I’ve been thinking a lot about what would constitute a “bardic education” starting from a very early age. One of the closer fictional parallels I’ve come up with has actually been the Mentats of Dune. If you’re not a nerd, the Mentats are basically human computers (loosely linked to the human computer Sisterhood of my own fictional multiverse, if you’re a curious weirdo), a sort of special order who arose because of the Butlerian jihad in which thinking machines made in the image of the human mind are religiously proscribed. Humans pick up the slack.
I guess that’s sort of what I’m banking on for the future, no matter what direction from which the shit inevitably invariably hits the fan: humans pick up the slack. As usual. As always. In my mind warped by fantasy and my own peculiar imaginings of past and future, a bardic education would be a good place to start.
According to a Reddit Dune nerd thread, this is the quote which most explicitly spells out what training as a mentat might entail at a young age:
“But I thought Mentat training had to start during infancy and the subject couldn’t be told because it might inhibit the early….” He broke off, all his past circumstances coming to focus in one flashing computation. “I see,” he said.
“A day comes,” the Duke said, “when the potential Mentat must learn what’s being done. It may no longer be done to him. The Mentat has to share in the choice of whether to continue or abandon the training. Some can continue; some are incapable of it. Only the potential Mentat can tell this for sure about himself.”
Paul rubbed his chin. All the special training from Hawat and his mother—the mnemonics, the focusing of awareness, the muscle control and sharpening of sensitivities, the study of languages and nuances of voices—all of it clicked into a new kind of understanding in his mind.
“You’ll be the Duke someday, Son,” his father said. “A Mentat Duke would be formidable indeed. Can you decide now … or do you need more time?”
There was no hesitation in his answer. “I’ll go on with the training.
I’ll do other posts trying to gather threads on bardic education, but thought I’d bookmark that and this video for now. It’s about the original bardic schools of Ireland (which the best source I’ve read for that topic is absolutely Hidden Ireland, which is an amazing book).