Sir Hubert von Poppingham’s Daring Action Thriller of Gallantry and Wit Vol.1 (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Hubert von Poppingham from London, England.

Greetings, dear heavenly reader. In case you already don’t know, I am Sir Hubert von Poppingham, explorer of caves and collector of antiquities, schooled by nature herself in the delicacies of her natural ways, in romance and harness racing, making love and pouring fine beer properly to the pleasure of fine women. But forget about me! All you must know of me is that I am extremely handsome, smell like roses and have great posture! It is the hero of our story, Manuell Sandiego, who must be remembered! Unlike me, your daydreaming author, obsessed and lost in thought all the time, like a poet and scholar looking off into the sunset, Manuell Sandiego, who prefers the sunrise, is the true valliant helper of the less-fortunate, the saviour of peace, tool of God, statue of glory and is constantly focused on, or forever at one with, his quest of upholding the values of chivalry in this post-modern age! Continue reading

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Who Decides What Becomes Literature? Understanding Literary Fantasy (from an outright amateur’s perspective)

If a masterpiece of artful and amazing prose on the human experience never reaches the public eye, is never praised by academics, never sells a single copy, is it still literature?

Who decides what is literature and what isn’t? Elitist assholes or literary experts? If you wish to skim through this blog post, I’ve bolded the juicy bits for your convenience. If you wish to read normally, please keep in mind that by “literature” I don’t simply mean “literate material,” but Merriam-Webster’s 3rd definition: “writings in prose or verse; especially writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.”

What we need to do to understand literary fantasy is make a line between realistic literary fantasy for adults, like A Game of Thrones, and unrealistic literary fantasy for children and young adults, like The Hobbit or Cinderella, because by doing this we’ll notice there’s a middle ground between these two extremes, and, for a reason I’ll explain, this middle ground isn’t considered literature. Bear with me if you can. This is just theory for the mind, so bring a bucket of salt and we’ll have some fun.

In a previous post I claimed the biggest difference between literature and non-literature (genre fiction) is that the latter serves as a means of taking you away from this world to be entertained. Literature, on the other hand, draws you deeper into this world to be educated on life matters, because literature is what we would use to teach planetary aliens about us and our history. I still hold strong to this argument, but now I’d like to share a more obvious divide between the two: literature is performed by trained professionals who’ve dedicated their lives to learning how to express their thoughts and feelings into magnificent word-craft without common errors and without other amateurish expressions like passionate misconceptions overriding well-thought-out research. Another criteria is being accepted by a literary journal of some kind, but not all literature from history has had to go through this gatekeeper, and, let’s face it, many literary journals today are less professional than this mediocre blog post. With that ghastly intro out of the way, let’s now dig a bit deeper into two distinct niches (I will argue three) which I’ve studied enough to feel comfortable teaching at entry level: Literary Fantasy for Adults and Children’s (or Young Adult’s) Fantasy Literature (the third one being a mixture of the two which I will later refer to as the middle ground between the two extremes).

I don’t wish to be the angry ogre when I put such titles as the classic Conan and Lord of the Rings in the Children’s Fantasy Literature category. Some of you may hate me for doing that, but theorists and expressive thinkers like myself are supposed to be hated, and I argue that all the moral lessons learned from Lord of the Rings should already be known to adult readers, even though the book can still be appreciated by adults and considered literature for its artistic merit.

who decides what becomes literature

Literature is just like modern art with its auctions and galleries. Without establishments to bolster literature and let it breathe, everything becomes non-literature, and for anyone to say something IS literature and the next thing ISN’T makes them either an asshole or an expert.

Not one of us gets to make the magical decision anyway. The decision on what becomes great art is made collectively like a modern painting when it hits the auction. A dozen people may say this here painting only took one hour to make and is a disgrace to the classic masterpieces which took years, but then this same modern painting, on this very same day could sell for millions of dollars! Who made that decision? The fancy, mincing buyers in the auction collectively and the people who organize the auction! That’s who! Similarly with literature, the decisions are made by editors for literary journals, agents in publishing circles and professors in universities, along with consumers in established society whose tastes are respected by such professionals. Without these authorities on the matter, nothing could possibly rise to the standard of being elegant literature as opposed to amateur genre writing. With these academic authorities in existence, we’re able to take a newly written book and make comparisons. Slowly over time, definitely not overnight, a book that was shunned years ago for being grotesque and gruesome can rise up the taste-buds of the public tongue to resurrect itself as classic literature for future centuries to admire and be proud of, like Frankenstein. Now accepting that, individually, we each have little control over what becomes literature, let us now compare Children’s Fantasy to what is currently considered Literary Fantasy to grasp the handle a little tighter.

