Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An Issue of Caliber

By Caroline Wood

Most young Americans first learn of pistol dueling in the dusty comfort of their fourth-grade classrooms, where they gaze up, entranced, as reluctant Miss Winkson relates Our Nation's Proudest Moment. The moment when Burr and Hamilton, our founding fathers, men of financial savvy, rapier-like wit, and finessing roguery, dueled to the death to protect their honor, the truth, and their dream for our great nation.

But perhaps you favor the sword. Perhaps you don't care about honor or rivalry, revenge or passion, risk in the hands of the fates. Perhaps you favor low-grade comedies whose most sophisticated jokes center on leggings or pseudo-parodic docudramas about El Cid. Or are you one of the many who fancies fly-riddled medieval festivals and portly chins dripping turkey leg grease? In any of the above cases, I direct you to Lauren's post; I'm certain you will have much to discuss with her.

If it is courage you seek, you will live and die by the pistol. I need only remind you of one thing: pistoleers are actually willing to die. The swordsman, however keen to engage in repartee, has the leisure to do just that; he can stall, he can taunt like a schoolchild bully, he can surrender, flee, or cheat. It is exactly what it is called: swordplay. Gravely worse, he can, as many "noble" swordsmen do, enter the duel knowing his skills will bring him victory. Where is the duel in that? Where is the surrender to the divine? The final word on a conflict so inflammatory no mortal can find a compromise?

The phallic joke is deeply below me, and below anyone with so noble and gentlemanly mind to surrender to the power of the pistol, but I must comment. Swords may be longer, but guns, fully loaded, eject. Powerfully.

Although it is clear, then, that pistols trump swords, it may very well be that we are asking the wrong questions. Perhaps it is not pistols we need, but switchblades, poison darts...tractors???


KC said...

I have subscribed! Now I am looking forward to more debates between the two sisters! See some of you tonight for hot coffee.

P.S. Where's the 4th of July entry?

El Capitan Planet said...

I find it rather ironic that you described Burr and Hamilton as having "rapier-like wit", seeing as how they are not men of the rapier, but rather the courageous pistol.

I love your writing - phenomenal!

c. grace said...

No irony is ever unintentional when it's a Wood you're dealing with!