Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Heroes are Heroes, Even With Flaws

I had the misfortune the other day of accidentally running into a racist website whose entire purpose was to "spill the dirt" as it were on Martin Luther King, Jr., as if we are all supposed to turnabout and tear the hero down when we find out that he was human after all. I suppose that's one of the wonderful things about the story of Hodur. Here we have a hero of great idealism but immense impetuosity, who rescued Sol from a terrible fate in the beginning of time, fought and killed the first Dragon when Thor was still in diapers as it were, who protected Sol and Mani from wolves, yet who himself became subject to seduction by Gullveig, was turned against his brother for a time on behalf of lusting after his wife, and finally was framed for a killing he had no direction over --- and yet, in the end, he will rule over the Golden Age with his brother Baldur! Heathens don't tear down their heroes just because they turn out to be human.

First we are treated to the supposedly scandalous news that Martin Luther King, Jr. had connections with the Communist Party --- as if we are now prescripted to say, "I knew he was a scoundrel!". Well, sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but back in those days, if you were doing anything progressive, you probably had something to do with the Communist Party, because that is where all the idealists working for progress and liberation were hanging out. Yes, of course, they were terribly deluded by Stalinist Russia and its cynical parody of Marx's dreams, but nevertheless, this is really where all the talent was hanging out for a great deal of the 20th century. So, sorry, racists, no scandal there. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who was willing to work with many different people to bring about progress.

Secondly, we are to be scandalized by the fact that behind the scenes, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pragmatist who was not rigidly attached to an ideological and uncontextual nonviolence, but was willing to dialogue with folks who were more militant, the likes of Malcolm X and so forth. So? From a heathen standpoint we understand peace that has a few warriors standing by. It is honorable to work for peace first and foremost, but there's nothing wrong with a little pragmatism as well.

Finally, and what is supposed to be the kicker in "moral majority" America, is the news that Martin Luther King, Jr. apparently engaged in extramarital affairs with several of his parishioners. Now we're just supposed to grab the statue of King and pull it down like Saddam in Baghdad out of disgust and revulsion, I suppose. This is just the result of Christian hypocrisy and inability to come to terms with certain pragmatic ramifications of fame and power, and our heathen ancestors had a very pragmatic approach to this. Look, I'm not approving of adultery ; I've been cheated on and it feels miserable. But there's a different pressure of libido when you are renowned that you have to know in order to understand. Tacitus speaks to this in Germania 18 : ...singulis uxoribus contenti sunt, exceptis admodum paucis, qui non libidine, sed ob nobilitatem plurimis nuptiis ambiuntur, "...They are content with a single wife, except a very few, who not from fancy, but out of the nobles/famous soliciting/embracing many marriages." It's not just anyone, out of fancy, who takes more than one wife, but the noble and famous who embrace polygamy. Why? Because of their position, because of their fame. Let's face it : someone who marries someone famous or powerful has got to know that temptations are going to be all around them, especially when the pressure is on, and it's probably best for such couples to have an "arrangement" or "understanding" of some kind that is going to be different than that of the masses. Not out of elitism, but because rock stars get more, and that's how it works ... better to accomodate it and give it shape and decorum than let it breed scandal. That would be a heathen take on the issue.

No, guys, I'm sorry, but you failed to knock down my idol, because not only was Martin Luther King, Jr. a great man despite his human frailties and flaws, but he was but the mouthpiece of a larger movement that anyone who is sane would want to be a part of, and for the articulation of that movement, we should all be greatful. "I have a dream..." ; yes! A dream of pluralism and unity, a dream of different peoples living and working side by side and gaining from the exchange.

I know, there may be a few ethnic nationalists and separatists groaning out there, but sorry, guys, when Odin was exiled on earth for ten years and lived in Maeringaborg, it was a city known for its mixing and mingling of tribes, as the best of champions assembled for the chance to be in Atli -- the "Great Sage" --'s army.

"I have a dream..."? Yes, Martin Luther King, so did Odin. I think we're on the same page here.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gabriel said...

Hi Siegfried,
I´ve never read about those myths about Hödh. Which are your sources? The one about lusting for Nana is taken from Saxo? (though it seems different since there Nana was not Baldr´s wife)
BR

11:57 AM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

It's all in an upcoming book by Carla and myself. It involves, in part, an examination of heroic tales that transmit fragments of Baldur and Hodur's lore. Helgi Hjorvardsson, for example, is a Christian retelling, in part, and in heroic form, of Baldur (Helgi) and Hodur (Hedin)'s tale. There you see Hedin-Hodur seduced by a witch who bewitches him to swear over Yule ale to have Helgi's wife. This is also reflected in Saxo's telling. "Hedin" generally speaking (of course one has to investigate the particulars) is a cypher for Hodur. Thus we find Hodur tales in the tales of Hodur and Hogni, reproduced in many places including Snorri, where Hodur rescues and falls in love with "Hild", usually a cypher for Sol or one of her daughters, from her father. We find a similar rescue by Hedin in the Kudrun Saga. When you place them side by side, they all converge on the same story. Once that composite story is evident, it becomes clear that the Sigurd legends also draw upon Hodur's mythos, and that his rescue of Sigrdrifa is in fact a rescue of Sol, trapped in her ring of fire. That's fairly schematic, and I don't expect you to accept that as such, but it does give you the grounding for my statements, and for the more detailed analysis, you'll have to await the publishing of the book itself ...

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Steven T Abell said...

I agree entirely with your sentiment about King, but not with your thoughts about communists. Those are people who are generally pretty ugly inside, people who have a hard time meaning well because they have no idea what well means. They may not start out that way, but that's where that road leads.

Interesting stuff about Hodur.

11:00 PM  
Blogger SiegfriedGoodfellow said...

Thank you.

Well, my generalization, like all generalizations, can't encompass all the phenomena, but really, when we're talking Communists in the 30s, 40s, and 50s here in America, we're discussing a different breed in many ways than Leftists in America these days. People doing really progressive things. For example, Harry Hay, the founder of the Gay Liberation Movement, was a member of the Communist Party, and certainly his work has been very important and progressive. But I understand there is room here for a great deal of disagreement about Communists. My point was that equating Communists automatically with Bogeymen -- as this article was clearly trying to do -- is sloppy, illogical thinking. And frankly, Americans, being brainwashed for years against Communists, and I do not use that word metaphorically, but literally, need to wise up a bit and stop knee-jerking against Communists. There's plenty of good critiques to be had of them, and all of them can be established on a sound intellectual basis, not the knee-jerkism by Americans (and I'm not including you in this per se) who've never bothered to decondition themselves. I have little patience for people who haven't taken the time nor trouble to decondition themselves. The point of these racists was not to invoke any thoughtful critique of Communism, obviously ; their entire point was to smear King by associating him with a bogeyman. The modern equivalent would be trying to associate him with Bin Laden, and if they could, they would, but of course that would be impossible (not only back then, of course, but now, as King wouldn't have anything to do with such folks, but such folks are our modern Bogeymen equivalents).

11:20 PM  

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