Launching the Project

The day has at last come when I must face the inevitable. It is time for me to begin work on Le Morte D'Arthur. I have a million other things to do, but if I simply cannot put this off any longer.

What are my goals with this project? I suppose they are two: to realize the artistic potential of the Erasmatron, and to realize the artistic potential of the Arthurian legends. What a set of responsibilities to bear on my shoulders! Where is the intersection of these two? How am I to find that intersection?

First question: should I adhere closely to the design of the earlier Le Morte D'Arthur? That would be faster, certainly, and easier. But I have changed since then, and if I am to realize my own artistic potential, I cannot remain in the safety of yesterday's definitions -- I must push on. Weary, weary.

Yet the earlier project had within it the basic theme that I want to develop even now: the conflict between warrior and king (in the Jungian sense). It was tacked on halfway through the project, but it was there. That's the theme I want at the core of this design.

The personification of this conflict will be Arthur as king and Mordred as warrior. This time, though, I don't want Mordred to be the sneaky, weasely, detestable character who is conventional to Arthurian drama. This time, I want Mordred to be more like Lancelot: a warrior male in his prime, but lacking Lancelot's nobility.

Now we come to the crucial issue: the behavioral nature of the conflict. What does Mordred DO? HOW does he prosecute his conflict with Arthur? And what are Arthur's responses? Clearly, Mordred's objective is to usurp the throne. This suggests the likelihood of a final battle between the two, although I'd like to permit some variations if the odds are lopsided. Which leads us right back to the earlier scheme under which the determination of the odds is based on the amount of support Arthur enjoys from "the people" -- relative to Mordred.

So far, I'm hewing close to the earlier design. But here, I think, is where I might diverge somewhat from that earlier design. The earlier design had all sorts of stuff that was put in for other reasons: the battle subnet, for example, and, to a lesser extent, the romance subnet and the justice subnet. I think that the starting point of my deliberations should be the declaration that Arthur is on a stage in front of his people, performing "like a king" even as Mordred is trying to make him look unkingly. Thus, each subnet takes the form of a warrior versus king challenge to Arthur.

However, it is vital that this thing not become a sequence of puzzles. These things must be interwoven. That's where it gets good -- but that's the subject of the next essay.