Rewriting the Beowulf

January 5, 2007 § Leave a comment

Beowulf is challenged by a Danish coast guard,...

Image via Wikipedia

Thunder Panther: I’ve been pondering the Beowulf story in this regard. There is a cool book ‘Grendel’, from the perspective of … that being/fellow. And I liked the recent movie. And the discussion of the poem in David Whyte’s book “The Heart Aroused: Poetry and Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America.”
I’m thinking Grendel’s mother is like a wild thing, a force of nature, and the local king and folks are like, normal.

According to the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an, Cain and Abel were the first and, possibly, second sons of Adam and Eve, the only other child of Adam and Eve was Seth. Their story is told in both the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 4) and in the Qur’an (5:27-32). In both versions Cain murders his brother after God rejects his sacrifice, but accepts his brother’s. The occupations of the brothers? Abel tends flocks while Cain is a farmer. Grendel’s mother and Grendel are descendants of Cain.

Thunder Panther: And Grendel and Beowulf are both kind of haflings – wild/normal at the same time.

Grendel and his mother are two of three! antagonists, along with the Dragon, Grendel is feared by all but Beowulf. Beowulf kills Grendel.

Thunder Panther: I’m taking the story as of a transformation among inner parts that results in more integration of wild and normal at the same time. Of which Beowulf as he leaves the story is the primary reference point.

Beowulf goes down into Grendel’s lair to kill Grendel’s mother which after a long struggle underwater he succeeds in doing. After her death, Beowulf beheads Grendel, keeping the head as a trophy.

Thunder Panther: I wonder what you may hear or know of that story from the land there?

The variation/contemporary version (that I dreamt yesterday):

Grendel and Beowulf become companions after Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother under water. They work and journey together to guard and save the lands. Then, one day, Grendel fights a dragon that attacks Beowulf, and in the process he is poisoned by the Dragon. Beowulf can’t bear to watch his companion die, makes a fire, and sits there feeling extremely sad and believing there is nothing he can do to save his friend. He falls asleep, and he dreams …

In his dream ancients appear and they tell him he is to choose for Grendel, because the effects of the poison make it impossible for Grendel to choose. Beowulf must choose either to let Grendel die from the poison which will kill both his normal and his wild part, OR to explicitly allow the ancient collective to remove his normal part from his wild part so his wild part can become part of the collective.

The ancients: “When he dies from the poison his whole being will die and he will need another turn on the wheel. If you choose to let us take him, you choose to give him a place in the worlds. He will become one with us. A part of us. United with us. It is his normal side we wish to kill, and so a normal person must choose, now he cannot choose for himself. If you do not choose, we cannot take him.”

Beowulf now faces a hard choice. Is a chance for any life worth this price? Giving up “normal” individuality? Each life is too valuable. He does not know what Grendel would choose were he capable of choosing. Finally he realizes he can only do for Grendel what he would have wanted someone else to do for him if he would be in Grendel’s situation and another being was asked to choose for him. He chooses to allow the collective to kill Grendel’s normal part so his wild part may survive united with the collective.

When he wakes up, what is left of Grendel next to the other side of the fire is just some skin, and a metamorphical translucent being that emanates being at peace in the world. The being thanks Beowulf, then vanishes.

Well, that was my dream.

Thunder Panther: I can experience myself as Grendel with some dinner manners. Or like Angel in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. And in differentiation/integration process.


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