abstract and representational

bindingfenrir  asked:

Are there any symbols used specifically for Loki with historical proof?

Velkomin(n), vinur minn,
(Welcome, my friend,)

Archaeological records are not exactly my forte, but it does not seem that there are any symbols that were explicitly used for Loki (at least out of those that have turned up in the archaeological record, that is). By that I mean that there are a few possible depictions of Loki (especially of his binding story), but it does not seem that there was a symbol worn in honor of Loki quite like  there was for Thor with Mjölnir. Furthermore, most of the examples that I have located, and that I am going to share with you momentarily, have room for debate in regards to their intended subject matter. Even so, many of these depictions of Loki come fairly late in the Viking Age, after Loki’s image had begun to intertwine with that of the Christian devil.(1)


THIS EXAMPLE YIELDS the most secure depiction of Loki, at least out of the examples that I was able to locate. Yet, even so, this depiction is on a Christian cross. Although containing a substantial amount mythological scenery, they “appear to have been deliberately chosen because they can be presented in accordance with Christian teaching also.”(2) This may be troublesome for people looking for a symbol to ‘revive’ in Loki’s name. Furthermore, even though depicting an older tale, it is generally considered to be a negative tale from a pro-Loki perspective.

Here is the image of a bound Loki on this cross (I have rotated the image):

Here is the tale from the Prose Edda that this portion of the cross presents:

“Now Loki was captured without quarter and taken to a certain cave. Then they took three stone slabs and set them on the edge and knocked a hole in each slab. Then Loki’s sons Vali and Nari or Narfi were fetched. The Æsir turned Vali into the form of a wolf and he tore his brother Narfi to pieces. Then the Æsir took his guts and bound Loki with them across the three stones — one under his shoulders, one under his loins, the third under the backs of his knees — and these bounds turned to iron. Then Skadi got a poisonous snake and fixed it up over him so that the poison would drip from the snake into his face. But his wife Sigyn stands next to him holding a basin under the drops of poison. And when the basin is full she goes and pours away the poison, but in the meantime the poison drips into his face. Then he jerks away so hard that the whole earth shakes. That is what you call an earthquake. There he will lie in bonds until Ragnarok.”(3)

In the image above, all of these details can be seen depicted in a carved from. Loki is shown bound in three places, a snake is above his head, and his loving wife stands beside him holding a basin. The Gosforth Cross is considered to be among the “oldest remaining monuments from the Norse colonies in north-western England,” and is roughly dated to approximately 930–950 (although this dating may now be an outdated claim).(4) A.B. Cook has interpreted this scene, in a fairly middle-grounded approach, as being a parallel between Christian and ‘pagan’ tales, whereby Loki being bound is equated to Satan being bound.(5) This is not to say that Loki is a naturally demonic figure, but rather to explain Loki’s presence on a Christian cross. Regardless of purpose, this image does indeed come from a pre-Christian tale about Loki, and thus is a fairly secure representation of Loki in a historical, visual context.


THIS EXAMPLE holds room for debate. Some scholars align it with the imagery expressed in the Gosforth Stone, that the bounded figure presented here, likely the Devil, simultaneously invokes a sort of ‘pagan’ imagery that associates it with Loki. Yet, more recent studies have suggested otherwise. John Mckinnell, for example, agrees with Bailey that this “iconography has nothing in common with that on the Gosforth cross nor with such pictures of the bound Satan as those in the manuscript of Junius 11.”(6) Given the inherit insecurity of this example, then, it is most definitely not as secure of a depiction of Loki as scholars had previously thought it to be. Furthermore, it is more likely that this is not Loki, then, but rather a more straightforward depiction of Satan. Still, it is worth including, for it serves as a good example for just how troublesome deciphering these images can truly be.


PERHAPS MORE SATISFYING is the Snaptun stone, which was found in Denmark, unlike the previous examples which were found in England. This stone, dating to around 1000 CE (still near the end of the Viking Age), features a face that has a pair of lips with four perpendicular lines etched through it. It is this physical trait that has linked the image to Loki, for Loki’s lips were stitched in a tale recounted in the Prose Edda:

“But when Brook tried to catch him (Loki), he was far out of reach. Loki had some shoes with which he could run across the sky and sea. Then the dwarf (Brokk) told Thor to catch him, and he did so. Then the dwarf was going to cut off Loki’s head, but Loki said that the head was his but not the neck. Then the dwarf got a thong and a knife and tried to pierce holes in Loki’s lips and was going to stitch up his mouth, but the knife would not cut. Then he said it would be better if his brother Awl was there, and as soon as he spoke his name the awl was there, and it pierced his lips. He stitched the lips together, and tore the edges off. The throng that Loki’s mouth was stitched up with is called Vartari.”(7)

And here is an image of the stone itself:

This stone has been identified as a hearth stone, and thus would have had a function associated with fire within the household.(8) Interestingly enough, if this stone was indeed used for the purpose of maintaining a hearth’s fire, its very function would reflect the story from which the reference to Loki may derive. Brokk, after all, was a dwarf and smith — a dealer in fire. This is my own conjecture, but it is worth pondering, nonetheless.


