Here is something I didn’t anticipate when I began this blogging adventure: writing about someone else’s idea.
The idea belongs to my best friend, who recently completed a literature class based in the work of the Romantics with a capital R. So when I first told him about this blog, he asked if new romantics was a reference to Romanticism. It wasn’t – but maybe it should be.
This is what he said . . .
Romanticism grew out of the French Revolution, rejection of monarchy and divine right. People started to sensationalize the “everyday” things. . . It was the first time they started to see beauty in what previous generations had seen as uncharacterized. No more epics of Homer. The poetry started to be about personal experience and simple things that are actually pretty extraordinary and beautiful.
Wikipedia discusses the relationship Romanticism had with human emotion, spontaneity, nature, and originality. As a result of the overarching focus on the relevance of nature, things that were once insignificant became the object of artistic creativity and were portrayed in a new light.
Likewise, poets.org offers this depiction of the Romantics:
Romantic poets cultivated individualism, reverence for the natural world, idealism, physical and emotional passion, and an interest in the mystic and supernatural. Romantics set themselves in opposition to the order and rationality of classical and neoclassical artistic precepts to embrace freedom and revolution in their art and politics.
All of these descriptions give Romanticism two defining characteristics: it was personal and it was provocative. To call oneself a Romantic with a capital R, one’s work was original, inspired by and representative of something larger than itself, something contradictory or revolutionary. Something that had never been seen before.
A few weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine began a movement called “Beauty in the Common.” The idea is to create a community which fosters passion to reveal and notice beauty in the everyday objects of our lives. I was captivated by the concept immediately. However, as I watched the community expand, I noticed that the things people saw as common . . . were actually quite remarkable. As my friend Justin so aptly put it, these “common” objects were “about personal experience and simple things that are actually pretty extraordinary and beautiful.”
Check out these definitions – we typically think of “common” to mean 4, 5, 6, or 7 – ordinary, familiar, even trite or inferior.
What if we began to see beauty in terms of 1, 2, and 3 – as shared alike, belonging equally to an entire community, united? Each of these individual contributors saw beauty in the common in places shared most by humanity – a skyline, a raindrop, a loved one, a stone. These are things that will never be looked at the same way twice – but we are all looking at them. That is what makes them beautiful, remarkable, and both common and uncommon.
These are the same things the Romantics looked at, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As of today, we are 8 days away from celebrating the fifteenth year of the twenty-first century. What if we reexamine what gives life beauty, in the facets of life we share, yet we will each experience differently? An individual journey, yet contributing to something larger than ourselves. Why, that would be contradictory, even revolutionary.
It would mark us as New Romantics. My journey begins on this small corner of the Internet – where will yours?