Entries in honour (1)


Sir Lovesalot, or, the rise of conspicuous honour



With his horse, Coeur-de-Lion, the French-Canadian Vincent Gabriel Kirouac is spending the summer dressed as a knight. Why?

“I’m crossing Canada on horseback dressed as a knight, to remind people of the values of long ago, such as devotion,” he said.

“All the values of the knight.”

The ancient code of chivalry is an interesting list of virtues, a mix of the anachronistic ("serve the liege lord in valour and faith"), the mildly sexist ("To respect the honour of women"), the ridiculously noble ("To despise pecuniary reward"), and the wonderfully sublime ("To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun"). For the most part, it is completely incomprensible to the modern mind. 

When I give my authenticity spiel, at some point some one usually asks where I think the culture is going next. So we had conspicuous leisure, then conspicuous consumption, the conspicuous rebellion, then conspicuous authentiticy. What next? I usually try to weasel out of a serious answer ("Just like the present, but moreso" is my usualy reply). Or I suggest that if I really knew, I'd be investing in that thing and would soon be rich. 

But if I had to bet, I'd say we are headed for a fairly reactionary period. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Neo-Victorian movement, for example, where a return to 19th century values amplifies the already-huge steampunk culture. The hipster-Christian trend is part of that, I think.

But perhaps something else is afoot: a return to pre-modern attitudes towards chivalry, honour, and loyalty, fed by the twin streams of relentless cultural nostalgia (and its obverse, irony) and the growing crisis of masculinity. I would put the Trudeau-Brazeau fight (and the remarkably complex set of responses to it) in this trend. 

And then there is Vincent Gabriel Kirouac, knight-errant. If the public reaction to his -- ok I'll say it -- Quixotic journey across Canada is any indication, there's a niche here ready to be exploited. Dare we call it "conspicious honour"?