THERE ARE A FEW OTHER OBJECTS worth mentioning here, although they are most definitely not concrete examples of symbols used for Loki by any means. Many people will see what they want to see, so we must take delicate care in interpreting them. The following objects are often reproduced as pendants. Some people already associate these images with Loki, although there is no proof of this being the case. Interpret these as you will, but keep in mind the insecurity that is inherently bound to these images.

The first of these is often called the Gripping Beast Pendant, and there are several variations of these. The one shown below is in the Borre-style, and it dates to roughly the tenth century. It was made in Scandinavia, but found in England. Some people have associated this with Loki’s binding story, which we have recounted above. It is possible that this is an abstract representation of that story, but there are no direct indicators (such as Sigyn and her basin) to make this interpretation more secure. The safest interpretation is that this pendant represents a tangled beast, and not necessarily Loki, especially since intertwining animal motifs are quite common in Scandinavian art.

Here is the description of this object from the British Museum:

“Cast silver open-work pendant with a a Borre-style design of a gripping beast inside a frame further decorated with four protruding animal heads. Suspension loop with central ridge and double median groove. The back of the pendant is undecorated. Small areas of gilding and niello are in evidence on the surface of the pendant.”(9)

Other examples are equally insecure and even have multiple interpretations associated with them. There is a ‘mask’ from Gnezdovo that dates to roughly the tenth century, but some say it could be Odin. It bares similar resemblance to the Snaptun Stone, but there are no stitched lips, which was the only solid ‘evidence’ for it to be Loki in the first place. There is also a winged figure that was found at Uppåkra (Sweden) from the same century, but some believe it may be depicting Völund the Smith,(10) although others have suggested that it could be Loki borrowing Freyja’s falcon ‘dress’, which has been told in the Prose Edda (and in the Poetic Edda, of course):

“Being filled with terror, he (Loki) said he would go in search of Idunn in Giantland if Freyja would lend him a falcon shape of hers. And when he got the falcon shape he flew north to Giantland and arrive one day at giant Thjassi’s; he was out at sea in a boat, but Idunn was at home alone. Loki turned her into a nut and held her in his claws and flew as fast as he could. When Thjassi got home and found Idunn was not there he got his eagle shape and flew after Loki and caused a storm-wind by his flying. And when the Æsir saw the falcon flying with the nut and where the eagle was flying, they went out under Asgard and brought there loads of wood-shavings, and when the falcon flew in over the fortification, it let itself drop down by the wall of the fortification. Then the Æsir set fire to the wood-shavings and the eagle was unable to stop when it missed the falcon. Then the eagle’s feathers caught fire and his flight was ended. The the Æsir were close by and killed the giant Thjassi within the As-gates, and this killing is greatly renowned.”(11)

Depending on how well-known this story was, it is possible that this object could have been made to reference it. Yet, no matter the likelihood, there is always room for doubt. Although I personally am not as familiar with his story, it still seems more likely, and more agreed upon, that this is Völund the Smith, and not Loki. Here is an image of this object, nonetheless:

ARCHAEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION seems to be a bit of a challenge, especially when there are not always definite physical indicators to work from. It does not help, of course, that I am not a socialist in archaeology by any means. I am far more familiar with literature. Besides, Loki’s physical appearance can vary tremendously; he is, after all, a shapeshifter. He could appear in numerous forms without us necessarily being able to recognize the subtle hints right away (even then, who decides that we are correct in our assumptions anyway?).

To answer your original question, then, there are very few historical representations of Loki with absolute proof; there is always some sort of doubt. Many of these images can, however, be used to build upon. History only provides us with what survives, but, in working with those fragments, new efforts can be made within reason. Meaning is distributed by society (and even the individual), and meanings can change over time. Being historically responsible, though, means making sure that we know the original intention behind a work of art. It would be irresponsible, historically speaking, to project a new interpretation upon an image that was never meant to have such meaning. In short, it is quite difficult work to be confident in our effort to find historical representations of Loki.