Fantasy for children is supposed to be black and white with predictable villains and cliche heroes for the better development of the child’s self-identity. It’s said that a good fairy tale should make a kid want to be like the good guy because he or she would never want to be like the bad guy. And indeed, younger children who still think mostly in images and have little understanding over the true, gruesome aspects of human existence are able to draw conclusions from things that adults can’t. Fantasy for children is not supposed to be academic or “literary.” Being so would ruin the whole point of being a children’s story. Stories deemed as Children’s Literature like Three Little Pigs, without elegant description, without artistic prose and without being at all realistic, teaches a child what it means to be brave, what it means to build a house out of the right material and so on. The evil step-sisters in Cinderella are studied as representing many deep symbols that, while adults try so hard to understand them with words, children pick up on right away using images in their subconscious minds. For more info on why fairy tales are important for children consider The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim.

With all that said, let’s now dive on over into the middle ground between children’s fantasy stories and academic fantasy for adults. This middle ground is where most fantasy books are currently sitting. Before some major professor in some high-end university decided to pick up The Hobbit and scream “these armies have no commissariats! This is literature for children, not adults!” The Hobbit, too, dwelled in this middle ground. But forgive that creative metaphor. The truth I assume was a lot different. Adults cherish The Hobbit and they have good reason to. Now I ask you, if The Hobbit was never picked up by traditional publishers, if it just ended up on Amazon today because some grandson decided to self-publish an old stack of paper he’d found in his attic, would it still be considered literature? Hmm? Now that is a good question to ask here because it reveals a sad truth about elitism. I wouldn’t be surprised if the book flopped just like all the hundreds of other books flopping on Amazon daily.

The middle ground, for a passionate author who fears failure, is a dreadful place to be. For an amateur that doesn’t plan on ever becoming an expert, it’s a place they’ve never heard of. The middle ground is where all great works of literature come from, yet it’s always where all crap goes to die. With one extreme being Children’s Literature (or Young Adult’s Literature) and the other being Adult’s Literature, is the middle ground then for teenagers and adults who have yet to grow up? Not really. The scary truth is that being stuck in the middle ground means nothing more than your writing will never become literature. Even if you stand on top of a mountain, holding up your cherished art for the world to see, and scream “this is more than just genre fiction,” if no literary journals, agents in powerful circles or other authoritative figures agree with you, even if you have millions of non-academic followers being entertained, your work will remain in the middle ground, never to be whispered centuries from now as a bedside story for a curious little girl, never to be cherished by academics who wish to ride the waves of beauty in writing decades from now, to only be read in your own lifetime for the sake of entertainment. So what can you do to make your writing become literature, to make it something future generations would be willing to present to an alien race as “our great art,” and not just some hunk of writing, satisfying temporary tropes? The answer was never simple but it’s becoming so: you must either become Literature for Adults or become Literature for Children, because the middle ground is simply Writing for Entertainment.

It would be a shame if mankind’s greatest art was used solely for entertainment because there is so much about us to teach.

Understanding this, let us now ask “what is Literature for Adults?” I already have a post answering the question “what is medieval fantasy for adults?” but here I’m going to explain differently. The easy answer would be “well, it’s not literature for children!” We’ve already discussed how children learn in different ways than we do. Children get much use out of hearing unrealistic fairy tales. But would adults get use from them, too? Maybe we could go into Memory Lane or be entertained for a little while, but most life lessons learned in children’s stories are, well, lessons we’ve already learned. In order for us to go up a level and be taught something from what we’re reading, the writing itself needs to be much different. I’ve never learned much about the truth of historical Japan by reading manga or watching anime, genres in the middle ground for teenagers and youthful adults who wish to be entertained. However, I have learned a whole heck of a lot about real Japanese history by reading non-fiction and watching documentaries. The difference between a documentary and an anime is the difference between being in the middle ground and being of academic use to adults. But simply being of academic use to adults doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly got literature on your hands. You still need to go through the great gatekeeper of time, through the circles and schools who collectively make the final decision.

Literature for adults like such writings by Shakespeare and Cervantes have passed the gatekeepers with fabulous success. They’ve moved out of the middle ground. With their insights into the matters of daily life, their elegant styles, prose and artistry, no one can argue that they’re not literature because they’d be arguing with thousands of famous dead people and would look like an idiot. And after studying this stuff for long enough, calling much of today’s popular fantasy “literature” also looks quite idiotic, and only uneducated students on the matter who love to be entertained would agree with you. If a fantasy novel is going to be of academic use for future generations, if it’s going to be considered some of mankind’s best art, it must not thrive on contemporary tropes but on timeless ideals like preserving truth, presenting culture and teaching history, ethics and morals!

When the writing’s purpose becomes more than just simple entertainment, when it has the ability to teach even a professor something new, I will argue that it deserves to enter the immortal field of masterpieces, not the graveyard of entertainment, to become literature! But deserving and becoming are two separate things, which is why anything written in the last half-century must wait for the collective, final decision–“is this literature worthy of being passed through the ages?” Only time can tell.

To recap I will leave you to answer the very first question I presented at the top of this post, but in a slightly different way: If there’s a great masterpiece of writing full of inspiring truth about history, full of marvelous prose and literary words, and it doesn’t contain a single error, yet no one ever gets to see it because it’s buried beneath a rock, is it still literature? The answer is becoming clearer, but really who’s to say? An asshole or an expert? After all, literature as we know it has only been around for a very brief time in human history. Like modern art, it’s evolving everyday.

Rambling about Medieval Misconceptions in Fantasy like a School Boy

When the hero carries a loaded crossbow on his back, you know you’re in for a fantasy adventure! With oversized pauldrons over a naked display of muscular abs, the hero strides into battle, holding his shield behind his back. He climbs onto the back of a cyclops with ease and from this great height the birds listen to him whisper into the cyclops’s ear: “Buy my book on Amazon, bitch.”

The cyclops laughs at those ghastly words and snatches the hero from its back as if he were a ball of lint. Dangling the hero before its massive eyeball, the cyclops says, “Uga-buga! Uga-buga!”

Not wanting to waste any more time with this giant baboon, the hero whistles and an army of knights come out of nowhere to slay the cyclops with ease because, you know, they’re fantasy knights and the cyclops went easy on them.

Back home at the City of Fantasy Land where no farms nor a network of commerce is needed and no one takes the time to eat or use the garderobe (spoiler: the city’s really in the future and so it all makes sense), the hero waltzes up to the king, somehow making it past a whole gatehouse without narrative, and nods his head a few times and–hooray!–receives a new fanciful quest!

With giant flowers that can devour whole children at once riddled along the roadside, our hero rides with his new retinue of fools and idiots who talk too much to complete the quest that professionals and not some poorly-trained farm boy should’ve done years ago! Huzzah!

They enter the Forest of Doom and somehow make it out two years later without eating anything or taking a shit, and run into a massive problem that takes two chapters to explain when the problem was simple all along! Hurrah!

Meanwhile in some place briefly described at an awkward time in the story, an army of goblins won’t stop forging new swords to save their own mothers. They’re bent on evil and destruction and they build big useless towers beside volcanoes. While the hero is away from the City of Fantasy Land, the goblins storm the walls and for some reason all the soldiers defending die as soon as something touches them.

Somehow in the same day, perhaps thanks to some man who knew exactly where the hero was and ran there miraculously fast, the hero hears the news of his city’s destruction and, stopping to visit a wise friend on the way, returns and slays every single goblin by himself within the course of one chapter, and then stays up for two days healing people with his new magic.

The End

A List of Historical Military Terms (60+ Rare Words)

Welcome! Military words like danegeld and scutage have been reserved for an upcoming list about medieval laws and crimes. Similarly words like centenar, turcopole and mameluke, aside from a few favorite titles, have been saved for an upcoming list about medieval titles and peerages. Likewise for your patience words like portcullis, trebuchet, loophole and other obvious terms have been excluded. Also, terms like cri de coeur and coup de grâce which are brilliant for military applications have been reserved for a separate list about English terms that are clearly not English. I should also mention that words like caliver and baselard, not to mention many pieces of armor, have of course been reserved for future lists about ancient, medieval and renaissance arms and armor. Again, seafaring terms, castle terms and HEMA terms have all been for the most part excluded for the aforementioned reason. At last, enjoy!

  1. Semaphore – noun – a system or apparatus for sending visual messages according to a code.
  2. Pele – noun – a faced outbuilding used as a beacon watchtower, born on the border of Scotland and England.
  3. Burgus – noun – a fencible tower with outwork, born on the routes and frontiers of Rome.
  4. Outremer – noun – meaning “overseas,” similar to ultima thule, the land taken by Franks in the First Crusade including Antioch and Jerusalem.
  5. Extreme unction – noun – in the medieval Roman Catholic Church, the extreme unction was the very last anointment given to the sick and dying. Some may not consider this word to be military but if you’re gravely ill in your pavilion during campaign then calling the chaplain to perform your extreme unction may be the only thing on the surgeon’s mind, especially if he is in your will.
  6. Equitator – noun – equestrian, vedette, genetour, dragoon, hobelar, verderer, cavalier, caballero, cuirassier, hussar, cowboy or, simply put, rider. To open a page with over forty synonyms for “horse” click here.
  7. Auxilia – noun – help, assistance; can be used to mean auxiliaries, condottieres.
  8. Casemate – noun – a room in the wall of a fortress with embrasures for shooting guns and missiles at attackers.
  9. Dromedary – noun – perhaps the “racehorse” or “courser” of the desert; a one-humped camel trained for riding and racing.
  10. Mantelet – noun – an arrow-proof screen for besiegers in their attempt to mount an offensive, sometimes mounted on wheels.
  11. Sutler – noun – a civilian provisioner who followed an army and lived in its camps to set up shop and trade with its well-paid soldiers.
  12. Vinea – noun – a house-like structure on wheels to protect besiegers in their attempt to take a wall or batter a gate.
  13. Ordnance – noun – cannon; pieces of artillery. Side note: I plan to do a whole post on cannon alone for their are countless words to put here like pot-de-fer, crakys, culverin, falconet, etc.
  14. Overture – noun – a proposal to the enemy; a tactical liaison; for example, “let us send an envoy with an overture for peace!”
  15. Caesura – noun – an armistice, ceasefire, truce, lull, break or brief interruption.
  16. Abase – verb – to lower in position; a perfect word to use when describing a joust or a group of charging men; for example, “he embraced the quintain and abased his lance.”
  17. Commark – noun – the frontier of a country.
  18. Serry – verb – to press together in ranks; for example, “the serried shield-wall advanced.”
  19. Fosse – noun – a narrow trench around a motte or other fortification; moat.
  20. Cantonment – noun – a military garrison or camp beyond the frontier of its own country; similar to billet or barrack.
  21. Panoply – noun – cap-a-pie, harness, battledress, coat-armor.
  22. Right marker – noun – the warrior given the honor of standing on the right side of a formation where everyone is holding their shield left-handed, therefore making his job hard for no shield is at his right to share the blows.
  23. Breastwork – noun – chest-high trenches or dugouts as part of a frontal defense, used commonly in the heyday of rudimentary lead balls.
  24. Reveille – noun – an alarum or tocsin, especially by a bugle or drum at night to wake a sleeping camp or garrison during a surprise attack.
  25. Chanfron – noun – a horse’s helmet, as part of a horse’s “barding” or armor. Side note: I could list every piece of horse armor here but that too will one day have its own post.
  26. Conroi – noun – a group of five to ten knights who trained and fought together.
  27. Batter – noun – a gradual slope in a defensive wall, like that of a redan or bastion, to aid in the deflection of artillery.
  28. Treasurehouse – noun – a building for safeguarding treasure, typically kept on strict watch, used by conquistadors.
