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The Runes, by Horik Svensson: A Sporking

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by FurikoMaru, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Hello and welcome.

    Quick FAQ:

    What's a sporking?
    It's this thing where you read a story or other work and take cheap shots at it while desperately concealing the fact that you yourself are a hack and have never finished anything you've ever written.

    What's The Runes supposed to be about?
    It's intended as a guide to interpreting the letters of the Norse and Germanic peoples in their capacity as a divinatory aid.

    People believe this crap?
    Yes. There are people in the modern day who, in all sincerity of heart, follow the Norse gods and hold the runes, if not quite sacred in the Christian sense, then at least Important. So show 'em the same courtesy you do the Abrahamic faiths, and by all means give them shit for caring about something unironically.

    So this Horik Svensson guy is one of these Norse pagans?
    *shrug* You'd have to ask him what he considers himself.

    ??? Are they all this...?
    Nope. This sporking was and is originally hosted in the Pagan thread on tvtropes, for the amusement of its regular posters. Most of the Asatruar on r/Asatru are perfectly sensible people, too.

    So this guy is talking out of his ass even according to people who think that, like, Thor is a real guy who talks to people?
    Yep.

    Wow.
    Yep.

    Stay tuned. 8)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2014
  2. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Ooh, they start the whole thing off with an excerpt from a Longfellow poem! That's promising! :D You'll forgive me if I spend the rest of this review/liveblog thing singing it to the tune of Jerusalem.

    So the introduction does that annoying thing that some people in debate clubs do and starts with a definition of 'rune' - or rather, two; the proper dictionary one ("any of the letters of the earliest Germanic alphabet used by Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons from about the third century BC and formed by modifying Roman or Greek characters to suit carving"), over which it is a trifle sniffy, and the fancy old school one ("whispered secret").

    There's some blahdeblah for a few paragraphs about Greco-Roman deities and their influence on certain English turns of phrase, and then the days of the week thing, which really indicates the intended demographic of this book.

    But... you just said the OED said they're heavily modified Mediterranean letters! How can they come from the *~mystic~* North when they're a result of the commercial South?

    Aww, snap, I just had the *best* idea! A SesameStreet fanfic wherein the denizens fight off an attack by some mean person or other by casting spells with the letters of the week! :D I would ''so'' read about Super-Grover's heroic death utilizing S for super, shield and sacrifice.

    ... I may or may not have too many thoughts. ._.;

    - specifically the desk drawer of a man who let his fondness for D&D determine his academic career path, right next to the vodka -

    That last word always throws me. Is it really forebears or is it forebearers? Spellcheck says the former is correct, but it doesn't recognize forbearance as a word, so that's not a great help.

    Moving on, it seems that this book is as fond of a certain bit of WMG re: NorseMythology as I am, namely the one about how Ragnarok's already happened. It claims that according to myth, humans acquired the runes by questing in search of knowledge of the golden age when Asgard was still around.

    ...yeeeeeeeeeah, I call Christianization.

    >___< "...hrnmnwha...? Howth'Hel'd you li'l fuckers get in here? Oh, why are your voices so high?" ;__;

    "... so y'can bicker with each other about reconstructionism and cultural appropriation?" -_- "That's always a fun time."

    "Spoiler warning, most of it is about cows and bookkeeping. I've bookmarked the bits about violence and tits. You're welcome."

    "Now get the fuck off my planet." >_<

    "Actually I was talking about the Odin/Loki fanart I included. Teach those little halfmonkeys to wake me up at four am!" ^__^ *snuggles back down in her seat*

    Night-night, storytellin' lady. :3

    What.

    No, honestly, what? I mean, yeah, earlier than when they came to live in Europe, sure, but... the Aryans were cattlelords! They conquered India! As far as I know, when people hypothesize they came from any one place in particular, it's usually Southern Russia or somewhere like that.

    This book needs to be more specific about things - it's used the word ancient like five times by now, each time referring to a different period of history.

    Is imbue the word he wants, here? I didn't think it had a figurative meaning in addition to the literal one. Wouldn't ascribe be better?

    Did a dictionary eat your childhood dog, man? Ice cream is also in the dictionary, fucko, and so is sex!

