ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
[personal profile] ladyofastolat
Musing about the search for the Holy Grail last night, I began to wonder if the introduction of certain aspects of modern technology would have made the whole quest easier or harder. The words are inspired by Malory. The content is... not.

___

At the feast of Pentecost, when all the fellowship of Camelot were comen unto Camelot, right so there entered into the hall a damosel clad in white samite. "Arthur," quoth the damosel, "thou and thy knights must search for the Holy Grail," and as she spoke, there came a light seven times brighter than day, and singing from the empty air.

And all the fellowship did jump unto their feet. "I will search for the Holy Grail!" they cried with great voice, but King Arthur sank his head into his hands and sat a little while apart. "Alas," he said, "for this will be the undoing of our fair fellowship."

Sir Gawain was the first to start upon his search. Many dangers did he face, but at length, after many trices, his speaking device was within his hand. "I will search for the Holy Grail," quoth Sir Gawain, "by the power of Android," and with his fingertips, he traced the words "holy grail," and searched for it.



"I have found the Grail!" Sir Gawain cried. "It lies in a distant place yclept eBay, but I have seen an image of it, and it shall be mine." And so Sir Gawain did place a bid upon the Holy Grail of the land of eBay, but ere it could become his, another knight rode up at a mighty wallop and stood against him in the bidding yard. Many passes did the two knights ride against each other, and both were sorely wounded by anxiety and lack of sleep, but at length the heralds cried an end and Sir Gawain won the Grail.

"Sire," said Sir Gawain, "I have won the Grail for you," but when it arrived, it was not as described, being mere plastic, with "made in Taiwan" inscribed upon its base. And so Sir Gawain waxed full wroth and tried to find the hermit of eBay who had sold this false Grail to him, but he could not be found. "I will track him down and have my revenge!" cried Sir Gawain, and he rode from Camelot and was never seen again.

So now let us leave Sir Gawain and turn to Sir Tristan. Sir Tristan began to search for the Holy Grail, but soon he strayed from his quest, and followed links that led to many other places, some full fair and some passing strange. For many days, Sir Tristan wandered through the dense forest of TVTropes, and could not see an ending. But then a message came to him. "Thou hast email," said the message, and so Sir Tristan read the email and gasped aloud in joy.

"I have found the Grail!" Sir Tristan cried. "The Grail lies in a distant place yclept Nigeria. Knights loyal to the exiled king of that fair land have heard of my prowess at arms and have chosen me to be the one to win their lord his throne again. They will give me the Holy Grail as a reward. All I must do is give them all my worldly wealth and the secret words that unlock my hidden store."

So Sir Tristan did all that they did ask, but winter found him naked and sorrowful, with no sword at his side and no clothes upon his back. "Alas!" cried King Arthur, but Sir Tristan went forth into the world as a beggar, and was seen no more by man nor beast.

Let us turn now to Sir Palomides. Sir Palomides braved many dangers in his search for the Holy Grail, but Sir Palomides was cautious and Sir Palomides was careful. When rumours of a Grail came to him, he stopped to question them, but at length he came to accept the tales as truth.

"I have found the Grail!" Sir Palomides cried. "It lies within the Castle Corbenic. I will ride there forthwith!" But Sir Palomides was wise from many years questing, and afore he set out, he consulted a book yclept QuestAdvisor. Castle Corbenic, it seemed, had a 'disturbing atmosphere', or so the book sayeth. The daughter of the house was a 'little too friendly, if you know what I mean,' the cook, Dame Brisen, was 'creepy,' the baths were too hot, and there was a certain issue of flying arrows in the night.

"I will not go to such a place!" said Sir Palomides, and he went instead to a nice little B&B in Dorset, with afternoon tea on the lawn every day, in proper china cups. In the fulness of time he married the landlady and never returned to Camelot for as long as he lived.

Now we will tell of Sir Lancelot. Sir Lancelot had a longer journey than all the other knights of the fellowship of the Round Table, for Sir Lancelot possessed neither smart speaking device nor tablet. Sir Lancelot had an ancient desktop in a distant tower, and the journey there was long and hard and fraught with perils various. But at length Sir Lancelot reached the machine, and there he embarked upon his search.

"I have found the Grail!" Sir Lancelot cried. But in his youth, Sir Lancelot had been rash, much given to running wild in forests and riding great wallops at random knights. He was older now, and he had learnt to be cautious. When he found the Grail, he paused to read reviews. 'You don't want to get a Grail!' some a wise man on a forum. 'Grails are so last year. What you really want is a fragment of the True Cross.' 'No, you fool!' opined another wise man. 'What you want is the Spear of Destiny!'

And so Sir Lancelot lingered long and lingered hard, reading reviews and reading opinions and making lists and comparing specifications. At length, paralyzed by indecision, he did run wild into the woods once more, and there he lived upon roots and seeds and was never seen again.

I will tell now of Sir Perceval. Sir Perceval was young and pure, and his mind was on higher things than spelling. When Sir Perceval started upon his search for the Holy Grail, he was distracted by prayer, and instead he searched for "Holey Mrail." 'Do you mean holey mail?' asked the voice of Google. "Is that the voice of God?" said Sir Perceval. "Does the Lord wish me to go into battle wearing mail with holes in it? I will do so, Lord, to show my faith in you!" And so he did, and was wounded so dolefully in his next tourney that he never returned to Camelot again.

We do not have time to tell of the other knights: of Sir Galahad, who believed a voice that told him that he was the millionth visitor to a castle and would win great riches, or of Sir Bors, who failed to read the small print which said, 'it's only a model,' or of Sir Kay, who merely searched for "cups" and was lost for ever more in the endless forest of irrelevent results, or of Sir Dinadan, who turned out to have bought only a thousandth share in a notional Grail that had not yet been found. There is no time to tell of the friendships that were broken on forums, and the desolation that came from bidding wars and flame wars across the whole length of the land.

At length, when a year had passed, the feast of Pentecost came round again. There were many empty sieges at the Round Table, and the fare was poor and the company passing sorrowful.

As the king sat sadly over his goblet, in came the damosel once again. "Have you found the Holy Grail?" she asked, and the king shook his head, and said, "No," and told her all the sad tales of all the knights.

And the damosel did shake her head, and said, "I cannot believe that all you great knights have such rubbish search skills," and she sighed and she stepped forward, and within minutes, the Holy Grail lay before her. "And that, oh king," quoth she, "is why you need librarians."

___

Note: Fairness compels me to acknowledge that some of these knights appear to have nothing much wrong with their search skills. Sir Palomides, in particular, demonstrated good sense, although he must be judged a failure since he broke his vow to devote himself utterly to the search, unafraid of bad reviews. Lancelot also demonstrated a good ability to find the information he was looking for. However, someone with a proven record of reacting to stress by jumping out windows and running wild for several years really should stay away from internet forums. Many of the others demonstrated a lack of common sense, but the ability to evaluate the accuracy and trustworthiness of online information is as important as the ability to find it in the first place.
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