Lance Scranton: The mirror that reflects
February 19, 2013
Many artists, writers and philosophers began the 20th century thinking that traditional methods of viewing the world were outdated and in need of a contemporary fix.
One such movement that flourished in the early 1900s and continued through the 1950s was cubism. Cubism was an attempt to elicit an understanding of the fourth dimension (time) by the artistic representation of multiple views of an object.
Picasso is the most identifiable cubist, but the movement to expand on the length, width and depth of our understanding of reality was made possible by the Renaissance artists whose humanist tendencies were made famous by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci.
Literature was held in such esteem during the Renaissance period that moral philosophy, poetry, grammar, history and rhetoric were considered the "five humanities" that would assert the "genius of man." These movements were in response to traditions that didn't seem to answer the questions that were being asked by great thinkers of the time.
History points to our difficulty with movements that become bogged down in excessive contrivances and refuse to adapt to a changing world and culture. When an idea gets old, it becomes traditional, with little regard for its merits.
In the latest James Bond movie, 007 discovers that going back to some of the more traditional strategies of dealing with sophisticated, diabolical, arch-criminals provides a definite tactical advantage.
Tradition has merits that long outserve the perceived advantages of the latest, greatest movement in art, writing, philosophy or technology. Tradition is the mirror that reflects the enduring values of family, culture and country.
Every advance we make technologically, culturally, as writers, philosophers or scientists, owes much to the stability of tradition and the flexibility of the old adapting to provide stability and support for the new.
Anyway, that's what I teach.