Confusing history with literature.

One of Vox Day’s readers argued:

As Dalrock has explained, all that cultural bomb-throwers have to do is to borrow from the Satanic inversion that is chivalry, that puts women in the place of Jesus.

Vox objected, responding:

That’s not what chivalry is. Dalrock is confusing the literary tradition with the actual military ethos. This is basic Wikipedia-level knowledge.

[Vox quotes Léon Gautier’s Ten Commandments of Chivalry]

There is nothing inversive about it. Ironically, Dalrock’s description of chivalry is the inversion of the concept.

The problem with Vox’s dismissal is that it isn’t me that is confusing literary tradition with history, it is the culture at large, and (as I will show in this post), Vox himself.  It was this very confusion that Infogalactic tells us Gautier sought to stamp out when he wrote his ten commandments in 1883:

Léon Gautier, in his La Chevalerie, published for the first time in 1883, bemoaned the “invasion of Breton romans” which replaced the pure military ethos of the crusades with Arthurian fiction and courtly adventures. Gautier tries to give a “popular summary” of what he proposes was the “ancient code of chivalry” of the 11th and 12th centuries derived from the military ethos of the crusades which would evolve into the late medieval notion of chivalry. Gautier’s Ten Commandments of chivalry are…

The problem, as Infogalactic points out (and as I pointed out here), is the very strong tendency for modern readers to mistake fictional Arthurian tales for historical accounts.  Yet we can’t blame this entirely on modern readers.  This confusion was built in to the Arthurian literature itself.  As CS Lewis explained in Allegory of Love (regarding Chrétien de Troyes and his Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart from circa 1177):

Chrétien de Troyes is its greatest representative. His Lancelot is the flower of the courtly tradition in France, as it was in its early maturity…

He was among the first to welcome the Arthurian stories; and to him, as much as to any single writer, we owe the colouring with which the ‘matter of Britain’ has come down to us. He was among the first (in northern France) to choose love as the central theme of a serious poem…

…combining this element with the Arthurian legend, he stamped upon men’s minds indelibly the conception of Arthur’s court as the home par excellence of true and noble love. What was theory for his own age had been practice for the knights of Britain. For it is interesting to notice that he places his ideal in the past. For him already ‘the age of chivalry is dead’.40 It always was: let no one think the worse of it on that account.

This confusion of Arthurian tales of what was much later termed courtly love with actual history is endemic, and has been from all but the very beginning.  Wikipedia’s article on the term chivalry likewise explains:

Fans of chivalry have assumed since the late medieval period that there was a time in the past when chivalry was a living institution, when men acted chivalrically, when chivalry was alive and not dead, the imitation of which period would much improve the present. This is the mad mission of Don Quixote, protagonist of the most chivalric novel of all time and inspirer of the chivalry of Sir Walter Scott and of the U.S. South:[19]:205–223 to restore the age of chivalry, and thereby improve his country.[19]:148 It is a version of the myth of the Golden Age.

With the birth of modern historical and literary research, scholars have found that however far back in time “The Age of Chivalry” is searched for, it is always further in the past, even back to the Roman Empire…

Sismondi alludes to the fictitious Arthurian romances about the imaginary Court of King Arthur, which were usually taken as factual presentations of a historical age of chivalry. He continues:

The more closely we look into history, the more clearly shall we perceive that the system of chivalry is an invention almost entirely poetical. It is impossible to distinguish the countries in which it is said to have prevailed. It is always represented as distant from us both in time and place, and whilst the contemporary historians give us a clear, detailed, and complete account of the vices of the court and the great, of the ferocity or corruption of the nobles, and of the servility of the people, we are astonished to find the poets, after a long lapse of time, adorning the very same ages with the most splendid fictions of grace, virtue, and loyalty…

And as I noted above, Vox himself encourages the false belief that Arthurian tales are descriptions of what chivalry was like in the middle ages.  In his post 800 percent and rising, Vox was very proud to announce that he was adding back teaching on romantic chivalry to Castalia House’ 2020 edition of Junior Classics, as this would teach modern children about Christian history and values:

To explain why it is important, consider the following preface from Volume 4 of the 1918 edition, “Heroes and Heroines of Chivalry”, which was excised from the 1958 edition for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who is conversant with the concept of social justice convergence and the long-running cultural war against Christianity and the West. And it probably will not surprise you to know that all three of the stories referenced in this preface were also removed from the 1958 edition.

