minstrel: Definition of Bardic

Heather Rose Jones hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Wed Apr 23 10:46:12 PDT 1997


On Sun, 20 Apr 1997, trischia walker wrote:

> CAB wrote:
> > Bard - Someone who perfoms for an audience.
> 
> Sounds like a good definition to me - remembering that often an
> "audience" consists of only one or several.

This may be a silly quibble, but what's wrong with using the word
"performer" for this definition? And "performing arts" for the general
category of activity? It seems to me that, by bending over backwards to be
"inclusive" in the use of the culturally-loaded term "bard", we are
leaching it of any meaning whatsoever. We have imbued the word "bard" with
a heavy burden of positive cultural values ("cultural" in this context
referring to the SCA's culture) that include everything from performative
evaluation (i.e., the notion that "bard" refers to a particular level of
ability) to near-mystical powers. (Ok, scratch the "near".) What this
means is that, in order for more people to have access to the cultural
frame we have created for the label "bard", we are continually stretching
the definition to include activities farther and farther from any actual
historic grounding.

Why can't we value dancers as dancers, storytellers as storytellers,
jongleurs as jongleurs, etc.? It does not devalue an activity to say that
the performer is not a "bard".

One of the great flaws of the SCA as a historically-oriented group is our
tendency to grant higher status to SCA jargon than historical usage. In
this case, to SCA jargon derived largely from  contemporary fantasy novels
and rpg stock character-types. Rather than perpetuate this trend and
continue to find ways to ever-expand the scope of "bard" and "bardic", why
don't we find other ways to honor and include all types of performing
arts? "Bardic circle" is a convenient SCA shorthand, but it would be
equally informative to say, "Come to my encampment tonight -- we will be
entertaining each other with all manner of performances." Be creative --
there are as many ways to express the concept as there are variations in
its expression.

Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
(wishing pop culture would pillage someone _else's_ traditions on
occasion)


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