32 thoughts on “Are You a Barbarian?

  1. I’m wondering how that relates to being a barbarian, actually.

    Things I approve of:
    Letting people make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and journeys.

    Things I do not approve of:
    Interfering in others’ rights to do the same.

    Does that make me a barbarian? Certainly, sometimes I feel like that makes me *subversive*.

    • I’m wondering how that relates to being a barbarian, actually.

      Only in the sense that I prefer freedom-with-honor over strict moral rules.

      I strongly agree with your some-say-subversive views, as well.

  2. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.” – Conan the Cimmerian, in Robert E. Howard’s “Queen of the Black Coast”

    • I don’t think one could sum up the core philosophy of the Heroic Life better than this comment…. from a fictional pulp antihero. Hmm.

      Gonna call it a win.

      Great quote, Faoladh. Thank you.

      • Robert E. Howard’s legacy has been tainted by two things: his racism (a common failing of the time, even among other, recognized writers) and, sadly, the works of others. People who only know Conan through comics, the posthumous “collaborations” with L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, or the movies which use the name do not know the writings of Howard. He was a smarter man, and a better writer, than many seem to think. I highly recommend his Conan stories, which have recently been collected and made available in three volumes, if nothing else (and I also recommend his other stories).

    • I like the cut of your jib, Sir! My favorite quote of REH was from ‘Rogues in the House’:

      “If that’s true, then answer this priest, why are we in these pits, hiding from some animal?” Conan asked “Someday, when all your civilization and science are likewise swept away, your kind will pray for a man with a sword.”

      • What I love about this quote is the fallacy: the “why are we in the pits?” line is essentially the Argument from Evil, which is the weakest philosophic argument against the existence (or goodness) of deities.

        BUT… while I recognize it’s a weak objection, since I essentially believe it doesn’t matter whether those things exist or not, I still appreciate the spirit behind it. Thanks for sharing that Aaron.

  3. Being a hopeless romantic, I have preferred to deeply care about those I have had sex with in my life. I do believe that people should do what works for them in their personal lives, as long as they are not hurting others. I haven’t done recreational drugs in over thirty years. I am proud to say I did experiment with mind altering substances for several years in my youth , and managed to survive that and even learned a few things about myself in the process. However, I never did highly addictive drugs, and still managed to hold down a job , go to school, and take excellent care of my three kids. I broke alot of rules that needed breaking in the 60’s and the 70’s, after all there was a war to protest, and women’s rights to fight for, and I ran as fast and as far as I could to escape the boring life my parents had picked out for me.

  4. Oh, Lordy, Drew…! First you go and post a pic of Red Sonja — who I wanted to be when I was a girl — seriously WANTED to be to the point where I ran around hitting boys with anything I could make a sword out of (I should write about those days). Then… sheesh… don’t get me started with the whole warrior-hero-thing. It turns me into a romantic fool, or at least back into the girl I still want to be.

    However… You do realize, with all of the thing you wrote above that you approve of, all of those things DO lead to misbehavior, lack of judgement, and dishonor?

    I don’t know a man or woman alive who can stay honorable while intoxicated.

    I get very uncomfortable now when I am around the type of people who party like barbarians. It makes me sick to my stomach to see friends I know who are fine and honorable and well-adjusted sober turn into slobbering, idiotic assholes within minutes once drinks are passed around. It makes me NOT trust a damn soul. I used to hang out a lot with friends at bars because it was the only thing to do, now I don’t anymore, because it’s boring and pathetic to watch people get stupid. I don’t find it happy. When I used to dress up like a barbarian (I was part of SCA and lived for camping out doors living like a medieval wench, chasing guys with swords and drinking the mead, ah, yes!) drinking and running around half naked was the shit, but the drama…? The very people I thought were my friends whom I led that lifestyle with, well, they turned out to just be fair weather sorts. I found out it that people who consort together just to play around don’t really care and thought I didn’t care either.

    I would come back to my tent late at night to find it full of my naked friends in the middle of an orgy. How RUDE. They used MY blankets and gear! The most barbarian I got was in the morning. I didn’t get sleep, I just waited for the first couples to come out so I could lash them with my poison tongue. “MY TENT IS NOT A BROTHEL!”

    I was called “Valkyrie” a lot after that. LOL

    That whole Medieval reenactment cosplay assholy-crap lifestyle was not for me and I wasted years of my life hanging out with people whose only cares were to have a good time or to use me as an experience and then get out of dodge. The emptiness after the party’s over… it’s the worst hangover left over.

