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Knights: Black, White, and Rusty

Victor Vasnetsov

Victor Vasnetsov’s Knight at the Crossroads

Knights: the term has meaning that has come down from the Age of Chivalry. Of course the meaning has changed somewhat, and keeps evolving. The term black knight originally meant someone who was sworn to no lord and had his shield painted black to cover the heraldry of his previous employer. Really, it meant unsworn fighter. For various reasons it has come to mean a bad guy who has some power. If you realize that “bad guy” has a lot to do with point of view, it is a very reasonable term. I’m sure that Luke Skywalker was seen as a black knight by the imperials. Black knights therefore are largely created by POV.

White knights are more a product of other things, and the term has changed even more, especially recently. White Knights were a product of Romances. The shining knight on the noble steed who rescues the fair maiden and saves the kingdom. Off the top of my head I cannot remember any person historically considered a true white knight. Many people were given that title in retrospect of course. It became the generic for hero, so much so that a TV western in the 50s, Paladin, took both it’s name and some of its symbology from the concept.

That has changed in recent times, although those making the changes didn’t intend it. White Knighting as a concept is now someone who champions a cause or a person, without regard to anything except their cause. Every whining little Social Justice Prostitute out there now has her little coterie of White Knights, defending her from attacks by those she has maligned and attacked. Unlike the heroes of the old romances these are not men defending a noble victim from oppressors. These are males who, rather than being heroic, are having trouble with the concept of being a man. And they are hoping that if they defend their chosen Whiner well she will bestow her “favors“ upon them. Sadly for them, the usual reason for her constant whining is that she wants a real man and knows she will never get one. Most of the time she cannot realize that the reason she has to settle for white knights or other women is because of the same whining that brings her attention, and makes real men walk off in disgust.

The other modern type of white knighting is championing a cause or side in the cultural wars of today. This championing is done without regard to honor or right, and usually for some ulterior purpose. A really good example of this that all geeks know something of is the behavior of those, male or female, wanting to become SMOFs. These people cannot abide the thought of anyone pointing out the negatives of any con. No matter how blatant. Even if the “attacker” is wanting to support the con and change the bad things to good. This makes one question whether SMOFs are a good thing.

The last type of knight I want to talk about is the Rusty Knight. I got this term form a Travis McGee novel by John D. MacDonald. I  am not the only man of my age that uses the term. I’ve heard a lot of men talk about it. Basically it is the guy who has lived life, and tried to live it well, but has been beaten down by the normal losses that come with living. We still want to mount our noble steed and charge into the fray doing noble deeds and championing the right. Life has taught us that our noble steed is either a nag or a donkey, and our lance a bent and twisted stick.
Our own infirmities keep us from sitting straight in the saddle, and we cannot see our glorious road straight to victory. Still when we see injustice we don the rusty and damaged armor, strap our broken swords onto our hips, drag our bodies into the saddle, and charge into the fray. What constantly amazes us is how often we still manage victory.ISUMBRAS

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10 comments on “Knights: Black, White, and Rusty

  1. IIRC “Black Knight” came from a French word for “blank” as in a “blank shield”. The French word is similar to “black” so that’s why the term was “Black Knight”.

    Oh, just a minor nit-pick. [Grin]

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was thinking about the rise of the “internet white knight” just this week. Some guys mean well. Other guys are just tools. And still other guys are using it deliberately, for the social media yawpery. In all of the above cases, it’s dudes thinking that Twitter or Facebook or a blog can magically make them noble, with no actual blood or effort expended. This is one of the reasons I actually think a draft helps society overall. When most of the adult men have had to pass through the bowels of military life, if even for a short two years, it’s more difficult for a mangina class to arise — as has happened in the past fifteen years. Now the mangina class owns the cyber landscape, and they are growing in number. Again, it’s a no-effort grasp at unearned virtue. And it’s being played by women and other self-styled Victims (note the caps v) who also grasp at unearned virtue.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Excellent view Brad, posting that in dice would not be amiss

      Liked by 1 person

    • “I actually think a draft helps society overall” I agree, to a point.