The preface and all four stories will, of course, appear in the 2020 edition.

The preface (and tales) Vox is so proud to have returned to the Junior Classics does exactly what Vox is accusing me of doing.  It confuses pure fiction with historical fact.  Even worse, it encourages young children to adopt this very confusion:

The word chivalry is taken from the French cheval, a horse. A knight was a young man, the son of a good family, who was allowed to wear arms. In the story “How the Child of the Sea was made Knight,” we are told how a boy of twelve became a page to the queen, and in the opening pages of the story “The Adventures of Sir Gareth,” we get a glimpse of a young man growing up at the court of King Arthur. It was not an easy life, that of a boy who wished to become a knight, but it made a man of him…

The preface goes on to explain that an essential part of making a man of a boy was to teach him to follow the ethic of courtly love:

His service to the ladies had now reached the point where he picked out a lady to serve loyally. His endeavor was to please her in all things, in order that he might be known as her knight, and wear her glove or scarf as a badge or favor when he entered the lists of a joust or tournament.

Finally the preface explains that the Arthurian version of chivialry, which combines both martial virtues and servility to women, is historical and is what the word chivalry means:

The same qualities that made a manful fighter then, make one now: to speak the truth, to perform a promise to the utmost, to reverence all women, to be constant in love, to despise luxury, to be simple and modest and gentle in heart, to help the weak and take no unfair advantage of an inferior. This was the ideal of the age, and chivalry is the word that expresses that ideal.

What is going on here is a classic game of Motte and Bailey.  When Vox wants to sell courtly love as Christian, he points to Arthurian tales that teach chivalry, what it used to be like to become a man.  This is nonsense, not only because Arthurian tales aren’t history (not even close), but also because the values of Arthurian tales aren’t remotely Christian.  They are, in fact, a parody of Christianity, and were from the beginning.  Courtly love was a devious joke decadent medieval nobles used to mock Christianity.  As the 1918 preface to Junior Classics demonstrates, long ago Christians forgot that this was a mockery of Christianity and accepted it as not only Christian but history.  The courtly love version of chivalry is the bailey that Vox is selling not just to his readers, but to their unsuspecting children.  Yet when my assertion of the evil of courtly love is mentioned by one of his readers, Vox retreats to the motte, claiming that everyone knows the Arthurian/fictional/courtly love version of chivalry isn’t really chivalry at all!  In the process, Vox accuses me of falling for the same misdirection that he is so proud to include his his revival of Junior Classics.

Vox needs to choose either the motte or the bailey when it comes to chivalry.  Either we need to teach modern children Arthurian tales of courtly love in order to restore Christian culture and values, or we need to annihilate this abomination and replace it with the Ten Commandments of Chivalry Léon Gautier wrote in 1883 in a failed attempt to reframe chivalry to Christian values (away from the dominant fictional/Arthurian view of the term).  If he wishes to do the latter, he will quite literally need to stop the presses.

H/T Sir Hamster

Posted in Chivalry, Courtly Love, Vox Day | 134 Comments

Chick-fil-A and conservative militant cluelessness.

Over at Instapundit the linked headline in Stephen Green’s new post reads:  Chick-fil-A Caved to the Wokescolds…OR DID THEY?

Instapundit commenter William T Quick nailed the conservative impulse involved here:

Interesting that whenever a conservative stalwart wobbles off course, there are always “conservatives” immediately coming forward to explain why it’s not really a wobble.

Quick accurately describes the situation.  The headline is from a Stephen Kruiser piece, where Kruiser opens by suggesting that Chic-fil-a has done the nation a great service by cucking to anti Christian SJWs!

America caught a break on Monday, and was able to take the day off from a singular obsession with Impeachment Kabuki Theater. Not a complete break, but enough of one, thanks to Chick-fil-A making a shift in its corporate charitable donation strategy.