I hope my answer has been helpful, although it is definitely not my strongest. There is definitely plenty of room for more academic work in learning more about historical representations of Loki, but such an area is just not my personal destination. If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to send them my way. I would be more than happy to continue discussing this topic with you, if you’d like.

Með vinsemd og virðingu,
(With friendliness and respect,)

1. H.R. Ellis Davison, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (repr., 1964; London: Penguin Books, 1990), 176-77.
2. Ibid., 179.
Fig.1. A part of the Gosforth Cross showing, among other things a figure with a horn above a bound figure, usually interpreted to be Loki and Sigyn from Norse mythology. Reproduction by Julius Magnus Petersen, published in 1913. Wikimedia Commons. (Edited – Image has been rotated).
3. Snorri Sturluson, Edda, translated by Anthony Faulkes (repr., 1987; London: Everyman, 1995), 52. (Free version available via the Viking Society for Northern Research).
4. Knut Berg, “The Gosforth Cross,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 21, No. ½ (Jan. - Jun., 1958), 28.
5. Ibid., 29.
6.  John Mckinnell, “Norse Mythology and Northumbria: A Response,” Scandinavian Studies
Vol. 59, No. 3, Anglo-Scandínavían England (SUMMER 1987), 331.
Fig.2. Captioned as “The Bound Devil. Kirkby Stephen.” Plate before page 217. The stone features a depiction of a bound, horned figure, sometimes theorized as the Norse deity Loki. Wikimedia Commons.
7. Snorri, Edda, Faulkes trans., 97.
Fig.3. The Snaptun stone, possibly depicting Loki. Housed at the Moesgård Museum near Århus, Denmark. Wikimedia Commons. (Edited – Image turned black and white for clarity).
8. Hans Jørgen Madsen, “The god Loki from Snaptun,” in Oldtidens Ansigt: Faces of the Past (Jysk arkæologisk selskab, 1990), 180.
Fig.4. Borre-Style Silver Pendant, British Museum Online Collection.
9. Description provided by the British Museum Online Collection.
10. Michaela Helmbrecht, “A Winged Figure From Uppåkra,” Fornvännen; 2012 (107):3, 171.
11. Snorri, Edda, Faulkes trans., 60.
Fig.5. Pendant from Uppåkra, likely Völund the Smith.


UPDATED: 29 APR 2017 @ 10:25pm EST. | NOTES: Added new information in regards to the Kirkby Stone (see section title “THE KIRKBY STEPHEN STONE” and endnote 6 to view these changes).

anonymous asked:

So... if blue mode makes the soul affected by gravity, and if purple and green restrict soul movement.. Doesn't that mean that any human with a red soul could potentially fly? Also, how does combat work in this blog? If I chuck at knife at frisk's BODY, and not their SOUL, would they take damage or no?

I like to think of the bullet-board combat mechanics in the game as an abstract representation of how combat actually works. The reality of those fights was often grittier and more complicated. Turn order wasn’t a thing for example. Hence why I depicted Sans trapping Chara!Frisk in a bone cage during the genocide run. That way what happened was that after Sans fell asleep, They pushed the cage until they were close enough to swipe at him.

Happy birthday to Jasper Johns, born on this day in 1930. In 1954, Johns began painting the American flag, which he realized was generally “seen and not looked at, not examined.” The execution and composition of Three Flags (1958) encourage close inspection, so let’s take a look at a detail! Johns painted it using encaustic, a mixture of pigment suspended in warm wax that congeals as each stroke is applied; the discrete marks that result create a sensuous, almost sculptural surface. The work’s structure adds to its complexity. The trio of flags, each successively diminishing in scale by about twenty-five percent, projects outward—contradicting classical perspective, in which objects appear to recede from the viewer’s vantage point. Through shifting the emphasis from the flag’s symbolic meaning to the patterns, textures, and structure of the composition, Johns explored the boundary between abstraction and representation.

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Let’s Talk about Leonhard

So, I’ve noticed it’s pretty common to joke about Leo’s…questionable…math skills. But let’s take a real close look at what the show told us:

Leo has NO concept of place value. 

None. He completely ignores the fact that having two digits means you have more than 10, thus making a completely illogical leap that adding numbers means smashing them together.

This is actually a REALLY common misconception for young students that are beginning to learn arithmetic. Keep that in mind.

Then we see that he did indeed know a way of solving simple addition that he just needed reminded of:

In math education, this is called a “concrete representation”. It means he had something physical in front of him to count to aid his subtraction. It’s the same way with the first Torte.

