Saturday, 14 December 2013

Short Film: The World Is Burning

The World Is Burning (2013) from Oak & Arrow on Vimeo.

A young man returns to a traditional life in rural Newfoundland after tragedy strikes.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Jean Sibelius - Finlandia

In this video from Wild Scandinavia, the symphonic poem Finlandia by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius is set to scenes of Finnish landscapes and nature. The first version of Finlandia was written in 1899, and it was revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, as the last of seven pieces, each performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history.

The premiere was on 2 July 1900 in Helsinki with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society conducted by Robert Kajanus. A typical performance takes anywhere from 7½ to 9 minutes.

A recurrent joke within Finland at this time was the renaming of Finlandia at various musical concerts so as to avoid Russian censorship. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous, a famously flippant example being Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring.

Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and turbulent music, evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. But towards the end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serenely melodic Finlandia Hymn is heard. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional folk melody, the Hymn section is of Sibelius's own creation.

Although initially composed for orchestra, in 1900 Sibelius arranged the entire work for solo piano.

Sibelius later reworked the Finlandia Hymn into a stand-alone piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, is one of the most important national songs of Finland (though Maamme is the national anthem). With different words, it is also sung as a Christian hymn (Be Still, My Soul), and was the national anthem of the short-lived African state of Biafra (Land of the Rising Sun).

Created by
Wild Scandinavia / Wildes Skandinavien / (2011)
Directors: Uwe Anders, Oliver Goetzl
Writers: Jan Haft, Oliver Goetzl

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Documentary: The Shoals of Herring

The Shoals of Herring. A documentary film based on a 1950s Radio Ballad called `Singing the Fishing' by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker, about the rise and decline of the herring industry on the east coast of Scotland and East Anglia. Contemporary footage of the fishermen at work is intercut with interviews and archive photos, clips from John Greirson's DRIFTERS, Harry Watts' NORTH SEA, and Campbell Harper's CALLING HERRING. Traditional folk songs are used throughout.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Last Clog Maker in England

This is a video about a man who has devoted his life to reviving the lost craft of clog making

Monday, 2 December 2013

Frey and the Boar's Head Feast

What will you eat on Christmas day? Turkey? Goose? How about Boar's head? That was the traditional dish in England. Its roots go back to Anglo-Saxon paganism.There is a carol about this tradition called "the boar's head carol" and the most popular version is based on a version published in 1521 in Wynkyn de Worde's Christmasse Carolles. Folklore holds that the custom comes from a pagan ceremony invoking the god of fertility, Frey.

"initiated in all probability on the Isle of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons, although our knowledge of it comes substantially from medieval times....[In ancient Norse tradition] sacrifice carried the intent of imploring Freyr to show favor to the new year. The boar's head with apple in mouth was carried into the banquet hall on a gold or silver dish to the sounds of trumpets and the songs of minstrels." Spears, James E. Folklore, Vol. 85, No. 3. (Autumn, 1974.)

Frey was associated with boars because he actually rode on a golden boar called Gullinbursti.

"to Freyr he gave the boar, saying that it could run through air and water better than any horse, and it could never become so dark with night or gloom of the Murky Regions that there should not be sufficient light where he went, such was the glow from its mane and bristles." - Icelandic pagan text Skáldskaparmál from the Prose Edda.

These days there are loads of universities and colleges in England and the USA that still hold the Boar's Head Feast. The most notable of these is The Queen's College, Oxford, where they have their own local myth to explain the origins of the custom.

"Where an amusing tradition formerly current in Oxford concerning the boar's head custom, which represented that usage as a commemoration of an act of valour performed by a student of the college, who, while walking in the neighbouring forest of Shotover and reading Aristotle, was suddenly attacked by a wild boar. The furious beast came open-mouthed upon the youth, who, however, very courageously, and with a happy presence of mind, thrust the volume he was reading down the boar's throat, crying, "Græcum est," and fairly choked the savage with the sage" Husk, William Henry. Songs of the Nativity Being Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern. London: John Camden Hotten, 1868.

