The first cut won't hurt at all.
March 13, 2018 9:36 PM   Subscribe

"Duelling codes, though intended to curb violence, may only have ritualized it."
posted by spaceburglar (20 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
WAX BULLET DUELS.
posted by corb at 10:26 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


I can't read or think about this without the sarabande from Barry Lyndon running through my head.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:53 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


WAX BULLET DUELS.

Totally a thing!
posted by flabdablet at 5:52 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]




The villain with scared face becomes a more interesting trope once you know the origin probably lies in aristocratic German deuling and is sort of a peasant/working class view that all those high status guys are evil assholes.
posted by srboisvert at 6:31 AM on March 14 [14 favorites]




Ritualized duelling is still better than ritualized feuding.

Ask any Albanian.
posted by ocschwar at 7:38 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


WAX BULLET DUELS

This is very obviously a time traveller in a paintball outfit.

I'd be happy to see this make a comeback as a way of settling petty disputes on askMetafilter. Toilet paper must unroll on the side away from the wall, and only a "worthless scoundrel, a poltroon and a coward" would disagree. Paintballs at dawn!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:39 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


My seconds will call on yours in the morning.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:44 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]


One of the best parts of the wildly uneven Baroque Cycle was how, when everyone's carrying swords, you're constantly at risk of getting run through, and every room you walk into is full of potential killers, and you're ALWAYS aware of this.

Even moving across a room is fraught with peril, and all other occupants of the room will adjust their stances and position to account for it.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:47 AM on March 14 [6 favorites]


The Baroque Cycle also notes how dueling allowed the privileged and talented to effectively get away with murder. Good with a sword and well connected? Selectively take offense and kill off your rivals.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:49 AM on March 14 [8 favorites]


In Iowa you can now hold elected office even if you have a few dueling incidents on your permanent record: Iowa Repeal of Dueling Ban, Amendment 2 (1992)

I would like to note that I was among the 42.68% that was in favor of retaining such a ban, since I don't believe politicians should be dueling, and while a youthful dueling indiscretion might not seem like a serious enough offense to permanently preclude one from holding office, I ask you, "Will no one think of the children?" Without a constitutionally mandated ban on dueling, what is to keep every politician from settling their difference at dawn with pistols or rapiers? How can we tell children that video games are bad, and will lead to them shooting up schools, if we can't even stop our elected officials from killing each other, in ritual combat, over petty squabbles?

This is a slippery slope, people! First they come for your flintlocks and foils. Next, the nanny state will be saying that marijuana is an obscenity!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:54 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


I am not sure how seriously I would take Neal Stephenson's queues on how societies or interpersonal relations work, past or present. In ye early modern times* an insult might be answerable only with violence, or it might be answerable only with shunning or a lawsuit. He vastly underestimated both the intricate equilibrium of social patterns and how batshit crazy the period was**. Not once did he cover that everyone was immensely drunk at all times, or how wandering sorcerers*** would sell you the devil's favor, or how your rivals might dispatch a secret astrologer to find your weaknesses.

Anyhoo, the thing that's foreign to us about dueling is not that it's socially mediated violence or that it allows more privileged people to use violence against less privileged person. It's the fact that it was a varyingly sanctioned method of contract resolution, and I will call you a liar if you say that you'd prefer binding arbitration with equifax over giving them the business with an epee.

*Which would be a vastly superior restaurant, I think you'll all agree.
**Admittedly I'm much more familiar with slightly earlier times than the Baroque Cycle and more in the HRE.
***No bullshit!
posted by The Gaffer at 8:09 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]


-The Lansdale-Morgan duel mentioned in the top link.

-Peter Berger's "On The Obsolescence of the Concept of Honor" (1970) talks about how the modern mind doesn't generally understand honor. This is exemplified by the fact that for the most part, modern legal codes dont recognize it, nor excuse doing violence because of it.

Modernity is more sensitive to notions of dignity rather than honor. Dignity is an inherent condition to behind human, inalienable, irreducible, universal. Honor is a zero-sum game; one's gain must be another's loss, which is why one must respond with violence if one's honor is ever questioned, much less insulted.

I paraphrase, "Praised and recognized by their community and covered in awards, one has honor; naked and alone, one has dignity."

Today, people regard declarations of one's honor like declarations of one's chastity; Nobody really cares, and if you act like you're serious about it people will think of you like those weirdos who go to great lengths to live a 24/7 Victorian lifestyle with corsets and pennfarthing bikes.

Honor is a medievalism like slavery and doweries that deserves the dustbin of history.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:41 AM on March 14 [13 favorites]


I've never challenged anybody. It would be fun. I've been challenged three times and thought twice; the third time the police butted in. I'm afraid that was because my opponent didn't fancy my choice of weapon… A bullet, you see, may go anywhere, but steel's almost bound to go somewhere.
-Lord Peter Wimsey in Gaudy Night

-"The enemies of reason have a certain blind look; he has that look, don't you think?"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:25 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]




Abraham Lincoln's duel, since the previous FPP on the blue goes to a dead link. Had to include because of the fun fact that Abe precipitated the challenge by trolling a political opponent in the letters page of a local newspaper under the name "Rebecca."
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:54 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


What's going on with the plagiarism in the second and third FPP links?

Second sentence of the rarehistoricalphotos.com piece: " While it still involved men shooting firearms at one another, the difference here was that defeated parties could be “theoretically pronounced dead… and the supposedly fatal results created general merriment”. "

Third paragraph 2nd sentence of the Atlas Obscura piece: " While it still involved men shooting firearms at one another, the difference here was that defeated parties could be “theoretically pronounced dead… and the supposedly fatal results created general merriment.” "

2nd paragraph of rarehistoricalphotos.com: " These pictures show the first public exhibition of wax bullet dueling in America. The duels in question took place at Carnegie Hall in New York, with participants drawn from the Carnegie Sword and Pistol Club. The men faced off 60 feet apart, outfitted in black robes and face masks. Their regulation .44 calibre French dueling pistols were loaded with French-imported wax bullets and the novel display enjoyed a small audience. "

4th paragraph of Atlas Obscura: " That was how the New York Times reported on the first public exhibition of wax bullet dueling in America in 1909. The duels in question took place at Carnegie Hall, with participants drawn from the Carnegie Sword and Pistol Club. The men faced off 60 feet apart, outfitted in black robes and face masks. Their regulation .44 calibre French dueling pistols were loaded with French-imported wax bullets, and the novel display enjoyed a small audience. "

And so on. The Rarehistoricalphotos post is dated December 9, 2016, while the Atlas Obscura piece is dated JUNE 29, 2016, so presumably the former are the plagiarizers? Seems weird.
posted by Caduceus at 5:17 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


It only gets a passing mention in the New Yorker article, so I'd like to offer an unqualified endorsement of Barbara Holland's Gentlemen's Blood. It is the most entertaining book about dueling you're likely ever to read.

I agree with PBZM and ochswar upthread regarding the concept of honor. I'm not sure you can separate the notion of honor from all of the old structures around estates and primogeniture and such. By that I mean that when the bastard on the other side of the valley is trying to take your grazing land, it's probably better to have structures in place wherein you can go out to settle the dispute on even ground with the guy himself, rather than losing entire generations of people a-feudin' and a-fightin'. I dunno, mainly I'm with Emerson: "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted the spoons."
posted by MrBadExample at 6:31 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


And so on. The Rarehistoricalphotos post is dated December 9, 2016, while the Atlas Obscura piece is dated JUNE 29, 2016, so presumably the former are the plagiarizers? Seems weird.

This is exactly the sort of thing dueling can solve.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:26 PM on March 14 [5 favorites]


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