It is very likely that he counted the slices that would be taken and saw that one was left, just like he did with his fingers.

(As a side note, they’re correct about having something Leo is passionate about making it easier for him to learn. That’s a heavily proven fact.)

Then we get to the larger amount of torte

Notice how Leo is touching his head as if he is concentrating very hard. That’s because those torte aren’t just an illustration; he’s really picturing them.

We already know he has no concept of place value, so he isn’t subtracting normally. He is actually counting each imaginary slice of torte, which is known as a semi-abstract representation. He never goes through the semi-concrete stage (where the student draws a physical picture to represent their thinking.) Students don’t necessarily HAVE to go through all these stages, but it’s the easiest way to learn math by far.

Anyway, back to my point: he does this mental counting REALLY quickly and I’m sure if he’d been given time he would have done the same with the 250 pieces. 

Now I don’t know about you, but if I tried that I would get lost and start over too many times to count. Keeping images in my mind just isn’t easy

In short: Leo really ISN’T dumb. He’s pretty dang smart if you ask me. He just genuinely has had awful teacher’s who didn’t know the best way to help him learn. I’m so glad he has Heine now. 

Flags: Object_ify139 x Ace Hotel

Flags are symbols. Hand-stitched swaths of colored fabrics, a flag straddles the chasm between abstraction and representation — allegorical signifiers of pride, country, and the tenets of being. People live and die by them. They plant them in moon mud. They wave them in the wind from the tops of hundred-story buildings; they fold them and bury them in ritualistic ceremony. 

But symbols are living, breathing things, with meanings that shift and shuck, depending on who is claiming them as their own. When a flag’s colors, stripes or stars fail to represent the things we hold close, we are left to create anew. 

The following flags were designed by nine artists as a reaction against the political climate in this country. To combat the changes and to reflect the anxieties of our time, art collective and store Object_ify139 commissioned nine artists to design a flag that’s representative of ideals each artist believes in, and that they feel are being threatened by the current administration. 

These flags will fly from the rafters of Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles all month long, and are available for made-to-order purchase on our shop. A portion of proceeds from each flag go to a non-profit organization chosen by the artist that corresponds to the ideals represented in the flag.

1. Minimal Flag by Monica Ramos for the Sierra Club.

2. Everything is Connected by Chiaozza for the Environmental Defense Fund

3. Balance by Josefina Santos for The Environmental Defense Fund.

4.T.L. Ako Sa'yo by Dan Abary for The National Immigration Law Center

5. Eros by Erik Freer for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Manhattan. 

6. Proposal for temporary U.S. flag (white space and gray area) by Zak Jensen for the ACLU.

7. Come Together by Kristen Texeira for the ACLU.

8. Planetario by Maria Candanoza for the National Immigration Project.

9.Borders by Rachel Levit for The UN refugee Agency

Flags, plus a book of all nine, are available at Ace Shop or IRL at Ace DTLA.

Guide: How to Give Your Story a Purpose

Anonymous asked: Hi! I’m writing novel and I’m having a really hard time figuring out filler events. I’ve got basic things that happen but nothing is really that exciting, to be honest. It’s just basic interactions with a group of around ten people. I guess I’m not really sure what my point of the novel is and I know I want it to mean something more than an abstract representation of who I am.

Well, you never want to have “filler events” in a novel, because all they do is waste time, and readers don’t like to have their time wasted.

Instead, do this:

1. Choose a conflict for your story.

Conflict is the engine which drives the story forward. Without it you have a flat story. It sounds complicated, but conflict is just the struggle that the story is all about. The conflict of Harry Potter series was the struggle to defeat Voldemort. The conflict of The Hunger Games series was the struggle to defeat the Capitol (first by winning The Hunger Games, then by winning the rebellion.) And the conflict of The Lord of the Rings series was the struggle to destroy the One Ring and bring peace to the land. But a conflict doesn’t have to be so grand–it can be as simple as the struggle to survive your senior year of high school, the struggle to make friends in a new town, or the struggle to win the heart of the cute guy who runs the yogurt stand near your work. Whatever you choose, this struggle–this conflict–will fill out your story and give it the point that it’s currently missing.

2. Choose a goal for your characters.

Conflict is the struggle itself, but the goal is the point the characters are struggling toward. In The Hunger Games, Katniss wasn’t really looking to defeat the Capitol so much as she just wanted to survive. It just so happened that in order to do that, she had to thwart and then defeat the Capitol. If your conflict is the struggle to survive the last year of high school, the goal the character is struggling toward might be to get good grades and stay out of trouble. The goal is tied to the main conflict but is more personal to the character.
3. Figure out your character’s motivation.