You can listen to a rendition of the boar's head carol below. Good Yule!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Iran against Arabia

Shah of Iran on the Arabic Occupation of the Tunb Islands from Survive the Jive on Vimeo.

It's not just Israel that hate Iran. Sunni nations have been on hostile terms with Iran and other Shia countries for a very long time. This video from 30th November 1971 reveals pre-revolution Arab/Persian tensions which persist to this day. Iran is regarded as an enemy to surrounding Arabic nations. In this broadast an Arab Sheikh on the other side of the Gulf says the Tumbs belong to him.
Ras Al Khaimah is one of the Arab countries which border the Gulf. This was broadcast a couple of days before it was announced that six of the states were to form a union, which then signed a treaty of friendship with Britain. The union was the work of Sir William Luce.

The Shah's imperial army was the third largest in the Middle East He wanted to discourage British influence in the region and use his military to achieve this.  Below is a transcription of the interview with the Shah of Iran:

Reporter: "Why is three small island so important to Iran?"

His Imperial Highness, The Shah of Persia: "Because first of all they belong to us, and anyway our life depends on the security of navigation there because for sometime to come our main source of revenue will be the outflow of oil".

Reporter: "If the question isn't settled by the end of the year are you prepared to take the Islands by force?"

His Imperial Highness, The Shah of Persia: "It is not a question of being prepared, it is not even discussable."

Monday, 18 November 2013

The People vs. Modernism

The Cosy Mood of Brave England

Cosy is an inadequate word. It reeks of childish nostalgia and brings to mind snivelling estate agents trying to fob off inconveniently small living spaces. The word is often used to translate the Swedish mys and German gemütlich, yet these words hold a place in the hearts of Swedes and Krauts incomparable to the lowly position where cosy is regarded by the English. Cosy is quite nauseating and sentimental because of the way it has been co-opted by shrewd advertising executives seeking to manipulate consumers’ emotions in order to screw them out of a few quid come Christmas time.

It is this disdain for the concept of cosiness, seeing it as nothing but a vague feeling of comfort with no clearly defined value, utilised by shysters and idiots for insignificant purposes, that prevents us from sympathising with the way in which our Germanic cousins perceive the equivalent terms.

Gemütlich is ruthlessly dismissed by the Irish Francophile, Samuel Beckett in Mercier and Camier where it is used in the dishonest way in which cosy is so frequently employed.

“It’s snug…said the man, there is no other word. Patrick! He cried. But there was another word, for he added, in a tone of tentative complicity, whatever that sounds like, It’s … gemütlich.”
The drunken Mercier later chides the manager of the inn for using such language, “You have a curious way of managing, for a manager. What have you done with your teeth? Is this what you call gemütlich?”

Though far from an Englishman, Beckett was guilty of the English speaker’s prejudice against cosiness. My Swedish ex-girlfriend stressed to me the importance of mys on many an occasion but it took time for me to realise that this was not a universally understood concept and indeed the German regards gemütlich differently from how the Swede thinks of myset. In an effort to understand, I volunteered the cosy image of a log fire and learned that this was indeed considered mys. Yet other concepts of English cosiness were excluded from the Swedish definition, including for example houses with carpets, for these are alien to the pine wood floors of a Scandinavian home. Thus it seems mys is necessarily Swedish as much as gemütlich must be German in character. The people of these nations perceive these concepts in terms of the consolation they enjoy when experiencing the familiar and homely comforts that are proper to their respective peoples. Thus cosiness is inherently un-cosmopolitan. It is national. It is not universal or properly translatable, which is why cosy can never express what is truly meant by our continental cousins. The words mys and gemütlich are each used more frequently and less self-consciously than English words like snug or cosy. I suspect the true English equivalent is a satisfied exhalation prior to a leisurely gulp of ale.