    Can you imagine if I could have challenged folks to duels? NOW that would have made my misadventures worthwhile. (but that’s just one example)

    I can honestly say, no shade, that every time someone has made a dishonorable mistake with me, alcohol or drugs was involved. Personally, I forbid it. If I’m gonna sin, I wanna be awake for it.

    A TRUE barbarian woman needs no intoxication for she is already intoxication enough. *grunts* If you disagree, it’s a good excuse as any for a fight.

    • To me that sounds more like the particular people you were with, or perhaps youth rather than alcohol as the problem.

      I know that when I was younger I would make very questionable decisions while drinking – but I also know that I often drink with good friends and total strangers alike, with no dishonor coming from any of us.

      So I regard your statement, “…all of those things DO lead to misbehavior, lack of judgement, and dishonor” as being too strong, and too sweeping.

      • Perhaps I was a bit too general with my words, Drew. I thought about it later and realized it. Not everyone who drinks socially is a total rake. However, many of the folks I hung with when I was young were much older than me! In fact there was a big mix of age differences. It was like all the big kids coming out to play. Some of the parties had elaborate themes and set ups that were truly awe inspiring, but, frankly, the only goal of it wasn’t to learn or re-enact anything, the true goal was to get drunk and have lots of sex with strangers. Not that that’s a bad thing, yet it was too much of a good thing. I was like, “Hey, moderation, please?”

        So I would say that, with moderation and good judgement before hand, one can be just and honorable. If you’re a slut, you should be open and honest about it, own it, be proud of it! I say that’s much more honorable than sneaking around and trying to hide it.

        I’m much more “refined” in my definition of being a kind of barbarian. I refer to myself as a Voluptuary; a person who sees nothing wrong with indulging in life’s delights because I believe that all acts of pleasure are sacred and we are not to be restricted from enjoying them.

        I am just very uncomfortable around the hypocrites and the people who take things to extremes where their indulgence in casual sex, drinking, and rule breaking leads to self sabotage, harm to others, and basically spoils it for all the rest of us.

  5. Drew, could you please expand on what your definition of ‘barbarian’ is? Certainly you do not equate it with being a hero?

    I drink plenty of wine and an occasional beer, not doing any drugs because alcohol is effective enough, but I do not think this makes me barbarian or a hero. The Hellenic Greeks drank plenty of wine and had plenty of casual sex, but considered this practice quite civilized.

    • Right, I don’t think being a “barbarian” (even in this sense) makes one a hero. And I use barbarian very tongue-in-cheek here. But I do think this particular sense of barbarism sums up one of the four principles of the Heroic Life, which is “ideals, not rules.” In this case, as long as one is living up to the ideal of being honorable, then engaging in these excesses and breaking rules is not really an issue.

    • To be honest, she was the better of the two best open license pics Compfight returned for the string “barbarian.” So while I know about (and love) her in the broad strokes, I wasn’t too familiar with her mythos nor did I choose her because she was a perfect fit.

  6. Rua Lupa says:

    Ooooo…. quite the post there!

    I personally have nothing against people doing those things.

    For me specifically,

    casual sex

    1) I’m married so sex is pretty casual :P
    2) I’m naturally Polyamorous, but certain conditions apply because of previous point (same gender or otherwise queer = fair game, opposite gender = potential to reproduce = not an option. Thus is what my spouse and I have agreed upon)

    social drinking

    1) Used to drink a lot, now I don’t
    2) Still won’t turn down when host offers though
    3) I’ve learned my limits and keep to them
    4) My liver thanks me for keeping the social drinking to a few times a year, that being major social events.

    recreational use of drugs

    1) I cannot smoke anything because I can get very ill (chronic bronchitis) having to struggle to breath and coughing up blood = not fun.
    2) Will eat happy brownies and the like, that’s my limit.
    3) Don’t mind of that’s not other people’s limit, but do get concerned when things get addictive.

    disregarding rules that make little sense

    1) That’s kind of on my “duh” list. (Am such a guerrilla gardener)

    The thing is, I don’t know if this makes me a Barbarian or not with the provided definition. *Shrugs*

    • 1) I’m married so sex is pretty casual :P

      Haha, this had me laughing for a while.

      I think whether someone is a barbarian is up to them. It’s a pretty self-determinationy kind of profession, eh? But the point I was making isn’t that the barbarian spirit means doing all these things (I don’t), it just means not caring about them (or similar behaviors) as long as honor is upheld.

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