People are really down on Chivalry.
I mean, sure, it’s fun to poke fun of it. The pursuit of glory seems pretty silly now, as does the idea of pledging such deeds to the honor of a woman. And for whatever reason, chivalry has been reduced in the public mind into opening doors for women. At best seen as charming, if old-fashioned; at worst, borderline chauvinist.
But there was more to it than that. Most of it was about things like protecting the weak and defenseless, to be honest and true, to respect the honor of women. To always be good and right, and act against evil and injustice. To be loyal, generous, and merciful. To never lose faith, to persevere to the end. To obey their lord, unless their duties went “against the laws of God”. To strive to act well and do good. The particulars of the code vary on who you ask, but it was always about virtue, honor, courage, and service- service to God, to their lord or king, and to those who could not defend themselves. Knights were expected to act in the service of women, and in particular in the service of the woman they loved (very separate from sex or marriage, it was a weird time).
I mean, yes, of course, there are aspects that are no longer relevant, or that need to be reinterpreted to fit with a more enlightened time. Women are every bit the equal of men and should be treated as the people they are, not solely as things to protect, that inspire men. ‘Defending The Church’ is not in my mind nearly as important as defending the wisdom and goodness that religions teach us, and defending that which is sacred.
Oh, and the bits added during the crusades about not hesitating to make war against the infidel, those should probably just be ignored.
But while this was a code specific to those of certain birth, and only to men, I don’t see why it couldn’t be applied to anyone who finds its ideals inspiring.
The core of chivalry, rather than it’s particulars, is I think something to aspire to.
Honor- truly maintaining honor, not just the appearance of it, and respecting the honor of others. Courage. The pursuit of Justice. Perseverance. Generosity. Mercy. Defending those who cannot easily defend themselves. Being willing to risk yourself for another. Fighting evil and injustice. Finding strength and inspiration through love. Acting with nobility, not of birth but of spirit.
What a strange sort of world, where the jesters are the only ones we trust to be honest. Stranger still, that so often they’re the only ones who are.
Governments (and as far as I can tell this is all governments, ever) seem to alternate between being the most powerful, terrifyingly efficient things you can imagine capable of the great goods and great evils of mankind; and being things that resemble a comedy puppet show of caricatured, incompetent stereotypes, entirely directed by gophers.
Is this your card?
Of course not, don’t be silly.
They’re all our cards.
We keep the cards
We print the cards
We shuffle and deal them
and the house always wins.
We’re always open, we never close
Don’t ask for the management
They’re on christmas break
Yes of course it’s still june
Why do you ask?
Welcome to the fabulous Caligula’s Court,
hotel and casino, where your money is always good,
And if you want a job, just ask.
We don’t have to be smart,
we don’t even have to be pretty
(After all, we have such pretty suits),
So long as you can shuffle, you can deal.
Welcome to the table, young man,
oh my, why you seem so gallant and true!
You say we cheat? Nonsense, but here,
You deal and deal fair, if you’re so concerned.
Let’s just cut your hair and fit you a suit.
We’ll teach you to deal
and gamble with money,
and sometimes with lives,
And every now and then with the future.
But the house always wins so don’t worry the cost.
Oh young gallant man,
Of course you can deal!
Just let us fix your tie first.
Don’t worry, sonny boy,
we can dull that unsightly gleam in your eye.
After all, an eye is no place for a shine.
Save those for your shoes
and your teeth.
I used to think love was the ultimate good.
Some child-part of me will probably always think that.
And maybe that child-part is right.
Love is a natural force. It’s powerful, and it’s beautiful; It creates and destroys and it is uncaring.
Like the forest, like the ocean, like humanity.
And still, I think, maybe the child-part is right.
It is exceedingly rare to find someone who has wronged you out of malicious intent. It does happen; because of misplaced frustration, or as an act of perceived rather than true justice; Sometimes just as random acts of ill-spirit inflicted on the world in an attempt to fill some hole inside, or to get even with a world that has hurt them.
But I’ve found that far more often, if you are wronged by someone, it has nothing to do with you. It has to do with them doing something for completely unrelated reasons, and the ripples of that action have hit you in an unintentional and unfortunate way. Empathy goes a long way towards understanding the world better.
Because sometimes shining knights are thugs in armor,
and sometimes the witch is just a tired old woman.
Because the monster we must slay is so rarely a wyrm
but something more subtle and altogether too human.
