Monday, January 2, 2017

All Right, With Feeling

Regarding the structure of bardic knowledge, the focus is something more than enabling a character to sing songs and write poetry.  There is something more inherent that must be part of the class, something that has eluded me up until now and which I think has eluded everyone.

The fighter is a visceral experience.  It strikes at the inner part of the body.  The player feels the axe hitting and breaking the enemy ~ and this is something the player never has the opportunity to feel, because we live in a modern world where we do not gird on swords and go to war (and if we do, it is very different now).

This is why people play a fighter: to have that experience of mastering the weapon, of swinging, of hitting, all of these things being part of the lexicon of the game.  We do not roll the die, we "swing."  We do not succeed in rolling a number, we "hit."

The same is true of the mage, for players want that visceral experience of wielding enormous power, blasting open the gates and engulfing enemies in a blast of flame or lightning.  In no way can we do this in real life.  Nor can we enjoy the death of an unknowing enemy from our knife in his back, nor the pride in communicating with the gods, or in any other thing having to do with the classes in D&D.  We play these characters because we cannot do what these characters do.  This is the appeal.

Then how does the bard fit into this?  The fight is adrenaline, magical power is adrenaline, the back stab is adrenaline, the turning back of undead by sheer force of will is adrenaline . . . where is the bard's adrenaline?

The answer most will give is fame.  Adulation, the shouting of a thousand voices, the celebrity status of the great artist when stepping forth onto the stage.  Except . . .

After a moment's thought, we realize that doesn't work.  The fighter can obtain that visceral pleasure from the death of a single bug, the cleric from the simple restitution of a few hit points, the mage from a single imaginary missile that causes no more than 2-5 damage.  And the bard . . . from two people in an empty bar giving a standing ovation?

See?  The bard, as we tend to view it, needs the huge audience or else it's a let-down.  That's because we've fetishized the bard as a celebrity, as the inevitable receiver of other people's affection ~ but that's nothing more than a sort of dependency.  The sort of artists who crave approval invariably come up short in the end. There is never enough approval, not even for the incomprehensibly famous, certainly not for Elvis or Marilyn.  Fame is worse than fleeting, it is unsatisfying, it is a broiling, magnificent cup of smoking, multi-colored liquid that has less taste than water upon the pallet.  It is not what artists are made of.

If we are to give the player the visceral experience of being an artist, we must begin with the premise that they have no understanding whatsoever of what it means to create art.  Some of us do, oh ho, but most see the process as either incomprehensible or unquestionably frightening.  The greatest fear of the largest number of people, it is said, is to be on stage and face an audience ~ that thing that artists are somehow willing to do not once, but every day, sometimes with two shows on Saturday.

How do we tap into that?  How do we realize the struggle of the artist prior to the creation of the art ~ that doubt, that uncertainty, that unknowing terror that this artwork will fail, the embarrassing shame of churning artwork that might succeed and taint us for the rest of our lives.

Art is never a clear, certain success, like we imagine it must be for every bard who would enter the game.  The fighter will ultimately become Jenghis Khan, the wizard will ultimately be Gandalf and the bard will ultimately be . . . who, exactly?  Name the greatest bard of the 17th century, or the 15th, or the 12th.  Do we know them from the crowds of people who followed after them or do we not merely know them from a single book, as we know Roland, put together by someone else a century after Roland's death.

Nevermind, the character's bard will be Elvis, yes?  Everyone knows who Elvis was.

But why should that be the case?  Can we not think of lesser artists who are still admired and appreciated? Of course, yes.  But we can also think of artists who did not have the lives they wanted, or the fame they cherished.  I am thinking here about Alec Guinness, who spent his life becoming a celebrated actor of stage and screen, only to hate the last quarter of it as thousands of adoring fans gushed over him for a role that he took for money, that he considered not worth bothering about.  Or, if we prefer the profane, what became of Pee Wee Herman's career after he became known as a public masturbator?  Do we remember any of Joan Crawford's movies or do we remember that she beat her children?  Isn't it strange that Mickey Rooney, who appeared in hundreds of films, has become best known for a bad, in poor taste portrayal of an upstairs Japanese neighbor.

