Saturday, September 13th, 2008
Part of the reason for writing the blog below regarding the big bang is the comparison with the Old Norse version of the creation and their subsequent view of existence. At the beginning of the Prose Edda, one of the first things we read the following account of the universe’s beginnings.
(By the way, I’ve cut and pasted most of this from here: www.sacred-texts.com For those parts of the text which come from older poetic sources (The Sibyl’s Prophecy) I’ve added the newer Penguin version as an alternative. This is because the newer text is more readable and the meaning feels slightly different. The older one has a poetic power, though. This distinction in use of language is significant in itself, with regard to my project, I think. The bits from the Penguin edition are in italics.
The older translation is from 1916 and is by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur
The newer one is from 2005 and is by Jesse L. Byock)
Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
I’ve been enjoying the Prose Edda, so here’s a bit more from that.
Two ravens sit on Odin’s shoulders, and into his shoulders tell all the news they see or hear. their names are Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory). At sunrise he sends them off to fly throughout the whole world, and they return in time for the first meal. Thus he gathers knowledge about many things that are happening, and so people call him the raven god. As is said:
Hugin and Munin
fly each day
over the wide world.
I fear for Hugin
that he may not return,
though I worry more for Munin.
Hugin and Munin are Odin’s (The All-Father) route to seeing all of creation. They carry all. They’re probably the single most relevant part of the Prose Edda to my project.
Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
So I said I’d write a separate post about the Prose Edda, concerning its ambiguities and its interesting journey from myths and stories told by Norse poets to its status as an important document of northern European history.
The first thing that really grabbed me about the Prose Edda was the ambiguity of it. It was written by an Icelandic chieftain, Snorri Sturluson, who seems to have been a pretty Machiavellian guy. His life was defined by his desire to be the most powerful man in Iceland. To this end, he got cosy with King Hakon of Norway. Some scholars have suggested that this was in order to bring Iceland under Norwegian rule. His failure in this was eventually the death of him. He was murdered by his son-in-law at the order of King Hakon.
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
I recently finished reading the Prose Edda which is one of the major sources of information about Norse mythology. All has its roots in Germanic/Danish languages. I thought Norse myth would be a useful insight in to the way the Vikings saw the world and ‘all’. Indeed it was. Below is an excerpt from the Penguin edition, concerning itself largely with the ‘Yggdrasil’, or, the ‘World Tree’.
In describing different places in the cosmos, the Edda often employs the imprecise word heimr, meaning ‘home’, ‘world’ or ‘land’, and we must guess at the locations of many of the described areas. In addition to the realms of the gods, men and giants, the Edda speaks of geographically disparate regions such as Ginnungagap in the north, an empty place filled with ice, and Muspell, a burning place of intense heat to the south. So also there are several heavens; one is called Andlang and another, ‘further up’ is where light elves live.
Monday, March 17th, 2008
Here are a few points that should illustrate most of where my mind is with this…
1 - I think the words history, word and all are perhaps not quite equally important parts of my title but the first two shouldn’t be forgotten. I’d chosen them before I chose the word all, after all. I sometimes feel like I’m making a project about absolutely everything. I’m not. It’s about the history of a word. I want to look at the word’s use and misuse, with a view to examining language in the process. A significant part of this is looking at the images and ideas that flood into people’s minds when they hear the word. Which leads me on to part two of this post.
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