Thursday, February 16, 2017

You are a Knight-Interpreter-- Lucky You! (Enchanted Assemblages)


During the middle ages, Arthurian literature was a way for the aristocratic elite to legitimate their rule. It posited a class of morally righteous, economically well off knight-errant who served a lord—a king whose lordship was directly tied to the land’s health. The fantastical inclusion of dragons, damsels in distress, and mysterious quests ordained by God, all served as the backdrop in which our upper-class heroes could ply their skills. In a way, it was a precursor to the Ideological State Apparatus (re: Althusser). After all, its purpose was to reinforce the image of an elite group of enforces who helped push the local law; of course, the violence of the text would be subsumed underneath the unreal.

                But since I loathe all things which support the status quo, this—obviously—had to go with the advent of my adaptation. I had to find a way to turn King Arthur’s roundtable from an aristocratic championing of Christianity, to a secular commonplace account of human interaction. Besides, on the surface, knights up taking quests for a maiden’s hand does not lend much credibility to interpretation.

                How I did this was easy. After all, at the end of the day, King Arthur’s court—whether it is an actual court or just a feasting hall—is a simple set-up: a leader and a group of people quest. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to re-orient things onto a specific path, one merely needs to project specific desires and objectives onto the quests and the character motivations for the quest.

                So my own projection was to turn the Roundtable into something of an icon instead of a place of paramount importance. Because the world of my adaptation is infused with magic granted to the environment by, literally, the bodies of dead gods, and interpretation has become a way to literally change the function and shape of the world around you, the natural question was how the interpreters would, you know, exist.

                Ultimately I had decided that anyone could change the world, but that doing so would require specific training if one wanted to do it on a large scale. From here it was the obvious leap to have that training be done in terms of knightly training; the focus not on combat but on interpretation. Being me, I made this training to be non-elitist: while in our real world, training to be a knight was a significant expense only open to those with considerable money and connections, in the world of my adaptation, knightly-training, because it is such a vital public service in maintaining order in the world, against the chaotic decay of literalism, would be a public post open to anyone who wanted to serve their community.

                Ergo, the roundtable itself is merely something of local importance due to the court’s natural proclivity as a public service. If it or its leaders have any renown outside of their village, it is only because they interpret so ably that word spreads of their deeds. So in this sense, the original idea of questing to gain fame has been transformed into something with less hero-worship since no danger is involved. Thankfully, the sexism of the original text has been eliminated.


                Presto! King Arthur’s court, formerly a bastion of elitist snobbery, has become an agrarian-proletarian hotbed! Spicy!

Let's Read: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Preface and Introduction)

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