Posted: July 9, 2011 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life
Tags: , , ,

Today in my art class we were studying Eddie Manet (not to be confused with Claude Monet) and discussing how he got into a duel with a friend and art critic. 

You say Manet, I say Monet. Let's call the whole thing off

23 February 1870: Édouard Manet and Louis Edmond Duranty; Duranty, an art critic and friend of Manet, had written only the briefest of commentary on two works of art that Manet had entered for exhibition. The frustrated Manet collared Duranty at the Café Guerbois and slapped him. Duranty’s demands for an apology were refused and so the men fought a duel with swords in the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye three days later on the 23rd. Émile Zola acted as Manet’s second and Paul Alexis acted for Duranty. After Duranty received a wound above the right breast the seconds stepped in and declared that honor had been satisfied. The men remained friends despite the encounter.
We watched a BBC docu-drama called “The Impressionists”, and they showed the duel. It seemed Manet was something of a miserable little turnip. He was the typical tortured artist, whom no one understood, and more importantly, no one bought. It got me thinking that I’d like to see dueling come back in style. I like that it was officially illegal, yet many lawmakers and important people took part in duels. I like the concept of “seconds”, and most of all the idea of violently smacking people who get on your nerves or offended you and challenging them to a duel. That’s good stuff.  It’s a damn sight better than “de-friending” someone on Facebook.  I actually feel a bit weenyish when I de-friend someone…like it’s the ultimate, modern-day pussy move.  Do people gain some kind of satisfaction from this decidedly soft and passive-aggressive social phenomena?  I’m much more in your face.  A good smack, in public and a demand for satisfaction really appeals to me. To be perfectly honest, I expend a fair amount of energy, multiple times on a daily basis just keeping myself from slapping people. It’s not easy.
As much as I think I would enjoy duels and dueling, I don’t know how good I would be at it. I like fighting and I suppose my win-loss record is pretty fair in terms of barroom brawls and other fisticuffs; but this is not a reflection of any skill I posses as a fighter. I suppose the reason for my winning record is that I have a capacity for violence. I feel no need to engage in the prerequisites of modern fighting where threats are exchanged and there is pushing and “Oh yeahs?” thrown instead of punches. I just hit. And it seems to work. Most of the time, anyway. The other reason that I win a fair amount is that I am especially careful not to antagonize 6’6″, 300 lb knuckle draggers with gang tattoos on their face or neck. I have found this to be a pretty good policy and rule of engagement. I’m not especially fast, and although it hasn’t been proven, I suspect that I would probably cry if I were hit hard enough. I have strong forearms after almost 20 years of carrying cases of beer over my head what seemed like a hundred times a day at work. I suppose this helps when I hit first and hard. Or, maybe I’ve been very lucky and I am long overdue for a severe beat down.

Cool duel on Firefly

I also like the concept of a feared “duelist” (Is that a word?) like Cyrano de Bergerac. I suspect Cyrano became so adept because of the big nose, and the inevitable abuse that comes with such physical shortcomings. Nothing quite shuts a rampant and abusive mouth like a good beat down, or in Cyrano’s case, a stabbing with a sword. I’m too squeamish to stab people, although in addition to dueling, I like the idea of people walking around with swords again. They’re great accessories, and all the men out there with less than average penis’ could compensate with big swords on their belt as opposed to big monster trucks or muscle cars. Think of how much more polite those Neanderthal nightclub bouncers would be if all the lounge lizards were packing nice, shiny swords. It could totally even the odds for little or fat guys. They would practice their swordsmanship instead of wearing shoes with lifts or going to the gym. Also medicine has come a long way since the last time people carried swords around. We have antibiotics, blood transfusions and emergency rooms now.
Women could carry swords too. This might put an end to, or at least limit unwanted commentary from strange men on the street. That REALLY appeals to me.
             “Hey Baby…Hey Mama….(kissing noises)
              SLICE, STAB, GOUGE
             “G’night boys”
As much as I like swords and would love to see a comeback, I really don’t understand the dueling pistols thing. That is just dense, in my opinion. Who came up with this concept? And what’s worse, who heard the idea of dueling with pistols at 5 or 10 paces and thought “Hmmm  good idea!”
“OK, here’s what we’re going to do… Were going to get one shot pistols and stand back to back. Then we’re going to walk 5 paces each, turn and fire the guns at each other. Any questions?
“Um yeah, what’s a ‘pace’?”
“It’s like a step.”
“Then why didn’t you just say ‘5 steps’?”
“Never mind.”
“That doesn’t seem like a very long distance, what if we both get shot?”
“What are you, some kind of pussy?”
(SMACK) ” I demand satisfaction.”
“You’re on, asshole! So, are we clear?  Five paces, turn and fire.”
“Damn right! Wait . . .what’s a ‘pace’ again?”
  1. kitchenmudge says:

    Howdy. Just happened across this, and maybe I can clear up some things:

    (1) Fencing takes a lot of strength in both arms & legs. Ask a fencer. It also helps to be skinny (narrow target) and tall (long reach). People would not be equalized by it.

    (2) When dueling was in fashion, so were brazen class distinctions. Duels were fought only between equals. Nobles could always just beat up & rape peasants with impunity. Scratch that. I guess anyone who’s rich enough can buy his way out of legal system today too, but it was more ordinary then.

    (3) A typical “pace” might be about two and a half feet. Ten paces would be about 25 feet. If you can hit a skinny person with a good, modern pistol at 20 feet on the first try, you’ve been practicing. Those older pistols were much less reliable in several ways.

    Entertaining post, anyway.

    • (1) It was meant to be funny
      (2) It was meant to be funny and in no way serious.
      (3) Were you unaware it was meant to be funny and not serious?

      Strangely educational comment despite a complete lack of understanding of its context anyway

      I DEMAND cyber satisfaction!! How about WE duel…Chainsaws at dawn?

      • kitchenmudge says:

        Hope my Spock-like comment didn’t spoil it for anybody. If there was a point, i guess it’s that “funny” could be much enhanced by “plausible”.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s