Romantic Extensions of Art.I’ve heard criticism against the use of animals as the subjects of art, with the argument that art uplifts Man and should exemplify Man alone—and I don’t agree. Why are wild animals so often used as symbols? The strong, proud stature of an eagle, the power and agility of a tiger, the alertness of an owl, and their total confidence show us beings who act on purpose and without the concept of doubt—a moral dilemma provoked by religion and altruism’s undercutting of Man. What emerges for our contemplation is an entity acting consonant with its own nature. We extract the virtues we can practice in human terms, just as we do from superheroes. Art was created by Man forMan of course, but its subjects can cover all of existence and beyond, to the limit of what a man can dream and project.
Along this line, sometimes we run across products that dramatize the deep thought and care that was put into them—products that have the grace of art and preform exquisitely—so well designed, they bring a sense of glamour to their use, accenting our view of Man in the process. I consider them extensions of art, falling into a few main categories from least to most significant: 1) Products of all kinds, from disc players to hammers to furniture and appliances. 2) Automobiles and other forms of transit. 3) The architecture of dwellings, factories, parks and all other human environments. 4) The structure of a human being and human action—its physical style and style of thought, its health, beauty, elegance, tact, class and poise. 5) The structure of human institutions—their profitability, their timely pursuit of endeavors and their accomplishment, the interwoven psyche of top-down conveyance, motivation and coordinated action, and their stability and long range effects.
Man himself and his utilitarian creations cannot be classified under the strictest definition of art, as they do not serve the primary of contemplation. But they approach art, being as beautiful in form as they are in function, and personally, I get the most satisfaction from active participation involving the objects and entities I prize. I’ve always sought the most artistic surroundings as the medium for myself to become worthy of; be they cars, places, companions, or ideas. While photography is not classified as a primary art either, I find most of my visual inspiration through it; in periodicals covering exotic cars and locations, glamorous people and events. Though I grant romantic significance to sculpture and indulge the rare opportunity to enjoy it, I’d take People or Playboy Magazine over a museum pass any day (looking at mummies doesn’t make my heart race). Perhaps this is just youth talking, but in my view, the most beautiful and successful people standing still or in motion are the attributes exemplified in sculpture anyway. In theater, I prefer the wholesomeness and intellectual depth of old movies. Notice the poise of actors and actresses in the sixties; the flowing poses lost in modern productions. Look at the musicals where half an actor’s value was in motion and song, not just in memorizing lines or hostility. I miss the days when every perceivable facet of an actor’s being was honed into art; when it was truly a profession. We looked up to our heroes in a much deeper sense then, as there was so much more to grasp and value in their conduct. It was a projection of the human ideal. Imagine what a man’s bearing tells you of his character when he stands straight, looks alert, speaks clearly and moves decisively. The use of Man’s body expresses his sense of life. The use of his mind reveals his worth. As an actor or an observer, his response to romanticism is a window to his soul.
We need a romantic release to renew and refocus, as we travel our own roads of self-actualization. Such excruciating effort is draining, and to have a chance to feel the state of arrival at one’s ideal is all the motivation we need to stay the course. Literature is the most important, as nothing beats an explicit explanation of romantic premises, though I find music the most accessible: exaltation in four minutes or less! Literature requires a much greater investment in time. Notice we can’t sit around in a state of euphoria for long however; nature requires that we top off our tanks and get back on the road. Those fully conscious of the virtue in their own progressive intent remain aware of this artistic link at all times, allowing romanticism to accent their every endeavor. It can be experienced any time one stays cognizant of one’s actions; being aware of choices and of making the rightchoices, seeing their cause and effect together, at the greatest range one cares to define. Though art by definition is put in the box of “selective re-creation of reality,” allactualizedhuman ideals have artistic value and emit the emotions of glamour, which those who work towards them, deserve to feel.
Many people exist in a constant state of intellectual and romantic starvation. I have found very few vents—very few works of art that could give me the release I needed. Deeply moving, meaningful pieces are rare, but they do exist in every medium, such as film, music, painting, sculpture and literature. There are enough to hold onto, and once you identify that ideals are contextual, you begin to see them and feel them, everywhere. At the most significant level, listening to Beethoven or James Horner’s Legends of the Fall, reading Ayn Rand’s works or studying Greek sculpture or paintings by Monet or Vermeer, are among the only times I feel compensated for my effort. Other means stair step down in importance, though are still very positive, such as watching a deeply romantic movie, driving and studying an exotic car, enjoying a desirable companion, helping those bright and eager to learn, looking at the city, the mountains, the ocean or just moving through the world, breathing fresh, clean air. All feed a romantic sense of life.