Thursday 2 May 2024

Trying to destroy The One Ring versus... everything else

One point about Gandalf's plan to destroy the One Ring by sending Frodo into Mordor; is that, on the one hand, it had potential to be decisive; while on the other hand it had a very low apparent chance of success.

By comparison there were many other high probability options of improving the situation a bit - but none of these could possibly affect the final outcome of defeat.

Short-termism and common sense was heavily in favour of doing almost anything except sending a Hobbit into Mordor; yet none of these alternatives would - even if they worked, and even in theory - be able to do more than delay the inevitable. 

Life's like that - at the microcosm and macrocosm; did we but recognize it. 

We could pour our efforts into small, but ultimately insignificant, improvements - or else we could make our best effort to do that one-thing which really has potential to be decisive. 

Of course, the first step is to discover that which has potential to be decisive. 

And that is something which nobody-else is going to tell you - just as nobody told Gandalf what might possibly be achieved. 

And it is something which will seem stupid, reckless, insane - or even evil - to most normal people: to that majority who cannot or will not see farther than whatever ameliorates some current problem. 

Once again: you are on your own. Once again: if you don't take responsibility, then the Good Thing will not be done.

But (after you have failed, and as all goes under...) you will have cast-iron excuses why it did not happen, why you did not take the tiny crazy chance of doing-the-right-thing. 

(Excuses that everybody will acknowledge as valid.)

With life; it's a matter of what you ultimately take most seriously. 


Francis Berger said...

Seeing the actor who portrayed Boromir in the Peter Jackson film version of LOTR reminded of the famous "One does not simply walk into Mordor" line. The line does not appear in TFOTR, but it captures the essence of the "common sense" objection to Gandalf's plan.

Contrary to Boromir's common-sense thinking, having two hobbits simply walk into Mordor is precisely the decisive thing that needed to be done, despite the immense risk and apparent low-probability of success.

I get the sense that "One does not simply" is the default setting that prevents people from getting Good Things done in this time and place. One does not simply avoid voting; one does not simply abandon one's faith in democracy; one does not simply acknowledge or repent the evil inherent in one's vocation; one does not simply forgo worldly success if it interferes with salvation, one does not simply try to find one woman one can truly love and marry, etc.,

In a nutshell, "one does not simply take responsibility for decisively doing-the-right-thing."

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - That's very good! Yes, that's just it.

And probably the one-does-not-simply objection is most often used when what ought to be done is clear and simple.

But when something as ridiculously complex, incoherent, and doomed-to-fail as The Great Reset is proposed - then it never gets rejected with the kind of instant "one does not" response it obviously deserves!

I think one pitfall is to assume that simple statements are meant to be comprehensive, whereas they really describe the goal and the first steps towards that goal; and recognize that all the rest requires to be improved on the basis of whatever happens next, and the not-predictable contingencies of the future.

THAT is realism - something do-able that may succeed; and the pretence of covering all bases and accounting for all possibilities is the genuinely idiotic approach to life.

Ftan said...

Eagles pickt up Frodo and Sam at Mount Doom. Why didn't Gandalf persuade the eagles to take him and Frodo there the year before?

Bruce Charlton said...

I'm glad you asked me that Ftan. The reason (first revealed on this blog) is, of course, that it was originally Beagles (not Eagles).

And Beagles (even very big ones) could not get into Mordor until after the Black Gate had collapsed.