What does it say that Gloria Gaynor, a steadfast Christian whose career was founded on the iconic hit I will Survive, was never comfortable with it becoming the gay anthem.  What does it say that J.D. Salinger's book Catcher in the Rye became a wank manual for would-be terrorists?  And what sort of career did Salinger have, or Harper Lee for that matter, after writing an iconic book read by tens of millions, they were unable to produce another title remembered by anyone?  What does it mean to be a group of artists, like the Osmonds in the 1970s, who had more than a dozen top 40 hits, none of which are played now on any oldies station outside Utah (where, I assume, it is a state law).  Success is a brutal, difficult to understand thing, and is certainly not tied to fame.  Charles Bukowski was never "famous," but any serious poet alive today has read him.  Nietzche lived his whole life in an unpleasant vista of social hatred and obscurity, but he merely changed the world.

What defines success?  What offers the artist what the artist needs or wants?  We have to understand these things if we want to give the ordinary, everyday, non-artistic player the opportunity to be an artist for a few hours every few weeks.

That's the goal.  Anything short of that is simply window dressing.


Maxwell Joslyn said...

If I understand it right, the questions are:

1) what it means to succeed as a bard, i.e. an artist? It's not just fame.

2) how can we turn whatever-artistic-success-is into a playable concept?

Hmm ... if fame is the wrong thing to measure for bardic success, maybe we can get somewhere by considering that each class (in your rules) has ways to influence others.

Torture and murder for the assassin; theft and the consequent disruption of others' economic affairs for the thief; preaching to incite reactions, as well as being crucial to the community's physical/mental wellbeing, for the cleric; magical prowess and potency for the mage; skill at arms and at leading men for the fighter. What can the bard gain along these lines?

Maybe it doesn't square with what you brought up about some artists only having a few successes and then fading into obscurity. But that might be more a consequence of change in public opinion about the type of art those artists were good at, the particular style of music or what have you, and not a matter of the artist in question lacking prowess. No matter the artist's skill level, he or she will "get nowhere" (i.e. have no success) without a receptive audience.

So while the core bardic abilities are art-producing abilities -- music, sculpture, what have you -- there might be a reason to accord them some limited powers of persuasion, which work for the purpose of trying to get people to pay attention to the art in the first place. Only then can there be the possibility of someone being influenced to some greater action, due to the art striking them in a particular way.

Am I helping at all? I'm not sure I've actually said much.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

Upon reading your line about the player "getting to be an artist" by playing a bard, I had the idea of the player being able to pick a piece of art -- an image from google search, or a musical piece, or whatever is appropriate to the character's art specialty -- and working with the DM, and under limits related to size, complexity, etc., translate that art piece into a form the character can actually produce.

I don't think that's the right track at all, but it came to mind.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

Oh oh: however misguided, one thing the idea I posted does get right is the player being inspired by something, and then working to make it a (game) reality. Sort of like the real art process in miniature.

A possible flaw: to enjoy picking pieces of art and trying to come up with gamified versions of them requires a player who is already artistically inclined.

A counterpoint: is it so bad to ask that a player who wants to play an artist put in a little legwork to form a personal sense of artistic style? At first blush it seems wrong. There's no such stricture for other classes: a player not inclined to be violent in real life can derive terrific joy from playing a fighter or assassin.

But this is a game. By participating in pretend situations which are analogous to, but not entirely like, the real world, the player can actually gain some sense of how both the pretend situations and their real-world equivalents operate, thereby becoming a more ... enlightened person. You know what I mean, right? This is one of the things you believe, right?

So maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing after all if part of bard play was to cultivate, within the game framework, one's own artistic taste. Just as the fighter's play can, within the game's framework, cultivate an understanding of how to manage and deploy soldiers and other limited resources (logistics).


