Even the very wise cannot see all ends.


A few nights ago I watched The Fellowship of the Ring, which, for me, is like going to church. If you’ve never heard me say it before, The Lord of the Rings—along with The Chronicles of Narnia—is my holy scripture, functioning in my life like the Bible might to a devout Christian, or the Bhagavad Gita to a devout Hindu. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know them; they’re the stories through which I see my own life.

The first time I saw the film, my Mom had just died. I was a junior in college on Christmas break. I went to the theater alone because I didn’t trust anyone else to take it as seriously as I did. I remember thinking, after all the anticipation, The Fellowship of the Ring was not only good, but appallingly good, good beyond hope. Also, I saw everything in terms of Mom’s death: the encroaching darkness from Mordor was my encroaching depression, and my quest was to beat it back. When Frodo nearly gave in to his wound on the riverbank, I gave myself a headache crying. All my pain had found expression.

But this time, the story means different things to me. I saw everything in terms of the recent dark turns of the world: Syria, Russia, Putin, Duterte, Trump. Though I can only draw the metaphors so far, what struck me about the film this time was the total hopelessness of the quest, and how thin the thread of faith was, that sent the fellowship south.

I wish none of this had happened, says Frodo, and Gandalf answers, So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.

We could be entering a dark age, when the worst tendencies of humanity overwhelm the best. Or we could be entering an age of heroes, when the greatest evil calls forth the greatest good.



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15 Comments on “Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

  1. Paul Cuadros says:

    My favorite film from the series as well. The best made. There is a lot of love in this film to try to be true to the spirit of the books. The Fellowship is a wonderful opening to the saga and what is at stake and the sacrifice of Frodo to take it all on for the good of all. Today, I think it is a calling, that each of us must answer, how we decide to live in a time of authoritarianism, where we stand up, and what sacrifice we might have to make. It is a time of choices and we will be defined by them–individually and as a nation.

  2. Corey Cannon says:

    I’m actually in the process of reading the book for 757th time (i think). It’s my Christmas tradition, mand have done so since 1984, when my aunt introduced me to the series as a birthday gift that summer. I’ve since destroyed several copies, having literally read them to death. Thank you iBooks! This tradition reinforced by the movies that were released every Christmas, as were their extended edition DVD’s. My favourite quote has always been yours: “Many that live that deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    I have another. Partly for its quiet wisdom, but also for its content, given that it comes from a man who was quite opposed to war. “´It needs but one for to breed war, not two, Master Warden,’ answered Éowyn. ‘And those who have not swords can still die upon them. Would you have the folk of Gondor gather you herbs only, when the Dark Lord gathers armies?'”

    My favourite that was in the movies, but not the book was from Aragorn: “It’s the beards!”

  3. jamjarhead says:

    “We could be entering a dark age, when the worst tendencies of humanity overwhelm the best. Or we could be entering an age of heroes, when the greatest evil calls forth the greatest good.”

    I’m hoping and working toward the latter.

  4. Write.Naomi says:

    If only there was a ring we could destroy to kill all the evil before it gets worse haha

  5. Wise words, from you and from Gandalf. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Alyssa Villaire says:

    I feel like the end of this year calls for some sort of cleanse. I didn’t think of revisiting my favorite stories until I read your blog post. Thank you for this.

  7. wishfinger says:

    Recently rewatched Fellowship, in an attempt to get over a recent breakup. I feel you, this film is very emotionally charged for me.

  8. Faraz Asfia says:

    Such times have always brought massive progress. One mistake, however, is enough for the end to arrive.
    Humanity has always prevailed though, let us hope this would just be another showcase of our capabilities.

  9. Peng Garing says:

    I had in mind the Lord of the Rings as an allegory for what is happening here in the Philippines. Orcs of division, hatred and death roam. But hope remains. Thanks Monica for the post.

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