Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

Seven Words

I got this particular meme and these words from marysdress. Feel free to respond, and as she puts it,
Comment to this post and I will pick seven things I would like you to talk about. They might make sense or be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.
Your call on whether you offer to propagate: I find coming up with topics to give people often the hardest part of these games, but the option of being very random makes it less stressy.

A Few Thoughts on each of My Assigned Words

Dignity: A commonplace of human nature is that we tend to care just a bit too much about dignity -- certainly that has plagued me my whole life. (Pride is definitely one of my sins.) And yes, I do think that "dignity" is over-rated in a lot of ways, and the cause of much human misery: caring too much about one's own dignity is very tied up with ego and all the dukkha that goes along with it. We often focus on our dignity instead on things like happiness, love, and experiencing the moment. Indeed, there's something fundamentally undignified about truly living in the moment, carefree.

That said, while you can choose to ignore your own dignity, it's always an important struggle to respect that of others, all the moreso when you disagree. I can't say that I always succeed there, especially in the heat of a passionate disagreement, but I do consider it a personal failure when I don't.

Volta: One of my secret shames as a dancemaster: I'm really not very good at La Volta. I can make some simple physical excuses why not -- both height and strength are quite helpful in doing it well -- but regardless, I always feel rather awkward when doing the dance, and that's the main reason I don't teach it very often. (Bransle Official is much the same way for me.) And yes, this probably ties directly into the previous point about Dignity: putting a bit too much emphasis onto being able to do a dance *well* can get in the way of simply enjoying it...

Philosophy: My meat and drink -- Steffan and I often say that I apprenticed to him in Rhetoric and Philosophy. So a lot of my philosophy is very practical stuff about how to make one's way through the world.

That said, I've gradually wound up in a place where "philosophy" and "religion" are so close to synonymous for me that it's hard to really separate them. Both are heavily driven by my Buddhist leanings these days, although the cause and effect is blurry: I was drawn to Buddhism mostly because I found that many of the teachings there agreed with the conclusions I was already drawing about the universe. We choose gods in our own image, emotionally and intellectually even more than physically.

If I had to call out my personal philosophical touchstones, they would probably be "All Things in Moderation/Balance", and "All Is Change". Put those together, and I was more or less made for Buddhism...

Brandeis: A lot of my friends talk about the SCA being mainly about the people -- indeed, a number have said in more or less as many words that they could do without the Society, but they need the society. For me, Brandeis was the same thing, in spades.

Mind, I didn't go to college for anything particularly practical. By my freshman year, I'd already been working semi-professionally for around four years, and I didn't really expect to learn *anything* about my trade. (I was pleasantly surprised to find one data-structures course that taught me a lot of important grounding, as well as a lot of cool but mostly useless AI courses, with a few too many teachers who said, "Don't be silly -- that's impossible" about ideas that are commonplace today.)

But the people I got to know at Brandeis entirely shaped my life. I found the SCA all of three days into freshman year (demonstrating that even in a noisy activity fair, the sound of a stick hitting a helmet is distinctive), and made several of my closest friends over the next year or two. So for me, the thing I will always most appreciate about Brandeis is the strange way that it attracts life-long SCAdians. For no obvious reason, the Borough of Fenmere has produced more SCA "lifers" than any other college I am aware of, and I'm friends with many of them.

Cooking: My other art. Technically, my Laurel is for Dance, and my Manche is for Games; I'm not as expert in Cooking, but I've done nearly as much of it. It suddenly occurs to me that most of the Barony has never had one of my feasts, something I used to be a bit known for. Nowadays it's mostly a side-note for me, but Cooks' Guild is still one of my favorite SCA activities: recreational experimental cooking, which can veer from unexpected joys to fabulous disasters with the change of a single ingredient.

Of course, it's also one of my mundane activities, and is an important creative outlet for me. Kate is gradually getting used to my style of cooking, which tends to start with me wandering around a supermarket going, "Hmm", then latching onto an ingredient that looks interesting, and having an entire meal follow in short order. It's a lot of fun, but does mean that weekly menu planning is *not* a skill of mine.

History: You'd expect that, being a longtime member of the SCA, I'd be really into History. And I am: but I'm mainly into *SCA* History. My office still contains one of the most important archives of Society History, covering all sorts of artifacts and papers. I love the story of how the Society and the Barony evolved, and why they twisted and turned the way they did.

(Someday I'll spend a few years writing up some of the contents of those archives. I sometimes wonder whether it'll ever be possible to write the story of The Crisis of '94 without losing friends. Having a ringside seat for the SCA's greatest political disaster was morbidly fascinating.)

This is a special case of a more general passion, specifically for *political* history. For all that I despise having to play politics, I find the process endlessly fascinating. I actually do a lot of history courses from the Teaching Company, but the ones I most enjoy tend to be the most personal: less about big impersonal forces, more about key individuals and how they interacted. I always like to know Why, and the answer usually turns out to be in the interactions between specific people.

Family: There's the family of birth, and the family of choice. Both are going through big changes, as Kate and I start to meld our lives together.

On the real-world family side, the current entertainment is Kate and me getting to know each others' families, and those beginning to know each other. This has been almost comically easy: it turns out that her folks' place in Florida is a fairly short drive from mine. (They're on Fort Myers Beach; my Dad is on Sanibel, so basically the next island over.) We'd originally been planning on taking the introductions slowly, but apparently her father has already called my father for a consult on how to set up condo-complex wifi systems: shared geekery is a powerful force. Signs are that the parents are going to mesh well.

On the friends side, there have been similar transitions, as people start to get to know each other. We've been getting to know each others' friends over the past year; now we're starting to introduce people, as I am always partial to doing. Memorial Day was a nice toe in the water there, with a few people from her social circle diving into a big crowd of SCAdians and figuring out where there was pre-existing overlap. (To be expected, since Boston geekery is fairly small and inbred.)
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