Alexis Smolensk said...

But you're thinking.

Let me add something to the mix.

Fighters sometimes fail and miss. Mages sometimes fail and the target saves. Thieves sometimes fail and don't surprise. And so on.

How does the bard FAIL?

Alexis Smolensk said...

No, we don't want to demand that the player be responsible for being a bard in any way, any more than we demand the player study magic in order to play a magician.

We've been thinking that way for 40 years with the bard ~ and as a result, the idea remains compelling but the follow through has always been a total failure.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

When you put like that, yeah, I see how what I was saying is on the same continuum as twerpy DMs who make bard players sing/dance/act in order to trigger their effects. Point taken.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

Well, what are the real-world failures an artist can experience?

Having a novel vision but lacking an appreciative audience or patron is a failure to find the right people, but not a failure of the art itself.

Having a novel idea but being unable to express it concretely as an art work ... that's definitely a failure, although this kind of "failure" is often temporary and is usually experienced by the artist as spinning one's wheels. Approaching success through approximations to what is ultimately the "final" work.

Dani Osterman said...

I think part of the difficulty is the result of the trope that art is only worthwhile after the death of the creator, and it is seldom celebrated in its own time. Nietzche's work was unremarked upon until after his passing, J.S. Bach remained ignomious for about a century after his, and so on.

To reframe Maxwell's initial thrust, perhaps we can think about bardic success as 'tastemaking'. Artworks are strongly related to the exact time and location of their creation and can be thought of as reflecting or subverting the accompanying culture. A 'successful' piece of art is one that becomes a topic in artistic discourse (the benchpost here will shift for each medium - pop music is dependent upon contemporaneous success, literature upon dissemination in literary circles, etc.). A successful bard is one that produces artworks that are commented upon by the appropriate audience. Thus, a painter or author does not necessarily know, 6 months from the date of authorship, if they are "successful" or not, but the musician often is.

Dani Osterman said...

Failure in this context, more than failing to produce a properly representative artwork, is producing an artwork that does not become noteworthy by the appropriate audience. For example, Christopher Columbus' direction of the first two Harry Potter films - he very transparently presented J.K. Rowlings' books without editorializing them. It is an artistic decision that fails to stir conversation.

Jonathon said...

I think Maxwell's idea about failure being stunted progress towards a final work is the right tack. Art is a process, and much of the work is done outside the view of the intended audience. Painters can spend a lot of time sketching and reworking their paintings; chefs can spend weeks fiddling with a recipe before serving to someone else; musicians play with riffs and poets search for the right phrase and comedians adjust the timing to get a joke right before it is ready for their set.

Maybe what's needed is the idea of an artistic portfolio and/or work-in-progress that the bard can spend time and materials investing in. Success adds to the completion of the work; failure indicates no useful progress. Only completed works have a full effect on their audience - those who are offered an incomplete work get only incomplete effects (whatever those effects may prove to be.)

So a chef can have a recipe that's lacking a key ingredient, a sculptor can have roughs of the final product that don't have the impact of their best pieces, and so on.

Jonathon said...

Or to play off Dani's point about uninspiring works, maybe each attempt adds a certain irreducible amount of progress to the final work and failures reduce the end-quality. A masterwork is made up of only successes; the bulk of a bard's offerings are a mix of successes and failures, and the stuff he hides in his desk drawer in an envelope marked "do not publish, not even after my death" is the stuff she just couldn't get to work during most of the time she spent hammering at it.

Stuart Lloyd said...

