Sunday, October 30, 2016

Our Proud Tradition

Everywhere folks want to harken back to a once proud tradition of some sort. Trumpeters want to bring back the "great" America they vaguely remember. Tea Party folks were heavily invested in patriotic symbols from a righteous past. Many who identify as the new "alt-right" consider globalization a modern, anti-tradition trend, ironically allying themselves with Battle For Seattle lefties, while white power nationalists have organized around the Traditional Workers Party. Obviously a placeholder for Ozzie and Harriet 1950's purity. (Dating myself. Look it up)

This conservative desire to return, to face backwards, is not limited to those who consider themselves conservatives. The recent fascination with indigenous resistance is at least in part fueled by the primordial imaginary, a yearning for a simpler(Matriarchal) relationship to Nature and Being. The theme runs through New Age mysticism and the old socialist hope for the industrial working class. I loved seeing Jesse Jackson astride a white horse at Standing Rock, wearing a cowboy hat and boots. A strange Lone Ranger amidst the Tontos.

I have written a great deal about this nostalgia for what never was as a reaction to modernity, to the incessant Promethean drive and capitalism's relentless push to revolutionize our daily lives. Goethe expressed it as well as anyone and we who clearly see the need for radical change due to the climate crisis should try to understand this sentiment. It is a deep mourning for innocence lost (however mythological in actuality) and the trauma presents in both the conscious protest and unconscious slip of the tongue.

The Old Man, never at a loss for words, perhaps put it best: "the tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living." Not that some things aren't worth keeping. Just knowing how to sort....

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