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Re:Reverse documentation




Poster: Betty & David Eyer <Betty_and_David@compuserve.com>

 Melisande de Belvoir writes:

   >>  Gentles all, if we truly wish to emulate our predecessors, if we
wish 
    >> to "recreate" the Middle Ages and Renaissance in any degree, we must

   >>  learn what they did *first* and try to base our work on theirs, not 
     >>create out of whole cloth and then search for something that looks a

   >>  little like what we made up.  Documentation has to come before 
    >> creation, not as an afterthought.

I think the telling phrase above is 'a little' - the issue here is not the
order of one's research (before or after creative juices flow), but the
quality of the research.  If one is just punching a ticket, then study is a
waste of time.  If there is a real interest in increasing knowledge, then
one  way of learning is as good as any other.  Don't knock someone else's
method as long as the end result (both the cordial and it's documentation)
are good. 
     
 >> It's fine to combine vocabulary to create new sentences, 
 >>    but if you don't know the grammar and syntax first, you get 
 >>    meaningless strings of words. 
     
Babies manage to learn to speak without the least knowledge of grammar or
syntax.  Thank goodness no one tells babies they have to speak perfect
sentences on the very first try or none of us would ever learn our native
tongue.

Primary references can be quite difficult to find, especially if our topic
of interest is not main stream.  Sometimes it may take several tertiary and
secondary references before one comes across a really good bibliography,
web page, supply source.  Often teachers within the SCA are not available,
either because of time, distance or because you have taken the road less
traveled by when choosing an interest.  Sometimes the primary reference is
the end of the research trail, not the begining.  

I became interested in researching cooking because while visiting in
Europe, my friends claimed that a certain local recipe was very old and
that I could certainly consider it medieval.  I liked it very much and
began looking for it when I came home.  I have yet to find it, but I have
read a few period recipes that I would not have read otherwise. I may never
find it, but then again, I may find it's distant ancestor and learn to
prepare THAT recipe.   Certainly, it is not wise for me to take scraps of
evidence  and paste them together in a lazy attempt to justify doing what I
was set on doing from the start.  But that is not the only result of
'reverse documentation'.   Someone fascinated by champagne could learn to
make sparkling mead.  An interest in wearing cooler clothes at Pennsic has
gotten me to read about inhabitants of North/West Africa during period.  

The library works just as well whether you enter it from the front or back
door, or climb in a window, as long as you do the work once you get there. 

Magdalena de Hazebrouck

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