    ... I'm Canadian. I know what it is to hold one's experience with proper winter over the Southern pansies' heads. But anyone who tries to tell you north-western India has a more pleasant climate than Lillehammer is talking out of their ass. You might as well try to compare living in a colony at the bottom of the ocean to living in a colony in outer space; they're both really impressive and really shitty places to live if your society's beneath a certain level of technological sophistication for reasons which probably aren't similar enough to be worth comparing. I'm more inclined to think owing their lives to their herd animals and the greenery that fed them is what made them such devoted animists, not General Winter.

    Edit: Markup fixing.
     
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  3. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Tsugi!

    That's so cute how he calls it a creation myth, like someone did it on purpose or something. :)) If I recall my Roger Lancellyn Green audiobooks correctly, in the beginning was Ganungagap (which I clearly cannot spell - the book has it as Ginnungagap), and then Muspellheim and Niflheim crashed into each other and sorta exploded in the middle into somewhere vaguely liveable, then Ymir passed out and his bodyparts had an orgy with each other and (surprise surprise) a cow, and voilà, jötnar!

    PUT DOWN THE TOLKEIN. IT IS KILLING YOUR CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS.

    Seriously, in the next paragraph Odin and Borr go off to hunt their cousins and grandfather with some vague talk about how it's a struggle between good and evil. How about 'a struggle between the guy who's gonna win and the guys who're gonna lose', Mr Author?

    I'm not as up on the earliest bits of Norse myth as I ought to be, but... did the other jötnar try to kill Bestla, or something? 'Cause if they did there's a case to be made that evil must be punished and all that, but if they didn't, all I see is a bunch of dudes who like to fight deciding to fight one another.

    So blahdeblah, Ymir bleeds everyone dies, except Odin and his bros and Bergelmir and his wife, and Odin sets about building Midgard in the creepiest manner possible, but with such attention to detail and thrift that I can't help but admire it.

    Here's something that bugs me about almost every creation myth; they always start out with a tiny cast of characters, until it comes time for someone to get married or something, and someone's wife comes out of fucking nowhere. This happened earlier in this story with Bestla, but now it's gotten to the point where I had to get that off my chest, because humans haven't been created yet and Odin's already putting a handsome youth and a pretty girl in charge of the chariots of the moon and sun respectively. Are these his eldest kids? His niece and nephew? The book doesn't elaborate.

    So Bergelmir and his wife and their kids see the sun and moon and decide to wreck their cousin's shit for killing damn near all the family they had in the world, and they sic Skoll and Hati on the celestial bodies. I always kind of felt bad for these two; even though I used to have nightmares about them actually succeeding, the thought of them finally managing to swallow the sun and moon only for the world to end around them is kind of depressing, especially if you like normal wolves to begin with.

    Because Odin is a dumbass who didn't refrigerate the corpse-bits properly, there are black and white maggots infesting the earth, whom he promptly divides into elves and drow. IIRC, black elves/dwarves are the coolest motherfuckers in the world, so I hope they come up again in this book.

    Fuck it, I'm instituting a drinking game. Every time the author mentions new gods without introducing them, when he could just as easily have left them out since they don't end up adding anything to the anecdote at hand, take a shot (and believe me, Svensson says precisely nothing about the gifts the other two bestow in other versions of the story).

    tl;dr version, Odin breathes life into an Ash tree and an Elm tree by saying the words Ash and Elm, whoohoo, our ancestors be created out this bitch. Or at least mine are. Well, some of mine; I don't know how this overlaps with the story of whatever gods thought it'd be funny to inflict Celts and the Haudenosaunee on their neighbours.

    Hmm... somehow that doesn't sound right to me. If Yggdrasil didn't exist before, how did everyone get around? It's sorta like the Sephirot, right? Connecting the various realms to one another? And if he did plant it, wouldn't that mean he'd had to have gone everywhere and mapped out where the roots and all were supposed to go, including the ones in Jötunnheim with his blood enemies? That's pretty impressive; I want to hear that story.

    ... am I wrong in thinking this is a huge oversimplification? Aren't the runes and the charms what he spent nine days hanging on a tree - possibly this tree - to get? Or if I'm remembering incorrectly, then they have to be what he got from drinking from the well at the bottom of Yggdrasil. I'm pretty sure foreknowledge of Ragnarok was what he got from the LSD well, though, so the runes have to be the result of the hanging, otherwise I don't have a clue what he did that for. Norse-god-handling specialists, please weigh in.

    Why is this author determined to limit the amount of awesome his book contains? :(

    Black-and-white morality is for Romans! >: <

    Not gonna lie, first thought that went through my mind was "she can do so much better." Well, whatever; none of my business who she sleeps with or how she raises her kid.

