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Nordor
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on: October 17, 2018 12:04
If the Valar can't take immortality from the rebel Noldor elves how do they have the power to grant extended lifespan to the humans who become the Numenoreans? Why do all the Numenoreans get extended lifespans instead of just Elros and his family? Why, once they receive the greater lifespan, would the passage of time diminish it for succeeding generations? Why, when a Gondorian King marries a Wilderland princess, does their son not have a shortened life? Wouldn't her "normal" genetics decrease her son's lifespan?
Gandolorin
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on: October 17, 2018 12:37
My guess is that by Middle-earth "orthodoxy", granting a longer life-span to the Númenoreans (and especially the royal house of Elros) was either a direct intercession or at least allowed by Eru Ilúvatar. So even though Elros reached 500 years, and several at least of the kings and queens of Númenor also passed 400 (while the "plebeian" Númenoreans "only" reached about 200 - this is not very clear, as the "X times normal human life-span (assumed to be 70)" varies quite a bit over the course of the twelve volumes of History of Middle-earth), the Númenoreans remained mortal. Which kind of made things worse after a while for a majority of them.

The diminishing of life-spans kind of fits with the faster waning (and for Elves higher mortality rate) of Middle-earth after the raising of the sun. Also, there is a kind of genetics, though probably by today's standards unscientific, involved. The "dilution" of "royal blood" was very much an issue in ancient Egypt, with pharaos often marrying their (half-) sisters. It also led to the demise of the Spanish branch of the Hapsburg monarchy. Speaking very much on the level of an interested non-professional, Eldacar the "half-breed" who caused the rebellion of the kin-strife in the 1400s Third Age could have been the product of "dominant genes". But I wouldn't want to press the issue of modern genetics too far, as the great mass of current knowledge was only generated decades after LoTR was written - and how much of such knowledge existing at that time among profesionals would have been known, let alone accepted, by JRRT is total conjecture.
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tarcolan
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on: October 17, 2018 05:33
Tolkien does seem to have had a belief in bloodlines, though modern genetics has turned all that on its head. It was probably a rationalisation for hereditary dynastic power all along.

It was quite common in the ancient world for the attributes of rulers and heroes to be exaggerated, including longevity. Maybe there's a bit of that going on.
Gandolorin
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on: October 19, 2018 03:38
I would guess that kind of propagandistic exaggeration stuff might very well go on in the east and south of Middle-earth - but then, there were the Ringwraiths!

But for any place that the Elves, how to say, "had access to", folks like Cirdan, Elrond, Galadriel, Celeborn, probably Thranduil (all certainly or probably born in the First Age) would be able to act as correctives to any exaggerated claims.
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parluggla
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on: October 22, 2018 05:01
There's the old theory of "genetic entropy" whereby genes get progressively "weaker" from generation to generation. Not sure why, though. A fundamentalist Christian once told me Adam and Eve were superhuman beings, but that "bloodlines" have gotten weaker as time has passed.

Anthropology does indicate we're only now getting back to what we (Euro-Caucasians that is) used to be physically before all the bad and incomplete diets we've been subjected to post-Roman times. But that opens the can of diet worms. Personally, I think Tolkien really meant the Elves to be vegan, but like so much of his Middle Earth and Valar creation, there simply wasn't a concept of serious vegetarianism back in his times.

But this whole issue shows just how obsessed we humans can be about superhumans and humanoid demi-gods, how much we rue our limitations and envy their superiority. Personally, I think the Tolkien Elves are the next step up, thus, greatly admired and wished for. The Numenorians were obsessed with Elven immortality, and if I'm not mistaken, were exploited by Sauron on this and other "Elf-envy" points, which eventually led to their attempt to force their way into Valinor.
tarcolan
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on: October 22, 2018 09:29
"there simply wasn't a concept of serious vegetarianism back in his times."
I beg to differ. It gained popularity in the 19thC. Shelley was vegetarian. The Vegetarian Society in Britain was registered in 1847. I doubt Tolkien gave it much thought, to be honest. After all, Oromë was a hunter.

[Edited on 10/22/2018 by tarcolan]
Gandolorin
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on: October 23, 2018 05:36
parluggla said:There's the old theory of "genetic entropy" whereby genes get progressively "weaker" from generation to generation. Not sure why, though...

