Sometimes Ni Hao Kitty (anneheart) wrote in tales_of_arda,
Sometimes Ni Hao Kitty
anneheart
tales_of_arda

(ducks large unabridged Elven dictionary thrown by Bookman, who is too patient with me)

So, since I've had requests for the uruk-haiku, I need to get into the philosophy of the fighting uruk-hai. Anyone want to tackle that?
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I think this exchange sums it up nicely...

Mongol General: Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!
Now, I was trying to be serious for once. Sorta.

For orc philosophy, you gotta have orc culture, and if we're going with the assumption that orcs are at least partially sentient (or at least smarter than some of my ex-boyfriends, since none of them have asked me out or anything; not that I'd say yes . . .), then they must have a culture of sorts, and that implies philosophy and (eventually, though the road may be a long and unpleasant one guarded by my ex-boyfriends) art.

Or should I just stop now?
Now, I was trying to be serious for once. Sorta.

So was I. I think that really is the limit of Orcish higher thought.

For orc philosophy, you gotta have orc culture, and if we're going with the assumption that orcs are at least partially sentient (or at least smarter than some of my ex-boyfriends, since none of them have asked me out or anything; not that I'd say yes . . .), then they must have a culture of sorts, and that implies philosophy and (eventually, though the road may be a long and unpleasant one guarded by my ex-boyfriends) art.

Or should I just stop now?


No, this is cool.

Orcs are fundamentally warped beings - broken copies of Elves. Sentient, yes, but not the same way Men and Elves are. I suspect their culture ends at about the point of popular imagination of Cave Man society - brutal and unpleasant. Art, where it exists (banners, fertility totems, etc) will be crude and utilitarian. Philosophy? Probably primitive Social Darwinism - Orcs are stronger, therefore they deserve to rule. Death to lesser races! and so on.

That's my take on it, anyway.
No, this is cool.

;-)

Orcs are fundamentally warped beings - broken copies of Elves. Sentient, yes, but not the same way Men and Elves are. I suspect their culture ends at about the point of popular imagination of Cave Man society - brutal and unpleasant. Art, where it exists (banners, fertility totems, etc) will be crude and utilitarian. Philosophy? Probably primitive Social Darwinism - Orcs are stronger, therefore they deserve to rule. Death to lesser races! and so on.

That's my take on it, anyway.


Well, have been thinking . . . and orcs don't bury their dead, so that pushes them more towards Neanderthal than not, but we only know about the male orcs. Perhaps if there is culture, it's with the females, and, of course, Tolkien doesn't work well with women. Or something. Point being, no burying of the dead implies no belief in an afterlife (which we touched on a little in a discussion below, sorta kinda) and no need to express emotion through art.

Even so, there may yet be some kind of culture.

I'm not sure about the whole orcs are stronger line of thought. They seem pretty unorganized without Sauron or Sauroman to collect them and order them. Sure, they can attack and kill and eat, but would they be as successful without guidance? And perhaps from that guidance would eventually come some form of culture?

To go back to the previous discussion, what if, after the events in LotR, the Elves who remained behind and the Men who worked with them (how's that for a book title?) tried to convert - I think that was the word - the remaining orcs? That would affect the society and its understanding of the world - wouldn't that lead to some type of art, even if it's just an imitation of what they see around them?

I don't know. It's late and I haven't had more than 4 hours of sleep a night since June. Didn't mean to ramble. Am just a frustrated closet anthropologist, I guess. BTW, I love how differently we think about things. Very nice, that.

(OT - I have the Cheb Mami for you; let me know where to send it.)

Well, have been thinking . . . and orcs don't bury their dead, so that pushes them more towards Neanderthal than not, but we only know about the male orcs. Perhaps if there is culture, it's with the females, and, of course, Tolkien doesn't work well with women. Or something. Point being, no burying of the dead implies no belief in an afterlife (which we touched on a little in a discussion below, sorta kinda) and no need to express emotion through art.

Even so, there may yet be some kind of culture.

I'm not sure about the whole orcs are stronger line of thought. They seem pretty unorganized without Sauron or Sauroman to collect them and order them. Sure, they can attack and kill and eat, but would they be as successful without guidance? And perhaps from that guidance would eventually come some form of culture?


Hmm. Well, there was the Goblin King from The Hobbit, but that's iffy to support the idea of independent Orc society since the whole mythos was in a children's story form in that book.

Any guidance from Sauron or Saruman would probably not steer them towards a culture, though, unless it was something like an Iron Age Waffen-SS. Actually, that fits, doesn't it? Excessive militarism, absurd racial ideologies, glorification of the Leader, and so on...

Must not think about Orcish versions of the Lebensborn. Must not.

To go back to the previous discussion, what if, after the events in LotR, the Elves who remained behind and the Men who worked with them (how's that for a book title?)

*g*

tried to convert - I think that was the word - the remaining orcs? That would affect the society and its understanding of the world - wouldn't that lead to some type of art, even if it's just an imitation of what they see around them?

I don't know. It's late and I haven't had more than 4 hours of sleep a night since June. Didn't mean to ramble. Am just a frustrated closet anthropologist, I guess. BTW, I love how differently we think about things. Very nice, that.