Next comes the bizarre meat of Kruiser’s argument, a vague suggestion anything less than full compliance to anti Christian SJW activists is really a bold act of defiance!

Anyone who has been paying any attention knows that just because the Right is unhappy doesn’t mean that the Left is. That’s primarily because they are incapable of not complaining. In the case of LGBTQ issues, however, unless you’ve given up your children for gender reassignment before they’ve reached the age of six, you aren’t doing enough to make them happy.

Kruiser then lectures his readers not to assume that Chic-fil-a did something as serious as capitulating to the SJW mob, before closing by explaining that whatever Chic-fil-a did, it isn’t a big deal:

There are any number of reasons that Chick-fil-A could have for cutting ties with the Salvation Army. We will only know if this was truly a capitulation to the rabid wokesters when we see who the company gives money to going forward…

…While many see this as an important battle in the culture war, I see it as a chicken place I eat at maybe once a year.

The closest Chick-fil-A to me is next to an In-N-Out anyway, and that wins out over chicken every time.

And they’ve still got Bible verses on their drink cups.

This is a textbook case of what I’ve termed conservative militant cluelessness.  It is a bizarre conservative impulse to not only deny reality, but to actively work in the service of SJWs to ensure that others do as well.  The role of conservatives has become muffling any alarm that would otherwise be raised as SJWs annihilate our culture.  This sickness goes far beyond mere inaction in the face of evil, as the impulse is an active one, to prevent any possible action (reaction) by others.

Posted in Instapundit, Militantly clueless, Social Justice Warriors, Stephen Green, Traditional Conservatives, Turning a blind eye | 84 Comments

Reconciling old and new conservative views.

Stephen Green has a post up at Instapundit on the US Submarine force’s failure to meet the needs of women.  Not all women who want to serve on submarines are given slots, and thus the Submarine Community Can’t Meet Demand From Female Sailors.  Green half jokingly suggests that this means the US needs to build more attack submarines.  Commenter Chris Lutz responded with the old conservative position, that women shouldn’t be on ships:

Clearly, in order to address this iniquity, we need to build more attack subs.

No, we need to put women back into truly rear echelon support positions. Women on ships has been a disaster.

Commenter Southern Man wanted to agree that women shouldn’t be serving on ships, but pointed out that kickass conservative gals made him feel good:

Part of me agrees with this. But my daughter is in the US Navy and I’m pretty d*mn proud of her. Her second deployment was on the Harry S. Truman, CVN 75. I asked her “did you ever see the Bridge?” She rolled her eyes as only a daughter can do and said “Dad, my station was <redacted>, I was on the bridge all the time!”

Commenter evilsandmich reconciled the conflicting positions by pretending that the change we are witnessing isn’t due to feminists shoving their way in, but by men forcing women into harm’s way:

She’s great, the nation that would intentionally put its women in harms way, eh, not so much…

This is all of course very common, but this is the point.  This is how conservatives respond to feminism across our society, and is why conservatives are such reliable allies of feminism despite the widespread belief that the opposite is true.

Related:

Posted in Chivalry, Feminist Territory Marking, Instapundit, Kickass Conservative Gals, Military, Stephen Green, Too traditional to be traditional, Traditional Conservatives | 207 Comments

Back in a few weeks.

I’ll be turning on moderation later in the day, and probably won’t be back until around Nov 13th.

Edit 10-26 6:30 PM:  Moderation is now on.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Chivalry is the word that expresses that ideal.

One of the frequent criticisms I’ve received with my writing on chivalry is that I’m using the term incorrectly. The argument is that chivalry is merely a code of martial honor, and that the ideals of reverence of women, idolization of romantic love, etc. are something entirely separate (courtly love). While it is true that courtly love has been adopted as the academic term describing these specific aspects of what we call chivalry, it is a fundamental part of how we use the word chivalry today, and how we have used it for hundreds of years. As I’ve shared previously, the oldest and most prestigious order of chivalry in the world was founded in 1348 to commemorate the time when the King of England picked up a noblewoman’s dropped undergarment and gallantly declared:

Honi soit qui mal y pense” (“Shame on him who thinks evil of it.”)

