Tonight’s vignette into mendacity is provided by Art of Swords, or rather, the man they interviewed here. John Farthing is the current Deputy Director of the ARMA. I’ve heard he’s slated to be replaced next month by an android programmed to be utterly devoid of free or original thought, as well as bereft of any vestige of personality, but for now he’ll do for Clements. He’s a self-confessed violent obsessive (See! I can play with context too, Herr Direktor), and he has some very interesting things to say.
The most interesting thing for me also happens to be the first thing to fly from his mouth:
“…I’m John, Deputy Director at Association for Renaissance Martial Arts, just a guy who is obsessed with understanding exactly how my Pan-European forebearers fought and trained to fight during the Mediæval and Renaissance periods. ”
I have three things to say about this: 1, we were, of course, the first to use the phrase “pan-European.” 2, he’s using it in a manner that smacks – rather unpleasantly – of things like “Pan-Africanism” (a nationalist ideology riddled with fascist concepts and undertones of racism). I don’t know if this is intentional, so I won’t mind read. However, his ancestors weren’t pan-European, because nobody’s ancestors were. Hell, I’m English, French, Italian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and even a little bit Anglo-Irish and I’m not pan-European. It’s the context he puts it in that is slightly off-putting. 3, it’s very clear that Clements and company are attempting to retroactively appropriate the pan-European Theory (while simultaneously and epically failing to understand the very thing they’re trying to appropriate).
You see, medieval and Renaissance Europe was simply the Art’s theater of action, or milieu. The feudal warrior class – the knights and men-at-arms – were the mechanism. Now, knighthood and the military paradigm of medieval Western Christendom were European phenomena (and certainly pan-European in scope), but had history gone differently, then not necessarily so. The way Farthing uses “pan-European” here is like describing a car merely in terms of its shell, omitting the chassis and engine entirely.
There have been some that have erroneously compared our position on the pan-European Theory to that of Clements’ position (and, by necessity, that of Clements’ acolytes). But this is false, and I resent and disavow, in the strongest possible terms, such false comparisons. Clements, et al, never developed any notion similar to our (meaning Benjamin “Casper” Bradak and myself) thesis beyond “It was pretty much all the same stuff.” They never put forth supporting arguments or analysis. Moreover, there was always a seedy underlayer of cultural hegemony to it that left even yours truly a little uncomfortable.
As for the descriptor “pan-European,” well, they can have it. I don’t want it anymore. As I argued here, pan-feudal is more accurate, anyway. I will no longer refer to our thesis as “pan-European,” because that’s just incidental. It’s not terribly intrinsic or even really important. If an identical class of warrior aristocrats and their military retainers – identically armed and accoutered; bound by identical oaths of homage, culture, and social contracts; employing the same methods of war, duel, and methods of instruction for such; and pitted against identical conditions, obstacles and opponents as their real-life historical European counterparts – had existed across the mystical island of Atlantis in some parallel univserse, then it would have been pan-Atlantean. Therefore, the terms I now prefer are either Greater Art Theory (GAT) or Core Art Theory (CAT). Either will do, really. Now, let’s hear the current Mouth of Sauron talk about his pan-feudal ancestors and just how very feudal…and stuff…they were.