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Thread: Is Literary Culture Witless and Ungermanic?

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    Is Literary Culture Witless and Ungermanic?

    Moððe word fræt. Me þæt þuhte
    wrætlicu wyrd, þa ic þæt wundor gefrægn,
    þæt se wyrm forswealg wera gied sumes,
    þeof in þystro, þrymfæstne cwide
    ond þæs strangan staþol. Stælgiest ne wæs
    wihte þy gleawra, þe he þam wordum swealg.
    A moth ate words. It seemed to me
    a strange event when I heard of that wonder,
    that a worm, a thief in darkness, should devour
    the songs of men, glorious utterance
    and a place of strong being. The thievish visitor
    was no whit the wiser for swallowing the words.

    -- Riddle 47, Exeter Book
    Riddles like this are meant to teach wit, the ability to shift in and out of multiple mental states and even to hold them at the same time.

    They depend on a rich poetic language, strong in the indicative mode, but also capable of creating subtly nuanced compound nouns. The principal structuring device is alliterative verse, which fits naturally with the prosodic patterns of Germanic languages that give them a forceful and glorious presence.

    An emphasis on cognitive skill is apparent throughout Germanic culture. The Anglo-Saxon language uses at least 18 words to cover just the core concepts. Woden unfolds across the entire space of mental activity, although some aspects are particularly emphasised.

    You alone know that, what long ago
    You said in the ears of your son.
    I doomed myself when I dared to tell
    What fate will befall the gods,
    And staked my wit against the wit of Odin,
    Ever the wisest of all.

    -- Vafþrúðnismál 55
    How did the written word improve on this? It has made it easier to distribute procedural knowledge and externally received opinion. What it does not seem to convey is a consciousness outside of logos.

    The significance of a storyteller lies in the effect caused in those who listen, the transmission of a mental state that is written in the soul of the learner, who is then able to assume it as his own. It is a situational process; different myths may be chosen to be applied by the storyteller and, since they are emanations of his own soul, they must be clarified and modified by greater men in order to remain true.

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    Literature has its purpose. But we must not write everything down, not profane the sacred. Knowledge must be earned like Wodan sacrificing himself to sieze the runes. This is the purpose of the Occult aspects of our tradition. If I simply wrote down every clever thing I've discovered in life any half wit could repeat these sayings like a parrot and appear clever. Anybody with swiss cheese brains would be able to steal my hard won labor and use it for their own success. Thus we have inner and outer mysteries. Some things are made obvious other things are earned. One reason we speak in riddle, symbols etc. Those who are worthy will see the obvious meaning, those who don't will not.

    At any rate this brings up a question I want to post about a language project.

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