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Re: Atlantia and a small challenge

Poster: Henry Best <jstrauss@gmu.edu>

On Tue, 23 Jul 1996 Catmuse@aol.com wrote:

> Might I respectfully point out that an attack of University as it stands was
> not and is not the point of the whole question.  

I find myself in the embarrassing position of being, albeit respectfully, 
chided for being the party of the second part (hereafter referred to as 
The Defender) in an attack that, so far as I know, never happened. Gawain 
and I are _friends_. I was not defending University; but merely pointing 
out to Gawain that His Mileage May Vary. Many people have found UA to be 
_the_ place to arrange to meet others interested in exploring similar 

Or, in other words:

"Children: Stop that fighting!"

"We were just playing, Ma! (geez)"

> Cannot this Kingdom support one A&S event that is NOT University?  In my
> experience OOK (out of Kingdom), such events are considered a common staple
> and different/COMPLIMENTARY to University-type events.

It sure can. In fact, it often does. And some of those activities can be
modular, which is to say they could occur as part of another event. One
such module is a thing I sometimes call "Artisan's Row". Dafydd and I set
one up at Cuan and Aria's Coronation and I had done similar things on a
smaller scale at Night on the Towne 2. I stopped work on that type of
project to do University. But the concept was done in spin-off at
Pointless War, where I hear it was very well received. 

But I did note two disturbing trends in this area while I was Chancellor.

1) I would sometimes get calls from would-be autocrats asking for, if you
can believe this, PERMISSION FROM ME to hold A&S events. Sometimes, these
proposed events would be collegiums or symposiums, sometimes not. At first
these requests confused me. I would question the caller: No, they weren't
asking for advice, labor, cash, teacher referrals, baseball cards, or any
other form of support. These people BELIEVED that, to hold an A&S event,
they needed my authorization, and they were prepared apparently to forgo
the event if I refused. I was always afraid that, if I just said "yes", I
would confirm in their minds that I was part of some approval procedure;
so I always was at pains to ensure they understood they could host any
kind of event they wanted, regardless of my opinions. The only things
University Atlantia has a monopoly on are the words "University Atlantia" 
and the associated heraldry.

2) The longer you have a hammer in your hand, the more everything begins
to look like a nail. There is a tendency to try and use UA for most
everything, without regard to whether it is the right tool for the job. 
Some topics make better UA classes than others. For example, UA is not
Unevent. An unevent meeting doesn't change just because you call it a
class. For another example, I attempted to support a theatre as part of
the Town section of UA. Big mistake. UA, at least the way I had it
structured, was a lousy place to do theatre for the simple reason that
your potential audience was (blush) all taking classes. Seems obvious,

> Please, let's not argue, but work together to make more fun and creativity
> for all of us?  Besides, I LIKE University the way it is, and there's not
> really a change I'd make to it <as far as total scope changes>.  <G>

Well, I'm not convinced anyone is arguing. But, otherwise, yes. UA is a
wonderful thing. It is an extremely valuable tool for doing certain things
which might otherwise be impossible. UA was recently identified by the
corporate A&S office as "the best university system in the Known World."
But it is not, by ANY stretch of the imagination (and please DO stretch
it) the ONLY good tool for teaching A&S. 

Freed from the responsibility of running UA, I have begun to turn my mind
to teaching projects. One of the topics I have been toying with
researching and subsequently teaching at UA is conjuring, or performance
magic, as I have found a pretty spif primary source for magic tricks. But
I've had a great deal of trouble deciding how such a class should be
presented. I finally realized it should probably NEVER be taught at UA. 
Conjuring is one of those arts which only has value when its secrets are
preserved. Teaching this class at UA would harm the art, not help it. If
someone were to bring conjuring to Atlantia, the correct way to do it
would be to research the topic, practice, perform at events, then take a
couple of apprentices, solemnly sworn to secrecy. That's how it was taught
in period and, because of the unique value of secrecy in this case, that's
how it should probably be taught in the SCA. 

Having rambled enough, let me simply say this: If you identify a need,
such as Gawain has done, well and good. Why not take it upon yourself to
_address_ the need? You might design an event around your idea. You might
simply gather up your stuff and take your show on the road at other
events. And remember that the answer to the question, "Why don't we hold
events that have such and such?" is always this: YOU haven't autocratted

I've done 14 events in 6 years. That's not a record, by any means;  but it
is respectable enough for me to be able to make this offer. If anyone has
an embryonic event idea and wants to run it up the flagpole in private,
send me an e-mail. I would be happy to listen and offer whatever advice
and/or dumb questions come to mind. 

| Ld Henry Best		| "People don't quit playing because they   |
| John Strauss		| grow old. They grow old because they quit |
| jstrauss@gmu.edu	| playing." 	    -Oliver Wendell Holmes  |

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