Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Interview Answers

In alienor's journal, I found The Interview Meme, which is kind of neat, if more challenging than most LJ memes. She asked the following interesting questions of me; here are the answers...

1. If you could change one thing about your Laureling ceremony what would it be?

Hmm. My Laurel ceremony was pretty anticlimactic, actually. Pleasant, but the moment itself made little impression upon me.

I guess the true answer is that it would have been nice to have something particular to me about it. At the time, that would have been pretty weird -- most ceremonies were fairly cookie-cutter and simple at that point. (Even vigils for Laurels were pretty rare then.) Over the years, though, I've found that these things are more meaningful if there's some sort of appropriate customization to it, if only a little bit. (msmemory's set the tone for that opinion -- she had always said that she wanted a vigil in a drafty chapel, so her friends took it upon themselves to create the best simulacrum they could. I still don't think I've ever been to a cooler vigil.)

2. What is the best thing about being Carolingian?

There are several possible answers -- I'm a tad chauvanistic about my Barony, and don't mind bragging. The breadth and depth of the arts means I always have something new to play with; the constant influx of younger members keeps things vital; the processes and structures appeal to the process-wonk in me.

But probably the correct answer for me is, "attitude". There's a largely-unspoken consensus attitude towards the game, which I generally summarize as, "Period Is Good". Less concisely, it's a feeling that it's appropriate to be as period as you conveniently can be, but that it's up to you to define what's convenient for you. I find it the best balance point in the SCA's tension between the "fun mavens" and "authenticity police", and it leads to a rather experimentalist view of the SCA that I find a lot of fun. I suspect that I'd chafe in a group that was more set in its ways. It also carries a connotation that different people approach the game differently, even within a single Barony, and that's okay -- there's a fair amount of wiggle room for varying interpretations.

3. If you could change one thing about Freemasonry what would it be?

Wow; there are a lot of things I'd change about Freemasonry at this point. Fond though I am of the organization, it has a bunch of problems.

I guess the one thing that would make the most difference to me personally would be to have the ritual matter to people. As far as I'm concerned, the ritual -- the teaching of moral and spiritual lessons through immersive symbolism -- is what makes Masonry distinct and special. But most Masons are embarrassed to be doing something so esoteric, and most of them don't see it as terribly important. The result is things like the "one-day class" that's coming up in a few months, where they're going to shove 5000 guys through the degrees in a single day, by converting it all to a play. That offends me terribly, mostly because it underscores the declining importance of the ritual in the organization.

Or to look at it another way: Masonry is in a process of transition, and I sincerely believe that the club that comes out the other end is going to be a useful, socially-productive charitable organization. But it isn't the club I thought I was joining, and it's not the one I'm interested in.

4. If you could offer one piece of advice to the SCAdian tired of interpersonal politics, what would it be?

Tougher. I actually haven't been through this degree of politics within the SCA, so I have to take the question at a half-step remove. Fortunately (in a fashion), though, I've been through it on the LARP side of things, so I have some idea where you're coming from.

Personally, I dealt with it by separating the parts of the activity I liked from those I didn't. I like playing LARPs, and I love writing them, so I've moved over to focusing on that. Running the conventions was making me crazy, mostly because of the poisonous bad blood between several of us on the concom. I recommended very strongly that we should recruit a bunch of new folks who weren't involved in the politics, and then those of us who were embroiled in them should drop out of the day-to-day running of the convention. That was mostly successful -- after six years of mostly the same faces running things (many of whom couldn't stand each other any more), we now have a good new generation coming in, and most of the old ones either had the good sense to drift out or got forced out.

So my advice is to focus on what you enjoy, and try to get away from the scenes that raise your blood pressure. It sometimes means dropping away from activities you like to do, but you have enough imagination that you ought to be able to fill the time with stuff that's more fun.

(Which raises a side-point: the SCA is what you make of it. The thing I've found most fun within the Society is inventing new activities and then spreading them. Don't feel limited to the models that others propound.)

5. And if you were asked to share your knowledge about games in either a Pennsic class or TI article, which would you prefer and what does that say about you?

Hmm; never thought of it that way. Not an easy question at all -- I've done both the publishing thing and the class thing a lot, and they scratch different itches.

I think I'd honestly have to say the TI article, although only by a nose. Partly, that's sheer ego: the article has more permanence, and can touch a lot more people, and I confess that I like having that kind of impact. Also, I can refine and polish an article in ways that I really can't do with a class -- I like to prepare my classes, but not over-prepare them lest they get dry and lifeless. The result is that I never cover precisely what I intended, since the class always winds up taking a few side turns I didn't anticipate.

Still, running a class is almost always more fun. I suspect that if I answered this question in a different mood, the answer might come out differently...

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