:)

I like this idea of converted Orcs eventually achieving some sort of civilization. At first (after the generation or three it takes to really tame them 'at first', that is), it'll probably be an imitation of the Reunited Kingdom. The Elves are too few and too complex to copy, I think. But an Orcish
artistic birth based on Gondor and Arnor is fairly plausible. These hypothetical Orcish savants might go more for Rohan, though - more in line with their nature.

I like this whole idea. An Orcish kingdom in old Mordor, loosely based on Gondor and Rohan, and slowly forming its own art and society. VERY cool.
I like this idea of converted Orcs eventually achieving some sort of civilization. At first (after the generation or three it takes to really tame them 'at first', that is), it'll probably be an imitation of the Reunited Kingdom. The Elves are too few and too complex to copy, I think. But an Orcish
artistic birth based on Gondor and Arnor is fairly plausible. These hypothetical Orcish savants might go more for Rohan, though - more in line with their nature.

I like this whole idea. An Orcish kingdom in old Mordor, loosely based on Gondor and Rohan, and slowly forming its own art and society. VERY cool.


But if they could evolve into a culture with the help of Men and Elves, couldn't they do it on their own? Do they need some sort of semi-devine intervention (for lack of a better term)?
But if they could evolve into a culture with the help of Men and Elves, couldn't they do it on their own? Do they need some sort of semi-devine intervention (for lack of a better term)?

Well, theoretically, maybe, but it would probably take thousands of years to do so unaided. I doubt the Mannish kingdoms would be willing to put up with it for so long without Sauron around to protect them (the Orcs).
My understanding is in the fourth and fifth ages, the Mannish kingdoms drove the Orcs into the Bay of Belfalas, where they discovered ancient Quenya ruins from the Great March of Cuivenien.... Learning to breathe water, they slowly developed a civilization ... shrunk in size, as girth was not a boon underwater.. and developed long tubelike breathing appendages on their heads.

Late in the sixth age, Hanna-Barbera made a cartoon about them.
You may have art without religion or even much culture. Art in its most primitive basis is comprised of symbolism, which even before you get to banners of war and shield decor, is still good for some manner of communication. Even pre-humans used symbolism on cave walls to communicate rudimentary and necessary information to other dwellers, but I doubt they would have considered that an artistic venture!

You cannot dismiss the introduction given to orcs in The Hobbit simply because the account was written "in the hand of Bilbo Baggins" rather than Tolkien. One thing that is a hallmark of organized culture is myth and legend, which the orcs possessed. We know this by their widespread knowledge and fear of the blades which both Bilbo and Gandalf possessed. They knew them on sight; Which proves they possessed one of the cornerstones of society, organised and passed-down knowledge and myth. And how could they have known what they looked like? It's reasonable to guess orcs are not the most descriptive storytellers, which is to say they probably used pictures to describe the legends - such as those of the blades - in order to pass down knowledge.

Added to this, they also had different names for the blades. If you don't remember this, I can go digging for the parts where the names are given; But here we have evidence of a language unique to the orcs. At some point you have to say, "Well, if it smells like culture, and walks like culture, and sounds like culture..."

Lastly, this does not mean they were ever capable of "growing up" like other civilizations and species in the stories. This is a Twenty-first Century hope that we would project on any sad culture of primitive humans, but Tolkien was writing about Faerie, and if you think about it, you didn't see a whole lot of adaptability in any species besides ours. The elves, goblins, dwarves and hobbits never really "advanced" beyond the capability they sprung into existence with. Even hobbits were always in a hurry to return to their normal lives.

Orcs are also a device, and I say this with double-meaning. They were made for a purpose much narrower than any other race, bred for single-minded purposes. They were technology, in a sense, more than sentient, capable beings. Also, they were a device of Tolkien's, they were the minions of evil, no more, no less. And I seriously doubt any rehabilitation would have ever been in store for them, no matter how long the author had lived to write. He would have had them all driven off cliffs or into fires first, as would prefer his other sub-creations I'm sure.
I prefer to think of Orcs as friendly yet misunderstood, rowdy and violent but in a good natured way, much like the Nietzschean Ubermensch or a frat boy:

"Uruk-HAI! How ya doing? Long time no see! (BELCH) Remember me? Shagrat? We met at the Minas Morgul Mixer? Yeah, the guy who did the impression of the Witch King? Yeah that was me. Got 5000 lashes for that one... Hey, want a brewski? (FART) WHOOO EEE that was a good one! Wish someone had Narya around, we coulda lit that! Oh sh*t... there's Shelob.. Yeah, I nailed her but I never called her back. Man, of COURSE not? Crazy B*tch wanted commitment! Like I'm gonna stick around and raise 187,000 larva... No way. Uruk-HAI! GORBAG you sonofa... How the UDUN you doing, man? Yeah, the old crew is back together... we're gonna go drunken golfing in the Dead Marshes tomorrow... Yeah, whoa! Uruk-HAI! Bob! You big ugly troll of a troll! How ya doing? Wait a minute... you look like you got a tan.. How the hell did you... Oh, bronzing cream.. Very yuppie of you. Have a nattie light!"

etc.