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Re: [medievalsawdust] Achievable periodness?

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  • James Winkler
    Good question Conal... let me try to give you my version of a good answer... ... Both of these questions deal with personal philosophy, human psychology,
    Message 1 of 49 , Mar 1, 2004
      Good question Conal...  let me try to give you my version of a good answer...
      >> We still get little respect from other re-enactor groups. We aren't period enough to be taken seriously
      Because of that, do we have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously? Are our standards reasonable?
      >> How good is good enough?
      Both of these questions deal with personal philosophy, human psychology, individual objectives and other individual choices that are as difficult to address as "Why do you focus on wood working rather than auto mechanics?" or "Why do some people thrive on competitive behaviors and others prefer to follow and not lead at all?"
      Respect is a slippery little devil.  At one point in your letter you stated, "The SCA's strength comes from the
      fact that we have a wide standard that is acceptable."  That is true... as far as it goes.  The next version of this that we've often heard is to take it to the next level (... and thereby go astray)...  "The SCA's strength is our acceptance of a wide variety of things."  The problem is... we AREN'T accepting.  We're tolerant...  and that's a whole different thing. Accepting a wider variety of things is a strength to the SCA only because the SCA is a primarily a social society (... or 'alternate lifestyle' as some scary people have said) and a characteristic of these types of societies is a to be broadly accepting.
      The problem is the goals and purposes for which any of us do anything.  The SCA, while it has pockets of people who share common interest in research, experimental archaeology and a artistic endeavor, is not all that deep in these areas.  Most people who play in the SCA have an interest in playing a role... not in understanding the underlying 'WHY' in the questions they ask... not in understanding or experiencing a true historic connection to the past... not in 'reliving' history... but in playing at it... 'having their cake and eating it too'...  social acceptance (or social dominance) is much more of a driving element in the SCA than research and recreation.  We tend not to WANT to take our arts to too great a level of development because its:
      A. - intimidating to others
      B. - hard to justify the costs in time and money of this if everybody isn't doing it
      C. - separates us and our focus from the social mainstream
      D. - tendency to get us 'type cast' and we have to cease being activity butterflies
      E. - a flag to others that they can 'get something from us' [... the 'make me this' syndrome.]
      F. - often not worth wasting this much time and money on swine who don't appreciate what you're doing
           but just want to play with the cool stuff
      Sound cold and nasty... yep.  Dare ya' to tell me it isn't true.   I tend to see the SCA more like the art world... dramatic personalities, entertaining display, good Public Relations, bright and shiny things and good packaging are coins with greater value than the coins of research, science, history and authenticity that you find in either the academic world or the focused re-enactor groups.  I'm not saying this is 'bad' per se... but, in the context of your question it is highly important.  Re-enactor groups and academia have the binding element of common cause.  A Klingon walking into either a rev-war group or the SCA is gonna' get rude treatment...  but take somebody wearing half-assed garb... they're good in the SCA...  half-assed garb in a rev-war group... you're hosed.  It’s a matter of where the bar is and what it is YOU personally are seeking vs. what the group you're seeking it in is willing to tolerate.  We have a VERY low bar... as such...  we have a high tolerance level to achieve 'acceptability'...  but it should be noted that 'acceptable' and 'admirable' are have to totally different meanings.

      >> What happened to the Creative part?
      Its there... but don't get hung up on one definition.  Most tend to define 'creative' in terms of being 'imaginative'.  But creative can also be artistically sophisticated, problem solving, etc.  There are a lot of aspects to being 'creative'.  How you feel the concept of SCA Creativity is being met is going to greatly depend on how you define creativity and what subset of its attributes you value most.  ... and one of the thing that happened (in my opinion) to the 'creativity in the SCA'... is the rise of the merchant class.  ... of course, this is historically accurate in many ways... so, maybe I don't have any complaint here...
      >> Is a handmade bone needle more impressive than an Elizabethan dress sewn on a modern machine
      >> machine with fabric purchased at Hancock Fabric?
      ... again... (and again)... depends on how you define 'impressive' and who you're asking... or, to put it another way... are you asking this question from the perspective of a SCAdian... or from the perspective of a 'rev-war' re-enactor? 
      The fun of the SCA is that each of us has the ability to walk through our Wal-Mart society and look at all it has to offer and sample stuff at a relatively low cost... or just look around and go... "That's cool... that's stupid...  what were they thinkin'... etc.".   What we have to be aware of is that we're also 'products' in the same store... and while we're walking around looking at the pet supplies and making our comments... the pet supplies are looking at us and making the same range of comments. 
      Some wise old dead guy once said, "Know thyself."   Best answer to the unasked question I've ever heard...
    • Dragano Abbruciati
      Wow! The original of that conversation string goes WAY back. *counts on fingers* Eight months or so!!!!! Dragano rmhowe wrote: ...
      Message 49 of 49 , Oct 13, 2004
        Wow!  The original of that conversation string goes WAY back.  *counts on fingers*  Eight months or so!!!!!

        rmhowe <MMagnusM@...> wrote:
        James Winkler wrote:
        > Parameters are funny things... kinda' like dogs.  Most mutts are easy
        > goin' and just wanna' be scratched and petted now and then...  Some like
        > to be rough-housed around with...  some like to sit on the front porch
        > and growl at everything that walks by.  So you'll find the range of
        > opinions and attitudes in the SCA.  Most are pretty tolerant and easy
        > going... there are some who seem to have socialization problems of one
        > sort or another and anybody can have a bad day.

