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RE: Heraldic Side Note
Poster: email@example.com (Peters, Rise J.)
What Tibor said (and three cheers):
"I'd encourage you to create heraldry in the mean time, and get used to it.
Ask a herald or two (via email if necessary) for help. Given fields barren
heraldry, or fields with slightly poor heraldry upon them, give me the
ambience of flags waving in the breeze any day."
I am gradually coming to the conclusion (and please forgive me if what
follows is inartfully stated, or comes off sounding too critical) that
something needs to change if we are to have more "heraldic display" in the
Society. Making banners and tabards, for example, is both technically easy
and visually and emotionally very satisfying. It ought to be one of the
first things that folks tend to do once they start playing SCA (it's a lot
easier to cover a plain tunic with a fancy tabard, or decorate a plain tent
with a fancy banner, than to make elaborate garb or pavilions. Plus, the
image of banners and tabards and heraldry is one of the defining
characteristics of the middle ages that almost everyone carries inside their
head). Instead, it's one of the =last= things many folks undertake, because
the entry-level threshold has been raised so high and the process made so
intimidating that many folks are nervous about trying to play that part of
the game anymore. So the A&S folks end up having to implore people to do
heraldic display, and then we have to bicker about whether only people who
have registered heraldry should get to play.
And the registration process is the exact opposite of the rest of the
society. In the Society in general, if you want something, the quality of
what you get, and how fast you get it, depends on how much work you're
willing to put in and at what level of intensity. If you want a pavilion,
you can bust your butt and make one. If you want to fight, you can make or
borrow armor, practice hard, and authorize pretty soon. You can bear down
hard and learn almost any skill well enough to get, at a minimum, a fun
experience and a usable product within a time frame that qualifies as, not
instant, but certainly relatively fast gratification -- fast enough to keep
you excited and willing to go on working hard to get more good stuff, to
improve or expand your skills, etc.
Contrast that with heraldry: I decide I want to go to Pennsic, or to 12th
Night, and that I'd love to have banners and tabards and spiff heraldic
stuff. So I figure out the rules (complicated in itself), get the forms, go
to the library and do my research, etc. etc. -- and then submit the
paperwork and wait for =months= while the bureaucracy grinds. And in the
meantime, I have absolutely nothing to show for my work, and no matter how
excited I =was= about the possibility of elaborate heraldic display, all I
can do is wait.
Using this process, or a similar one, you could discourage participation in
almost every aspect of the SCA.
I don't mean to sound harsh, and I understand the difficulties of setting up
a conflict checking system Society-wide with volunteer labor (no matter how
dedicated, and the dedication of the Society's heralds is unquestionable)
and expecting it to work fast, so maybe some of this is unavoidable. But
Tibor's idea of going a little easy on folks in the hope of encouraging
interest in (even imperfect) heraldic display is a good one, and the idea
that the only permissible use of armory requires registered armory is really
cutting down on the possibility of heraldic display. If the price of more
display is that one occasionally ends up "donating" tabards, etc. to their
"rightful owner" (if you accept that there are property rights here), maybe
that's not so bad.
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