Today it might seem ludicrous that anyone, on hearing Kent's Call would not notice the omission of the "skin" from the logical pattern which she established. We must keep in mind, however, that at the time of the reformation in theory (the late 1990's AD by most accounts), the fragment of chant now traditionally preceding the text of the Call was not codified, or even written down. Each of the listeners in the audience would have heard many versions of the chant, and presumably many of them, including that on which Kent based her speech, did not include the verse describing the "lost ones" and the "skin." Most historians agree that the current version dates from much earlier than Kent's Call, but that by the time Kent made her speech, it had been largely forgotten. It was re-introduced in connection with Kent's Call by historicist scholars or ignorant publishers who, having knowledge of the lost ones, ignored or were ignorant of the environment in which Kent called the peoples.
In our version of the chant, there is an implicit warning against creating the creature without the "skin." Historicists and the popular media have often used Kent's ignorance of this warning to lay upon her blame for the suffering which the world endured while the beast was without its skin. Given a powerful set of tools, and the ability to easily access a considerable portion of all the methods and means developed over history for the creation of form, the generation of creators following Kent created a sort of "intellectual eclecticism", using large numbers of unrelated methods, ideas, and forms without consideration of taste, sensitivity to the user, the combinatorial effects of mixing the elements, or, indeed, any application of balance, judgement or propriety.
The results of this situation, were, of course, tragic, and no-one would attempt to lessen the suffering of those subjected to that horror, but it is almost as reprehensible to blame Kent, and deny her her place in history, for not having the information at hand which might have averted the tragedy. Kent spent her entire life working to build the creature, dying a few hours after the last of the original clans had been integrated. She set up the monastic orders which tend to the growth and care of the beast, established the rules for inclusion, managed the politics of the clans, and generally was responsible for making the beast live, that Cohen might heal it.
If we are to be historically accurate, we must acknowledge that it was not until Cook and Lawrence discovered the ancient manuscripts, the "lost ones" of the chant, that the knowledge of the skin was available for inclusion. And we must remember that when the keepers of the beast attempted to fit them into the creature, it was patently impossible, a situation which the rules of Kent had never predicted. It might be argued that the keepers of the beast, in their rejection of the manuscript because it "didn't fit" caused considerable harm, as the more ancient version of the chant was, by then, available, but, again, it should be noted that the more ancient version of the text was not widely accepted until the three data of the negative effects of the beast's rampages, the ancient chant, and the ancient manuscripts were brought together (by what was arguably sheer coincidence) on the desk of the man now generally accredited with all of the benefits which have accrued from the beast's work, your mister Price's Cohen.
It is for these reasons that I found your mister Price's editorial entitled "Academics Playing with Fire: Spectre of a monster in celebration of Kent's Call," unenlightened and, frankly, scandalous. When an editor of a major newspaper can write a half page editorial on a subject about which he has obviously done no research or deep thought, an editorial likely to reach millions of people, and primarily composed of falsehoods, I wonder seriously about that editor's, and that paper's, commitment to truth and justice. I do not wish to minimise the contribution which Cohen's fortuitous insight has had in the history of design, but I do not believe that we should ignore the lifetime of service, the vision, and the dedication of Kent in building her locked house, merely because it was Cohen who stumbled upon the key.
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This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1997