Fashion (nowadays) typically trumps practicality. I’ve seen dudes in jeans that they, realistically, should not have been able to get into. I’m forced to assume that they, like some kind of human snake, shed this outer layer as they grow, with the cycle beginning all over again. So on the one hand you’ve got form, things that look good but may not be practical, and then you’ve got function, things that may not look good but get the job done. Where the hell does Vidar’s legendary boot fit into the spectrum, then? I guess he’s like one of those punk rock kids who choose neither to be fashionable nor to be functional.

There’s always someone that’s got to go against the grain. But hey, at least it comes in handy down the road! Even a busted clock is accurate twice a day, right?

The story of Ragnarok is an almost surreal meta-concept that is both heart wrenching and exciting. There have been scholarly debates on the topic wondering why someone would write the story of their gods’ demise and several theories have arisen. The first is that a Christian wrote the story to reflect some of the ideas of the Biblical apolocalypse and to slowly ease the heathen Norsemen into Christianity. While this is sort of an exciting and dramatic idea, it isn’t necessarily the only reasonable explanation. Both the Biblical apocalypse and Ragnarok have some similarities, but the portents, signs, and events in the story of Ragnarok written by the unknown poet of the Voluspa, aren’t anything a Norseman couldn’t have thought of. The other interesting fact here is that, while the Gods suffer terrible losses, some of them survive and the world begins anew. The story isn’t sneering at the Gods at all, it’s almost as if the poet is trying to share a loss with the world, the loss of his own spiritual beliefs.

This brings us to the second possible reason behind the story of Ragnarok: the poet lived during the time that Christianity was beginning to overtake Iceland and the old gods were, in a very real sense, dying out. As people left Odin for Jesus, the shape of Norse culture began to change slowly but surely. No longer would people look to Odin for wisdom or Thor for strength, no longer would the old stories be looked at with the same respect. It seems only reasonable for one of the individuals resisting the change in spiritual beliefs to write a story like Ragnarok. The Gods go out fighting and there is a seed of hope for us to hold on to in the end.

Analysis aside, the best part of the story, to me anyway, is when Vidar, son of Odin, uses his mighty boot to hold down the lower jaw of Fenrir while lifting his upper jaw, tearing the beast in half. In this moment, Vidar avenges his father, who had just been devoured by the wolf, and saves his brother and the other survivors from the terrible beast. Both Vidar and Vali make it out of the fight alive and go on to live happy and peaceful lives thanks to the courage and strength of Vidar and the protection (and weight) of his ridiculous frankenstein boot.

I imagined, as I read, his brother making fun of him (as brothers so often do) for wearing such a stupid looking thing. I bet he was eating his words as he watched Fenrir being torn apart.

That’s the way things often go. We sneer at something that seems absolutely ridiculous only to realize the value of it later on. I used to mock my brother all the time but now we’re best friends. I’m not saying my brother is like a boot stitched together from the scraps of a million other boots, I’m just saying that sometimes family members may remind you of mythological footwear and for that, you should appreciate them.

I think that’s what I was getting at, anyway.