Motivation drives the character through the struggle, toward the goal. It’s the reason that they want to win the struggle. It’s why they do everything that they do. Why did Katniss want to survive? Because she wanted to take care of her loved ones. Why does your character want to get good grades and stay out of trouble all year? Maybe success means parental permission to backpack across Europe over the summer. Once you choose your character’s motivation, your character’s actions will make more sense.

4. Decide on an antagonist.  
You can’t have a struggle without an opposing force. If you had a tug o’ war with people on only one end of the rope, they would pull the rope and instantly win. They would have nothing to struggle against, and it would be boring. But if you put people on the other end of the rope, pulling with all of their might, now the people on the other end of the rope have something to struggle against. The antagonist is the person, people, thing, things on the opposite end of the rope. Every time your character starts to gain ground in the tug o'war struggle of your story, it’s the antagonist’s job to yank hard on that rope and cause your protagonist to lose ground. The motivation provides the pull from the character’s end, the antagonist provides the pull form the opposite end.  The antagonist can be a super villain, it could be a well-meaning but overstrict parent, it could be bullies, a catastrophic weather event, an evil dystopian government–whatever you want. And it doesn’t have to be something bad. It just has to be something which, for whatever reason, creates obstacles to whatever goal your character is trying to reach.

5. Choose obstacles.

Once you’ve settled on your antagonist (or antagonists if you have more than one), you need to figure out what obstacles will best stand in your protagonist’s way. You should choose some they can tackle easily, and some that will throw them off their game. Sometimes they will fail and come back at it a second time and triumph. If your antagonist is a strict teacher, perhaps the first obstacle is a pop quiz which your character aces without batting an eyelash. But maybe the next obstacle is a group assignment–which is bad news for your character who doesn’t play well with others. The group assignment goes south and results in a D grade for the character. So, the character has to figure out how to tackle that bad grade and bring it up. Perhaps they choose to do extra credit which fails to get the grade up above a C. This is an “all is lost” moment for the character, but then maybe they do something great in class and the teacher awards them with more extra credit, which brings their grade up to a B. Your protagonist is ready to pack their bags from Europe when they find out that the final exam will account for a whopping 75% of their grade–mom and dad require all A’s for the trip to be a go… can your character do it? The uncertainty as your character attacks each obstacle is part of what keeps the reader turning pages.

When you’ve done all of the above, you’ll find that your story comes together much easier and that you suddenly have much more to write about. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s enough to get your story to a much better place. :)

Think of a number. Any number. That number is how many thousands of years old a certain rock is. That number is how many times someone has cried in their life. That number is the lucky number of an unlucky man who is yet to realize he is unlucky.

Think of a number. No, think of…numbers.

Picture all of these abstract representations of human thought, all of them forming an imagined pattern, as all patterns are imagined, and picture how those abstractions describe, in specific ways, real moments that exist.

Picture numbers.

There is a woman who lives at 531 Beachwood Street. Her phone number starts with a 3 and ends with a 5. She smiled 18 times yesterday. She is currently thinking of 3 things she needs to do. There are actually 4 things she needs to do. She has forgotten 1 of them.

She touches the doorknob 2 times before committing to its turn. She has 2 eyes. She has 2 hands. She has 2 more chances to make her life what she thinks it should be.

But she doesn’t know it yet.

Think of a number.

Yes! That’s the one! That’s the one that describes an infinity of disparate truths about our disparate universe.

Also, the roads are looking clear.


Welcome to Night Vale

Episode 39 - The Woman from Italy

Abstract Expressionism
Hailed as the first American-born art movement to have a worldwide influence, Abstract Expressionism denotes the non-representational use of paint as a means of personal expression. It emerged in America in the 1940s, with lead protagonists including Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. 

Abstract Expressionism spawned many different stylistic tendencies but two particularly prominent sub-categories: action painting, exemplified by de Kooning and Pollock, and color field painting, made most famous by Rothko. Throughout, Abstract Expressionists strove to convey emotions and ideas through the making of marks, through forms, textures, shades, and the particular quality of brushstrokes. The movement favored large-scale canvases, and embraced the role of accident or chance.

With featured works from 20 key Abstract Expressionist artists, this book introduces the movement which shifted the center of art gravity from Paris to New York and remains for many the golden moment of American art.

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