Friday 25 November 2011

Are We Fan-Bloggers the Minstrels of Modern Times?

For some time now I wonder, if the Medieval minstrels and the art of minnesong has quite some similarities to fan-blogging, especially RA-fan-blogging of our times.

Abaelard and Eloise (by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1882)
Some special signs of Medieval minnesongs were:

* that the singer had no chance of gaining the direct favour / love of his admired woman.

* that the woman was beyond reach and his own station.
(It was even a requirement to search for an admirable woman well beyond one's own station.)

* that the woman was good and had admirable qualities (at least after the minstrel searched long and wide for them or created and invented them himself. [No comparison to RA-fan-blogging in the later case, as here the admired qualities quite obviously exist for real!]).

* that the minstrel defended and advertised the good qualities of his chosen lady.

* that the lady was most important, who had the most minstrels singing her praise. (Quite obviously a strong element in fan-votings, when even illegal methods are used to enhance the number of votes to show the importance of the admired 'star'.)

* that the minstrel polished and enhanced his art and artfulness by describing the qualities of a certain lady. (Who in my opinion sometimes even took second place compared to the art itself.)

* that the minnesongs were created to form one's own character and develop genteel ways of behaviour and to strengthen the ability to observe and find human qualities. This technique to better one's character and judgment was especially encouraged in lawyers and diplomats, so you see, in branches were truthfulness was not that important [No or indeed pun intended, but only at the right places and not regarding RA-fans or fan-bloggers ;o)].

Quite obviously beyond my station ;o)
(Captain America Premiere, New York 2011)
The only evident difference I see between Medieval minstrels and modern fan-bloggers is, that most (or all?) known minstrels were male and it was an especial recommendation for men, to practice this art of character building and self-enhancement. (Women were generally thought not to need such refinement ;o)
Today's fan-bloggers, especially in the RA-world (which is the only one I know ;o) are (mostly or all?)  female.

Please share with me, what you think about modern fandom and female self-betterment by being a RA-fan ;o) 
I am quite eager to learn, how you see this comparison and modern fandom.

P.S.: I know that Abaelard and Eloise are not the right example for platonic love, but at least, Abaelard wrote a lot of love poetry for his adored Eloise, so I hope you might forgive me for my lapse and rudimentary memory of my former studies ;o)


  1. This is a really good question. Gonna have to think about this one but I think there's a certain amount of truth to it. Fic writers definitely engage in idealization (not that there's anything wrong with that) and there's a large amount of fan lore about what a great guy RA is. Hmm...I'll get back to you. Great post!

  2. @jazzbaby1
    Thank you very much, Jazzbaby1!
    I am looking forward to your comments. I had this post in mind for quite a long time, hesitated, hesitated again, ... and now thought, it is time. I need to get if off my mind and just get it out and see what comes of it ;o)

  3. You bring up some good points. I can see the similarities now that you mention them.

    As a blogger, I thrive on the interaction with others. However, I know some writers and artists, mostly outside the RA-universe, who choose not to share their work.

  4. @bccmee
    Thank you, bccmee. I love the open and communicative way of blogs and find the exchange very stimulating. Your collective fan-art creations really create a wonderful group feeling !!!
    Sometimes, I have projects which I need to 'bake out' myself and can't speak about them till they are finished, so for me it depends a bit, sometimes I can do exchange during the creative process, other times I need to close down till I worked it out myself and every different opinion just would be too much to bear for me during that time ;o)

  5. @CDoart: It makes sense. I make my graphics rather quickly but when there is time, I do ask for feedback from friends and my sister. If I was a writer, I would certainly want someone to edit and give their opinions on flow. While I am fairly good at grammar and spelling, I do make mistakes and typos of course. On at least two occasions I made typos on my graphics, but luckily some kind souls told me, LOL! In one instance, I mistyped "Armitage." :D

  6. This is really, really apt. (Makes me jealous that I hadn't thought of it.) It's an interesting way, too, that the gender conventions of Minnesang can be inverted to serve the creativity of women as well. I don't so much like the Abelard/Heloise comparison (although I suppose I could see myself as a theologian manqué), but you could add to your comparison the ritual violence that surrounded notions of chivalric love. Song competitions like blogging rivalries?


  7. @bccmee
    Oh, texts ;o) I sometimes even have an aversion to re-read my own texts to correct them ;o) Fortunately not, where RA is concerned ;o)
    But I also have the problem, that finding my own mistakes is much more difficult than finding others.
    At university I had a teacher who told us, to get rid of all mistakes, read each word of a text starting from its end and go through it to the beginning, but that is really an awfully boring way to do that, but in short texts this technique sometimes really helps me.

  8. @servetus
    Thank you for your lovely feedback, Servetus. No jealousy required. I fully admire your blog !!!
    Your comment really overwhelms me!!!

    I can well understand your hesitancy with Abelard and Heloise, especially with your theological approach. What I especially like in the pair is, that Abelard tried to change his theological theories to accomodate Heloise and women in general in the church. What a lovely sign what love and favourable approach can do to religion ;o)

    With the violence and competitions, that is a really good comparison and with a direct equivalent in the blogging sphere ;o)
    Fortunately the violence is kept in check in RA-fandom by lovely bloggers like you and an overwhelming sense of friendship and support!!!
    Thank you, Servetus !!!

  9. Plenty of violence where Abélard and Héloïse were concerned, that's for sure! (Aww, makes me want to re-watch Stealing Heaven ... even if it's subtitled in Dutch without an option to switch the subtitles off!)

    Very interesting post. Fascinating concept to draw comparisons between minstrels and fanbloggers. "Minstrel" does have a nice ring to it, it has to be said! :D

  10. @Traxy
    How brave of you to see a film about Abelard and Heloise. I don't think I would be able to do that. I would cry from beginning to the bitter ending. What a tragic lovers' fate.

    Thank you for your feedback and I am glad you enjoy the comparison to 'minstrels' ;o)

  11. Fascinating post! I love the comparison. Although I never would have thought myself a minstrel, I rather like the idea! (But I'm afraid I'm more of a jester.) ;)

  12. @phylly3
    Thank you, Phylly! I think the differentiation between minstrels and jesters were and are fluent ;o)

  13. Very interesting post. I can see the similarities and certainly RA inspires women to explore their creativity in ways they may not have been encouraged to do before. That can certainly fall under "self-betterment." RA is beyond reach and has admirable qualities (as far as we know anyway).
    I can say from my very limited observation and comparing the RA fandom with only one other fandom that I belong to, I will have to say that he certainly inspires more bloggers than is the case in my other "fandom". Not only number of bloggers but the variety of types of blogs that are inspired by RA is certainly fascinating to watch - and to be a small part of. It would be interesting to catalog all the RA blogs out there, active and inactive :)

  14. @Fabolaktuko
    Thank you very much, Fabolaktuko!
    A list of all RA-blogs really sounds an interesting project. Perhaps we can start something like such a collection on the Richard-Fan-Art page?!

  15. Hi C! My -that would be quite a job. I think it would be interesting to catalog them, who does humor, photo blogs, etc. Then again, there are some sites and blogs now that have pretty comprehensive lists I would think.

  16. @Fabolaktuko
    With an open contribution request a structured list might perhaps work out without being too much of a burden. Must think about that some more, but it will most likely be 'next year' ;o)