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Old 16th August 2011   #2
Emily
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default Re: The Romantic Spirit

It is a Romantic vision of Romanticism. For a documentary, it's quite exciting and has amazing visuals: geysers, mountains, thunderous cataracts, craggy coastlines, lone wanderers, fiery horses, caged tigers. Amazing. It's the visual world of Byron and Nietzsche brought to life.

I love the statements in the video, not just the quotations from the Romantics themselves, but even the descriptions of Romanticism, which enthuse about how the Romantics spurned cold rationalism for feeling and passion:

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Scholars, critics, historians, have spent lifetimes trying to grasp the essence of Romanticism. And all the analysis, all the making of charts and lists, and all the interpretations of symbols, all the academic effort to come to grips with Romanticism goes totally against the grain of the Romantics, who couldn't stand the academic world. Their one, unanimous plea in life was, "Don't think. Don't reason. Feel."
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The Romantics were crying, "Don't be afraid of feeling. Down with the artificial, the contrived, the phony. Down with the safe, the secure, the reasonable, and the comfortable."
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The Romantics longed for a world that they conceived of not through the careful reasoning of the mind but impulsively, through the heart and the soul.
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In Germany, a group of writers fed up with the doctrines of the "Enlightenment" begin to portray turbulent emotions and forceful individualism. The movement is called Sturm und Drang, "Storm and Stress."


I love the Romantic idea of never settling for the ordinary and mundane, but striving for the great and the exceptional:

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"In order to find its original meaning, the world must be Romanticized. We will make the common and everyday become vibrant and significant. What is ordinary will become mysterious. The familiar will have the prestige of the unfamiliar. And the finite will seem infinite. Thereby I Romanticize it." Novalis, 1798.
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All Europe was caught up in the turmoil of ideas and attitudes it generated, and no area of art, or life, was immune. Politics, war, love, death, they were all Romanticized.
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This passionate longing for the unattainable was the essence of Romantic thought.
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In his solitude, in an exile which is an inner exile as much as an exile from his own country, the Romantic creates his own world of the imagination. It is a region without boundaries and without rules.


I think this is an especially key statement: although the Romantics quarreled with the aristocracy, they were no egalitarians. They did conceive of an order of rank, but one based on Promethean fire:

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The Romantics were against the old aristocracy based on birth and wealth. They were to create a new aristocracy: the aristocracy of genius.


When the video mentions that the Romantics were looking for transformation, this didn't mean "out with the old, in with the new," in our modern sense, but often, "out with the old and in with something much older," something more traditional and natural and historic, as in the case where they rejected 18th-century drama for Shakespeare, out of the 15th/16th century. In real sense, then, they were not revolutionaries but something more exciting: radical reactionaries.

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Racine, classical playwright, represents the past. Shakespeare, rediscovered, becomes the figurehead for the now.


But although the introductory post in this thread specifies that the Romantic Spirit video is "off topic," I think there is an affinity between Romanticism, as this video describes it, and the topic of this forum.

Partly, there is the sense that we are "permanently in opposition" to the tyrannical, artificial aesthetic that has been imposed on modern society, just as the Romantics were against the tyrannies of their own time:

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Into the land of beyond, into the nocturnal depths, they descend to the bottom of the volcano, into the holy, unutterable, mysterious night, into that ideal state that every soul seeks that has no place or name on Earth. They live dangerously. They live life to death. The Romantics sense themselves to be permanently in opposition. They are for the impossible and against everything else.


But the idea of a link between Romanticism and plus-size beauty really came to my mind when the video discusses the Romantics' rejection of tedious "moderation" and "boundaries" and stifling limitations of every kind, and their glorification of "excess" and surrender to passion:

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They transformed the rational Europe of the 18th century into a volcanic continent erupting in its rejection of the sane and the sensible.
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An excess of feeling, an excess of living, an excess of passion and of longing -- the creative vitality was staggering.
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To give oneself unreservedly to one's passions and convictions without heeding the results of so doing, be they creative or destructive, this is one of the major imperatives of Romanticism
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The distinguishing mark of this new era is a violent overflowing of feeling and an urgent search for passion, matched by the fierce determination to develop every caprice of the imagination to its ultimate conclusion, even though the results may well affront good taste, decorum, and the gods of moderation and respectability.

After all, the modern diet-starvation culture in which we live is all about constriction, about minimalism, about "boundaries" to appetite and body, about girls painfully denying themselves the rich food they crave; whereas plus-size beauty is about appetitive freedom, passionate self-indulgence, goddesses freely eating "whatever they want and as much as they want" (as is often said on this forum). The plus-size aesthetic of opulent beauty instead of diminished appearance, of luxurious fullness instead of meagre androgyny, is a physical expression of Romanticism in feminine form.

In many ways, I think plus-size beauty is the feminine equivalent of the quintessentially masculine Romantic spirit.
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