Archive for August 2004

Les Aviateurs


A determined early French aviator. This is a postcard I bought at the Porte de Vanves flea-market in Paris a few months ago. I’ve no idea who he was, as the bottom of the postcard has been trimmed, for some reason.

You can see more like him at Pioneer Aviators – men such as Edmond Audemars and Georges Legagneux; and still others at the Foreign Pioneer Flyers pages at the Early Birds of Aviation.

This image:


is from Resfortuna.

And this:


from La Belle Époque Des Aviateurs Dijonnais. Hanriot, who flew in the skies above Dijon for a prize-winning 21 minutes and 25 seconds in September 1910, was only 16.

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Written by Dave Lovely

August 31, 2004 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Come over here and say that

Ramage is in pugnacious mood still, ready to stand up to Messrs. Thurlow and Nothling, especially if he could perhaps borrow Nothung off Siegfried for a bit. Then again, he doesn’t look the lending type, does he? Oh well, Nothling ventured, Nothung gained, I suppose…

still from Fritz Lang’s Die Nibelungen, 1923-1924

Perhaps a waster, which is what a xyloxiphe is, a wooden practice sword, would be a more appropriate weapon to use against such pasteboard bugaboos as the Giant Licorice Cricketers. Arma has a fascinating essay on these wooden wafters, full of all kinds of lore and arcana:

“The waster might also be known as a bastinado, bavin, or even a baton, and in England a cudgel or wiffle or whiffle.”

“A tradition of stickfighting in Russia is known as Shtyk and uses a 5-foot stick called the polka.”

Then there’s the ardently armigerous Sir John Reresby to contend with. I reckon he’d fancy a bit of H. M. Thurlow, anytime.

“From an early age Sir John found himself prone to quarrels, being “too apt to take notice of any carriage or word that looked like a disrespect”

While we’re on the subject of duelling, famous historical duels have included the Duel des Mignons, and the judicial combat between Jarnac and La Châtaigneraie of 1547, which gave the world the celebrated Coup de Jarnac.

Not wishing to leave the ladies out of the fray – they’re a belligerent lot, anyway, so I don’t think Ramage could have held them off for long – let us turn to the rich topic of female single combat, as revealed by Female Single Combat Club. Some of the material here hovers on the verges of the titillating, incidentally, but never mind…

fist fighter

Old time female combatants.


Female wrestlers and strongwomen, such as Ada Ash, or the Junoesque Miss Vulcana.

Not to mention Revolutionary Fist-Wrestling.

They may not have such uncompromisingly revolutionary feats to their credit, but masculine developments in phsical culture have not lagged far behind. One has only to mention the name Eugen Sandow to hark back to a Golden Age of Iron Men, men such as Louis Cyr or the Mighty Young Apollon, or Alexander Zass, the Amazing Samson.

These truly were the Mighty Men of Old.

Then there’s the world of Indian bodybuilding.


Some helpful pointers may be found in early manuals of physical culture.

Detail of book cover

Come on then, have a go, if you think you’re hard enough.

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Written by Dave Lovely

August 30, 2004 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

En garde!

Have at you, sirrah! (or madame – Ramage is nothing if not an equal-opportunity cut-and-thruster). First some words from George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defense of 1598, found, along with much else of a like kind, at the exemplary site of Arma – The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts, where images and texts from a great many historical fencing manuals are online.

Truth is ancient though it seems an upstart. Our forefathers were wise, though our age accounts them foolish, valiant though we repute them cowards. They found out the true defences for their bodies in short weapons by their wisdom, they defended themselves and subdued their enemies, and those weapons with their valor. And (Right Honorable) if we have this true defence, we must seek it where is is, in short swords, short staves, the half pike, partisans, glaives, or such like weapons of perfect lengths, not in long swords, long rapiers, nor frog pricking poniards.

Next, some contenders for the Top Ten Swashbuckling Films – including “The Duellists”, and “Scaramouche”, which apparently features the longest on-screen duel ever. By way of tribute to such men as Henry Uyttenhove, Fred Cavens, Jean Heremans, and Ralph Faulkner, oldtime Hollywood fencing masters.

Still from The Prisoner of Zenda

There’s more to this than just blokes swishing swords about, you know…there is, for instance, the arcane Spanish art of La Destreza, “misrepresented by fencing scholars for the past one hundred years as an ineffectual and artificial system of swordsmanship full of absurdities”. Not so, however, according to one Maestro Ramón Martínez. The belief of masters of of the Spanish School, such as Carranza and Luis Pacheco de Narvaez, was that science, being irrefutable, can and must be applied to swordsmanship.


Geometry was used to train the swordsman to think logically, methodically, and unemotionally. It enabled the swordsman to develop a coolness and detachment necessary for the implementation of this scientific method.


All fighting takes place within an imaginary circle on the ground…[this] imaginary circle moves with the swordsmen as they engage in combat.


The difficulty in understanding La Destreza is that it is a complete system with many levels. It encompasses Science, Art, Experience, Philosophy and Spirituality. These crucial elements can not be viewed out of context, otherwise the entire essence of La Destreza will be lost. The mind set, character, culture, religious, philosophical, and political aspects from which La Destreza emerged must be taken into account. La Destreza is the equal of any of the sophisticated oriental martial arts (along with their socio-cultural aspects) that occidentals have embraced with such awe and reverence. The two main aspects of La Destreza, geometry and philosophy, produce a unique and vastly different manner of thinking creating a cold, calculating swordsman.

Postscript: The épée was electrified at the 1936 Olympic Games.

