A trip down forest paths

So About this Persona Thing and Authenticity

Davit Jamburiani is that name I am using for an SCA persona. Actually, as I mention in the pinned about post I haven’t registered the name yet but I’ve done the research to support the name as a potential historical name for a man from the Svaneti region of the Kingdom of Georgia in the late 11th / early 12th century. But what is a persona? Is it more than a name?

As far as I can tell the official 2023 answer is it depends on what you want it to be! There is a vocal component of the SCA that wants personas to be nothing more than a name. Come have fun whacking people! Dress in ALL the fancy outfits! Focusing on the persona artificially constrains you and who wants to be constrained in your cosplay. Especially when so many things make it impossible to get away from the reality of being a 21st century human playing a silly game!

There is another group that wants to get into the persona. This can go as far as being in character as is done when visiting Duke Cariadoc’s Enchanted Ground campsites. For brevity I won’t repeat his ideas and thoughts but Cariadoc’s Miscellany has many articles about Persona that spell out the idea of his Dream. Most of his articles are really old now but the though is still valid. Or it can be more of a deep dive embracing the constraints and trying to recreate more aspects of a specific life and time.

I’m more of the living history side of things even if some people object to that term. I am not a Svaneti re-enactor because I am not attempting to re-enact any specific person or event. But I do want to recreate things with a strong focus on what Davit might have experienced. I think of it as focus not constraint. Which leads to thoughts on the issue of authenticity.

One way to look at authenticity is to think of it as different levels. I like to think there is a zeroth level when you are being medievalish – the bare minimum without real concern for whether it is medieval, ren faire, or fantasy. Beyond that you various levels of authenticity that often focuses on the museum level. The recreation of artifacts that have been curated. Which leads to a focus on the wealthy and even them to the public look of the wealthy. I hope to progress beyond that even if it does involve some extrapolation.

To go back to Duke Caridoc again there is a lot to be said for trying to get into the midset of a persona. People before 1600 were not any less intelligent or creative. They solved the issues of living and working within the constraints of their time quite well. Perfect authenticity slavishly following museum articles is a different form of constraint of course but it leads to a very distorted view and, to me, not as interesting view.

Or to put it another way; in the 21st century I find recipes to be good starting points but I almost always put my own twist on them. I expect that a 12 century Georgian would feel the same way and feel just as free to play around with the foods and flavors at their disposal within the constraints provided by cost, seasonal availability, and the limits of a medieval kitchen.

#SCA #Davit #persona