Storm's Journal

--| Ósanwe-kente |----- 

Ósanwe-kente - Enquiry into the Communication of Thought
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

[As recorded in Tolkien's Elvish lore of Middle-earth]

At the end of the Lammas Pengolodh discusses briefly direct
thought-transmission (sanwe-latya 'thought-opening'), making several
assertions about it, which are evidently dependent upon theories and
observations of the Eldar elsewhere treated at length by Elvish
loremasters...  Of [men]... Pengolodh says only: 'Men have the same
faculty as the Quendi, but it is in itself weaker, and is weaker in
operation owing to the strength of the hröa, over which most men have
small control by the will'.

Pengolodh says that all minds (sáma, pl. sámar) are equal in status,
though they differ in capacity and strength. A mind by its nature
perceives another mind directly. But it cannot perceive more than the
existence of another mind (as something other than itself, though of
the same order) except by the will of both parties (Note 1). The
degree of will, however, need not be the same in both parties. If we
call one mind G (for guest or comer) and the other H (for host or
receiver), then G must have full intention to inspect H or to inform
it. But knowledge may be gained or imparted by G, even when H is not
seeking or intending6 to impart or to learn: the act of G will be
effective, if H is simply 'open' (láta; látie "openness"). This
distinction, he says, is of the greatest importance.

'Openness' is the natural or simple state (indo) of a mind that is not
otherwise engaged. In 'Arda Unmarred' (that is, in ideal conditions
free from evil) openness would be the normal state. Nonetheless any
mind may be closed (pahta). This requires an act of conscious will:
Unwill (avanir). It may be made against G, against G and some others,
or be a total retreat into 'privacy' (aquapahtie).

Though in 'Arda Unmarred' openness is the normal state, every mind
has, from its first making as an individual, the right to close; and
it has absolute power to make this effective by will. Nothing can
penetrate the barrier of Unwill.

All these things, says Pengolodh, are true of all minds... 

(Ósanwe-kenta, by J. R. R. Tolkien)

--| References |--- 

- Original ten-page manuscript can be purchased for @2.50 from: 
  Copyright 1998, The Tolkien Trust -- VT #39.

- See Also: Tolkien's Ainulindale 


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