[Bards] Standards

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Sun Jan 6 20:55:40 PST 2008

Ihon asked the following questions:

> 1.  Would you like to see 'standards' for bards?  For example, would it be
> helpful if anyone who desired to call him or herself a bard would immediately
> be considered a beginning bard; a bard who could show a certain repertoire
> would be considered an intermediate bard; and a bard who exhibited an 
> exceptional repertoire would be considered an advanced bard.  

It sounds like such a reasonable idea until you contemplate what it would actually mean..  

There is no clear agreement on who the advanced bards are, and there have often been very wide variations in evaluations of an individual bard's level.  (There was a time when some thought me one of the best in the kingdom, while others thought me horrible.)  We would be promoting some people's views above others.  So who gets to choose?

Any such set of rankings is either a mutually-agreed, voluntary game, only for people who choose to be involved, like the old College of Bards had for its own members alone, or a petty tyranny foisted on at least some of us unwillingly by a bureaucracy which is trying to rule us, rather than to support us.  Even a purely voluntary internal ranking within a College causes grief for (and from) outsiders, as that College proved.

Some years ago, there was a group that set out to choose the "100 greatest novels of all time".  They got a group of full-time professionals, with Ph.D.s in Literary Criticism, who had devoted their lives to analysing these, the most carefully read works of fiction in the history ofthe world.  And they couldn't agree.  We amateurs, working part-time on the weekends in areas in which we have little formal training will not be able to do better than they did.

This is a REALLY bad idea.

There are "rankings", if you want to call them that, implicit in the award system, but it's not primarily a ranking system, and it is about much more than mere skill.  I don't believe that all Laurels who perform are better than all Irises, or that all Irises are better than all people with Thistles in performing arts.

In any event, the kingdom bureaucracy has no authority to set up a competing set of awards, no matter what they're called.

> 2) If you support the idea of standards, should a certain standard be required to enter Eisteddfod?

Heck, no.   That's what the first round's for.  It's a *competition* -- only the best entrants are going to make it into the finals anyway.  I support every bard who wishes to enter kingdom Eisteddfod.  Fencers can enter Queen's Champion, regardless of fencing skill.  Fighters who meet the requirements to rule the kingdom may enter Crown, regardless of fighting skill. This competition is for the bards -- all the bards.

Vyolante entered her first Eisteddfod last month (under the name of Adelina).  She had fun, entertained us, and was encouraged in her new passion of bardcraft.  She's entering Queen's Champion this month.  That's the kind of enthusiastic newcomer we need to encourage.

It hasn't been very long since we were trying to encourage more bards to enter, and concerned because so few would bother.  There's no value to keeping people out.

> For purposes of this initial discussion, I'd appreciate it if you respond to this email
> and not to another's opinion.  ...
>  <snip>
> Having said all that, of course, you will respond as you see fit :)

Sure enough.  Read the ones you want to read, but this is an open forum.  I'm sure we'll get some fascinating discussion from responding to each other's ideas.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin
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