Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The paradox of learning

An interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education confirms my belief, that the concept of tradition offers freedom of invention and mastery of thought:


It is a paradox that the discipline and restrictions of learning rules eventually offers the utmost freedom of invention, but such is the empirical evidence. In art, rules are not prescriptions but results from innate laws which are discovered in the creative process, and these laws are flexible, adaptable to the individual point of view. The contempt of 20C post-WWII modernism for tradition is the result of the misunderstanding about learning, the juvenile impatience with subjecting yourself to the authority of the achievements of past generations. Also, it is the result of lovelessness, the incapacity to discern meaning and beauty, which presupposes modesty and openness to things that are greater and more important than yourself.

So often in my life I have been treated with contempt, and been laughed at, for cultivating tradition and trying to learn from its achievements; even more crazy: having been accused of elitism, reactionary conservatism, and 'wanting to turn the clock back a hundred years'. Collegues, joining the chorus of haughty condemnation of the best achievements of the past, embarked upon the sea of infinite possibilities without the skills to navigate, and where are they now? They shipwrecked upon the shores of ignorance.... pathetic remnants of an immature revolutionary spirit. The infinite possibilities are not in the material, but in the creative mind.

One of the most revolutionary musical creators, Debussy, had a thorough training in traditional craft, and he knew his classics as no other. That is why he could return to classicist ideals at the end of his life in his wonderful three sonatas, like a delicate flower at the end of a branche.

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