Maybe the artist attempts to make a connection with someone using a method (maybe you could stretch it to "language"?) that is a bit hit and miss and runs the danger of being misenterpreted. People also talk about art not belonging to the artist once it has been released. In game terms, maybe when the bard has created something with varying degrees of intricacy and technical skill (increasing the difficulty), the receiver has to make a wisdom check against the difficulty used to produce it to see if they "get the message". If they succeed, they could get some kind of bonus based on the difficulty - something related to inspiration or, at higher levels, a revelation of the kind that people have when they say 'Reading x book changed my life and allowed me to be a better person'. A failure might lead to people admiring it, but 'not getting the message' and a critical failure might lead to a situation where people completely misinterpret it and start admiring you for the wrong reasons (such as everyone associating Alec Guinness with Star Wars). If this happens on a mass scale, then the bard can get different reactions from people who have seen the bard's work depending on what the predominant roll is. If it isnpires lots of people, they can react very favourably. A lot of critical failures and people may react favourably, but in an irritating way to the extent that they are ignoring the bard's feelings and treating them like a chariacture of themselves. Too many failures and the bard will not be known. I guess there could be bonuses to peoples' rolls depending on whether the art is based on a current event, a popular religion or something that people can relate to in the way that a picture of Jesus is likely to have more resonance in a predominantly catholic country than it is in a Hindu country.

That's something off my head.

Samuel Kernan said...

It seems to me there is room to explore the difference between the great works an artist might eventually produce after long struggle, and the day to day things that an artist (and only an artist) can do while pursuing that struggle.

The fighter might aspire to slay an army one day, but he gets there by first killing (or failing to kill) the two guards in front of him right now. The cleric wants to bring her prophecy to all the followers of her religion, but she starts by healing one person and thus gaining a follower.

Even as artists labors to bring forth the great works, they have many skills
they apply every day (not all of which are doing the great work in miniature). The architect might build one cathedral in a lifetime, but on an extremely small scale, perhaps she can suggest how to rearrange a room so that it performs its duty better (provide rest, impress an audience, get people to buy things, etc).

To some degree the bard already has day-to-day abilities in the form of some spells, but perhaps there is room for more only-through-art abilities?

Samuel Kernan said...

More thoughts: Day to day, the artists could be keen observers of their own lives and of the world around them. All those observations, all that practice, adds up to the ability to create great works, eventually, but in the meantime, is there some way that can be put to use day to day, in human interactions and even in combat?

I was thinking that this could mean seeing opportunities in combat improving the party's abilities by getting the timing of things just so (providing bonuses?), but maybe it means that an artist can react to both mundane and novel events in their lives and create something greater out of it.

Slogging through the wilderness for weeks? The artist takes all those hitpoints lost from cold and wet, all the times pitching and breaking camp, all the trails found and lost and found again, and turns it into something that redeems the experience for the party (helps them carry on toward their goal? convinces others to aid them?).

Beloved character or companion dies? The artist turns it into a work that keeps some of the spirit of that character alive (helping the party maintain the dead character's allies and contacts? or an intercession by the spirit of that character?)

If, as a bard, I could take all the trials and triumphs that I have been through with my comrades and turn that into a song, a sculpture, something that that heartens and emboldens friends, convinces doubters, and dismays foes, that would be an awesome experience to have in the game.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Stuart, as usual, you are almost dead on the same page as me. Samuel, you too, though not in terms of the content of this post. I do intend to give bards the ability to know things, though I am absolutely not giving them bonuses associated with combat!

But feng shui? Possibly. Certainly an artist of some varieties might raise everyone's spirits through a cold and wet slog, to keep them from falling down dead; I was actually thinking that a bard could be a sort of CLO addition. This is what I meant with the last post when I said that making up a new rule means I get to make up new ways to modify it. Why wouldn't a bard be able to do that?

Have you seen the 1962 film, How the West Was Won? In it, one of the characters on the wagon trail gets everyone's spirits up by starting a dance and group singing. Every played the death game, Oregon Trail? Everything can kill you. In different ways, I don't see the Bard being able to stop a crisis from happening, but very often they can make the aftermath ENDURABLE.

Anyway, Stuart. Yes. The bard sets out to make something and the question is, does the bard's vision match the bard's effect? That was the point of the examples I gave in the post. Most of the examples are of people who achieved success, but not the sort they expected; or they didn't find the success as easy to manage as they hoped; or despite being so certain of their success, it never materialized or, worse, it faded away into obscurity.

