Okay, I admit to a bit of sloppy editing there! "Disembodied state" was probably not the most perfect and accurate turn of phrase for what I feel the author of the essay was trying to convey, but it flew under my radar because I didn't read it the way David is reading it.
In two key instances when Frodo doesn't quite have both feet firmly planted in the real physical world, Sauron appears to him as an Eye - in the Mirror of Galadriel and at Amon Hen. It might have been more accurate, then, to say that on the non-physical plane (the wraith-world, as Gandalf called it in Rivendell), the essence of Sauron (for Frodo at least) is represented by a single, all-dominating Eye and/or the effect of its gaze. This is reinforced by Tolkien's use of the single eye in the heraldry of Mordor and in his cover illustrations. (Pippin also experiences Sauron's gaze, but does not say if he has one eye or two -- however, what Pippin sees in the palantír sounds likelier to be Sauron's actual physical form, not his psychic manifestation.)
If you consider "disembodied state" to be shorthand for "as he appears on the non-physical plane" rather than "like Voldemort, he's been having a spot of trouble manifesting physically lately," then it makes perfect sense. (From Merlin's comments, it seems Jackson preferred the second interpretation; and as Jason just pointed out, this would have been accurate pre-LOTR.) However, I should have made it clearer that this was how I read it and how it was intended to be read - mea culpa.
Overall, despite that lapse on my part, I feel what the essayist had to say provided a valuable perspective on the films and a locus for some of the discomfort some viewers feel with the adaptation. I'll certainly be "watching" the films differently (if I ever watch them again...)
Janet Brennan Croft
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