  29. Stronghouse – noun – a fortified house; similar to a keep yet more so to a manse.
  30. Gabion – noun – a basket full of earth used in excess by besiegers for filling moats.
  31. Picquet – noun – a group of sentries outside a garrison to prevent a surprise attack.
  32. Cordon – noun – a line or circle of soldiers preventing egression.
  33. Revetment – noun – the foundation of an outwork wall or curtain wall, whether it be sandbags, masonry, etc.
  34. Flotilla – noun – an armada; a swathe of men-of-war.
  35. Flotsam – noun – floating wreckage.
  36. Mirador – noun – a tower, window, balcony or other vantage point constructed to command an extensive view.
  37. Contravallation – noun – whereas circumvallation is an inside wall to keep besiegers safe from sallies and escape attempts, a contravallation is a wall that keeps the besiegers safe from outside relieving forces, used by Caesar in Gaul.
  38. Postilion – noun – a rider who guides a horse-drawn coach that doesn’t have a coachman by riding abreast to the horses.
  39. Enfilade – verb – to fire or shoot down the length of a ship or formation; to rake the line.
  40. Defilade – verb – to defend while behind cover and invisible to the enemy.
  41. Harl – the Scottish synonym for roughcast which is the type of plaster put on the outside of some buildings and fortifications.
  42. Appel – verb + noun – a tap or partial step of the foot as a feint; a feigned step to confuse an opponent in a fight; a word in league with vor, nach and other infighting terms which I would endlessly list here if I wasn’t going to dedicate a whole post to them.
  43. Equerry – noun – a wrangler, ostler, hostler; specifically an officer in charge of a stable at a noble household.
  44. Bivouac – verb + noun – a camp without defenses or cover, used very briefly.
  45. Caracole – noun – of cavalry with lances, a timed and organized half turn to the left or right as part of a flanking charge against a formation of footmen.
  46. Casque – noun – archaic for helm or helmet.
  47. Redan – noun – a renaissance battlement similar to the bastion projecting from a curtain wall or bulwark, shaped like the tip of an arrowhead.
  48. Daff – verb – to thrust aside; rebut; for example, “the reserve of cavalry daffed the assault as expected.”
  49. Abscond – verb – to secretly leave a place in haste; for example if you knew a great army would arrive at your little bastide in the morning you might abscond in the night to prevent capture.
  50. Leaguer – verb – to besiege; to beleaguer; to reduce, wage attrition.
  51. Laager – verb + noun – to form a baggage train into a defensive circle; a temporary defensive position consisting of this.
  52. Gonfalon – noun – a banner hanging from a crossbar, emblazoning a device. The men who sometimes carried them on cavalcade, the standard-bearers, are called gonfaloniers.
  53. Fusillade – noun – a salvo, sometimes cannonade; specifically a rapid discharge of fusils or fuzees which are flintlock rifles similar to the arquebus or hackbut; hence fusilier, arquebusier and hackbutter.
  54. Convalescence – noun – time spent recovering.
  55. Chivvy – verb – to miff with perpetual petty attacks.
  56. Commissariat – noun – a system for victualing a campaigning army, a crucial system as learned by Napoleon in Russia.
  57. Fyrd – noun – the militia of an Anglo-Saxon shire, mustered during war or rebellion.
  58. Muster roll – noun – an official list of all personnel in a unit or company; similar to roster.
  59. Pons – noun – a temporary bridge over a body of water supported by pontoons.
  60. Echelon – noun – a slantwise battle array of troops or military equipage where multiple formations are overstepping each other.
  61. Salient – noun – a bulge in a frontline or formation; specifically a fensible projection in a landscape where two armies are wreaking war.
  62. Marque – noun – a letter of marque; a license granted to a privateer allowing authority to plunder enemy sailing vessels.
  63. Chevauchée – noun – a method of razing villages to draw the enemy out of their castles and cities, famously used by the Edwards in France.
  64. Bridgehead – noun – a powerful position procured by an army in enemy territory allowing further advancement.
  65. Runegate – noun – a runaway, routing soldier or vagabond.
  66. Schiltron – noun – a dense shield-wall protecting anti-cavalry pikemen, used effectively by the Scottish against the English until cavalry once again became a last resort on the battlefield, replaced by longbow arrows. No matter though. The schiltron was replaced with more will-o’-the-wisp tactics.
  67. Schweinskopf – noun – a military formation for footmen used by medieval Germans, translating into “boar’s head” because one large arrow-shaped column would be flanked by two smaller ears or salients. Likewise the svinfylking or “swine array” was used by vikings.