Now I'm "speaking" off the top of my head as an interested layman, not a professional. And I'm not sure if this falls under the category of "genetic entropy". But part of life's adaptability, besides mutations that can arise from a multitude of reasons (and only very, very few are beneficial - most mutations lead to death at - early? - embryo stages), is variability; the most obvious for us is the brown eyes - blue eyes variation and its dominant / recessive complex. What can occasionally happen that one of the variations - "alleles at loci" in professional parlance (which can very well be more than two alternatives) - can die out. With such loss of variation, adaptability to changing environments also shrinks. The extreme niche specialization found say in tropical rain forests may very well be a case of reduced variability and extreme vulnerability to ecosystem change (by now, in what many scientists have named the Anthropocene - opinions as to its beginning vary - mainly taking the form of random environment destruction).

As to the Elves being vegetarians or even vegans - pre-Valinor? I have difficulty imagining this in a pre-agricultural society, and I have even more difficulty imagining the Cuiviénen Elves or those that set off for Valinor with Oromë (and never mind their late descendants as ruled by Thranduil) as farmers. Wild nuts and berries were (and are), as far as I know, far too seasonal to represent a year-round reliable food source - at best nuts of some kinds could be stored for a time to tide over winters.

Valinor might have been a place where veganism was possible (but as pointed out above, Oromë was called "the hunter" ...). But for Middle-earth, refusing animal proteins of any kind does not sound at all feasible ...

[Edited on 10/25/2018 by Gandolorin]
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parluggla
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on: October 23, 2018 02:38
I guess I mean Tolkien was a creature of his times and environment, where vegan/vegetarian lifestyles were extremely uncommon, thus, his trouble with creating a truly consistent Elven image with regard to diet. To me at least, it seems highly inconsistent that a magical place like Lothlorien would have Elves roaming around killing critters, butchering and cooking them. Orcs, Men yes, Elves no. Yes, on the flets the Fellowship had "skins" for blankets. But that seems like a logic error in the story. Again, Elves are a higher race and supposedly capable of quasi-magical things like the cloaks, ropes, lembas bread, and elixir-cordial drink. Sam and Galadriel's brief exchange on "Elf magic" seems to indicate Elves were magical, but not wildly so. And of course I don't think any meat was on the menu when the hobbits met the Elves in the Shire for that midnight feast; the menu seemed "higher" and quasi-magical in content and origin -- as if fruit-bearing plants just came out of nowhere. The Ents too had magical sustenance. I'm not alone in this view: The first Hobbit movie shows the dwarves quite put out over the lack of meat.

This whole issue of describing an immortal race is fraught with logic error pitfalls, and Tolkien was not immune. So if an Elf is immortal, he/she could skip food altogether -- and not die, right? They don't need sleep as we know it, as described by Legolas' dolphin-like dreamwalking. They can be injured, but they heal within minutes (Silmarillion).

Of course this is all my subjective view. But it comes from this inability of any human to truly fathom any sort of higher humanoid beings. And as I said before, we are truly obsessed with higher beings, which means we imagine attributes and abilities beyond our own.
Nordor
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on: October 25, 2018 12:23
I very much doubt the elves were vegan or that it would be practical for them to be. This would be particularly true of forest elves. Forests aren't very productive; except for some fruits and nuts woodlands don't produce much for humanoids and populations would be small. The elves were children of nature and hunting and gathering would've likely been "natural" to them. Even a hunting and gathering culture wouldn't support a large population. Tolkien doesn't say much about the Middle Earth economy but it seems likely the elves, to maintain the populations implied, would have to practice animal husbandry and agriculture. Certainly the elves of Gondolin were skilled farmers and I could see the elves of Lothlorien and Mirkwood employing the open lands beyond the forest growing crops and raising livestock. Veggies but also beef or mutton would've been on the menu, not to mention venison. Legolas and his bow, you know....
Gandolorin
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on: October 25, 2018 03:57
@parluggla - as tarcolan mentioned above, vegetarianism at least did exist in England long before JRRT's time - though I would place my bets on it being a phenomenon of a (small to tiny) minority. Shelley (does he mean Percy Bysshe or Mary "Frankenstein" Wollstonecraft?) certainly belonged to a small, priviledged minority, and would have represented a small minority within this minority. How noticeable this minority minority would have been in Birmingham, Leeds or Oxford, no idea (and would JRRT have noticed them then?).
But then what you mention is basically Third Age LoTR. Specifically for Galadriel, this would have been over 7000 years since the flight of the Noldor from Valinor. And the lembas seem for me to be a strong indication towards vegitarian or more mind-sets. Against that, I set JRRT's translation of "Sir Orofeo" (memory is awefully dim; I own a ©1975 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd. paperback printed by Ballantine Books, and imcluding "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and "Pearl" ) which portrays the Elves as hunters (Thranduil & Co. may owe some of their description in The Hobbit to this).

