For the first time ever, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency’s longtime columnist Rowdy Geirsson has translated his extensive archival research of anonymously recorded, authentic Norse lore into English. This new scholarly edition of The Impudent Edda comes with extensive footnotes and photos and offers readers a highly accessible yet deeply poetic rendition of fun and classic tales ranging from Odin’s unprovoked murder of an ancient witch, to Freyja’s voluntary experiment as a prostitute among lecherous dwarves, to Thor’s drunken and petty act of larceny on the eve of Ragnarök, the final world-shattering battle of the gods.
Presented below is an exclusive excerpt from The Impudent Edda about Odin’s highly erratic creation of the Solar System, which follows the initial emergence of divine life from the cosmological abyss and the subsequent slaying of the primordial giant known as Ymir.
MIDDLE-EARTH IS JUST AN EYELASH ON THE CELESTIAL GALLOWS POLE
All right, so now what we got is this situation where Odin’s got a dead fucking giant’s corpse on his hands, and it’s starting to rot and stink up Yggdrasil,1 and so he’s like, you know, “Fuck this thing, it fucking stinks. What the fuck do I do with it now? It’s fucking huge and I don’t even know how to dispose of it properly on account of the fact that I haven’t even created any waste disposal services yet.”
Because, you know, you got to remember that at this point in time, there’s still no fucking earth. All that there is in the entire fucking universe at this point in time is a creepy world tree used for hanging people, a big fucking fire pit, some melting ice, a big magical cow, and Ymir’s dead fucking body.2 But Odin, he’s a pretty clever guy, and so what he does is he goes, and he takes Ymir’s corpse, and he rips it to shreds, and then he starts using its dismembered parts to terraform the entire fucking planet.
So, for example, you got Ymir’s flesh becoming the ground we walk on, and his blood becoming the seas and the lakes, and his bones becoming the mountains, and his skull becoming the sky, and so on and so forth. And Odin, he’s like a fucking ravished madman. He doesn’t spare a single fucking part of the dead giant’s body! He uses every fucking part of the corpse even including the eyelashes, which he uses to construct a fortress to keep the frost giants out, and this fortress, it ends up getting called Middle-Earth for I don’t know the fuck why, but Tolkien must have thought it was pretty cool back when he started hallucinating about hobbits and shit in the trenches of World War I.
But anyway, so now Odin’s done with creating Middle-Earth and all, but the thing is, Middle-Earth, it’s feeling pretty lonely because it don’t got no fucking people living in it yet. So what Odin does is he and his brothers go, and they take the Blue Line out to Wonderland3 because they’re a bunch of fucking gambling addicts, and they want to bet on the race dogs since the track was still open back then4 and after they blow all their cash on the wrong fucking greyhound, they decide to go for a walk on the beach, and so there they are, walking along when they find some fucking driftwood that the tide’s washed up, and they think to themselves, “Hey, you know what, these pieces of driftwood, they’d make some nice fucking people if we was to turn them into people.”
Revere Beach in Revere, Massachusetts, where Odin and his brothers created the very first man and woman in the world from soggy flotsam and jetsam, according to the poet of The Impudent Edda.
And so they went and they turned the driftwood into people and they put them in Middle-Earth, and the people, you know, they didn’t have birth control back then, and so here we are today.
But for themselves, Odin and his brothers, they also created Asgard, you know, the fucking stronghold of the gods or whatever, which also just so happens to be located pretty much right next to MIT, but it’s also way up high in the sky, too, which is a real mind-fuck if you think about it for too long.5
So now at this point, I guess I ought to tell you that Odin’s brothers pretty much stop figuring into the story.6 They were never very cool in the first place, and all they do is proceed to spend the rest of their lives just sitting around at home watching reruns on HBO and Netflix whereas Odin gets out and does things like murder people and write poetry.
But anyway, getting back to the sun and the stars and the moon and all that shit, the thing you got to realize is, it’s just a bunch of poor fucking people up there running around in circles in the sky. For whatever reason, Odin, he’d get into one of his fucking moods, and he’d take it out on these poor bastards by kicking them out of Middle-Earth and putting them up in a chariot in the fucking sky to go round and round and round in fucking circles till the end of fucking time when everyone dies a horrible death in a huge fucking fire. And to make matters worse, these poor bastards, they all got these sick-ass demon wolves chasing after them the whole time, and so when the entire fucking universe finally gets destroyed at the end of time, these fucking wolves are going to swallow everything they can fucking get their mouths on, which means that both the sun and the moon are going to disappear like a jelly donut in a cop’s car in the parking lot of the nearest Dunkies.7 But also, these wolves, their mom’s a nasty fucking ogress who lives out in Iron Wood.8
I’m not entirely sure what the point of knowing that even fucking is.