Supplement: a French dictionary of fencing terms, from, approximately, alfange and Artagnan (Charles de Batz, comte de Montesquiou, seigneur d’), to xyloxiphe and yatagan.

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Written by Dave Lovely

August 29, 2004 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Where are you, Ramage?

O. Nothling

My punishment for not posting so often these days is clearly to be endlessly pursued by a Giant Licorice Cricketer whose name, once I had carelessly assumed it to be “O. Nothing”, I now cannot read as anything else, despite there being a somewhat mollifying “L” in there to lessen his awful vacuity. I actually find H. M. Thurlow to be rather more disturbing, anyway, so I’m glad he’s not….aieee!

H. M.Thurlow

I blame boynton for this.

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Written by Dave Lovely

August 23, 2004 at 10:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Where I’ve been all this time

The calendar of the College of ‘Pataphysics – yesterday was the feast day of Ste. Andouille the Amphibologue, today that of Ste. Bitre the Usherette and Ste. Etalou the Roofer, while tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Morsang…Sensei’s Library, a wiki “about and around” the game of Go, which introduces one to such terms and concepts as myoshu and aji, literally, “taste”, a move’s lingering potentialities or savour. An example of myoshu might be the famous “ear-reddening move” made in July 1846 by the 17-year-old tyro Shusaku against the veteran master Gennan Inseki. Legends are made of such transitory influxes…the old Latin Bible, the Vulgate, translated by St. Jerome between 382 and 405 AD, which people would have heard every time they went to church, although the vast majority of them would not have understood a single word:

aquae multae non poterunt extinguere caritatem

The Song of Songs, ch. 8, v. 7.

– Another great noseless scientist to add to your collection, alongside Tycho Brahe: Gaston Maurice Julia, an important preccursor of chaos theory.

photo of G. M. Julia

Related, the amazing, admirable, but (unless you’re a mathematician) incomprehensible Bourbaki group of mathematicians, who virtually reinvented the whole discipline in France after the First World War, and who had to withdraw from serous consideration once they reached the age of 50, to give way to the younger generation in their radical endeavour.

Not related in any way whatsoever, “Canadian Cities of Romance”, a somewhat highflown work of travel literature from the 1920s, from which I quote you this peerless gem of purple prose:

From the Château Frontenac, set in a great open space below the Citadel and commanding the St. Lawrence, Levis, and the Laurentians beyond, one glimpses a life altogether Canadian, in the far early sense. The low French sleighs, piled with fur rugs; the driver in his coonskin coat, belted with a gay woollen scarf, standing erect as he drives; nuns in their black robes; friars in dull brown, with careful galoches over what we know are sandalled feet; children, many of them in the gay blanket tobogganing-suits that passed out of existence in other provinces decades since, sailing down and climbing up the slides; all these figures are apt to appear and disappear as you stand by your window and watch the ice blocks pass on the wintry river, silent and inevitable as Fate.

This concerns the city of Quebec, which I have never visited.

Now, I ask you, who can make sense of all of this? And you wonder why I don’t post so often these days…

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Written by Dave Lovely

August 23, 2004 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


I have, incidentally, discovered, since  my previous post relating to cudbear, and thanks to the erudite observations of an excellent gentleman known as, um, Nexus – Harbinger of Apocalypse, that crottles have also a meaning wholly other than anything lichen-related in any way.

Accordinng to  his post at Figma.com – From the Desk of Mort Walker, where one might also learn of:

Whiteope, Sphericasia, Agitron, That-a-tron, Swaloop, Squeans, Spurl, …, Plewds, Emanata, Waftarom, Indotherm, Vites, Dites, Hites, Briffits, Solrads, Farkles, Jarns, Quimps, ….

etc., etc., "crottles" are in fact, none other than "the Xs used to replace the eyes of an unconscious figure, often indicating death".  We are, of course, talking about the jargon of comics, or comicana, about which there is, apparently, a book – The Lexicon of Comicana.

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Written by Dave Lovely

August 16, 2004 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


ochrolechia tartarea

Preparation of cudbear, a patent

NOW KNOW YEE, that we, the said George Gordon and Cuthbert Gordon, in compliance with the terms of the said proviso, do hereby describe and ascertain the nature of our said Invention, and in what manner the same is to be performed, as follows (that is to say):

The name of the first ingredient, of which the same is composed, is lichen, being a vegetable that grows on rocks or very large stones. The name of the second ingredient is muscus rupibus admiscens, or coroloides, being a weed, plant, or vegetable that mostly grows on shattered rocks or very large stones where it can have a small portion of earth. The name of the third ingredient is muscus pyxidatus, being a weed, plant, or vegetable that grows in low, moorish, turfy grounds. When these three ingredients are gathered, cleanse them from all their filth by laying them severally in cold water, changing the water daily so long as any filth remains about them; then dry and pound them in a mortar, and dilute them with spirit of urine and spirit of soot, to which add quick lime; digest them together for fourteen days, and they will produce the cudbear fitt for dyers’ use; a more solid kind of which may be obtained by continued digestion of the several ingredients for fourteen days more, when it will grow into a paste, and harden like indigo.

In witness whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals, the Twenty-sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-eight.

Extracted from a site detailing the manufacture of purple dyestuffs from lichen. You may be, as I was, relieved to hear that “by the mid-nineteenth century, the orchil and cudbear industries were indistinguishable”.

But, however, that is to say, they do things differently in Mexico. None of this messing about with lichen and urine and soot. Just squeezing snails.

Squier describes the process in Nicaragua in 1852 …

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Written by Dave Lovely

August 15, 2004 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized