Not something that happens
But the way something happens
-- Charles Ives,
Essays Before a Sonata

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tradition and the pursuit of happiness

Tradition
can be seen as the bad old days,
a straitjacket of custom, ignorance, and intolerance,
to be superseded by a bright, new modern tomorrow,
a liberation from hidebound views,
oppressive authorities,
and arbitrary violence.

At the same time,
tradition can be seen from a romantic perspective
as a repository of solid, genuine, humane, community values,
rich with sentiment, sincerity, and peacefulness,
which is being corrupted by modernity,
thought of as some combination of
the prison of bureaucracy,
the inhumanity of commercial imperatives,
the glossy sham of rapidly changing appearance,
and increasing violence to humankind and nature.

Happiness—
more broadly understood as contentment,
being at one with the world and oneself—
may lie in either, or both, directions,
depending on one's point of view.

(From Peter Wade, Music, Race, and Nation: M├║sica Tropical in Colombia, p. 140.)

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