    Also, maybe my education is lacking, but aside from being a real bishie, did Baldr ever do anything? Great is not the word I'd use to describe him. Is Loki's murder of him somehow the equivalent of Superboy-Prime punching reality - did it erase his significant contributions to the timeline aside from Skadi trying to force him to marry her?

    - GO SIT IN THE CORNER, MR AUTHOR! The Morning Star and Loki are two different flavours of jerk. One tastes like cinnamon, the other like toothpaste and orange juice. Stop trying to make things convenient and easy to understand for your readers at the cost of accuracy!

    -_- Treachery and chaos are not automatically evil. They're neutral forces that can be provoked or prompted by the good or evil in a person, or just from the universe getting bored. It just seems a little unfair to call a guy evil for not getting along with/fucking with a bunch of people who also kinda suck. That's like saying Marvin the Paranoid Android is mean for not volunteering to help any of the heroes in any way, or saying Dib should stop being so damned obsessed and socialise more. Yeah, it doesn't excuse their arrogance and cruelty, but the problem isn't that they're mean to assholes, the problem is that being around assholes has brought out the absolute worst in them. It's still their fault for doing bad things, of course, but I~ have a weirdly skewed sense of morality.

    No doubt in part due to the fact that I had a massive crush on Loki as a little kid.

    :( No fair, Yahtzee, I was here first, go back to reviewing video games!

    Blahdeblah, mistletoeLokiHodrinferiorfakeGaeBolgshinyboyisdedded.

    Oh, cold. >:D I didn't know that part about Thokk and the not-weeping thing, but I can't say it didn't make me giggle. How deliciously high school. That's what I love about this prick; I grow up, he stays the same age.

    So they tie him down, and here the book gets a little fanfic-y, 'cause I thought he stayed in his daughter's realm for a damn long time and was only let out to captain the Nailfarer, but the book says he escapes to Jötunnheim.

    Again, the book tells the tale of Ragnarok as though it's already come to pass. It always sort of mystified me as a kid why the final boss for each character was so lacking in the predictability I'd been accustomed to; I mean, Freyr fights Surt? That's almost as weird as Lee vs. Gaara. Now that I read over the matchups again, I have to wonder if they aren't the result of four or five different religions amalgamating their end-of-the-world mythos into one bitchin' crossover.

    -----

    The next chapter's just an excerpt from The Poetic Edda about hanging for wisdom and a short paragraph with a shoutout to The Hanged Man. Would've been nice if this book had actually mentioned Odin doing all that so this wouldn't come out of left field.

    As always, corrections and clarifications are welcome. Certain amendments have already been made to this edition in the name of accuracy, though I have left Svensson's mistakes intact.
     
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  4. Vindictus

    Vindictus Experienced.

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    [Snerk~]

    Heh. I'll have to link this to some people I know.

    Also, does anyone know how to watch a thread without posting in it?
     
  5. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Amen to that.
    Well, if the pool was where he got the foresight happening, then I think he just got hanged to gain 'wisdom'. Which is a pretty shitty deal any way you look at it.
    Baldr was the Mary Sue-iest of the gods. 'The second son of Odin is Baldur, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments.' And he had the best ship and the coolest house.

    And then he died. So end all Mary Sues. Sic semper.
     
  6. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Yooooooosh!

    This chapter seems reasonably legit, though it continues the author's habit of suggesting non-Germanic origins for the runes while insisting that they're special and Germanic.

    Oh dear god, man, where is your proofreader? I'm very nearly positive that no one could be dumb enough to say this intentionally; you have to have meant to say right to left. Y'know, the way that's different from modern European languages aside from possibly Yiddish?

    And then Christians happened. All over Odin's face.

    Adonai was heard to remark, "I'm so sorry, this has never happened to me before." Most participants were disappointed with the festivities, but the party still got a solid overall rating of 7/10 because, they said, the subsequent fights made up for the lousy lay.

    Yay, the Nazis have shown up! They always liven up the proceedings.

    ... all politics aside, isn't controlling the sun a pretty damned positive thing for humanity, considering one day it's going to eat our home planet? And it's a source of skin cancer on one hand and essential vitamins and energy on the other?

    A paragraph later he talks about how the use of sigels as the Essess in the Waffen SS crest 'debased' the meaning behind the thing, and although I get what he means, the way he's phrasing all this it seems like he thinks the Nazis were intentionally insulting the original meanings, as opposed to what they were doing, which was taking pride in their cultural heritage past acceptable levels into the creepy thanfiction zone and beyond.

