Even the most jaded and the sensibly cynical have a pair of rose-tinted glasses hidden from view.
I proclaim: We are all born Romanticists!!!
A very bright man – Mr A O Lovejoy (I shall call him Mr. Alpha Omega Lovejoy) – said thus about romanticism –
‘The word romantic has come to mean so many things that by itself, it means nothing at all.’
– Wise! Wise! Man, I say.
For the 10% of people who do not know what the Romanticism or the Romantic movement is about, here’s a quick easy crash course:
It all started with words which in turn clustered into different languages- Romanic languages – Romance, here was the vulgarity expressed when the ‘Pure language of the learned – Latin’ was diluted for the commons. Thus, came about many European languages – French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian……Later the Vulgarity in Romance slowly relaxed its stance to being Popular.
The once vulgar expression of emotions, ideas and beliefs became a norm for popular mass.
In its most primal sense then, Romantic expression is communicating crudely to express oneself clearly. Since the learned always have been few, this easy expression became Popular Spoken Language.
Fast forward to the 18th century.
The world (especially Europe) is taken by a storm called Industrial Revolution. This time was the birth place of our very popular aka vulgar friend – Consumerism. It also brought along, uninvited – urban slavery, automated dependencies, and severe need to be part of intellectual herd.
All That We See and Surround Ourselves With (Romanticism in Art)
Romanticism in art was popularised by artists like Turner, Cole, Daumier, Delacroix, Millet, Friedrich, Bierstadt and the likes.
Their art spoke of still landscapes, abandoned places, of war and disruption. Broken structures, a rare moment caught in thoughts, the debauchery in merriment, a working day at the farm and imperfect bodies were sketched and coloured countless times.
Romance of everyday life was depicted here. Here was the time of peace and contentment but had gone by; Here was the time to reminisce and want simpler things. None too subtly it showcased the dying goodness from all around. It advertised melancholy against hope or serenity. It showcased an idealist state contrasting with the boorishness of people.
Romantic art for us today are the wondrous wallpapers on our machines, hoardings on roads, our living structures and walls surrounding it – From landscapes to pop art – fantasy of a place so quiet and untouched – remembering and re creating the long dead in-your-face creativity. Visually, we prefer the idea of an ‘Ideal’ only against the gore and filth. A perfect car – unbothered by the bumps on road; a holiday destination so quiet it feels like a retreat; a lifestyle so secure that the gangs of poor, nasty, boorish lowly hooligans can’t get through.
A perfect family – caters to the healthy nutritious needs of its family- we pre-package everything.
We buy into this. Everyday.
All That We Hear and Make Ourselves Believe In (Romanticism in Music)
Music too, revolted against rules.
The late symphonies of Beethoven overthrew regimented notes of Mozart and the likes, tuning its audience to embrace emotions and nature. The compositions told the tale of its maker’s emotions- it said ‘ Feel what I feel, Hear what words can’t justify.’
The notes would move you to tears, leave goosebumps in its wake, the eerie and the supernatural sounds haunted you; the dark recesses of your subconscious would have a personalised wave like its own red carpet leading your fears out on a stroll. The beats energised you to move into action and change the world for better, the melodies cried of longing for the elusive hope and lamented about the times gone by.
Individualism gained momentum and many creative people could now pick an instrument to colour the aural senses. Here, too the measured, restrained expression became vulgar and thus popular.
Artists who lead and popularised this period were: Chopin, Beethoven (late period), Von Weber, Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Wolf, Mahler, Strauss, Rachmaninov…
Over the years we, the people have danced, head-banged, and grooved to Jazz, Operas, Electronic and Alternative rhythms. Our very own Coldplay sings of metaphorical revolutions and non-super heroes.
Although surrounded by white noise and the cacophony of machines we have turned up our internal volume. We loudly express ourselves; we brazenly take stands; we fixate on instant gratification, and the way to do it, is with sound. We like to hear so we can critique. We like to be heard above the average noise. We amalgamate the hackneyed and ruddy.
All That We Feel and Stories We Tell Ourselves (Romanticism in Literature)
In literature too, The Romanticists emphasised upon individuality and expression of emotions. Traits such as – intuition, imagination and emotions were given precedence. This was the time when, ostrich-like, people started pulling out their heads from the dark dusty holes.
Romance came out of the cracks. Breaking away from Regimented -Scientific-Restrained Classicism and Neoclassicism. Intellectually superior wit and satires gave way to Songs of Innocence and Experience.
If I have to surmise it simply – taking an example from Chimney Sweepers – This movement pleaded with people to open their eyes to the plight of man; There’s a boy hidden in every man who is burdened with hopelessness. The strong pillars of society, instead of providing support plundered its wealth of Innocence, Gaiety, Imagination. Need for arduous or platonic love was replaced with bondage, in blindfold, without a goal.
It started the now-popular romantic fiction of Alpha male, Damsel in distress, Wrong place, right guy – kinda notion. Throughout it all, a serene, untouched setting has been the platform for our feelings. We make ourselves believe that in that beautiful place lies all our answers. Our desired perfection. Our final happy destination…….
We enjoy hearing various perspectives on Twilights, The Hogwarts School, Westeros and perhaps even Middle Earth; each taking us to the edge of our seat, hoping for magic, fighting for the coveted spot, and even encouraging us to go on an adventure, for there could be a treasure small yet powerful.
Maybe that’s the reason why whenever going gets tough we talk about weather in between political debates between friends;
reminisce about past or perhaps, narrate stories of generations gone.
Interspersed between plastic money are the shillings bare.
Fairy-favours, are magically everywhere giving it an ending- Sometimes the endings are happy and sometimes there’s a lull….in either case, we love and believe in stories we tell. Because it helps us feel.
Are we all romantics at heart? We see it, hear it, and feel it everywhere yet, we aren’t brave enough to say it is so.