I referenced no other list while making this list, which has helped to improve my own memory. All words here were found slowly over time by reading history and historical fiction. Historical fiction, despite my love for fantasy, satiates my predilections like no other genre except, of course, litHEMA.

a list of medieval military words

This list will be updated whenever I come across more related words so if you check back here later it may be weightier and prithee leave a comment if you know a word that could be added! If you would like to learn more about my trick for growing one’s vocabulary check this out: How To Triple Your Vocab In A Year!

The “real” Second Renaissance: Revival, Progress and Cooperative Nationalism

Millennials are no longer making the same unethical and environmentally-damaging mistakes made by our predecessors in the Industrial Revolution. Thinkers, noticing this change, like to call our current conditioning “post-modern.” They are right to do so because history is never static. She is contently and constantly on the move. We cannot be modern forever. The word, for me at least, conjures images of World War I and II. But on the other hand, “The Second Renaissance,” when uttered, augurs images of green energy and nations working together.

I have so much hope for the future!

the second renaissance in the 21st century

To make this idea of being passed modern, being in the beginnings of a wide-spread renaissance more understandable for everyone I feel obliged to speak of a phenomenon that since the fall of the Roman Empire has only happened once before: a vast cultural revival due to a vast discovery of precious, old knowledge.

Brief side note: There’s an article on the Huffington Post website about the rise of nationalism in Europe and America. But bear with me here. I’m talking about the revival of national histories. Call it geographical-culturalism if you will. Forget all the secondary and extremist definitions. Nationalism here simply means the conscious awareness that you are part of a nation.

To strengthen the assertion of a “second vast revival” I will, in ambiguous ways, be answering these questions: What changes mark the beginning of the First Renaissance? How do these changes compare to our current situation in the 21st century?

The ending of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance together mark a blurry line, but it’s safe to say these two categories of time merge for roughly one- or two-hundred years. For understanding the differences between these times and ours it’s important to note some things here: People in the Early Middle Ages had no idea they were “being medieval.” Japan, a very educated society, had to learn she was “becoming modern.” And Petrarca, the voice of the Renaissance in 14th century Italy, spoke of a moving forward for the better because being medieval was similar to being barbaric.

Today we are very much moving forward, away from barbarism and modernism. For some people it may not seem like it but really we’re on a planet revolving around in space and we can’t stop ourselves from moving forward. If you are alive and reading this then you are experiencing or are studying the beginnings of the age of the digital coin, the first days of the internet, and together we’re watching a generation of humans be born into a world where their parents are highly distracted by floods of information.

Like Petrarca when he rediscovered and studied ancient writings in the Late Middle Ages, the parents of today are exploring and discovering writings on places like Reddit and universities where people with interests are discussing interesting things.

For the first time ever in human history, people are translating and sharing rediscovered medieval writings, much like Petrarca did for rediscovered ancient writings in the early days of print publishing.

Some minor notes to throw: Just recently, people in Britain were awfully excited to get the Bayeux Tapestry back. And Britain is just one nation. Without the concept of nations, or geographical-cultures, could people in Renaissance France ever hope to get some Frankish artifact back onto mother soil? Speaking of nations, Japan, India, Korea, China, Russia, Mexico, Jamaica, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and many other “modern” nations separate from Europe are likewise becoming more interested in their own pasts because lost information about them is being revealed for the first time in centuries.

Nationalism for many people is a derogatory word because of some lunatic-fringes. This is why I decided to categorize a related phenomenon–“cooperative nationalism.” Nations have been at daggers drawn countless times throughout history, some still are today, but in Canadian universities young people are still being open about their national backgrounds, even Israelis and Palestinians, and, as they’re learning about all the horrible things their nations did to each other in the past, they’re also digging into the fascinating culture each nation has to offer. I call this cooperative nationalism because, not only are students sharing insightful truths around campus and on Reddit, nations themselves are increasingly finding ways to work together and cooperate.

bringing history to life

A vast moving forward. But it’s not all change. A lot of it’s revival. A second renaissance if you will. A resurrection of history

For I see harbors where people are giving tours on ships that were built to replicate real medieval ships. On screens and tablets I see people watching longsword tournaments instead of modern football. In popular culture I see castles and cartoon samurai. Welcome to the Second Renaissance where digital currencies can be discovered in mathematical equations, where answers to ancient questions are being shared in vast quantities and where people are harnessing the wind once more instead of burning coal.

