Léon Krier: Traditional and Tradition in contradistinction to Modernist and Modernism; not in contradistinction to Modernity
I use the terms Traditional and Tradition in contradistinction to Modernist and Modernism; not in contradistinction to Modernity.
• At present, artists, historians, critics and the public endemically confuse the terms modern and modernist. This is absolutely central.
Modern merely indicates time and period, whereas modernist has unequivocal ideological connotations. When historians write of "The Modern Movement" they clearly mean "The Modernist Movements" as opposed to "Traditional Movements". Traditional and modern; tradition and modernity, are therefore not contradictory notions. One can be a modern person of tradition.
Traditional (artisan) cultures are concerned with the production of OBJECTS for long-term USE. Modernist (industrial) cultures by contrast are concerned with the production of OBJECTS for short-term CONSUMPTION. These produce very different worlds for us to inherit or to live in.
In such antagonistic or complementary philosophies, INVENTION, INNOVATION, and DISCOVERY have a different status and meaning. There is, of course, the claim that in a traditional culture you can't have innovation. But this statement is simply not true; it's mere slander.
• In traditional cultures, INVENTION, INNOVATION, and DISCOVERY are a means to improve handed-down and time-honored systems of thinking, planning, building, representation, communication, etc. ... in the Arts, philosophy, town-building, language, sciences, industries, agriculture, etc. They are a means to an end, namely to conceive, realize and maintain a solid, lasting, comfortable and beautiful human world. That is the goal.
Fundamental aesthetic and ethical principles are considered to be of universal value, transcending time and space, climates and civilizations. This is where the controversy lies.
In traditional cultures, industrial rationale and methods are in a subservient role. They are subordinate to larger themes, to larger concerns.
• In modernist cultures, INVENTION, INNOVATION, and DISCOVERY are ends in themselves. It is claimed that constantly changing socio-economic and political conditions necessarily revolutionize all concepts. It is further claimed that there are no universal ethical and aesthetic categories, and hence traditional values are but accumulations of life-impending and regressive straight jackets.
In modernist cultures industrial rationale and methods tend towards dominating all aspects of life; education, culture, recreation, all polity and politic.