    The Tarot has variations like that because it is itself a variant of the standard 52 deck devised for a game called Tarot. It's like a Wizard deck. I mean, yeah, you can use Tarot cards for fortunetelling, but I'll bet you can modify a box of straws into I Ching sticks, too; doesn't mean they weren't originally intended to suck up beverages.

    I just don't get this guy's need to make everything sparkly-pure. You can use something for mystical purposes without its origins being mystical! Virgin sacrifices, for instance; eight year old farm girl, common as muck, slit her throat and she's an astral goldmine.

    There, doesn't it feel better to tell the truth? :)
     
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  7. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Hello-ello-ello. I’m in the mood for a little more bashing of Mr Svensson, how about you?

    That really sounds like it could be its own book, actually. It could be a lit-crit magnum opus examining Celtic and Norse stories alongside fantasy cultures who use runes, like Tolkeinian dwarves.

    It probably had more to do with how well they busted heads. In all honesty, I think Roman ‘high regard’ was an honour reserved for the Greeks, what with all the cultural swag the high-and-tights snapped up. Also, what’s up with the comma-drought?

    Blah-de-blah Tacitus and social history, enthusiastic mention of tit-flashing on the edge of battlefields, and why do people always mention the welcoming of wanderers like it’s somehow unique or worthy of note? I know we don’t do it now in North America, because each one of us is apparently scared of every other human being on the planet, but it’s a common theme in literature everywhere to be courteous to travellers – heck, Jews who farm are technically supposed to leave behind part of their crop for transients.

    ... this speaks for itself, I think. I will merely confine myself to saying, aw, that’s adorable, the Romans think they’ve seen some shit ‘cause they discovered you can have sex with more than one person at a time. Seriously, if I know anything about the ancient Mediterranean, it’s that the sons of Romulus are tsundere for anything remotely pleasant. They could never out-sex the Egyptians.

    As if compound interest weren’t bad enough. How strict a definition of gift are we using here? Because if you go too far down that line of thought, you just stay in debt your whole life, desperately clawing your way up out of a muddy pit only for the earth to crumble under your hands yet again the minute you reach the top. That kind of thing scares the shit out of me. Giving should be an impulsive joy in an otherwise organized life, not a tiresome game of accounts.

    I think it began before then, didn’t it? I know one of the ways they got their recruiting numbers for the Legions up was by promising lands to those who completed their term of service, and I know they also hired a lot of Germanian mercs, so giving lands in Germania to Germanian vets seems to solve two problems at once (while creating a third).

    Britons are Celts you illiterate pigfuck. Isn’t there some word that can be used to distinguish Latinized Celts from free Celts?

    :)) I am now imagining a blue-painted maitre d’hotel in a white tie and tails telling a drunk with a braided beard, very gently, that he’s making a scene.

    Whacha wanna bet the tight old bastards refused to pay them? Maybe I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt – England is a very tempting conquest, what with the iron mines and the “winters” – but it seems intriguing that this should happen around the same time as the fall of Rome. If the Romans were pulling out their support of the existing regimes, I doubt the kings would have had the same resources they might once have.

    I love the sorting-algorithm of fear at work here. Does living in England just drain people of their ability to frighten the living shit out of their enemies? I mean, yeah, they conquered half the world later, but I’ve never known any culture to be really scared of Englishmen; their enemies just hate(d) them.

    So you get the Danelaw expanding rapidly in its influence, until William the Bastard shows up for the Normans’ turn to sip at the pussyfying spring, “bringing with him the heavy hand of Catholicism and a return to the Latin language, in the form of early French.” Making it clear this man neither reads Latin nor speaks French, early or otherwise.

    Really?

    ... I’m honestly asking, it’s been a long time since my first look and I can’t remember – I had a major Classics phase around the same time as my dinosaur phase. Mostly I think of ‘em as just as bad as everyone else at the time, but no worse.

    There is no real picture! There is a full picture and pieces of it. The pieces are what we use to judge the whole, pooling them over time, because no single human can find all the pieces by himself. Stop trying to be right, it’s embarrassing and reminds me of my grade nine essays. -_-

    Blah blah blah strangely streamlined explanation of the afterlife in which there’s a Christian-esque merit-based duality of Valhalla-Hel, instead of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure version I’m used to, where the manner of your death determines whose hall you end up in.

