In The Ship of Theseus we stopped with the question: Which one is the part oft the ship that counts?
Is it important for the efficiency of a tradition that it persisted unbroken from its beginning?That original objects which possessed or touched the trigger of the tradition are handed down?Or can it be equally potent when it was forgotten for a time and is discovered from anew?
Which circumstances are essential to preserve the original meaning of a tradition the best?
Representatives of a lot of religions and ideologies quarrel about that since millennia. Is it crucial that you can trace back your bloodline to the founder or another important person? To repeat the words that he has spoken in the exact wording during a ceremony? To possess his coat or drinking cup? Is there already a difference if a reproduction of the original objects are used or if the original words are translated into another language? And what is even with interpretations and continuations, with transmissions into a more actual time? Are they less “true” because somewhat has been expanded, left out or set into a context that isn’t predetermined by the old scriptures?
An old woman stood at the hearth in the kitchen of her hut and opened it to look for the fire. Her granddaughter was with her, a young girl that loved it to be with her and that should learn today how to carry the fire from one place to another one. “Ah, the time has come!” the old woman said. “Come on, Lucie, give me the pan and the coal tongs!” The girl handed the requested things to her. “Here they are, grandma.” - “Look on”, said the grandmother, “and be careful, it is hot. You take out the glowing wood with the tongs, at first a few bigger pieces, then some smaller ones. If there is a bit of cinder with it it’s okay, cinder and blaze are sometimes hard to separate. But pay attention that you don’t get too much cider, because if the blaze lies to long hidden under the cider, it goes out, too. If you have put enough blaze into your pannikin, you can transport it. Here, take it!” – “Oh, that’s really hot!” – “Yes, but you’ll do it. Now hold it straight that nothing drops out and go over to the chimney. Only just I cleaned it and put all the old cider out. Now take the tongs and put the pieces of blaze into the chimney.” – “Like that, grandma?” – “Yes, you’re doing it just the right way. Now you can hand the pan and the tongs to me, you don’t need them any more. Now put a few branchlets and dry foliage onto it and blow into the blaze, so you help it to grow.” Lucie did how the grandmother told her. “Wow, it really works!” – “Yes, for sure it works if you do it the right way. When the flames are a bit bigger you can put a bigger lot onto it, and soon is the fire that big that it warms the whole parlour.” – “Oh, it becomes bigger and warmer. I am so glad that I can do this!” – “Yes, my child, I’m glad, too. And the next time you can do that without my help.”
What exactly is the blaze?Are it the things? Is it the unbroken line? Or something completely different?
And are traditions less true or contentful if they were forgotten for a time?
Has the blaze gone out because we haven’t seen the fire for a time?
For a long time there was a discussion about fairytales: If they were still contemporary or old news. If it needs the original text or if they should be told freely. If they were anyway something for children or not overall far too brutal. Today it is generally agreed that children need fairytales, that the symbols and themes of the fairytales even work beyond the words, but even that not every fairytale is suitable for children and that it is important how it is told. A lot of fairytales faded for long into obscurity and are actually rediscovered, partly interpreted in a new way. Should one say there were of no account?
Or let me choose another example: Most of you know the phenomenon that a dish tastes the best when it is prepared by the mother, the grandmother or another special person. Even if you take the same ingredients and cook it after the same recipe – it doesn’t taste the same way. Something is lacking. And then it happens from time to time that – sometimes after many years – another person recooks the recipe, and suddenly it is back – the taste of those days, the memory to the childhood, the little miracle. What has happened? This person added something that was lacking before, something that is barely scheduled in any recipe: Inspiration, creative power, life-breath. With inspiration we can breathe life into traditions, even into long forgotten ones. Though this breathe is not purchasable, but it is a gift – and it even depends on if we are ready to let transform ourselves and to experience the miracle.