        > If it folks or dogs growl... give em' room.
        > If folks or dogs wanna' play... they'll play.  If not... they won't....
        > If folks or dogs act up... smack em' with a newspaper... or a chunk of
        > rattan if they're in armor...

        I find that the simple truth is always the best defense myself.
        Sometimes there are differing ideas of what the truth is but I
        generally have found that simply repeating what comes out of
        some peoples' mouths in front of them is usually what it takes
        to rein them in when it becomes necessary under the right circumstances.

        > Bottom line... all depends on which pack of dogs ya' decide to run with
        > as to what you're SCA experience will be like...  welcome to the new
        > middle ages.

        98% of the SCA are very nice folks.
        The other two percent usually have some serious problems.
        And honestly, those we don't discourage can become really
        obnoxious at times. My personal pet peeve is the honorary
        peerage, which isn't one of the three the SCA officially
        recognizes but some of whom are determined to prove how
        much better they are than anyone else and bask in their
        personal glory. Which rattles my personal chain from time to time.
        This is a much lower % than the general population however.
        And honestly, around here at least, if they aren't sitting
        the throne they tend to be largely ignored.

        As I have grown older I have become much more specific about
        the kinds of folks I want to associate with. This generally
        excludes the social climbers, problem peers with exalted attitudes
        about how much better they and their opinions are than anyone
        else's, those who take unfair or dishonest advantage of
        kindnesses shown to them, etc.

        I suppose it's the egalitarian in me. I don't believe anyone
        is better than anyone else. However, I seriously believe that
        some people can show themselves beneath many other people.
        Depends on the attitude.

        > Woof...
        > Three Finger Charlie

        >     Thank you all for your replies.  I was just trying to get a feel for
        >     the parameters within which I would feel comfortable engaging with
        >     other SCA members.  I will be attending my first event on March 13th
        >     (The Winter's End Collegium and Competition in Huntsville, AL).
        >     Shoes and headgear be damned....let the fun begin!

        The SCA isn't anything worth sweating blood over for your first event.
        I have never heard of famous rudenesses in Meridies as I have several
        other kingdoms I won't name. But three of seventeen or so really isn't
        that bad as a whole for the SCA. I shouldn't wait six months to attend
        your first event. The SCA is however probably the most inclusive
        group you may ever join. Some may very well become your friends
        for most of your remaining life if you aren't careful.

        Ask who the Chatelaine is who controls the Golden
        Key (Garb hoard) in your area. It's their job to help you integrate
        and feel comfortable among us. It does help to tell people you are
        new and introduce yourself. The reason is there are so MANY people
        in the SCA and they are so busy with their own projects, activities
        and old friends they may very well think you have your own already
        and simply don't know you because they think you're from another area.
        This is where many newcomers think the SCA is ignoring them - but in the
        vast majority of times they are not being ignored at all - they won't
        know you are new and need help if you don't tell them. Walk up
        and introduce yourself. If your local officers have any sense they
        ask at events and meetings who's new.  Then they welcome them, or
        should. My very big barony has grown from circa 30 people 23 years
        ago in three cantons to around 500 in about to be six cantons and
        unaffiliated outlying areas. Heck, we don't know all of US.

        No one expects you to show up looking 100% for the first few years,
        or decades, in this particular reenactment group. The SCA began as
        a party and has continued in that tradition. The fact that certain
        members have improved things and research since then is laudable
        but by no means obligatory for new people. When you see folks
        depicting the pre-christian era at an event with people doing
        Elizabethan from maybe 2000 years later it gets a bit jarring.
        This leads to themed events and sometimes to alternate groups entirely.

        Regia Anglorum [ http://www.regia.org/ ]
        are probably the greatest sticklers for early medieval authenticity
        and refer to other groups as superficially similar societies or SSS.

        However - What was particularly hilarious to me, and I saw/read it
        happen at the time, was when Regia first began interaction with a number
        of SCA Laurels on the North American list and found out many of our SCA
        researchers were pretty much up to snuff, or possibly a bit ahead
        of theirs. So it goes. Right now it's pretty much mutual respect.
        Since the paid membership of the SCA is nearly 50 times larger than
        Regia's it also figures we have a larger number of serious researchers.
        They just happened to attract some of the ones interested in their
        time period right at first. Funny was what it was. Really. Then again
        the SCA has been around nearly twice as long as Regia has too.

        I'm a paid member of both groups myself.

        It's not who you are, or who you think you are, but what you learn
        and share and do with others. Everyone shares, everyone wins - with the
        simple disclaimer that there are always 'edicated idiots' out there
        who must be sifted out in their diverse opinions.  You don't want
        to be taking advice about using chemicals from someone who is not a
        chemist for example. They could advise you to harm yourself.

        Magnus, OL, SCA / Regia / Manx / Great Dark Horde

        >     Dragano

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