    The narrator goes on to explain absolutely nothing about how they are different, so I’m guessing he only brought it up in order to highlight the negligible similarities in the mind of the reader and... confuse them in the long term by continuing to use comparisons that don’t map properly? I don’t know. Also he leaves out the fighty-killy-yay aspects of Valhalla, making it sound more like the hotel-heaven from Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life. Which I've always hoped has been waiting for me. I mean, look at that shit:

    [embed=425,349]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IivaDS3eWrE[/embed]

    Merry Christmas, guys. I’m out.
     
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  8. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Okay, corrections: the Aryans did not necessarily conquer India, historians are pretty sure they're from the Caucasus rather than southern Russia, and they didn't move north out of India through Iran up into Turkey and intermix with the peoples of Europe the way I imagined. If anything, some people from the Caucasus left it for Anatolia and thence Europe, and some other people from the Caucasus rode down into Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. In my defence, prehistory is really not my field. I'm sorry for giving a false impression of the situation, and I hope it hasn't diminished your enjoyment of this little gossip-fest.
     
  9. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    Unless they're being used exclusively as letters, in which case they symbolize the power exhibited by different elements of ''style,'' amirite? Little Strunk & White action up in here? This guy gets it, I can tell!

    My god, how am I so ''old?'' .__.

    ...

    :)) This guy. This fuckin' guy.

    Dude, I spend about half my waking life certain the ocean is a unified entity who will one day indifferently take me from the world of the living, and even I know you're full of shit. These are the people who invented flyting, for fuck's sake. Kennings are a major part of their schtick. They have metaphors and they aren't afraid to use them. You can't call a society 'quite... complex and sophisticated' and then turn around and say that everything they said and did they meant literally. A sophisticated society has narrative and ceremonial traditions and shit.

    I'm not saying they definitely didn't think of the natural forces and those who have dominion over them as one, or even that all Germanic and Nordic people in every region believed the exact same things of the gods, because I honestly don't know. I'm just saying, you don't inspire much confidence in me, bro. Like, at all. Particularly since you wrote a book on a topic you consider impossible to examine intellectually.

    Even if Svensson is entirely correct, so what? If you can make an intellectual inquiry into music or the way toddlers play with each other, you can examine the runes that way too. Being methodical and rational doesn't mean you can't acknowledge that feelings and intuition and the natural world have value and power - Mr Rogers built a whole career around teaching kids to calmly analyse their emotions and work with them constructively.

    (I mean, I assume he did - I grew up in a Henson household because my mom thought it was more important that I learn I could be a massively spazzy freak and still be loved. More practical day-to-day applications for that kind of knowledge in my line.

    (I always thought Mr Rogers was kind of terrifying, actually; my home environment and early life in general was dominated by a stronger, more stubborn adult version of me, so as you can imagine a grown up who never cried or got irritated or lost his temper or seemed to have any preferences in friends beyond that they be 'just the way they are' was clearly the advance scout of an intelligent-zombie invasion.)

    Anyway! tl;dr, even setting aside their use as an alphabet and focusing solely on their spiritual signifcance, the runes can be analysed and understood intellectually, because they are functionally useless for teachable prognostication if you can't. Trust me, I'm a synaesthete with a predisposition toward Stendhal syndrome; I know what I'm talking about. Each person's emotional relationship with specific information is different from everyone else's, even if it's only different in the smallest degree, based on how the piece of information relates to the other pieces of information. This is why subjective opinions are a thing, and it is also why there has to be an intellectual component to the significance of runes.

    Not least because of who's responsible for us having them in the first fucking place. Or did you forget the preeminent pimp of Asgard is the god of information and messengers, you mental pigmy?
     
  10. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    C'mon Furi, you just gotta go with the FLOW, you know? Feel some vibes. Not bow to the tyranny of thinking and objective study. You dig?
     
  11. FurikoMaru

    FurikoMaru Versed in the lewd.

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    I don't even have a problem with that, hippie wooOooooOOOoo totally has its place. But it's like with a plunger; you aren't thinking about the materials that went into making it or who first patented the suction cup while you're using the thing - you just want your shit-disposal unit to work properly. However, if you're writing a book about plungers or an article on comparisons between different models, of course that stuff takes precedence over personal preferences and jiggling-motions. Your own shit is not of interest to anyone but you and possibly your loved ones; what someone you're teaching cares about is shit in general.