That moment of utmost chivalry was from the 1300s, and British passports to this day have a cover image which commemorates the time a lady dropped her garter and the King cautioned the court not to laugh.

This understanding of chivalry continued in the Anglosphere through the 20th century to our present day.  Vox Day has a new post up with a fascinating quote from the Preface to “Heroes and Heroines of Chivalry” from Volume 4 of The Junior Classics (1918 edition).  As Vox explains, the preface was removed from the anthology beginning in the 1958 edition:

The campaign for the 2020 edition of the Junior Classics continues to go from strength to strength. To explain why it is important, consider the following preface from Volume 4 of the 1918 edition, “Heroes and Heroines of Chivalry”, which was excised from the 1958 edition for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who is conversant with the concept of social justice convergence and the long-running cultural war against Christianity and the West. And it probably will not surprise you to know that all three of the stories referenced in this preface were also removed from the 1958 edition.

Note that Vox considers Christianity and chivalry to be intertwined.  Nearly all Christians today would struggle greatly to separate the two in a meaningful way, especially when it comes to the proper roles of men & women and the morality of romantic love.  This is true despite the fact that the ideas now accepted as “Christian” were created as a parody of Christianity.  The Bible teaches Christians that wives should submit to their husbands in all things, with fear and reverence, and call their husband lord.  Chivalry teaches Christians that a man should submit to his lady in all things, with fear and reverence.  Chivalry, the mock religion that decadent medieval aristocrats contrived as a devious joke, is now mistaken by modern Christians for the real deal.  This makes modern Christians helpless when trying to fight against feminism, because the temptation is to offer chivalry as the “way back” to Christianity.

Here is an excerpt from the preface (emphasis mine):

By the time a boy was fourteen he was ready to become an esquire. He was then taught to get on and off a horse with his heavy armor on, to wield the battle axe, and practise tilting with a spear. His service to the ladies had now reached the point where he picked out a lady to serve loyally. His endeavor was to please her in all things, in order that he might be known as her knight, and wear her glove or scarf as a badge or favor when he entered the lists of a joust or tournament.

To become a knight was almost as solemn an affair as it was to become a priest. Before the day of the ceremony he fasted, spent the night in prayer, confessed his sins, and received the Holy Sacrament. When morning came he went, clothed in white, to the church or hall, with a knight’s sword suspended from his neck. This the priest blessed and returned to him. Upon receiving back the sword he went and knelt before the presiding knight and took the oath of knighthood. The friends who accompanied him now came forward and handed him the spurs, the coat of mail, the armlet and gauntlet, and having put these on he girded on his sword. The presiding knight now bade him kneel, and, touching him three times on the shoulder with the flat of his sword, he pronounced the words that received him into the company of worthy knights: “In the name of God, of St. Michael, and St. George, I make thee a knight; be valiant, courteous, and loyal!” After this he received his helmet, his shield, and his spear, and the ceremony was completed.

The knight’s real work, and greatest joy, was fighting for some one who needed his help. Tournaments and jousts gave them chances to show off their skill in public. We must remember that there were no big open-air theatres in those days, such as the Greeks had, no public races or trials of strength such as the Greeks held in the stadiums, nor were there chariot races or fighting gladiators such as the Romans had at an earlier day. Tournaments or jousts were the big public entertainments, and you will find a famous description of one by Sir Walter Scott in Ivanhoe, in the volume “Stories that Never Grow Old,” the tournament of Ashby-de-la-Zouche. In it you will find a clear description of how the field of contest was laid out, of the magnificent pavilions decorated with flags, and the galleries spread with carpets and tapestries for the ladies.

The same qualities that made a manful fighter then, make one now: to speak the truth, to perform a promise to the utmost, to reverence all women, to be constant in love, to despise luxury, to be simple and modest and gentle in heart, to help the weak and take no unfair advantage of an inferior. This was the ideal of the age, and chivalry is the word that expresses that ideal.

Posted in Chivalry, Courtly Love, Vox Day | 47 Comments