I leave you to enjoy this spectacular time in history.

For you are no longer modern.

Yuk, modern is so drab.

 

 

Medieval Mythbusters: 9 YouTube Channels To Make You Never Look At Medieval Fantasy The Same Way Again

There are hundreds of wonderful channels on YouTube devoted to history and medieval studies. You’ll see the channels here have earned their followers rightly for your academic pleasure. Even though these channels and many others have been branded together as “The Community of the Sword,” each one is very unique. Some channels provide a more in-depth look at traditional fantasy compared to historical reality by commentating on popular movies. Others ignore modern popular culture and teach HEMA and medieval armor at highly professional levels. For your convenience and mine I’ve simply taken the liberty of giving each one a reward.


#1.

Roland Warzecha

Highly Interesting Sword Techniques 


#2.

Scholagladiatoria

World’s Best Sword Debater


#3.

Lindybeige

Best Thought-provoking Rambles and History Lessons


#4.

Skallagrim

Extremely Interesting Medieval Weapon Reviews and Testing


#5.

ThegnThrand

Whoppingly Insightful Medieval Weapon Testing


#6.

Shadiversity

Best Production Quality and Analyses of Misconceptions in Medieval Fantasy 


#7.

Knyght Errant

Best In-depth Analyses of Real Medieval Armor


#8.

Pursuing the Knightly Arts

Most Knowledgeable Armored HEMA Lessons


#9.

Blood and Iron HEMA

Best In-depth Unarmored HEMA Lessons

 

I hope this list served you well. Expect a part 2 because there are hundreds of others worth mentioning.

Happy daydreaming.

Fantasy’s Everlasting Quality: A Service You Can’t Get Anywhere Else

Like any artform fantasy is susceptible to change. Think of 60s rock-and-roll and compare it to modern rock, 90s cartoons compared to cartoons today. Just like how music is changing due to technology, fantasy is changing due to a flux of information on the internet. The re-discovery of medieval combat treatises is putting a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of everyone who works with medieval themes, especially writers.

But as things change the more they stay the same.

And although like a meteor blazing through the heavens the newest mediocrity may outshine the oldest excellence temporarily, the oldest excellences are timeless.

To make an artform timeless it must appeal to people in all times. For example Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is, after so many years, still relevant today. Unlike a briefly best-selling novel written to satisfy temporary tropes, Cervantes’ Don Quixote of the Mancha appeals to minds around the world eternally. And unlike a TV show blindly following a fad in popular culture, The Lord of the Rings, with its valuable insights into comradeship, can never be swept under the rug due to a nuance in fashion. Samwise’s relationship with Frodo can be studied for its truths so long as people are around to study it. To be timeless is to provide a very specific service, a service which, I argue, is what the fantasy genre does best.

The quality most important in making something timeless is a quality fantasy holds above all else.

Fantasy makes life more meaningful.

People, after a day of hard work in this world, can’t wait to get home to their favorite place in the universe–their fantasy world. Whether it exists in a book, a Netflix series or a videogame, their fantasy world, for them, has made the toughest of jobs bearable, the hardest of days worth living.

traditional fantasy

Even after HEMA becomes as popular as boxing and hockey, even after the average fantasy fan can no longer stand unlearned sword fighting choreography in movies, fantasy’s most important feature will be stronger than ever. Just because popular tropes are disintegrating, just because the niches known as low-fantasy and grimdark are becoming more popular, doesn’t mean the heart of traditional fantasy will change. At the end of the day fantasy must provide a service, a service which the word escape doesn’t completely give justice to. Certes, there is no one word to describe how a great fantasy movie can make you feel inside. Beauty, love, growth and understanding are all things we can gain from even the most unrealistic of fantasy stories. These, too, are all things we can gain from ultra realistic fantasy yet to be written.

The fantasy genre’s one everlasting quality is a quality that, to be fully understood, cannot be explained in words but must be experienced through the mind and heart.