September 22nd, 2005
Swords of Honor
Last evening, the general membership of the Philolexian Society, Columbia University’s student organization dedicated to improving the rhetorical skills and literary awareness of its members, voted to name the Generation 2 Maximilian Sword and Matching Dagger as the official broadsword and accessory of the society. We make this designation in recognition of the outstanding contributions to world literature made by the producers of and supporters of products such as this fine weapon. This beautiful sword and dagger with central fullers is not only great to look at but also great to hold.
The sheer history that this sword carries with it signifies much of for what our fair society stands. Just as the Emperor Maximilian of the Holy Roman Empire was beset upon by the gaudy and impertinent French forces of King Louis XI and yet never gave up the true and just cause of defending the Netherlands from tyranny, so is the Philolexian Society of Columbia University ever vigilant in the defense of our divine and venerated values from external and profane attacks. In addition, we, too, have embroiled ourselves in the ancient and illustrious art of warfare. Our storied contention with the Whig-Clios of Princeton University is a harrowing tale of glory and honor. If, heaven forefend, we are ever again forced onto the blood soaked field of battle, we would be honored and proud to carry the Maximilan (and its accompanying dagger, of course) into our holy crusade. Such a striking image is painted, when it is told of the Emperor Maximilian “fighting on foot in their midst.” The heroism present is so palpable; who would not want to emulate the modesty it took for God’s own emperor to fight with the likes of the Flemish!
One may ask why a society as sophisticated and cultured as the Philolexians would choose to honor a broadsword with the appellation of “Official Sword of the Society” and not a more staid and sporty blade such as the rapier or epée. While we are indeed a society with valid and established claims in the world of the belles lettres, we, too, recognize the importance and effectuality of going straight for the gut. To us, your fine blade represents the emotional and visceral power of the written word that we love so very, very much. As it says in your literature, “By the close of the Middle Ages, swords increasingly are stouter and more sharply pointed, being optimized for the thrust.” The effectiveness of the thrust is not lost on us, no matter how cultured or refined we may be (and we are). Whether it is found in the sweeping sentimentalism of John Donne or the ecstatic melodrama of our very own Allen Ginsburg, the undercurrent of passion simmers beneath each black letter of text.
“The development of an amazingly wide diversity of hilt forms characterizes the European Renaissance, but in the Age of Enlightenment, the role of the sword as a personal weapon in most of Europe ends with the nasty foppish decadence of the small sword.” Ah, what tragedy! We are all too intimate with the feeling of struggling valiantly against the pitiless progress of the epochs. We raise our standard high, proclaiming the primacy of the written word in an age of such sloppy conveniences as “computing machines,” the webbernet, and other such fancy doodads. As such, we sympathize with your plight of being simply in an age that does not understand you and support your use of precious resources in the production of obsolete and ornate weaponry.
Enough with all these high falutin’ ideals! Swords such as the Generation 2 Maximilian and the inbred uneducated grunts who wielded them have made some of the most entertaining and sensational literature in world history. After all, who does not thrill to the romanticized and hopefully inaccurate Disney rendering of the ancient Arthurian myth? Remember the part when he uses the sword? Man, that was hilarious. After all, without such swashbuckling tales involving sharp pointy pieces of metal, we most definitely would not have developed such instances of high culture as A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, Black Knight, and Dragon Heart 1 and 2. Oh yeah, and there were swords in Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Good stuff.
I have been charged with the duty of informing you of this distinction, which we hope you will deem an honor. Though the Philolexian Society, established in 1802, is Columbia’s oldest student organization, and one of the oldest literary societies in the country, it has never before seen fit to name an official broadsword. The undeniable kindred spirit between your company and our society, manifest in the Generation 2 Maximilan and Matching Dagger, drove us to break all precedent in this case. We hope that it will also facilitate friendly contact between us in the future. I thank you for your patience and wish you a pleasant spring.