@parluggla and @Nordor - I have a 2006 expanded, updated (German translation with a confusingly different title - grumble!) of Jared Diamond's originally ©1997 book "Guns, Germs and Steel" (of which I also own the original English version). It has 31 additional pages under the heading "Who are the Japanese?" Reaching back beyond the highly contentious last 2000 or so years (I'll leave it to your imagination who are the parties to the contention). A stunning point is that the (as per the 2006 update) oldest ceramics in the world are dated as being around 12700 years old. The culture these very ancient ceramics are associated with is called Jomon (in the spelling of the German translation). Point is - they were gatherer-hunters (as all but the Inuit should be properly called placing the major source of their nutrition first). Settled gatherer-hunters. The reason being that the Japanese forests apparently were very productive for foodstuffs, perhaps much more so than European forests - not entirely clear. Also, while Japan has no rivers comparing in length to the Rhine or Danube (and never mind Missisippi), is has tons of them - and also long inland sea coastlines. So sweet- or salt-water animal proteins would have been massively abundant, and certainly used by the people of the Jomon culture.

This whole settled gatherer-hunter society was so productive that a first thrust of agriculture (dry-rice) certainly originating from the Korean peninsula made a short sally towards the north of the main island Honshu, but was forced to retreat way south because it was not competitive with the settled gatherer-hunters. Only with the advent of wet-rice (paddy fields) was agriculture superior.

If these Easterlings (whom even Sauron probably failed to reach) were able to do this, wouldn't the Elves do this with ease?

[Edited on 10/27/2018 by Gandolorin]
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tarcolan
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on: October 26, 2018 09:33
"Guns, Germs and Steel", a must-read book. As to whether the Jomon were mainly vegetarian depends on whether 'gatherer' includes seafoods. Can fishing be called hunting? I can see that dietary habits could lead to a moral attitude towards different practises.

...and the youngest Amrod and Amras, who were twin brothers, alike in mood and face. In later days they were great hunters in the woods of Middle-earth; and a hunter also was Celegorm, who in Valinor was a friend of Oromë, and often followed the Vala’s horn.

and
their sister was Aredhel the White. She was younger in the years of the Eldar than her brothers; and when she was grown to full stature and beauty she was tall and strong, and loved much to ride and hunt in the forests.

and
Now as has been told the power of Elwë and Melian increased in Middle-earth, and all the Elves of Beleriand, from the mariners of Círdan to the wandering hunters of the Blue Mountains beyond the River Gelion, owned Elwë as their lord; Elu Thingol he was called, King Greymantle, in the tongue of his people.

and
...but Tilion was a hunter of the company of Oromë, and he had a silver bow.

However the Green-Elves of Osiriand were not hunters
‘Lord,’ they said, ‘if you have power over these newcomers, bid them return by the ways that they came, or else to go forward. For we desire no strangers in this land to break the peace in which we live. And these folk are hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are their unfriends, and if they will not depart we shall afflict them in all ways that we can.’
It is not clear whether the hunting was for food, or to rid the land of wolves or worse. I would go through all the texts for hints of dietary habits but life is short.
Lord_Sauron
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on: October 26, 2018 04:58
Whether or not the Elves hunted for food or to rid the land of wolves do you think that the Elves would have used every part of the hunted animal for something? Kind of like how the Native Americans used or tried to use every part of the Buffalo. Also if the Elves did hunt for food I have the opinion that they would have killed only what they deemed was necessary to feed everyone. Just a thought
parluggla
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on: October 27, 2018 02:57
Thanks Gandolorin for the insight. Thanks too tarcolan for the Silmarillion quote about the Green-Elves of Osiriand. That I'd forgotten, but now I realise has been the main reason I've been pro-vegan Elvish. Of course, Lord_Sauron, pre-civ societies are much more reverent about hunting. But as I'm saying, Tolkien the author was not perfect, and inconsistencies and logic errors are inevitable in such a huge body of work.

One eye-opener for me has been the Romanian historian Mircea Eliade's writings on religion. Here's a blurb from Wikipedia:

In the hierophanies recorded in myth, the sacred appears in the form of ideal models (the actions and commandments of gods, heroes, etc.). By manifesting itself as an ideal model, the sacred gives the world value, direction, and purpose: "The manifestation of the sacred, ontologically founds the world".[4] According to this view, all things need to imitate or conform to the sacred models established by hierophanies, in order to have true reality: to traditional man, things "acquire their reality, their identity, only to the extent of their participation in a transcendent reality".


A hierophany is a manifestation of the sacred. So I believe Tolkien wanted to describe in his myths ideal models with which we could found anew our world -- which has fallen so deep into the nihilism Tolkien so greatly despised. Here's one of my favourites from him:

Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.


I don't mean to proselytise veganism, but as has been said on this forum, Tolkien's Elves were a higher life form perfectly embedded in nature, i.e., spirit-like with almost zero footprint. In one of the closing scenes of LotR, he describes where Galadriel, Gandalf, Celeborn, et al. are gathered at night reminiscing without words and are barely visible. Yeah, higher being stuff....
Gandolorin
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on: October 27, 2018 07:11
As hunters and gatherers, my feeling is that the Elves would have put any human society utterly to shame.

Also, I would think that the Elves were superior to us in many if not all mental capacities. Though as with humans, not all Elves realized their full potential - I'm thinking of Saeros ( => Doriath, Túrin) and the like. But for mental capacities, meaning the brain, the ultimate food is, I believe, protein. And as far a I know, meat / seafood of any sort simply has a lot more of it pound-for-pound than any plant foodstuff, including soybeans (modern processing might have been able to close the gap ... ummm ... so the Elves might have been able to do so too ...).

And one point that may also be overlooked occasioanlly in human nutrition is that we have been eating heat-treated food for an awfully long time. And probably this was mainly meat roasted over a fire for the longest time before we started cooking things (where ceramics would be helpful), like say rice. We just have to compare ourselves to our nearest real-world relatives, the chimpanzees. We have much larger brains than they do, while they have a much larger digestive tract, specifically intestines. They need these because all of the stuff they munch is raw, including the occasioanl meat. We have "outsourced" part of our digestion to fire. And again especially for meat etc., the heat-treatment disinfects. Raw meat can give you all kinds of issues. Which the Elves, then again, with their immensely stronger resistance to injuries, poisonings etc. might have been much more resistant to. But I think that for reasons of taste, and not being keen on having their digestion work overtime on raw things unnecessarily, would certainly have quickly become expert grill chefs; and they would have found the uses of boiling water fairly quickly.
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tarcolan
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on: October 27, 2018 09:50
It's dependent on what plant foods are available as to whether animal protein is beneficial or necessary. In northern climes it is necessary, there's just not enough protein around. Even in such conditions I don't think the Elves would struggle, bread and berries apparently being a sit down meal for Gildor's folk.

They lived most often by the edges of the wood, from which they could escape at times to hunt,
- on the Wood-elves, Flies and Spiders, The Hobbit


Parluggla, the evolution of language may have led to a belief that words themselves are sacred, or have a mystical power. Naming things is the great power of language, to name is to own. Wizard of Earthsea springs to mind. Never tell anyone your true name. The stories told had their own magic whether history or myth, a natural authority. Just a thought.

Oh, I almost forgot. Genetic entropy is a myth. It only means anything alongside a literal Adam and Eve and Noah's Flood.

[Edited on 10/27/2018 by tarcolan]
parluggla
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on: October 27, 2018 02:20
Actually, meat is an unnatural food for humans. Besides not being natural carnivores (our teeth and jaw structure are all wrong for hunting), our stomach and intestines are a vegetarian's. Natural meat eaters have shorter, smoother, and acidically much stronger GI tracts to quickly process the meat, which actually spoils and goes rancid in our lower intestines. This is how we get colon cancer. But then the pre-historic Homo sapiens ate meat -- as we do. This is not because we're omnivores (a common fallacy), rather, because we are highly adaptable, i.e., we can eat meat -- just like many people survived five-plus years in Nazi concentration camps. But it is not the optimal diet, just like the concentration camps weren't the best living arrangements. Another crazy thing about our diet situation is how long we can go eating wrong/bad stuff. In the case of meat, we're eating as much as four times more than we used to before WWII. And when it comes to fad diets, some critical nutrients can go missing for almost a year before the body even notices. Too much meat and bad overall nutrition is really taking its toll these days, then add in modern stress/ennui and sedentary lifestyles.

Again, Tolkien's Elves would go like spirits through the wilds and all life, plant and animal, would show affinity. Killing would not be consistent with this, nor the other "higher being" aspects of Elves. But again, as a novelist trying to describe higher beings, Tolkien simply could not describe Elves -- any better than a dog might describe its master's wedding to other dogs.

Curiously, something similar happened in the Star Trek world when Vulcans seemed to eat meat . . . but then in the final series, Enterprise, Vulcan T'Pol is fully vegan.

Gandolorin
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on: October 28, 2018 08:53
When it come down to it all of our current nutrition is unnatural. What every being on the planet except for us humans eats is raw food. We're the only ones who can handle fire in any given way, which is why we have been able to keep critters at bay that would make short work of us for over a million years. And, as I mentioned above, we have outsourced a good amount of our digestion to "heat treatment" (we tend to have electric rather than gas stoves, ranges and ovens these days, and holding anything directly into the gas fire of the range we had early on in the US would have gotten me into a lot of trouble with my mother way back then. ). Even one of my favorite raw foods, carrots (who just said "what's up, doc?" ???), is more easily digestible for us when cooked, and never mind the chewing if you munch then Bugs Bunny style.

Besides our level of speech (and never mind writing), what sets us apart from the rest of our closer and more distant relatives is our brain - and are our hands, something possibly also often overlooked (we usually take them for granted so much). The hands take up an enormous amount of brain-power compared to the analogous appendages of any other being. Our hands, steered by our brain, enabled us to first create and then throw waepons in a way that compensated, then overcompensated for our pathetically feeble unaided physical abilities. And the weapons could very often include waving a burning branch with our hands which could panick herds over precipices.
So with our brains and hand, and fire, we became top predator. Not top carnivores, certainly. Among mammals, that would be the cats (I believe they're also referred to as hypercarnivores, much more so than the canidae). And never mid "extremists" like crocodiles or sharks, white bite off and swallow. No bird (thinking of penguins as an example) chews either. Pops a whole fish (if the right size) into its beak and swallows.

But when it comes to chewing, we are again nothing compared to the true herbivores. Cattle, horses, goats, sheep, elephants. Especially those that became able to feed on grasses, which requires them to have very durable teeth. And then there's the herbivore digestive system. Ours looks nothing like theirs. We do eat parts of grasses, the seeds, massively by now. They're commonly called wheat, rye, maize (corn in the US), rice, millet, and several others. But we have been eating them "unnaturally" for millennia, too. Grind 'em to flour, add water and other additives, heat-treat them. And the average health condition of the population declined with the onset of agriculture compared to the earlier gatherer-hunters. Nutrition got one-sided, and the effort to produce it was also greater than with gathering-hunting, on the average. But agriculture at some point led to a population explosion (and if things went wrong to more horrendous famines). But as I read somewhere, even the healthiest gatherer-hunter didn't have a chance when faced with ten ill-fed farmers.

