Sunday, December 07, 2008

wargus,vargr - 'Verbrecher' 'Wolf' - eine sprach- und rechtsgeschichtliche Untersuchung - von Michael Jacoby

From Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind's 1998 journalistic study of Norwegian Black Metal, "Lords of Chaos. The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground":

'A fascinating dissertation exists entitled Wargus, Vargr - 'Criminal' 'Wolf': A Linguistic and Legal Historical Investigation by Michael Jacoby, published in Uppsala, Sweden, but written in German. It is a highly detailed, heavily referenced exploration of the Germanic word Warg, or vargr in Norse. The paper begins with a section "The term Warg as a Designation for the Criminal in Ancient Germanic Sources," discussing the connotations for the root word among the various Northern European cultures. It appears in the different language dialects, but always with a negative implication when descriptive of men, conveying the sense of "criminal," "outlaw," "outcast," "thief," "malefactor," "evil being," "the damned one," and indeed, even "Devil."


Jacoby's research continues with an investigation and examination of the most noteworthy crimes which were strongly connected to the word. These are: grave robbery, treason, theft, and manslaughter. A case can be made that Varg Vikernes fulfilled each one of these specific connotations in some respect. Describing the first of the crimes, there is clause in another ancient Germanic legal text, the Salic law, which states: "If anyone shall have dug up or despoiled an already buried corpse, let him be a varg." Vikernes advocacy of, and participation in, grave desecrations certainly qualifies him for this designation. As regards treason, Varg proudly states a desire to see the current government of Norway overthrown, and he identifies with the man whose name has become synonymous with treason in the international vocabulary, Vidkun Quisling. Vikernes has also often been called a "traitor" by others in the Black Metal scene for killing Øystein Aarseth. Vikernes was found guilty of theft - he stole 150 kilos of explosives and had this stored in his apartment at the time of his arrest. The old Germanic laws do not appear to make a distinction between first-degree murder and manslaughter, and refer only to the latter. Vikernes was convicted of mudering Euronymous, although he insists this was only manslaughter, done in self-defense. It is eerie and uncanny that someone would live up to their name so well, even down to the subtleties of its earliest etymological essence. As he result of his actions, he has truly become and "outlaw" and "outcast" in the eyes of society."

I bought Jacoby's dissertation through the internet - it's front cover and the invitation to the dissertation defense are reproduced nearby. Here is a link to a post I wrote earlier, in which I examine Moynihan and Søderlind's hypothesis on the meaning of the word Vargr for the deeds of Varg Vikernes from an anthropological point of view.


Anonymous said...

What is the fascination with Black Metal? Most of the musicians involved seem immature, thoughtless, and not a little ridiculous. Norway must have a great social welfare scheme to enable such self-indulgence. I can only think that people's interest in Black Metal culture as strictly ironic. What is the attraction of hatred and mindless violence? Most of all, why the interest in the people perpetrating these deeds? It reeks of misguided reverence and misdirected hero worship.

Anonymous said...

The fascination with Black Metal? Some of the music is astonishing. "the musicians involved seem immature, thoughtless, and not a little ridiculous."? I'd only dispute "seem", and add "borderline psychotic", but that has never precluded great art. said...

Where did you purchase Jacoby's book? I can't find it anywhere online in a context other than a review or source.

valter said...

I mailordered the book from a second hand bookstore, Gysbers & Van Loon. I found it through the (Dutch-language) site, which lists the books on offer from a large number of European second hand booksellers. That website currently does not list any other copies of Jacoby's book. Its quite rare I guess.