Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't Think About

It goes without saying, that there is nothing interesting in being traditional. Which is not to say that traditionalists are not drawn to interesting things.

I am a traditionalist. I am married and have a child. I am in the tenth year of a traditional career in a tradition-driven profession, working in a law office. When I write, it is in form. The form is somewhat interesting, true, when looked at from a certain angle, but a form is a form. When I paint, it is (A) pencil or such on paper, or (B) paint on burlap. Using burlap - like writing in my box form - is somewhat interesting as a choice, but I am no engine of the interesting.

I am a traditionalist by choice, in that I believe generally in something called "classical precepts," and always have, and have studied and worked and made decisions and choices accordingly, and here I am. To my mind, "classical precepts" translates to there being a right way to do any given thing, that economy and efficiency are positive values, that art is contributory rather than digressive, and that the artist/author should claim moral responsibility for his or her work. None of these ideas are interesting - not in the slightest. But there they are, swirling around me. They guide me, even as I have learned they do not and should not ever have to guide others. They are not values that guide the world or control the "quality of art" - whatever that is. They are my guides. I fought hard to obtain them, to master (or should I say, allow myself to be mastered by) them, and now they are mine, and I am theirs, assuring in myself a measure of consistency, I suppose, and a healthy dose of predictability.

But, I do not cherish the predictable. I have become more and more fond of experimental art and experimental lives, where I see that the thought and spirit of art are made apparent and where the artist makes public his or her process. The most interesting choice in experimentalism is to be an experimentalist, whereas there can be nothing interesting in choosing to be a traditionalist. And as to these sorts of roles being beyond our control - well, I have already stated that I believe in one taking responsibility for one's work, etc., so you can see that I have disqualified myself from considering options.

It strikes me that a traditionalist who has come to the decision not to apply his standards to others risks being boring to himself. I mean, what is the point of being traditional if I cannot feel in some way superior to others? But I do not feel superior. Not a bit. I see my work and am glad for it. I see my life and am grateful for it, and I can describe it in varying aspects, but I do not cherish my life or work as a thing superior to any other thing. I have known anger and I have known joy. A traditionalist, as a person, is a means of doing any particular thing in a particular way, whether that be writing a poem or leading a life. I don't know that cultural diversity will ever dilute traditionalism to the point of making all choices individual and unique. Such a movement , or occurrence, is interesting to contemplate though.

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