There is a common link in language and feeling between us all though. Although the word mys is sometimes meant as snuggle and can even have sexual connotations (you know how Swedes are these days), the Swedish for brave is modig which is etymologically related to gemütlich which comes from gemüet “mind, mentality”, equivalent to gemüt “mind, soul.” Swedish modig can also mean “valiant, high spirited, courageous”, which is precisely what the Old English word módig (pronounced moody) used to mean. We still have a remnant of this word with the modern English mood. So how did brave become moody in England and cosy in Germany? Well, the Old English noun mód could mean mood in general, but was also related to what we now call the ego or the will. It was associated with arrogance, pride, violence and power but was also used in other words with very different associations. The adjective ánmód means steadfast, fierce, resolute” while módcearig means sorrowful of heart.” Thus mood was used to describe emotion, mind, heart and will. 

Swedish, English and German are all descended from a common language known as Proto-Germanic, which in turn comes from Indo-European. The reconstructed proto-Germanic equivalent of mood is  mōdą, mōdaz “sense, courage, zeal, anger” and the Proto-Indo-European is -, - “endeavour, will, temper.” The brave meaning of mood is retained in other Germanic languages such as Dutch moed and Scots mude, muid, but the Icelandic móður, meaning “grief, moodiness”, is more similar to the English word moody.

We still understand mood to designate distinct atmospheric emotions, yet to be moody is now exclusively negative. This might have something to do with the Old English word ofermod which means “pride” and has therefore been regarded as a sin for centuries.But it's interesting to consider when one is in a “good mood” that these two words are etymologically related to words meaning God and soul. Little wonder that gemütlich is so important to the Germans; for mood and atmosphere which put us in touch with our national past and the associated aesthetics, remind us of our position in space and time. The familiar and consoling effect of architecture, interior design, art and old fashioned activities remind us of who we are, speaking to our “heart, mind, soul” and easing the módcearig of the modern age.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Documentary: Beauty & Consolation: Roger Scruton

A Dutch documentary in which Roger Scruton discusses the importance of beauty, religion, hunting and consolation, that is seeking to be consoled by certain philosophical approaches and through certain activities.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Film: The Net - The Unabomber. LSD and the Internet

a documentary which looks at the influence of utopianism on modern technophilia and the internet and shows how misguided beliefs about technology as a means to achieve a global state without borders, are routed in drug use and covert intelligence operations. The film reveals that the unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was used as an LSD test subject while a student. Director Lutz Dammbeck takes an unorthodox approach to the material, speculating about the darker side of technological innovation.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Sacred Forests

The latest Survive the Jive Video update. I've always found woodland to be an excellent place for contemplation, meditation and general relaxation. Many people around the world feel exactly the same way. It's hard to rationalise what it is about such spaces that cause them to have such an effect on the psyche (if you wish to use such terms) or soul. This video features footage of deciduous forest in England in each season, showing how the woods really make you feel the passage of time. It also shows boreal forest in Sweden and tropical rainforest in Venezuela. The video ends with some footage of me looking fresh faced and beardless and ranting about conservation in the jungle 5 years ago.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Film: Útlaginn (1982)

 An Icelandic film with English subtitles. Útlaginn, English title "Outlaw: The Saga of Gisli" demonstrates the family feuds and the associated duty of vengeance that was the cultural norm in Iceland during the Viking age.

Film: Ruslan i Lyudmila (1972)

Finnish wizards, Ukrainian warriors, treacherous Tartars and marrauding Pechenegs all feature in this medieval fantasy epic from Soviet Russia. Based on a folkish tale and the poem by Alexander Pushkin, this upload of the film by Aleksandr Ptushko has no subtitles. It looks fantastic though, and is well worth a watch.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Film: Shame - Ingmar Bergman

Bergman on war and revolution

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Anglo Saxon Tribute of Spears

I was reading Thomas Malory's Tale of King Arthur (1470) and noticed an obvious similarity between Arthur's words and those of Byrhtnoth in The Anglo-Saxon poem "The Battle of Maldon" (composed c.10th-11th).

Malory's passage refers to 12 messengers from the emperor of Rome who ask King Arthur to pay tribute (trwage) while the Battle of Maldon, written about 500 years earlier, describes a similar exchange between the messenger of a foreign invader (VIkings) and a native (Anglo-Saxon) who is asked for tribute of gold and who says in reply that they shall receive only a tribute of spears. I wonder whether Malory copied the poem or whether the "tribute of spears/swords" is just a recurring meme in medieval storytelling. It's very cool either way.