And because the fairies can be cruel,
despite the fragrance of elfin wines.
Take care, because the monster is sometimes a maiden,
and the frog is sometimes a prince,
And sometimes the granny is really a wolf.
Take care because Jack is clever, but he is not always kind.
And a prince can be charming, and just tell you sweet lies.
Take care when you walk in the woods,
not to talk at length to silver-tongued wolves.
Be kind to the goblins, but do not taste their fruits.
Heed the advice of old women and eagles.
Be good to beggars and dwarves.
Take care to tell the tales anew
to children young in their knowing,
because the old stories of magic are told to the young
to stop wicked kings and queens from growing.
Poseidon sits at the bottom of the sea, on a throne carved of a single, massive bone, from some gigantic seabeast of some primordial era. The throne was there long before the palace grew around it, golden coral forming walls and turrets, resplendent rooms and courtyards filled with strange whalebone sculptures.
There had been a time, near the beginning, when the seas ruled far more. Once, Poseidon Earth-Shaker, lord and god of the salt waters, was emperor. No, that wasn’t quite right, he thought. He was wild titan Oceanus, then. Not emperor, no. Warlord, perhaps? No, nothing like that. More like a storm. A stream that bound the world, a serpent biting it’s tail, that was how he had owned the realms. Maybe. The memories and the eons blur. There was so little form in those days. Names were rare and meant much more.
But he had not been Poseidon, not in the beginning. Poseidon was born far later, not the son of sky and earth now, but of time and the mother of gods. A younger god for a more civilized time. Still full of passions, still wild at heart, still the creative, destructive force he had been. But more human about it. He couldn’t help it. Humans have a way of rubbing off on you. They’d all grown more human, after man stole fire and started telling tales of their creators. Some were sure that mankind created the gods as much as the gods had created mankind. Poseidon didn’t know, or particularly care.
He rarely thought of the early days, so long, long ago. When he did, he did not think on the wars or the glories, or the pride of sovereignty. No, he had long ago tired of such petty things. When he thought of those days, he thought only of that shining day that he wed the sea and was bound to her for eternity. So long ago, that day. The king of the seas smiled to himself and began to weave together the sand and the sea and the heat from the volcanic vents. He had decided on a new sort of prawn for his next piece. He loved his work, his art. Creating life. All the ingredients were down here in the deep. Warmth from the vents heated and stirred the waters, strands of DNA and RNA floated in the primordial mix. Down here, the waters still remembered the beginning. They still remembered the first birth. That was why he had returned to this throne, so far from golden Atlantis. To create.
The lord of all salt waters smiled, his mind drifting back out of memories, and he set about his work.
Objectification, I should clarify at the start, is not simply seeing people as physical objects. OF COURSE we do that. Objectification is when someone is REDUCED to an object, a THING instead of a PERSON. Someone can in fact be portrayed as sexually desirable without making that their sole characteristic. However, in video games and the like, this is all too rare an occurrence. Generally, women are portrayed as sex objects, rather than as people with whom one has sex. In real life, women are STILL treated that way, which is even worse.
There is this strange idea that some people (primarily men) have, that sex is somehow something done TO a woman, rather than WITH a woman. To these people and their sexual partners, I am truly sorry. You are missing out on what can be an intimate, and supremely fun, experience, because one (sometimes both) partner(s) have reduced the woman to a sex toy. This leads to further horrifying ideas; that women are puzzles to be unlocked, and that the prize for solving that puzzle is sex. To the men who hold this view, I am sorry. I don’t think it’s necessarily your fault that you think that, but you need to know that it’s wrong. It is a false view of women, and of the world. You will only cause yourself suffering. Every woman you meet is every bit as thinking, feeling, and self-aware as you are. They get happy, they get sad, they feel lonely and vulnerable sometimes. They can think for themselves and they can be just as horny and greedy for pleasure as any man. They are PEOPLE. Which means that you can’t just be nice to them for a month and expect them to put out, because human beings are *slightly* more complex than gum-ball machines.
I know most of you know that. But I need you to think about what your actions are, how you approach women, and really consider whether or not you are treating them as your equal, or as a game to play. You might not realize it, and I think you need to.
Now, the way I see it, there is no problem with thinking of people as objects. The first major trouble I see is when one mistakes what is truly a subjective opinion with an objective judgement. The second is when one sees a person as an object to the exclusion of all other views of the person.
