
Gondor strongly reminds me of Classic Greece. That was probably very far from Tolkien's mind when he developed their culture, but the solemnity, the elegant beauty, the art forms, the love of lore and learning and books, even the materials they used to build, they all ressemble classicism to me. And, during classical times, a great emphasis was put in reason, logic, and mathematics (I don't think I mean mathematics as means of calculating and quantities, but as patterns, proportions, order, reason). In this sense, greeks were also very aesthetic-inclined, and I could also see this in Denethor. The mathematical framework, I believe, suits him remarkably well, and given his position, I think it would have been seen as favorable and even encouraged by his elders. Could Denethor's love of logic have been shaped by the circumstances around him?
I also see, as you all do, Faramir developing his mind in the same way Denethor did, and I also read Boromir as being different from them. And, perhaps, it is through Faramir that we gain deeper and more varied insights into what Denethor's mind might have been like. Wherein does this difference lie, then? And how does this change our outlook on the D/F relationship (and the D/B relationship, for that matter)?
Ok, my break is over and I still have not arrived to any conclusions whatsoever. I guess my main objective was to see how we could use the concept of Denethor as a mathematician and lover of reason and logic to further analyze his relationship with his sons and the consequences that his inclinations and whatever his children absorbed from him could have influenced the later history.
Dwim, could you please elaborate on the notion of the observer and panoramic viewer and how this relates to Denethor's use of the palantiri? I was also very interested in the possibility that his mathematical and philosophical inclinations could be used as a humanizing device (is this because those very inclinations put him in a possition to try to find logic in all things and that would lead him to pass judgement on his fellows? I know I'm not making any sense...) What do you mean when you use the term "humanizing"?
edit: I realize I didn't make a single point. I'll come back to explain myself, I guess. I just wanted to let you all know how interesting this whole thing is!