In defense of romantics
but is it a malady at all? could it be a genetic propensity or an intrinsic characteristic of the bold who are never satisfied with the ordinary, the predictable, the average. foolish romantics are deemed foolish by their envious neighbors when they meet their doom and yet one would think whether they hadn’t expected that impending tragic outcome. Hadn’t these foolish romantics dared to see that ultimate outcome straight in the eye? Even death could blink at their determination. When all have retreated in fear, or, at the last minute, recanted their claim of passion– the foolish romantics ready to have their heads bashed in, unfazed by humiliation and ridicule, assuming a quixotic air, relentless and resolute, view this “foolishness” as a heroic plunge into the depths thus fulfilling the most noble task of dying for a cause. whatever cause. Love? Revolution? – anyything that pushes one to the brink, oblivious of death.
romantics have the highest heroic sense. it is they who dare ask why things are so and it is they who push the limits set by the status quo. it is they who conjure the vision of a world outside the box. who could not be satisfied with what is given, unable to bear the monotony of cycles or the security of the herd. Thus romantics are, by nature alone and shall forever be lonely despite people who love them.
And in literature they abound. Great writers have paid tribute to them. Ophelia might be the most tragic of Shakepeare’s hopeless devoted romantics. confused and bewildered she goes mad and flings herself into the lake. Young Werther has roused the emotions of much of Europe when Goethe published his story. Young men have emulated Werther’s despair, and in his death, many perceived as victory over unrequited desire. And what about Thomas Mann’s Aschenbach wasting away in Venice over his obsession with beauty in the form of a young man?
the French have mastered re-telling the stories of these foolish romantics. From Victor Hugo’s hunchback to the more recent filimng of Jean de Florette/Manon of the Springs. There’s a bittersweet scene where a peasant has gone insanely in love with Manon, that he sewed her ribbon onto his chest, near his heart– and it stuck to his chest till he died.
surely it can’t be a sickness? It is embedded in our hearts. whether we choose to indulge in this passion or not may be triggered is entirely up to us. The object may not necessarily be someone. it could be an ideology, a scientific discovery, art, an inexpressible religious experience. and yes, when the romantic is assailed by all these, time will stand still.
But i am, of course, exaggerating so as to ingratiate myself among these larger than life luminaries. for I am not one of them entirely. I do allow myself to indulge in this passion and yet up to a certain degree. i fall short of the heroic and so all I could do is admire and adore those who are really hopeless and severe. and yet i do feel the same pain, the same intensity. But my will is much weaker than these who have dared to walk past the forbidden line.