About Angel Swords -- Do they make me believe in magic?
I've had a number of thoughts about Angel Swords -- especially as they make claims similar to hundreds of others on the web. In the end, I concluded that they were not any different from any of the other "magical" sites -- and, I specifically do not claim to have the expertise to judge any claims of magic or majic.
For an interesting link on that topic, see http://www.chaosmatrix.com/frames.html?dreamblade
FIRST: Do I believe in magical forging secrets? Obviously not from what I've seen or held in my hands. Do they exist -- it is possible.
SECOND: If you believe in magic, do I think I can evaluate the benefits magic gives you? No.
Those things said, the following are my reflections about the very public (and somewhat famous) Angel Swords affair involving Daniel Watson and Ruel. My comments are in red italics. I have preserved spelling and grammar errors rather than edit or change the posts. This article is provided purely because of the historical interest that the conflict had. There is nothing else to recommend it.
RUEL, IN HIS OWN WORDS
OK, here are some of the main sticking points I discussed with Daniel Watson;
I hope this will absorb most of the fire (much of which was started by me)
directed against Angel Sword, so that we can make an objective appraisal
of his answers. Remember that he has just completed the `99 season at our
local Fair, and ought to be given some time to rest before addressing the
question list presented to him last week.
I emphasized to him that alot of the trouble stems from him not engaging
people who have questions or complaints, because it makes it appear that
he is ignoring them or has something to hide.
(No kidding. From George Bush to George Washington, that has been a real problem everyone faces and learns from -- don't answer loaded questions).
I have encouraged him to be visible anyway, as it lets people know that he
is aware of and concerned about our questions; truth and honesty will reveal
themselves in spite of whatever shortcomings in eloquence may be present.
According to him, the difference between Living Steel and swords made by other smiths stems from the fact that his forge is constructed in a radically different fashion from normal forges. This construction allows for superior carburization. I lack the technical knowledge to evaluate such a claim, so I will defer this to Daniel's own answer later.
However, this is one reason why he insists on people coming to visit his forge; he has trouble explaining it, but feels more comfortable demonstrating his technique. I had always thought that he made this insistence solely to impose a costly condition on people wanting a refund, to discourage them, but apparently this was not the case.
3. "MASTER" DANIEL
He told me that this title is more in regard to his being a full lineage
holder of Yang T'ai Chi Ch'uan. As for "Master SWORDSMITH," he said that
the tradition he trained in, which includes the strange forge setup, is so
different from the norm that it doesn't receive recognition from the established
smithing community. Again, we will have to defer this question to Daniel
Daniel went to live in Mexico for three years, where he taught Chinese martial
arts. In that time he began his forging career. He returned to Texas to continue
the forge, bringing several Mexican apprentices with him. Later there was
a falling out, with the apprentices absconding with several of Daniel's molds
and returning to Mexico to begin their own homonymous company.
It is apparent to me that his concept of "energy" contained in Living Steel is derived from the Chinese concept of Chi. Listening to him, I can tell that he sincerely believes that his blades have this power. Magic was not a factor in my original purchase, and I have always been extremely skeptical of any kind of supernatural claims. But as ever, I would welcome the opportunity to test such claims by controlled scientific experiment. (I would really like to do such testing myself, as I have some experience with experimental design and data analysis.)
We have all heard the personal testimonies of several Angel Sword owners supporting the alleged existence of this energy. I also have some experience in sensation-perception psychology, and, if these people were willing, would like to compile their testimonies and review their responses within the framework of cognitive psych, using meta-analysis of case studies and questionnaires.
(One more site claiming to sell magic swords. Check
with your local authority -- I'm the wrong person to ask -- and you need
someone you trust to give you perspective.)
Daniel says that this is part of the received tradition passed down by his master, whom he said could list all the names in the lineage (Daniel himself did not memorize the lineage). This would be fascinating if true, and one way to evaluate this claim would be to compare the construction of an Angel Sword to historical examples of Knights Templar swords contained in museums and armories in Europe. Of course, many strings would have to be pulled to get said institutions to allow such scrutiny of their pieces...
(Point Seven is missing in Ruel's own writing. Ruel recently let me know that was a typo on his part. The heading for eight is also missing. Nothing was clipped.)
Myself, I am hoping (and I said so to Daniel) that he will engage the
sword-buying public with solid and reliable information about the physical
aspects of his work, and abandon the subjective, "magical" aspect that his
promotional literature (and his client-advocates) have relied so heavily
on. Even if he honestly believes in the existence of this "magic", it gives
the unintended impression that he is substituting simple, metallurgical fact
with mystical oohs and aahs.
Ok, that was what Ruel had to say after it was all over.
The next is the text of an interview. Quoted exactly as posted to the web, with Watson in Blue, the author's writing in black.
How in the HELL do you answer that? I am also reminded of a Lyndon Johnson story which I hope one of my friends will be kind enough to post, since he tells it better than me.
(No kidding. From George Bush to George Washington,
that has been a real problem everyone faces and learns from -- don't answer
loaded questions. Hmm, I said that before, but it bears repeating in
case you find yourself in the same situation. If someone is refusing to answer
loaded questions, all you can tell is that they have some good
I had originally planned to interview Watson myself, for a conclusion to this article, and to include hundreds of more words of postings and comments.
I had "miles" of posts, enough material to choke three men and a boy and ... the bottom line was that there wasn't anything unique or special about the story, the swords or the resolution (Ruel got his money back and a replacement sword and seems to be content. I saw nothing in the sword that I handled and took pictures of that caused me to want to own one or to recommend the web site or the swords).
Do I believe in magic? Not with swords. Does it make $50.00 wall hangers into thousand dollar magical implements? (And no, this is not a specific comment on Angel Swords, but rather on "magical" swords in general. I have it on an authority that I trust that some Angel Swords are excellent swords -- magic or no magic). How should I know -- except to note I would not pay the difference from what I saw. Is there anything that makes Angel Swords different or unique among those who claim to be producing magical swords -- not that I can tell -- other than the fact that some of them are good swords. Many "magic swords" are not good swords. In the end, I could not find any magic and I could not find a story worth the telling. I've provided this summary only because of the massive amount of bandwidth the Ruel/Angel Swords issue took up, once upon a time. For historical purposes, something needed to be said for those who wonder how the story ended.
No disrespect intended or appropriate towards anyone.
BTW, my recommendations are at http://adrr.com/sword/ and they don't have anything to do with magic, strange histories, the ABS or anything else but swords. (I know the ABS is a large organization that I am completely unqualified to comment on and I also know that there are losts of other things I am completely unqualified to comment on. That is a good note to end this article with -- that there are many things I am completely unqualified to comment on).