"Ryght so com In to the courte 12 knyghtes that were aged men whiche com frome the Emperoure of Rome. And they asked of Arthure trwage for hys realme othir ellis the emperour wolde destroy hym and all hys londe. 'Well' seyde kynge Arthure, 'ye ar messyngers there fore ye may sey what ye woll othir ellis ye sholde dye Þer fore. But hys ys myne Answere I owȝe the emperour no trewage noÞer none woll I yelde hym but on a fayre fylde I shall yelde hym my trwage that shall be with a sherpe spere othir ellis with a sherpe swerde And that shall nat be longe by my fadirs soule Uther!"

The Battle of Maldon:

Anglo Saxon:
Þa stod on stæðe, stiðlice clypode
wicinga ar, wordum mælde,
se on beot abead brimliþendra ærænde to þam eorle, þær he on ofre stod
"Me sendon to þe sæmen snelle,

heton ðe secgan þæt þu most sendan raðe
beagas wið gebeorge; and eow betere is
þæt ge þisne garræs mid gafole° forgyldon,
þon we swa hearde hilde dælon.
Ne þurfe we us spillan, gif ge spedaþ to þam;

we willað wið þam golde grið fæstnian.
Gyf þu þat gerædest, þe her ricost eart, richest
þæt þu þine leoda lysan wille,
syllan sæmannum on hyra sylfra dom
feoh wið freode, and niman frið æt us,

we willaþ mid þam sceattum us to scype gangan,
on flot feran, and eow friþes healdan."
Byrhtnoð maþelode, bord hafenode,
wand wacne æsc, wordum mælde,
yrre and anræd ageaf him andsware:

"Gehyrst þu, sælida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
Hi willað eow to gafole garas syllan,
ættrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þa heregeatu þe eow æt hilde ne deah.
Brimmanna boda, abeod eft ongean,

sege þinum leodum miccle laþre
þæt her stynt unforcuð eorl mid his werode,
þe wile gealgean eþel þysne,
Æþelredes eard, ealdres mines,
folc and foldan. Feallan sceolon
hæþene æt hilde.

Modern English Translation:

Then stood on the shore, stoutly calling out
a Viking messenger, making speech,
menacingly delivering the sea-pirate's
message to this Earl on the opposite shore standing:
"I send to you from the bold seamen,
a command to tell that you must quickly send
treasures to us, and it would be better to you if
with tribute buy off this conflict of spears
than with us bitter battle share.
No need to slaughter each other if you be generous with us;
we would be willing for gold to bring a truce.
If you believe which of these is the noblest path,
and that your people are desirous of assurance,
then pay the sea-farers on their own terms
money towards peace and receive peace from us,
for we with this tribute will take to our ships,
depart on the sea and keep peace with you."
Byrhtnoth spoke, his shield raised aloft,
brandishing a slender ash-wood spear, speaking words,
wrathful and resolute did he give his answer:
"Hear now you, pirate, what this people say?
They desire to you a tribute of spears to pay,
poisoned spears and old swords,
the war-gear which you in battle will not profit from.
Sea-thieve's messenger, deliver back in reply,
tell your people this spiteful message,
that here stands undaunted an Earl with his band of men
who will defend our homeland,
Aethelred's country, the lord of my
people and land. Fall shall you heathen in battle!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Werner Herzog reads from the Edda

Werner Herzog reads from the medieval Icelandic text, the Edda, on the names of the dwarves from Norse mythology, in 2009

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Documentary: Anglo-Saxon Paganism

This is the teaser trailer for an upcoming film on Anglo-Saxon paganism that I am making called From Runes to Ruins. The film is still in production, but will explain how the paganism of our ancestors lives on the landscape and the people. There are landmarks, place names and aspects of our language which are remnants of Anglo-Saxon paganism. It is from Woden, the god of war, that we take the name for the third day of the week, Wednesday (Woden’s day).

There are features of the landscape that take us right back to pagan times and give us insight into how people used to think. Burial mounds such as Cwichelm's barrow in Oxfordshire were thought to be haunted by the ghosts of the dead warriors they contained. Further up the Ridgeway is 'Wayland's smithy', a Neolithic long barrow which the Anglo-Saxons believed was built by Wayland, the blacksmith of the gods.

