Sunday, 19 August 2012

Word games

What is the difference between romanticism and antiromanticism?
(by xXdramaq...) i would guess that romanticism is when somebody is romantic and anti romanticism is either somebody that isn't romantic or somebody that is against being romantic. so romanticism is the opposite of anti-romanticism. I kinda confused myself typing that so sorry if it doesnt make sense... i hope it helps. :) (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090322185848AAt9jP5 )

When I was in treatment there was a guy who was genuinely shocked that he was not just a free-base coke addict but actually a crackhead. I blame our sorry state of affairs upon the hippy movement and uncritical romanticism, which, contrary to the circular argument above, actually means something like this:

Romanticism can be viewed as an artistic movement or state of mind or both. It favors imagination over reason, intuition over facts. Talks of the "natural" man and the loss of innocence are common. Also common is the idea of nature verses civilization. Romanticism has an intense interest in and reverence for nature. It has an accent of mystery on strange and fantastic aspects of human experience.

Anti-Romanticism consisted of two main writers - Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. Anti-Romanticism focused on limitations and potential destructiveness of human spirit rather than on its possibilities. Many of these writers used allegory in their writings. Allegory is a work of literature in which events, characters, and details of settings have symbolic meaning. Allegory is used to teach or explain moral principals and universal truths.
(Last Action Gyro) (also taken from: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090322185848AAt9jP5)

I fight hard not to get cynical and believe in humanism almost like a religion. I mean, I believe in God and believe Him to be an archetypal antiromantic - how else can He be? Jesus spoke in parables; all the major and minor prophets speak in symbolisms and eldritch terms, which I've always taken to mean that since we humans are thinking, reasoning animals we should always try and arrive at our own conclusions, to always examine our value systems and act according to our (informed) conscience.

I think had I been born Jewish I would have been a Talmud prodigy. I blame my iconoclastic tendencies on not being born Jewish - lack of structure does that. I just have a higher demand to base my belief system on than the banal romanticism of the protestant church, and not much into the S&M of the catholic church. So, I'm stuck without a country. Like a transgendered person, I'm Jewish without actually having been born Jewish.

The other day I saw an excellent film with my aippakuluk called, Detachment, starring Adrian Brody. His character spoke of "ubiquitous assimilation" to his wayward class in lecturing on Orwell's 1984:

Mr Barthes: What does that mean, "assimilation"?
Student girl: To take something in.
Mr Barthes: Okay, excellent. To absorb. -Anyone, "ubiquitous"?
Student girl: Everywhere, all the time.
Mr Barthes: So what is "ubiquitous assimilation"?
Student boy: Always absorbing everything everywhere all the time.
Mr Barthes: Well done, George. -How are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you?

Then, he went on to speak about how the youth subculture off-handedly speaks and acts in highly misogynistic terms where the whole world and everything in it is treated and abused as the women hated, how most are completely oblivious to their own hatred and anger, that their subculture is an unconscious reaction to perceived and real injustices, etc. etc.

This, to me, is unmitigated romanticism (or, at least a visceral reaction to the drivel that is passed for "education" - Max Weber's "iron cage" (you'll see what I mean when you check out the movie)). The movie, Detachment, is one-sided and somewhat shallow at times. But it's still an excellent movie.

There is a scene in there as well when Brody's character talks about Poe's The House of Usher. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'd say Poe is up there with Hawthorne, Melville, Conrad - well, with the best of American classics right up to Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, and Hunter S Thompson (clearly not nihilistic but antiromantic, I'd say). I'd also claim that Timothy Findley is the only Canadian antiromanticist of note. Richler is just baaad... (in Stewie Griffins' ironical voice) - sort of like a cultured, polite Thompson (if such a thing were possible).

Jay

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