Transmutative Transmission

  • Photos: Stew Zong
  • Styling: Lulu Liu
  • Text: Theo Mohamed
  • In ancient civilizations, before the introduction of the written word, there existed only oral tradition. Useful information-cum knowledge was only be passed on via direct interpersonal connection rendering those that possessed knowledge – the eldest of the community – universally revered. With no outside record of history, these knowledge bearing guardians were the only protection for their way of life. It is through them that humanity was shepherded out from the trees, onto the plains of Africa, and finally into the cities we now know so well.

    With the emergence of the written word and the concept of record, came the dissolution of oral tradition and the introduction of information – an emphatically transformative moment in the story of humanity. It was no longer required that one speak with a guardian to learn – now information could be stored and read, and preexisting knowledge built upon. The impulse of the mind shifted from survival to discovery. However, this new thing called information was nothing more than words; it was meaningless without application. One cannot truly learn without experiencing the effects of any given information, whatever form it may take.

    Even in oral tradition, knowledge does not manifest without experience of information. As a child, you are told that fire will burn you but until you hold your hand above a flame you do not know it to be true.

    Since information has become so omnipresent in our current cultural system, it is difficult to maintain reverence for knowledge and those who possess it. With a near constant stream of new recordings, it is easier, and seemingly more practical, to hoard vast swathes of information and view the development of knowledge as secondary. But, yet again, this information is meaningless without experience.

    Read all you want about the act of swimming, but should you never attempt, your information will fail you when you need it most.

    A personal library of knowledge is essential to develop your standing within a community. With knowledge as a personal asset, you, yourself, become a cultural asset. Analogous discourse, the apparatus by which culture is advanced, is impossible without knowledge, for without experience the theoretical will remain just that: theory.


    Observe, analyze, apply.