Despite the significance of Anglo-Saxon paganism to the history of Britain, no one has ever made a documentary exclusively on this subject. Until now.

Edit 2020: the film is now available to watch online for free

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Monday, 1 July 2013

Georgian Film: Sapovnela (1959)


Sapovnela is a short film by Georgian director Otar Iosseliani from 1959. "Sapovnela" means "the flower that nobody can find." This film is presented without subtitles (the voiceover was forced on Iosseliani by the censorship in the Soviet times but the film was banned anyway due to its ending). This was his first attempt at combining music and colors. Also, this is a story about the old florist Mikhail Mamulashvili who created wonderful compositions in his small garden.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Film: Justice (2004)

A short film I made in 2004 about how an impoverished squatter punk, fed up with rising levels of violent crime, decides to take matters into his own hands. The film was a comment on Jack Straw and the New Labour government's failure to address the issue of violent crime despite their mantra "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime"

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Friday, 5 April 2013

Film: Within the Woods

Fans of the definitive video-nasty horror flick, Evil Dead by Sam Raimi, will be aware that a remake is about to be released. The new version of Evil Dead is not directed by Sam Raimi, it was made by Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez.

Raimi has been working on his latest cinematic effort, Oz the Great and Powerful which is also a sort of remake, being a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. It tells the story of how the magician named Oz came to rule the fantasy world.

The original Evil Dead (1981), about a group of young people tormented by demons in a remote woodland cabin, is clearly influenced by the writings of H.P Lovecraft. It even featured the Necronomicon, a book of evil spells and ancient Semitic incantations written by the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred.

Evil Dead was preceded by a pilot version of the film which Sam Raimi made in 1979 called Within The Woods. The entire movie is available to watch online for free. It's only half an hour long so have look if you want to find out how it all started.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Surviving in the Siberian Wilderness for 70 Years

In 1936, a family of Russian Orthodox Christians of the Eastern Catholic Tradition journeyed deep into Siberia's vast taiga to escape communist persecution and protect their way of life. The Lykovs eventually settled in the Sayan Mountains, 160 miles from any other sign of civilization. In 1944, Agafia Lykov was born into this wilderness. Today, she is the last surviving Lykov, remaining steadfast in her seclusion. This documentary sheds some light on how her family were able to survive for so long and  reveals the beauty and simplicity of the Old Believers' way of life.

Film: Dasein

A short film from 1989 in which a man discovers his true nature.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Desperately Seeking Something

A British television series from the nineties that looks at different forms of alternative spiritual beliefs and their practices. This part looks at heathen practices in Iceland.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Rewriting Stonehenge's history

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Rome Marathon 2013

Rome Marathon 2013 from Survive the Jive on Vimeo.

This is a video of me running the Rome Marathon on the weekend. I am very proud to have managed it in 3 hours 49 minutes. The Eternal City is an inspiring location and a fantastic place to run a race. I was fortunate to have been able to participate.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Innovation and Sacrifice in Modern Farming

Monday, 25 February 2013

Seminar in Historical Methods and Medieval Heroes

How have methods of understanding the universe changed since medieval times? This seminar looks at physics, mathematics, philosophy and the medieval conception of these matters. It also talks about the hero in medieval literature.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Heathens and Horses

The recent horse meat scandal involving tescos burgers has got people wondering why the English don't eat horses anyway. I covered this subject in my recent dissertation. The answer is to do with paganism. The Catholic church realised that eating horse meat was connected to pagan rites in the North of Europe, rites associated with gods like Odin, Thor and Freyr, so they banned it.

Riding To The Afterlife: The Role Of Horses In Early Medieval North-Western. Europe.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Viking Legacy of The Lake District

Viking linguistic legacy on Cumbria and the Lake district

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

NEU! - Für immer

A video art project set to NEU! - Fur Immer

A journey through a frosted forest in Winter, fleeting figures over ivory landscapes, in pursuit of an unknown beast, following the tracks to an unseen destination.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013