Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Manly But Daft

Talking about knights in armour- as I was the other day, here's Joan Grant; she's discussing the absurdity of the belief- so prevalent in our culture- that there's virtue in physical risk and physical suffering...

"In the twelfth century, I caused a handsome and healthy body of which I was fond to inflict gross discomfort on itself and others by donning armour and jousting with similarly deluded males. Eventually that body died by having a poignard driven through its right eye... an episode I still remember too vividly for comfort."

I had worried that I was being unduly and unfairly scornful of chivalry, but Grant speaks to my self-doubt. That culture- for all that we've romanticised it- was pretty damn silly.

We get one body at a time. It's our vehicle for living. There no greater value in hazarding it by pushing it to its limits and beyond than there would be in misusing and jeopardising any other instrument on which we depend.

I've always known this- at least at a subconscious level. It's one of the things that informs my lifelong avoidance of "manly" sports. Where's the sense in making yourself the target of a guy who's lobbing a hard spherical object at 100mph, or risking frostbite, exhaustion or a fatal fall to get to the top of a very high rock?

Effigy of Sir Robert de Aspal (d.1337) St Mary and St Lambert, Stonham Aspal, Suffolk.
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