Consider the Osmonds, which are a sort of modern-day Salieri. In the mid-70s, as far as success, they compared with Elton John and they smashed the hell out of David Bowie. And most of them are still alive today. How do they deal with that? What is it like, remembering the adulation and then, it's all gone.

Like the young people used to ask when I was in my 30s: "Was Paul McCartney in a band before Wings?"

And of course the question is now, "Who's Paul McCartney?"

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Put as simply as I am able, isn't the bard's (artist's) goal to move people and success or failure therefore merely a measure of how many were moved and to what degree? In this manner, a stage musician with 10,000 fans eating out of the palm of her hand for a fleeting moment, the filmmaker making a lasting piece of art that moves millions for decades, the raconteur who rouses the local populace to action and the "life of the party" who keeps things light and enjoyable with witty banter, song or impromptu comedy are all utilizing the same system.

You mentioned CLO, Alexis, but I'm also thinking back to the Conflict! system you took up and then set aside. The bard's power is influencing people, moving them toward a desired emotional state or action, be they his enemies, his friends or total strangers. Elvis is maybe a bard, but so too is the busker working for change... so too must be Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc and Osama Bin Laden.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Pulling the thread on this further, and in response to thoughts posted above, the artist's or the wide world's satisfaction with the art produced becomes irrelevant in game terms, so fame may or may not be a byproduct. It is secondary. A bard that convinces one ruler to take a desired action that changes the course of history is more or less powerful than the Osmond's in the 70's? That's a rhetorical question, of course. Speaking of rhetoric, that becomes an art if not already. Any medium by which people are moved is art. Oration, poetry, sculpting, painting, etc... D&D art becomes a sort of argument not just for itself, but to some specific end of the artist's stated in game terms. I want to write a play that makes certain people hate a certain other people, I want to write a song that rouses an army to war, I want to make an argument that saves a friend in court.

If the goal is to move others, how then does the bard gain experience points though practicing his art. If a bard is the voice that launches a thousand ships, does the bard get a cut of the XP from killing and looting?

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

A character's level could determine how moved he or she is by art. I don't know if this is a saving throw or begs for another subsystem. I suspect while I would lean toward the simplicity of the former, Alexis would favor a more nuanced approach on the latter if we're on the same page at all. The jaded ruler could only be swayed by a master Svengali. The rabble will riot over a maudlin speech in the commons.

Alexis Smolensk said...


I believe you are going down the same road that has kept the bard in the ghetto all these years. Remember that the first interpretation was that the bard would cast charm with every song. Since, it has always been reimagined again and again as a class revolving around charm, suggestion, influence, etcetera.

But there is a problem with this: one, it is way to powerful. It disrupts gaming in that the bard circumvents every context with having charm on tap. Two, it is deathly dull, particularly for the other player characters. And three, it is not a STRUGGLE for the character who is a bard.

You bring up the conflict cards. I had the same problem with those. Once in place, the online party immediately tried to use them as a way to force other people to serve and obey, rather than as a means to share information. I had no way to restrain this urge, so I retired the cards. Real human interaction does not work that way. You don't meet strangers and then order them about by the power of your will and your charisma! But fundamentally, if you give the bard the power you suggest, that is what players will try to do with it.

And besides, I have a considerable contention with the statement, "the bard's (artist's) goal is to move people." Artists also make things for THEMSELVES. Because we spend so much of our time in obscurity, we have to please ourselves first, else we will quit working. IF others happen to like it, that's great, that's marvelous . . . but when an artist spends all their time trying to "move" people, what you get is utter crap, like the Hunger Games movies, or television like Full House and Everyone Loves Raymond, or the music stylings of the Osmonds and Demi Lovato.

As well, I'd like to point out that NONE of the celebrities in today's landscape have ANY influence over any world leader, authority or policy. Elvis on the world stage was a joke. Barbra Streisand's attempts to get into politics in the 80s was a joke. Katy Perry did not get Hillary elected. Artists have ZERO power directly as artists; the only ones who I can think of who obtained any real influence are those who quit art and joined politics, like Glenda Jackson in Britain or Al Franken in America.

