Facebook

Table of contents

Thor


On the education of princes

This is the story of the Norse god of thunder. Here, he is a young man preparing to be crowned heir to his kingly father. Thor is led by his anger, apparently because he is the very exemplar of the manly man. This showcases a strange thing about courage & fearlessness. But if he is invincible, being a god, where’s the courage? If he isn’t, isn’t it madness to be fearless?

The story of his assumption of kingship must therefore answer in some way to that question. Thor is a great warrior, but he does not reflect on the art of war. The great problem he faces is distinguishing friend from enemy. The reason he cannot do that adequately is twofold. He cannot think anyone he loves is an enemy; nor that he has need of anyone – of any good – so the predicament of friendship is unknown to him. He is led by his recklessness to war, so his father throws him out of the kingdom, disarming him first. Now the boy will have to learn by necessity what he could not learn otherwise

Thor is sent to earth to dwell among the mortals, whom he despises, but does not understand. The contempt seems to have two causes: First, he is a warrior, & they are defenseless; secondly, being a man is being a man of action. Thor’s punishment looks strangely like an invasion. He could conquer mankind.

Thor will have to learn to do his father’s job, which seems to be to order a world he did not create. This means taking power from inhuman things. It would seem that the only reason the gods cannot be replaced by science is because human powers are limited. Chance limits knowledge, & therefore power. Within those limits, however, human life is possible, which must continuously be defended from awful threats.

Thor’s anger makes him almost human. His awareness of his rights, which are wronged by his enemies, might be unlimited. The obvious difference between gods & humans is that the gods are not curious. So also they are not greedy. Infinite acquisition is not their business; mere management will suffice. If satisfying his anger required overcoming what awakened it, infinite power would be necessary.

Among the humans, Thor meets a small woman with delicate features & a scientific mind. She loves his arrogant beauty. She agrees to help him. In his daring, he takes her. He needs her science, it emerges. – It seems the warrior & the scientists are equally guileless. He sacrifices his life for her. Perhaps sex teaches democratic virtues like humility. Thus woman tames man, who had not known life’s pleasures before, & was therefore wild & warlike.

For fans of The Avengers