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On "reasonable authenticity"

Poster: Carol_O'Leary@ed.gov (Carol O'Leary)

     Greetings to all at Cheapside!
     There are two important things I think have been missing from the 
     debate so far.  First is the acknowledgement that authenticity is a 
     goal, not a location.  We cannot reach perfect authenticity -- I can 
     use a period recipe, but the chickens I'm cooking are modern breeds, 
     even if they're free-range birds, which I usually can't afford.  I 
     could make an analogous argument in almost any field of endeavor -- 
     even the best armorers working in the SCA are probably using 
     commercial grades of steel; our calligraphers are probably using 
     mostly modern inks and papers; our musicians are playing modern 
     versions of ancient instuments.  The joy is in the process of trying 
     to come as close as we can.  The fact that the goal is not achievable 
     is no excuse for not making the effort.
     The second point is that every individual can only go so far, and that 
     distance is determined by resources as well as desire.  What's more, 
     each person has different areas that he or she thinks are important to 
     try to approach authenticity in.  Several recent commenters have been 
     very concerned about how people dress, to the point of questioning 
     someone's decision to wear eyeglasses at events.  I'm not a costume 
     person.  I like wearing pretty clothes, but I'm no good at sewing.  
     How people dress is not so important to me.  On the other hand, I've 
     seen people have pizza delivered to events, or eat tortilla chips and 
     salsa, or Hershey Kisses.  Now, I like pizza and tortilla chips with 
     salsa and Hershey Kisses, but you wouldn't catch me dead eating them 
     at events.  That is one area I choose to care about.  I also care 
     about how people treat each other and what they talk about.  I'm not 
     perfect, but I try to talk about things people in the Middle Ages 
     might conceivably have cared about.
     The trick is to share what we know and care about with each other, 
     teaching each other in the process, without offending each other or 
     being insulting.  Can we all try to do that?
     Melisande de Belvoir
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