So I think you're on the wrong track; it SEEMS logical, but as I say, it has gone nowhere in 40 years towards making the bard a legitimate, working character.

And yes, the bard has to earn experience through fighting, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

I accept that we disagree, since people will argue about what is and isn't art and why long after we're dead. But I don't accept your notion that an artist moving people equates to "selling out" when drawn to its natural conclusion and thought that was expressed sufficiently above. Further, I challenge you or anyone to provide evidence of any person or persons being moved in the way I describe by "Full House". I mean, come on man. You're arguing against something there, but nothing I actually wrote above.

The intent of all art is to move people, how many people is irrelevant. I stand by that. If the artist only ever moves himself he has still achieved art. If the artist is unmoved by her art but the art moves others, are they less an artist? I argue no. It's a subjective thing, maybe, but no less so when you define art by the artist's intent and not the result.

You're also not addressing my including political and historical figures not generally considered artists but the leaders of movements as "bards". Katy Perry isn't the bard, Hillary is was part of my point. Not a very good one, it turns out, but I was expanding the way the class could be interpreted. Perhaps you simply disagree with me, but I can't tell if that's it or if you just missed my point, as you didn't address at all what I felt was at the core of what I stated.

I'd like to see you pull the bard out of the ghetto, to borrow your phrase, but struggle to see where you're trying to take it and how it differs significantly from the "wrong" track.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Further, moving people to a desired emotional state or action as I describe is not the same as a charm spell and seems right in line with your path of inquiry. My arguments above where they touched upon actual results in the game were vague, perhaps, but included convincing or swaying people as a possible outcome along with the lightening of a party's burdens and the firing of their spirits that you and others mentioned. Did I miss some nuance? Did you? Did I do a bad job expressing it? Where are we misunderstanding one another?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Point by point, then.

The stage musician with 10,000 fans eating out of the palm of her hand was built, designed and created by a record producer whose purpose it is to make stars and fill auditoriums. Her personal "art" may have encouraged the producer to pick her from among thousands of others, but we all know that most of the time her appearance and her willingness to be a slave to the company is as important as her "art." We also know that many such "artists" are people with good voices.

The filmmaker wants a lasting piece of art, but of course every filmmaker I've ever met hopes for that, but it doesn't keep tens of thousands of films being made that don't receive notice; moreover, I feel that most of the time the film becomes "a lasting piece of art" because, again, it had a lot of money behind it, not just in terms of the making of the film, but also in terms of the Hollywood machine that sells and pushes and re-releases and hammers the film into the media and the audience, through endless marketing and t-shirts and toys, sold to children, who are easily impressed, who then vouchsafe the value of the film because it reminds them of when they were little children and NOT because of the artistic merit of the film.

We are closer to the raconteur who is the life of the party, I can certainly see a bard in that role, but most of the raconteurs that I have met, read about or seen profiled in media or history were incredibly narcissistic, self-indulgent monsters in real life, often drunk, often abusive, who only cared that other people were "moved" if it meant other people loved them. I'm having trouble seeing the artistic merit in, say, Fitzgerald's notorious drunkenness around town, except that Lit Professors seem to think that it somehow makes The Great Gatsby more worthy as a descriptive novel of 20s New York.

Winston Churchill is NOT a bard. Nor is Joan of Arc or Osama Bin Laden. The latter two are religious zealots, calling on religion with every breath, while Churchill is absolutely a paladin. Have you read any discourse about his young life, as he ran off for adventure to make the world a better place? I've read his books, it is very plain from his prose that he couldn't give a rat's ass about presentation. Yes, he has a high charisma, but that doesn't make him a bard. So frankly, I skipped this out of politeness, because these examples are simply ridiculous.