But when we started (cross-) breeding, be it our grains or or livestock, they started becoming unnatural. They soon would not have been able to survive without our putting an effort in - weeding, protection from carnivores, stables ... And at some time in the 19th cantury, we became able to produce unnatural cold, to be able to transport peishable foodstuff over distances immensely larger than ever before. It didn't start with the food industry of our (relatively recent) days, our nutrition has been unnatural for ages. We have adapted potential sources of food to ourselves - as you mentioned above, more or less. What's really causing us problems is that we're now simply eating too much. The calorie balance has gone out of whack (too much input for what we produce as output in burning calories). Part of it is that the (mostly) absence of occasional famines is such a recent development. So we have difficulty resisting the urge to gorge, especially on fats and sweets. Much of us is still stone age (and thus much older than even the First Age ...).

But having written all that - certainly our current average life-spans are the longest in our entire history.
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PotbellyHairyfoot
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on: October 29, 2018 12:58
I'm not so sure that our health declined with the onset of agriculture.
Being able to store grain allowed us to get through drought and famine better than hunter-gatherers. Excess grain then allowed us to handle animal husbandry which gave us eggs, dairy and all sorts of meat products.
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on: October 29, 2018 01:39
I'm also going to question that a Post-Rome diet was insufficient compared to a Roman diet.. Wealthy Roman and soldiers may have had a varied diet, but the commoners subsisted on millet.

As to life-expectancy, Eru could set it as he wished and though the Numenorian Kings had exceptionally long lives and the Numenorians had longer lives than other men, I always felt that it was simple cross-breeding that reduced life expectancies

Something else to remember is that when these books were written we knew very little about DNA. Magic had to be the explanation for life expectancy variations.
I like to imagine elvish cells having a really good DNA repair mechanism and an Elvish telomerase that kept their telomeres at full length. I haven't been able to explain the Elrond/Elros life expectancy change except by assuming man/elf hybrids had less telomerase as it only came from one parent and perhaps something in the Diet or air on Numenor weakened his enzyme. This was followed by cross breeding naturally leaving each generation of Elros' descendants with less enzyme.

Gandolorin
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on: November 04, 2018 05:58
Oh well. Looks like my last long post wasn't in the backup Rivka used to repair the site. And I didn't save it on my notebook either.

Assuming Elven genetics to be similar to that of humans - necessary, as the offspring of the three Eldar-Human unions were themselves fertile and not like mules - then the Elven DNA repair mechanism must have been massively better than ours. A lot of mutation occurs "simply" through copying errors, including duplication of genes (a term not as precisely definable as one tends to think). So probably the Elven genome would be smaller than ours, as their repair mechanism would weed out such stuff.

But then, nothing in genetics helps us with JRRT's Hröa-Fëa concept, especially the latter. Taking everybody's favorite extremist Elf, Fëanor, as an example: when he died, the "heat" (however defined) of his Fëa in leaving his Hröa burnt the latter to ash, that was blown away like smoke. With other less volatile Elves, I believe their Fëa may have had a "hand" in preserving their Hröa's well-being. But that over the millennia, it still could lead to, or perhaps more correctly not prevent, a fading of sorts of the Hröa? And last not least, there's Cirdan's beard ...

[Edited on 11/04/2018 by Gandolorin]
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parluggla
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on: November 19, 2018 01:21
Yes, Gandolorin, I believe the Elves had "Fëa help." Science is starting to come around to symbiosis and "the sum is greater than the parts" thinking, but slowly. Physics resisted everything not deterministic "action at a distance," i.e., they held to Newton orthodoxy and doubted Faraday and Maxwell's idea of the electromagnetic field and Boltzmann's statistical mechanics . . . and of course the Einstein and quantum revolutions still have lots of doubters trying to explain it back to Newton. But the wild, off-the-charts uniqueness of the human Tolkien simply expanded on with his Elves, IMHO. If Tolkien was a believer (Christian or Ur-Northwestern Germanic/Celtic) then he would have not had a problem with ascribing great, all but magical properties to his Elves, full stop, no scientific explanations necessary.

