Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not Too Sophisticated

Meðalsnotr skyli manna hverr, æva til snotr sé (Havamal 54) : "Moderately sophisticated shall each man be, never too sophisticated."

Good advice.

Never be embarassed by your unsophisticated pleasures.

því at snotrs manns hjarta verðr sjaldan glatt, ef sá er alsnotr, er á. (Havamal 55) : "Because the sophisticated man's heart seldom becomes glad if he who has it is too sophisticated."

For me, it's the Dukes of Hazard. No redeeming social value. Almost no substance. Pure fluff, and absolutely fun. And kinda stupid. But I've loved it since I was a child. It's something that were it not for the wisdom of these words of Woden, I might be embarassed to admit.

Sometimes we need to be carefree and let down our hair, get comfortable. Acting like the world is on our shoulders all the time is a little foolish, not to say somewhat impious in a vague kind of way, because it isn't. Leave what is the Gods' to the Gods.

Ever heard the expression, "Anything for a laugh"? Well, why do you think the Gods ever let someone like Loki into their midst? Because at first, he made them laugh, and that was good enough (at first) to overlook some of the other qualities. Now, they may have made a mistake here, but the point is to emphasize how important laughter was to them. That point cannot be underlined enough.

The Gods didn't make us to be monks, our heads always in books. Sure, we should seek out knowledge, as Odin does, but the Gods also want us to laugh -- indeed, know that we need to! -- and to enjoy ourselves.

That's why Odin says to be sophisticated, but not too sophisticated, because it's not healthy. Or to use a more modern term, Subgenius not Genius. There's a time to get down to business, and there's a time to kick back and enjoy yourself. A hint : Beowulf was not fighting so people could get back down to business, but so that the Meadhall could return to its games and hall joys.

all translations copyright 2009 by Siegfried Goodfellow


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