Pardon the lack of posts please. We are still unpacking from having moved. It is amazing how much time a toddler will steal away from you especially when you have important things to do. We are almost finished now and life is keeping the family busy.
November 2, 2013, last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the joint Aethelmearc Academy & Royal University of the Middle Kingdom event that took place in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. There were more than 120 classes being taught inside a 6 hour window, making it impossible to take all the classes you wanted to take. There was also a wonderful Arts and Sciences fair (exhibition) that took place and had many people who entered it.
I was scheduled to teach ink making and was asked to pick up a class on parchment at the last minute. The instructor had gotten ill and people had shown up not knowing. I was happy to help out and I must say the students made it very fun and I hope that I was able to give them good information.
One of the things that I take time to cover in every class I teach is about how we perceive the world differently than those people in the times before the 17th century. People in the pre-17th century world did not have a fully fleshed out scientific method as we do today. They believed in frogs being born from mud and mice being born from sacks of grain.
However, people from back then were not stupider than we are today. The human brain has not evolved in any significant manner since the middle ages to say the least. Biologically we have the same brain they had. They had the same IQs we have today, the same abundance and the same lack of IQ as well. They were smart people just like we are today. We happen to know more than they did, especially when you consider how a third grader can do long division and that was a very high level of math in most of the pre-17th century world. So, yes, they were ignorant back then.
But then again, we are trying to emulate what they did. And to emulate what they did, we need to understand how they did things and how they thought. This is a very difficult thing to understand and to come to know. So really, who is the ignorant one now? They certainly knew how they thought and perceived things and most of us, do not.
Understanding how people thought creates and understand of how they did things and more importantly why they did things the way they did them. It also teaches us how they would go about their problem solving methods and why a solution so immensely obvious to them that it would never need to be written down, could be, and often is, unapologetically difficult for us to fathom.
So entering into doing anything in the pre-17th century world with the hubris that we know more and know better than they did back then is well, unwise. Yes, it is true that we do or could in fact know more and better than they did about WHY things actually happened. We can find the chemistry, the physics and such to be able to figure out why ink turns black, or why the stars move across the sky the way they do, (hint we know we aren’t the center of the cosmos now.)
But try understanding the humors and astrology (all study of the stars was astrology back then,) and the elements they took for granted? That is much more difficult.
So, when doing your historical re-creation that you do in the SCA. Be humble about it. After all, you’re the one that is learning how, not them.