A note on Óðr


Son: Father, what is this “óðr” our narrator speaks of, and what use to me is this term from a language ancient and long-since dead?

Father: Son, I am glad you asked, though the question is not easy to comprehend. Many things are óðr, seemingly opposing yet intertwined. What is insanity to genius, and beauty to ugliness? Art and nature is like meditation and impulse. Poetic composition’s contrast to the the violent fits of a madman or a storm, but I consider them all in relation to óðr. How can I pick one translation? In the olden days, óðr meant madness, rage, wit, mind and spirit. It meant poetry and art, ecstasy, and dizziness, and godly advice.

Yesterday I enjoyed a strong desire and ability to create. I pursue and envy those brief moments. Today I curse every word refusing to be written, desiring the peculiar sight that triggers without warning an explosion of fanciful ideas. It is the calm philosopher and the furious volcano of expression, threatening to ejaculate at any given moment. It is Adam’s curse, the friction of pen against the writer’s block. It is the flow of words from a bum’s mouth, and kingly speech.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will break down a king and rebuild him as a fool. Are you beginning to grasp what I am trying to say? A toast from the oxen’s sword to those who do! Though man and beast are different, they are alike. Aren’t they complementary? Consider the wolf loose in your mind’s temple. The ancients were not as dense as you may believe. They saw this clearly, but you see it darkly. When the gods created man, as allegedly they did, óðr was bestowed by the idiot god Hønir. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I love the fist that kisses my lips. Without The Other I for sure am not. This is the key to our philosophy.


”Here we are at the heart of the matter […] in regards to the traditional skaldic kenning style. Two oppositional systems of form are tried to be unified, two antagonistic wills of form are brought to compatible cooperation.”
- Hallvard Lie, ‘Natur’ og ‘Unatur’ i Skaldekunsten

"No two ideas have any real meaning until they are harmonized in a third, and the operation is only perfect when these ideas are contradictory."
- Aleister Crowley, Book 4

”We are friends between whom there is a barbed-wire fence. We smile at one another but we can't kiss.“
- Yukio Mishima