The Freedom of the Trad

entengoentengo (Posted by) Level 3
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Freddie De Boer has a typically sharp post up at his personal blog analyzing the ‘trad’ trend in some (mostly culturally elite) social circles. Do read the whole thing, but this graf gets at the main critique nicely:

Here’s the problem: you cannot choose to be premodern. If you are choosing, you are inherently postmodern. The traditional mindset people want to occupy is one that cannot conceive of being able to choose a mindset. Gorillas can think many things, but they do not think, “what does it mean to be a gorilla?” And whatever the appeal of having the mindset of a Babylonian shepherd might be, it is difficult to imagine that a Babylonian shepherd’s mindset could be deliberately aped, as the mind will always know it is aping something. No matter how trad you act, you will never not know that it is an act. We cannot choose a way to live without deliberation; it’s an act of the self-will trying to get ahead on a treadmill of self-knowledge. It’s baked into the very postmodern mindset we all find so defeating.

Take - Critique - Number - Friends - Onsi

This is the smart leftist take on a critique that a number of my friends, most recently Onsi Kamel in First Things, have been making from a more Reformed Protestant angle for some time.

De Boer attempts to turn the screws a bit more, however. If I’m following him, he wants to argue that it is not possible to be a traditionalist in the contemporary milieu because traditionalism is, at bottom, a kind of reflexive living. At best, you can self-consciously mimic certain traditionalist practices and rituals. But to be a traditionalist is to live in that way without having to choose to do so. And so for De Boer true traditionalism is not primarily wrong, though I’m sure he would...
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