On One’s Own Folly

The Choices of Master Samwise

shelob.jpg

All is folly, and yet folly it does not remain (Source)

There is some poetic justice in the demise of Shelob: encased in a strong hide of darkness long nurtured in the depths, it is the force of her own movement down upon Sam that forces Sting into her belly. The hobbit had not the strength to render more than a light gash to her inner core, even if in his bravery he put out one of her eyes and cut off one of her claws. Yet, in her haste her destroy her attacker and her confidence in her own strength, Shelob brings about her own destruction: it is her folly that leads to her wound, even though Sam was there to aid it.

Alas, folly, that foolish or crazy behavior. Shelob was not alone in being possessed by it upon exiting the mountain tunnel. It was folly that Frodo should run so fervently toward the orc tower and away from Sam and deliberate movements in enemy lands. ‘Twas a folly that led to Frodo’s near death. It was folly that Gollum gloat over the capture of the stupid fat hobbit before both hands were around his neck. ‘Twas a folly that caused Gollum to lose his prey and nearly his head. It was folly that Sam would charge headlong into the beast of darkness with only small sword in hand. ‘Twas a folly, and yet here, foolish and crazy though it was, it brought about some greater good.

In that sense, folly, while remaining irrational, is not necessarily wrong. One’s own folly is always risky, always dangerous, always a path that should be regarded and discerned. Nevertheless, much of this quest has been folly: the journey through the Moria, the breaking of the Fellowship, the trusting of Gollum, the approach to Minas Morgul. Each step was crazy, by all accounts foolish, irrational and seemingly hopeless. At some level, the entire journey to Mt. Doom has been one folly, a folly laden on Frodo (and now Sam’s) shoulders.

And that’s important, for we all bear our follies. Many of these follies are not to be embraced, but like those of Shelob, Frodo, and Gollum, will cause us grief and suffering should we not let reason control us. Yet we also each have follies of the kind like Sam’s: a foolish question, a crazy commitment, a madness that will take control of us in defense of something that we care about or love. Such follies will be the death of us, it’s true, before the end: but death awaits us all nevertheless, for the folly of sin, the folly of Adam, the folly of humanity as a whole stands above all.

Above all, perhaps; but not the highest. For a long time ago, there was a folly that few expected. It actually consisted of two great follies, two incredible madnesses that occurred in dusty lands away from the seats of power and wisdom. It began with a crazy moment that an angel brought a message to a young woman; it ended when a young man foolishly died upon a cross. Foolish to the wisdom of the world; crazy to the rules of our minds; ended, but never ending, for the folly of God has rectified the folly of man.


2016’s Reflection: “On the Enigmatic Empathy for the Forces of the Enemy
2015’s Reflection: “On Choice

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