I mean, we *are* objects. We are physically here, we have different shapes and sizes and colors and textures. There is absolutely no point in denying this to be so. We are, each and every one of us, equipped with certain preferences with what we find visually pleasing and displeasing. How these are shaped and why certain things should be considered an ideal or a norm, those are different, though important, questions.
See, beauty is subjective. That means that everyone has things they find more beautiful than others. There’s no reason to deny that. There are people I find absolutely, irresistibly, captivatingly beautiful. There are also people I do not find so. But the thing is, the thing that everyone really needs to keep in mind because so many seem to either forget or be unaware of, is that what you find beautiful is SUBJECTIVE. You are not the highest authority on the matter, because NO ONE is the highest authority on the matter. I am a visual artist. There is art that I like and art that I do not like.
But a painting you don’t like can still be beautiful to many, many others. Your taste does not dictate reality. When you say “She’s ugly” you’re being an idiot, because the only thing you can with any certainty say is “I personally find her to be unattractive.” It’s fine not to be attracted to something. Really, it is. You’re not a terrible person if you don’t go for overweight people, or if blonde hair doesn’t do anything for you, of if you’re for whatever reason more attracted to the features more common in one race than another. IT’S FINE. What is terrible is deciding that black women are ugly because YOU don’t find them attractive. What is terrible is declaring heavy people to be hideous just because you prefer thin people. What is terrible is thinking that for some reason, your taste, or your friend’s taste, or the taste of everyone on television, is somehow law. That your opinion affects the actual universe, rather than your perception of it. Nothing and no one is objectively ugly or beautiful. Which makes telling certain people that they are ugly or beautiful is idiotic and egotistical, as well as potentially cruel. Saying such things enough, particularly at certain impressionable ages, can influence the growing sense of self. Making someone seem ugly in their own eyes is a cruel, harmful thing to do.
It used to be that the “ideal woman” was considerably curvier than the standard of the moment. That change is not because the rules somehow changed in the eighties. That change is because a lot of people’s perception of beauty changed, for a variety of reasons. But it wasn’t that one day all the curvy women were suddenly ugly. By any objective criteria, their physical attractiveness did not change. Only the tastes of the masses changed.
The second issue is seeing someone as ONLY an object. Look at a word. Any word will do. Just look at the physical, printed word. Those letters are all shapes. Think of them as shapes for a moment. Just solid black marks on white paper. In a sense, you just objectified those letters. You treated them solely as objects, shapes taking up space. In doing so, you removed all other poetry from them. Beauty and physical attractiveness and so on, those are good things. They’re wonderful to enjoy. But they’re a fraction of the whole.
Some people have trouble seeing letters as shapes. If so, look at some chinese characters (If you can read chinese, look at arabic or something, just any language with different characters than one you understand). You can see how beautiful they are, without even knowing what they mean. I bet there are some characters you like better than others, too. Some probably seem boring compared to others. Because you can’t read the language, you’re forced to interact with them as shapes, and you can form opinions on the word or letter JUST based on how it looks. That’s FINE! That’s typography! Letters are abstract shapes, and they can be beautiful!
But that’s not all they are. Treating the letters only as shapes, you are ignoring the sounds the words make, ignoring the meaning assigned to the word and to the sounds, ignoring the basic symbolic function of words. You’re seeing one small fraction of what that word is.
Look at any arabic phrase. That language was made to be beautiful. There is a whole genre of art that is made out of arabic writing, written into shapes that suggest certain forms. There is a beautiful example, a series of lines that when viewed from afar look like a man in prayer. Closer inspection shows it to be entirely composed of one prayer written out. The form is beautiful, the characters are done masterfully, it is a thing of beauty. But it so much more beautiful when you know that the words are a prayer, when you can hear the words spoken. The art is in the characters, the words those form, the form the words suggest, the sounds the words make, and the prayer the words detail.
Do you see my point? People are a bit like that. Their shape and size and color and texture; that’s all just their shape. There’s meaning and story in there. There’s a mind and a heart and a soul. And if you don’t recognize that, you won’t see all the rest of the beauty.
Quite apart from all the damage it does to a person, treating them as just a shape, it’s hurting you as well. If you ignore everything but the shape, you could very well end up (metaphorically speaking) using the word “bland” because you liked how the “b” mirrors the “d”. Which is fine if you’re making a piece of typographic art, but is really rather useless if you’re trying to compliment the chef.
(Man I re-edited this like five times haha)