      I would like to see something akin to a hybrid between the mandatory service in Israel and Starship Troopers (the book, not the movies). Require everyone, men and women, to give at least two years of service: military, police, fire, emt – something that gives back to society – *before* getting all the rights and privileges of being an Adult.

      [one of my biggest pet-peeves is that we give rights and privileges to young people before we expect them to behave like adults. I firmly believe that is part of the reason we have so many adult-size children.]

      Liked by 2 people

      • The older I’ve gotten, the more I believe you’re correct. We enable people before they’ve proven they’re ready to be enabled. Of course, if certain Soviet-minded folk in our country had their way, nobody who was even a little bit to the Right of, say, Bernie Sanders, would be permitted to much of anything. Much less have the potential to control the levers of power. So it’s a question of: who decides who gets to be a grown-up, and who doesn’t? Right now, nobody does; and our society fosters eternal adolescence. BIG BANG THEORY is the new male ideal.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That is, sadly, the truth of our reality. Those of us who are old enough to remember what it was like before are saddened. It is a much better world today than the one we were born into, and the ones we raised are pissing it away

          Liked by 2 people

          • There are still those born and raised to a standard that expects responsibility and respect from children. I was one, and I see some young ‘uns out there (Odd families, for the most part) that are being taught that the world isn’t fair, but that they’re to say “yes ma’am,” and “no sir,” and work hard, and keep their word even when its hard to do so.

            People are quite resilient. Adversity- the real stuff, not this namby-pamby micro-aggression horsesh*t- strikes a chord in a significant portion of humanity. Around here, it’s the people that come out of their warm homes on a cold day to check on the neighbors when the pipes might freeze, that wake up two hours early to chunk up a tree that fell across the road, or bring hot coffee out to the folks cleaning up the big wreck down the way. People like that can be found in the most surprising places.

            Sure there’s still a smotherin’ lot of folks who wouldn’t lift a finger to save themselves from drowning as long as they had their cell phones glued to their faces. And there are still the wolves out there looking for weakness in the human herd. A lot of those folks aren’t good for much more than turning food into fertilizer.

            But the parasites and the scum haven’t won yet. Most folks are pretty decent, more or less. They don’t condone stealing or assault, then again, most of them wouldn’t do much to stop the above either- but they *would* call 911. Our often overworked, flawed, very much human police and emergency service workers do what they can to keep the scum in check. The folks in the justice system do their best within another flawed system (it has humans in it- and too many laws) to further that goal. All in all, pretty decent folk.

            For too many “pretty decent” folk, though, they don’t have a purpose. Not that I think they’re useless, just that they don’t quite have that great big nav beacon that says “do the right thing, no matter what,” in their heads. Parents and grandparents should have put it there. If not them, then role models, heroes… rusty knights, even. Good stories nurture that need for a purpose in us.

            Granted, that need perverted is what I think drives the Interntty “White Knight” claptrap. Well, that and desire to fit in, and attention from girls who are actually aware of geeky things and not utterly repelled by it. But if that’s the case, then all the more reason to hold people to a higher standard when you can. At least it works pretty well with my trainees at work. *grin*

            Here’s to the rusty paladins, then. I’d back a man with scars on his armor and notches in his blade over one of the pale painted prigs any day.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Someday I need to finish writing my rant on how the industrial revolution fostered and ultimately gave rise to the situation we have today, where we have these adult-sized children running the world, and raising another generation that will never grow up.

      This isn’t a sudden change; it’s taken generations to take hold, and it only really succeeded after those who remember the “old ways” had mostly died off.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for using the art of Victor Vasnetsov’s Knight at the Crossroads. I’d seen this elsewhere but was unable to identify it.

    Liked by 1 person

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