As far as diet is concerned, the gorilla diet, i.e., fruits, some vegetables, and trace amounts of "accident" insects, was no doubt our very first and best diet. In Africa there was a big climate change event that drove us almost to extinction, as well as out onto the savanna, then into migratory adventures. But before that we were probably not eating meat purposefully. One theory I've heard says that the neocortex event, where we doubled the size of our brain in an incredibly short period of time, came in part from the suppression of sexual maturity until mid-teens. This theory said that eating certain sex hormone-suppressing fruits, natural bioflavonoids, allowed childhood to go on and on, far beyond your typical mammalian childhood. We and elephants have the longest pre-pubescent childhood, which allows for us to be highly intelligent. This sounds a bit woo-woo, but it's the basic tenet of Steiner's Waldorf education, i.e., do nothing to accelerate a child into adulthood. Why? Because the longer the childhood, the more "exalted" the person will be. But of course exaltedness is a subjective thing. Although I have no doubt that today's children, exposed to all the endocrine disruption we have today (including way too much meat), are seeing puberty as early as age ten and eleven, which, again subjective, seems to make them tend to brutish-oafishness.

There must be some connection between our higher side and Tolkien simply extending those lines out to a new race that was indeed more exalted than we. That is, we seem to be in a constant struggle between our higher and lower natures, which T-Elves (Tolkien Elves) seem to be beyond, i.e., the higher won ... and with it came even more amazing woo-woo stuff, such as immortality. But then Tolkien despaired of the modernist world that would seem to make the common man into so many bitter Ted Sandyman lackey types ruled over by the Saruman types. While the aristocracy of old attempted to hold up the higher, the modern world seems to be in a permanent celebration of the baser side of humanity. LotR's The Scouring of the Shire describes too well the world we seem to be slipping into: more and more squint-eyed, orc-like Men who revel in trampling on the beautiful and delicate things.
Gandolorin
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on: November 19, 2018 11:03
parluggla said:... As far as diet is concerned, the gorilla diet, i.e., fruits, some vegetables, and trace amounts of "accident" insects, was no doubt our very first and best diet. In Africa there was a big climate change event that drove us almost to extinction, as well as out onto the savanna, then into migratory adventures. But before that we were probably not eating meat purposefully. One theory I've heard says that the neocortex event, where we doubled the size of our brain in an incredibly short period of time, came in part from the suppression of sexual maturity until mid-teens. ...

From endings (longevity) to beginnings (infanncy and development) ...

I have my doubts about about that gorilla diet ever having been our natural one. Gorillas have always been bigger and heavier (the males massively so, being the most sexually dimorph of the great apes) than we or any of our ancestors. Which makes sense, as the are also the most herbivorous. Large land herbivores tend to be larger, often massively so, than the largest land predators, even back with the dinosaurs. And maybe you've noticed that at almost all ages beyond infancy, all gorillas tend to have kind of a pot-belly, as they seem to also include a lot of "salad" (leaves) in their diet. Typical stature for such a diet.

As for "accident" insects, at least our closer relatives, the chimpanzess, very often do eat insects (termites seem to be a special favorite) in a manner that can be called anything, but not accidental. Poking around termite mounds was the first use of tools among chimpanzees witnessed by Jane Goodall. And as also been found out since then, they hunt monkeys in trees with quite a degree of predator organization (and will take young pigs and gazelles if they can get them - as will baboons).

As for our brain getting larger, that brings us to birth. The large brain, while certainly not to be ignored, apparently has been now found to not be the the ultimate cause for the fact that we are about the most immature infants among non-marsupial mammals at birth, and certainly remain helpless far longer than any others. The problem for the human female is that she is no longer to sufficiently sustain any further growth of the infant. She "runs out of gas". A short, if slightly (or not?) exaggerated description ran "the 90-pound human female gives birth to a 6-pound infant, while the 180-pound gorilla female gives birth to a 3-pound infant." Compaed to their mothers, chimpanzee infants are also much smaller than human infants compared to theirs.

As for our delayed maturity (late puberty), that also reminds me of the fact that human heads (skulls including jaws) even in maturity resemble those of the other great apes when the are still young. Our mouths preoject much less from under our eyes than do those of the other great apes. And one thing that makes us different from all our relatives is the opening at the base of the skull where the spinal nerves enter respectively leave it. Ours is much closer to the center of our skull and goes straight down, while for the others it is much closer to the back of the skull and goes down at an angle towards the back. To do with our bipedal motion compared to the others normally walking on all fours, even if the back slants upwards from the pelvis to the head due to the much longer arms compared to the legs - which is normally the other way around with us.
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