Vikings & Proust


Vikings continues to be my favorite show. I guess it’s old fashioned or maybe childish, but I still really enjoy theology. What’s at the root of this show is what does it mean to follow a god or gods that don’t seem to care about you? Why continue behaving in a way you think pleases them?

For the vikings, the gods are real and dictate the kind of life they should lead. Power and violence are necessary for full reward in the afterlife. When you have pleased them you will get to fight and die in a courtyard battle each day, rise, and dine with your enemies in a great hall at night.

For the Christians, a pious life might land you in a nice mansion in the sky with your very own harp. Unfortunately, the Christians have to deal with each other and their enemies, which always leads to some very un-Christlike behavior. Especially back in ye olden days of sword fighting.

My favorite character on this show is Athelstan. He’s a monk that is captured in an early viking raid. He is enslaved for a time, but is eventually made a freeman. He becomes the friend of the viking king Ragnar and seems to adopt some belief in the pagan gods. At the very least he takes advantage of some of the relaxed viking attitudes to sex and violence. However, he never stops being a Christian at heart.

He is clearly shaped by the experience of living in the savage North, but he is always going to be a highly educated Catholic priest. He excels at battle as well as art. He blends the Christian and the pagan and becomes something better. It’s an approach to spirituality I find unusual, but alluring. As Athelstan say to his friend, “I love Jesus. And I love Odin.”

This is dangerous territory for mortals. If there’s one thing we know about gods, it’s that they’re jealous and demand myopic intensity from their followers. You have to wonder which god, Odin or Jehovah, would be the most desirous of your attentions?

It’s a good, well acted show. There’s enough battling to keep it fun and every single woman on the show is tough and beautiful. But what, you ask, does this all have to do with Proust? I don’t know. I’ve never read him, but my buddy did send me a Proust questionnaire today. They’re always fun to me so I figured I’d give it a whirl for everyone’s amusement.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A long day with nothing to do but read, eat and maybe lift weights or something fun.

What is your greatest fear? Outliving my wife. Or her outliving me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Slothfulness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Neediness.

Which living person do you most admire? My dad.

What is your greatest extravagance? Weed. And lots of it.

What is your current state of mind? Content.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Humbleness.

On what occasion do you lie? When women discuss weight.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? It’s not shaped like Thor’s

Which living person do you most despise? I’m stealing my friend’s answer: myself.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Strong work ethic.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Strong work ethic.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Totally, motherfucker, you know?

What or who is the greatest love of your life? Wife.

When and where were you happiest? My wedding day.

Which talent would you most like to have? Charm. Or black belt level Jiu-Jitsu.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to be smarter.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Not owing anyone anything.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Norse god.

Where would you most like to live? New Orleans.

What is your most treasured possession? The dogs.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being dumb.

What is your favorite occupation? Writer.

What is your most marked characteristic? Grudge holding.

What do you most value in your friends? Wit and martial skills

Who are your favorite writers? Hunter S. Thompson, Christopher Hitchens, Jane Austen, Charles Bukowski, Patty Smith, James Baldwin. I could keep going.

Who is your hero of fiction? Detective Rust Cohle.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Mark Twain. Or at least I try.

Who are your heroes in real life? Soldiers, cops, farmers and other hard working knuckleheads.

What are your favorite names? Theodore. Loki. Boba Fett.

What is it that you most dislike? Humans.

What is your greatest regret? Not saying what I should’ve before some people died doing dumb things.

How would you like to die? Sexual exertion.

What is your motto? No one know anything, especially me.


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