Tradition v/s Trend

Every once in a while, a group of people agrees on a same set of values, beliefs,
life goals, defensive concerns, lifestyle, etc… a civilization is thus born. To take but one example, the ancient Roman Civilization lasted 700 years (western Roman empire), an impressive lifespan, from its birth, to the start of its decline (which took yet another millenium until the total demise of Western and Eastern parts of the Roman Empire with the fall of Constantinople).

The early Romans of 300BC differ from the Romans of the 3rd century AD, but not so drastically as to be unrecognizable. Freshly founded by aeneas after the fall of Troy, ancient Rome took much from its preceding Hellenic civilization but quickly developed its own identity. This identity, visually evident in Roman garb, military equipment and architecture, evolved and grew as the Romans forged their empire through the centuries. This is tradition in motion. You cannot touch it, but you can see and feel it everywhere, reflected upon the people who wear  and live it.

roman army

As illustrated in this book cover, the same people’s clothing and equipment evolved, but without losing identity. In trends, Identity is not important because trends are all-inclusive, for obvious commercial reasons.

Tradition, contrary to what we’re told in these ‘modern enlightened’ times, is not the dust-buried remnants of a dead past: It moves, it grows, slowly and steadily, with its people, according to their needs. It’s an ongoing empirical experiment, trying things, adopting them when they work, discarding them when they don’t. The growth is there but imperceptible within a single human lifespan. This is perhaps why humans invented trends; to have something that changes several times within one lifetime, and give them the feeling that they are in control. Trends are centered around the individual, while traditions emanate from a functioning community with a defined shared identity. No wonder why in an age and paradigm of excessive individualism, traditions are mocked and
disregarded as ‘out of fashion’ and ‘outdated’.

Traditions were never meant to be a ‘fashion’ anyway. One individual has no control over a tradition and if they did, as maybe an emperor could,  chances are they wouldn’t live to see the results of the changes they made forging and shaping their reformed society. As society grows more atomized, the individual lives as an island of feelings and emotion, operating their fashion trend on their own Instagram page, basking in delusions of changing the world while actually mistaking a banal trend for something far more enduring, timeless and outside their grasp.

Trends and fashion are attempts by us to influence others into adopting a certain way of clothing, behavior, cuisine, or artistic outlook. But because humans get bored, trends and fashions being the man-made devices they are, must change with human emotion, feelings, moods and attitude of the time. The shallowness of trend is evident in its cyclical nature: It always returns back to square one under the name ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’, which are actually no more than camouflaged acknowledging of the relevance of an older lifestyle. No matter how many fashion tendencies we’ll see in the space of a few months, they’ll always come back to ape whatever classical or timeless cultural trait they originally sprung from.

Left: Parisian Gentleman Hugo Jacomet in a classic handmade suit. Right: Progress.

Left: Parisian Gentleman Hugo Jacomet in a classic handmade suit. Right: Progress.

Trends do not require a shared set of values, beliefs, blood bond
or lifestyle to admit a newcomer. They should be taken for the recreational human distractions they have always been, without confusing them with actual traditions, which live longer and will always constitute the benchmark upon which trends spring and die. Oscar Wilde bitingly called fashion an intolerable ugliness, but fashion/trends are actually
a bit more than that.

Because we will never be able within our human lifespan, to experience the birth and maturation of a tradition, we’ve created a substitute, which we can control, depending on how prolific creators we can be. Imitation being a form of flattery, Trends are an imitation of something intangible we humans can feel and see, thanks to artifacts, historical documents and records we inherited from our ancestors. Tradition is something we can only deduce and acknowledge, a tranquil force that shapes us over several centuries, even millennia.

We currently live in Leftist times. Leftism, an ideology that promotes equality, but not before God, is an anti-traditional force imbuing the zeitgeist of the past and current century, but which seeds bloomed in the times of the Enlightenment era and French
Revolution. Since then, trends took center stage and traditions were vilified. Instead of having people creating trends and fashion as a healthy creative expression of the human mind, trends became increasingly marketed as a replacement of actual tradition.
As societies ‘modernized’, individuality slowly mutated into individualism, resulting in today’s atomized societies where tradition and cultural roots are abhorred, and every single individual wants to be a trend setter with his/her horde of social media worshipers.
We’re mini gods/rockstars now and we set the pace in our mini social media group. Or at least we like to think so.

Signs of decline

Signs of decline

Just like Traditions are a reflection of the Eternal, trends are a reflection of the Eternal’s creation. Fluttering expressions of creativeness borne out of an ephemeral individual. Movements taking place within  the much larger timeframe of a tradition. Trends are an unconscious imitation/flattery of Traditions and should never be at odds. When a trend’s purpose is to mock and degrade, it’s a sign of something wrong that needs to be addressed promptly, because next time such frustration or negativity manifests itself, it will no doubt do so through less artistic and more violent means.

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About APLH

The association for the protection of the Lebanese heritage, is an initiative launched by young Lebanese artists/intellectuals back in march 2010 on Facebook under the name ‘stop destroying your heritage!’. The group is still in existence and was opened for activism against the destruction of old Lebanese buildings by senseless Development. Founding members: Pascale Ingea Josef Haddad Jad Mhanna Official Status: The Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage was registered on the 14th of july 2010 at the ministry of interior and has been officially announced in the official journal on the 28th of October 2010 (issue 50). The association’s permit number is 1764. Members: Members of the executive committee for the year 2011: Pascale Ingea- President Georges El Khoury- Vice President Mireille Haddad- Accounting Josef Haddad- Secretary Janine Ingea- Treasurer Jad Mhanna- Legal Advisor and Board Member
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