The Impudent Edda may be purchased here, and two beer-and-book-signing events are fated to happen in early December at Navigation Brewing Company in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Sacred Profane Brewing in Biddeford, Maine.
1 Yggdrasil is the term given by the Norse to the high-energy interstellar structure that corresponds to our more modern scientific concept of the universe. As identified in the “Old Norse Astrophysics” section of The Impudent Edda’s introductory material, the word “Yggdrasil” literally means “Gallows Pole,” which is an artful reference to Odin’s self-sacrifice (or reckless suicide, to use the parlance of The Impudent Edda’s anonymous poet) via hanging.
2 This list excludes the other cosmic entities that afflict Yggdrasil as described in “Old Norse Astrophysics,” but it is implicitly understood that the anonymous poet is aware of them and has simply chosen to focus on the near space region of the atmosphere at this juncture of his Edda.
For readers who are not familiar with the term “Edda,” it is simply the title given to the main sources of Norse mythology: The Poetic Edda, The Prose Edda, and now, The Impudent Edda. While The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda were both recorded in written form in thirteenth-century Iceland as a sort of culmination of that country’s long tradition of oral storytelling, The Impudent Edda was instead recorded on June 12, 2019, in the form of an anonymous voice recording on a mobile telephone device. It was later found abandoned in an alleyway behind a dive bar next to a puddle of piss in Boston’s famously angry Celtic neighborhood colloquially known as “Southie.” Since then, The Impudent Edda has come to be regarded as the most important find relating to Norse mythology and ancient Scandinavian spiritual beliefs since the exhumation of the Oseberg Ship in 1904-1905, although not without some contention, which the new translation’s introduction describes in further detail.
3 The Blue Line is one of the lines of Boston’s notorious subterranean transit system known as the T (the iconography of which was ripped off from Stockholm). The Wonderland T station lies just north of Boston in the coastal city of Revere. The poet’s implication that the Blue Line (which was built by the human residents of Middle-Earth) existed prior to the creation of the first man and woman highlights the incongruity of Old Norse thought regarding the space-time continuum. Many instances of such incongruity are found throughout all of the Eddas.
4 Here, and throughout the story of the world’s creation in general, The Impudent Edda adheres more closely to the tradition of The Prose Edda than that of The Poetic Edda, but deviates from both. According to the poet of The Impudent Edda, Odin and his brothers rode the Blue Line of Boston’s public transportation network to the site of the former Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, Massachusetts, which closed in 2010 after the state instituted a ban on greyhound racing. This depiction deviates from both of the Elder Eddas, in which, despite their own inherent differences, the scene is consistently portrayed in a much more naturalistic setting devoid of any urban development. Additionally, the Elder Eddas allude to actual ash and elm trees as the progenitors of the human race, rather than soggy pieces of driftwood permeated with countless noxious contaminants from Massachusetts Bay’s dirty water.
5 The poet here seems to be conflating the home of the gods with a former upscale Irish pub located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that shared the same name (it went out of business in the wake of the 2020 pandemic). A recurring apparent lack of sobriety impacts certain details throughout the recording of The Impudent Edda.
6 This sentence is an example of a typical convention frequently found in Old Norse literature that rather bluntly informs the reader that certain characters have played out their roles and will not be reappearing again for the duration of the work.
7 A colloquialism for Dunkin’ Donuts, which is something of a cultural institution in Boston. The Impudent Edda was coincidentally recorded the same year that a misguided rebranding initiative formally removed “Donuts” from the chain’s official name.
8 The Impudent Edda’s explanation of the Solar System, near-space atmosphere, seasons, and general passage of time is much abbreviated in comparison to the Elder Eddas but closely correlated. In each of the three Eddas, the description of the Old Norse astrophysical framework introduces advanced archaic complexities relating to these concepts. While it is not necessary to fully delve into each and every near-space aberration, the general relationship between the sun and the earth serves as a good, basic example to help illustrate the conceptual incongruities for the reader.
As anyone with a basic elementary-level education knows, the sun is a G-type main-sequence star that burns brightly at the center of our Solar System while the earth orbits around it, along with the eight or nine other planetary bodies that compose the Solar System (depending on whether one agrees or disagrees with the International Astronomical Union’s declassification of Pluto as a planet or not). However, according to the ancient Norse system, the earth does not orbit the sun, nor does it rotate about its polar axis as explained by the laws of gravitational force. Norse astrophysics quite simply does not even consider earth to be a planet at all (the entire concept being completely foreign) but rather a quasi-dimensional moment in the space-time continuum of the great interstellar world tree structure, Yggdrasil. As for the sun, it is chased across the sky by a cold-hearted space wolf that ruthlessly attempts to eat it each and every day, since wolves have always been known since time immemorial to be very vicious and hungry animals.