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27 November 2013 @ 06:37 pm
Special Comment: TRADITIOOOOOOON, TRADITION! (Tentacles!)  
The Association of Buggy Whip Manufacturers, in conjunction with Fox News, the Republican Party, and several strains of Abrahamic religions, would like to remind you that new things are always dangerous, and therefore, you should always venerate tradition to the exclusion of the novel. 13 examples are mentioned.

Handwriting, which is still in highly popular practice, is accused of becoming illegible, check-writing is presumed to be falling out of practice, and creativity in decline, despite the explosion of distribution of creative material and the still normal usage of checks as a signifier of middle-class lifestyle.

Memory is presumed to be failing, because we have technology that stores contact information electronically (as opposed to using that handwriting skill in a contact book or Rolodex), and we're supposedly less intelligent, because our search tools can find by multiple data fields at a few keystrokes, instead of having to use indexes generated by hand, and our mapping tools are portable and electronic.

Manual skills, such as auto and house maintenance, sewing, tying knots, and raising plants and animals are declining, not because technology has advanced to the point where those skills are now specialized and not everybody needs to know them to survive, of course, but because we should fear the possibility that all of that technology will fail in the zombie apocalypse?

And, of course, we all apparently have no idea how to socialize with each other without electronic mediation and we can't dance without it looking like scandalous sexual acts. Which the Twist and Foxtrot were called when they were introduced, and of course, there was Mr. Presley and his swiveling hips and the four gentlemen from Liverpool and their lyrics.

As one might guess, the bit has been met with derision because Technology Marches On and more than a few pointed remarks about how people these days can still do most, if not all, of those things. I have, for example, followed in the footsteps of my father and mostly eschewed cursive in favor of print, although I have yet to adopt his ALLCAPS style. I can read maps, telephone books, and have successfully changed flat tires, headlamps, and light fixtures, as well as various assemblies of bookshelves, computer desks, and computers themselves, and I socialize just fine at work and away from it, since my profession requires it.

I'm not sure why the impulse is to venerate tradition so heavily. It's what made Nicholas Cage's character in The Croods grating and unrealistic. It gets in the way of innovation - sometimes warranted, sometimes not. And it does not adapt well to new realities. Perhaps with age, the appeal of tradition will start to make sense, since I will be responsible for the creation of some and will have carried some from before forward into time. I can understand traditions with significance behind them, such as "we perform this ritual this way because it traces the steps of enlightenment along the path we have chosen", but only to the point where their significance is still remembered. Tradition for the sake of "we've always done it this way" becomes an impediment, like wasting the ends of a ham because it used to not fit in a pan.

Says the person whose job involves learning traditional things so that traditional people can get acclimated and succeed in the novel world, and maintaining traditional forms in the face of the novel world, because not everyone has the privilege or desire to be able to fully work in the novel world. So take my ideas with salt, to taste.

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lilacstarprint: pic#109556630lilacstarprint on November 28th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
Why do you keep calling these modern times a "novel world"?
Silver Adept: Defaultsilveradept on November 28th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
Because "modernity" sometimes carries with it the prejudice that all things new are Inherently Superior. Unthinking adherence to novelty is just as bad as blind veneration of traditional things.

For a person trying to keep their traditions, the world outside is a place of constant change, with new things appearing all the time, some of which will appear as threatening, but the constant churn of new things remakes the world regularly. So calling it the novel world makes sense to the traditional person. (Traditional and novel are often set up as an opposed dichotomy, as well.)