Classive Tradition

The Classive Tradition: A Personal Consideration

This book is the script of a proposed nine-part video presentation that tells the story of us, the US, these United States, the culmination of the world’s Classive expression of Civic Art.


Ours is a Classive Tradition, a form of thought humane in practice, beautiful in design, true to reason, good to all those it touches.  The Classive Tradition might be synonymous with Western Civilization if not for that older, inherited tradition, the Progressive, the pre-souled, material definition of Man.  The Progressive has created little that is beautiful, little that is abiding because the Progressive is impersonal, indifferent, without the spiritual abundance that inspires genius.

This book’s nine chapters are designed to reacquaint citizens with our animating, Classive tradition, to contrast the healthful Classive with the hateful Progressive, to provide visual evidence of both traditions that the eye might give judgement, even to conviction and sentencing.  To renew self-understanding, we revisit Washington, The District of Columbia’s great works of civic planning, civic architecture, civic statuary, and we reconsider the ideas manifested in our classic buildings, statues, and pictures.


Classive Tradition, Jefferson
Classive Tradition, The Jefferson Memorial, John Russell Pope, architect. credit: Oleksandr Dibrova


First, we consider our nation’s three temples, The United States Supreme Court Building, The United States Capitol, The Library of Congress, answers to humanity’s essential practical and philosophical challenges, the challenge of knowledge, the challenge of conduct, the challenge of governance.

Second, we reintroduce our country’s classical symbols, the “people” in The National Mall, the “father”, in The Washington Monument, the “muse”, in The Jefferson Memorial.

Third, we stroll the executive neighborhood which houses authority, community, and commerce, The White House, Lafayette Square, The United States Treasury Building.

Fourth, we consider liberty’s triune form, the national, the political, the personal, as represented in the statues at Lafayette Square, at the US Treasury, and in the unadorned building, here, Decatur House.


Classive Tradition, Lincoln
Classive Tradition, Washington Monument through columns of the Lincoln Memorial. credit: Sausey Photos


Fifth, we acknowledge the obligation of sacrifice and remembrance, of conduct necessary to sustain liberty: memory, The Lincoln Memorial; honor, The WWII Memorial; forgetfulness, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Et cetera, through nine chapters and coda.  The book is easy, friendly, rich in anecdote both personal and historical, anecdotes that elicit, “Ah ha.”  The Classive Tradition is the culmination of 30 years in leading tours of Washington, DC, strolls in contemplation, and of informal walks with friends, art historians, artists, philosophers, theologians, novelists, poets, and others who shared with me knowledge, opinion, wisdom, and sometimes love for this capital and its generating Classive tradition.

In closing, I must say, “People do not recognize change because in the moment things appear same, as a fish in a swift current stream with tiny might struggles to hold its place when the sewage gate opens and washes the unhappy fish away.”  The Classive Tradition observes the stream of history from the safety of the bank, noting landmarks, sand marks, ripplets and waves as they manifest themselves in statue, monument, memorial and in telling inscription which betrays intention.  Yes, both the Classive and the Progressive do as they say.  Read, listen, you will learn and know.


Classive Tradition, Capitol
Classive Tradition, July 4th. credit: Architect of the Capitol


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One of nine books nearing completion.  The Classive Tradition is not included in the bi-monthly book-release schedule (2024–2026).

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For more on Classical Washington, DC, see

The Classical Architecture and Monuments of Washington, DC

by Michael Curtis, The History Press

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For more on the Classive, see The Studio Books

Classive Civilization

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