From there, I chose to follow up on your theme of the BARD "moving" people rather than on the theme of the ART moving people. The post above addressed the issue of what the BARD does ~ how the bard interacts with the world, how the player feels like the bard, etcetera. In terms of that, the influence of the art is immaterial ~ but I took it to mean that you felt the bard could directly influence people, directly argue, directly cause people to hate one another directly write a song that arouses an army to war, that is, charm them.

Yes, the art can do that, but we were talking about what the BARD can do, and your reference to the conflict cards certainly caused me to believe this was your point. Plainly, I was in error here.

But I absolutely, absolutely and with diamonds on it, feel that it is a matter of sheer folly to conceive of rules where any character's level is somehow adjusted by their esoteric connection to their personal class. The first rule of game design: DON'T BREAK RULES IN PLACE THAT WORK. Whatever the bard is, however it is designed, it has to obey the same rules regarding level, combat, survival, etcetera, that every other class has. Yet I have seen attempts to do exactly what you're proposing, giving experience for songs written and other such crap ~ and you ought to know already how I feel about that sort of thing. So yes, that was a visceral response on my part, that got right the fuck under my skin.

Am I closer to addressing your point now?

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Taking your last point first, I didn't propose a bard gained experience points from the song itself, you will note. But from where a work of art's existence led to plunder and combat. If the song inspires a fight does the bard get a cut of the XP from the fight? If a general wins a war in your world I seem to recall the plunder of the war being XP-worthy. If my fighter leads the army that takes the castle, my fighter gets XP for the castle and those things found within it. My question was only, would the bard who helped drive the army on also see some benefit?

Separating the bard from the art he or she creates as you have clearly done perhaps answers this as "no". Once created, even if performed numerous times by the creator, the art becomes a separate entity your point, yes? I see now that I was not making that distinction very clearly or at all in my arguments, and may not have even realized how important the distinction was until just now.

Your words, emphasis mine:

"... In regards to social climate, why do people get more intoxicated near the artwork? Is it the artwork, or is it really what the artwork affects groups of people together. Here we need to think of the artwork as a song or a great poem, where the common room of a roadhouse grow closer together in the dim firelight, transformed from lonely individuals to a beloved collective through the words of the bard; where the intoxication that is obtained isn't a falling down drunk starting a bar fight, but three score people all incomprehensibly happy and soused to the gills."

What you describe above is included in what I see as moving people toward an intended emotion or action. But the art could just as easily accomplish the opposite, making them belligerent or scared. Or, yes, rouse them to fight. That doesn't make it a charm spell. I never address "things" such as softer stone or more robust plants in my arguments, but that doesn't mean I don't see the great potential there.

Do you foresee separating intent from result? Does the bard set out to make a sculpture that eases the toil of mining for 10 miles or is this a result of the bard achieving a singular result with the art?

Churchill as paladin, that is interesting and yes it feels right. I fail to see why a bard can't be a zealot, though, in the case of Bin Laden and Joan of Arc or why religion must be the province of clerics only. Perhaps taking claims of having a direct line to God at face value makes them each a cleric, I can accept that. With my examples I was reaching for those whose endeavors moved people in a significant way. You seemed to imply Nietzsche was a bard and I was thinking in that vein. In your world would or could a philosopher be a bard and therefore a philosophy a work of art? What was Pythagoras, a bard or a magic user or something else? Marx? It's a subjective pursuit to stat-up the likes of these sorts but necessary for your world I suspect. Based on things you've written here and before I know you've at least considered what level and class famous historical figures possessed.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Do you foresee separating intent from result? Does the bard set out to make a sculpture that eases the toil of mining for 10 miles or is this a result of the bard achieving a singular result with the art?

To avoid unnecessary confusion and argument, let me ask the above more clearly: Does the bard set hammer and chisel to stone with the intent of making a sculpture that allows for easier mining and stone-cutting or does the bard simply set hammer and chisel to stone hoping to make art, its effects to be determined later.

Alexis Smolensk said...


See the post I've just written. That should make my position on a new bard clearer.