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Beauty, Danger, Romance.

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Feb. 7th, 2014 | 02:01 pm
location: Curwensville, PA.
mood: Thoughtful.
music: Pandora, lots of stuff.

Mishima was right. When I was young, it was the danger of beauty that appealed. Now, it is the beauty of danger. (See here.) But when one reads highly psychological works, the main appeal is inevitably those moments when you're pegged like a butterfly on a board, locked in a case, observed.
Unlike the narrating character, my reaction to the danger of beauty tended to be to seek out the danger. I would, unabashedly, link danger and beauty together and embrace danger even when many forms of beauty were lost in the process.
But romance is always beautiful, and true romance inevitably involves danger.
Now I'm older, my tastes a bit more refined, and it is the beauty itself that I'm prone to seeking out. It's almost unfortunate, and simply inevitable, that danger is tied up with beauty. But beauty is the goal, whereas in my youth a crude fixation tended to lead to danger itself being the goal, with beauty as a highlighting frame.
It's a difference, and though my behavior is oddly similar in both mindsets, a significant one.
When danger itself is sought, there is always an attendant fear. And that fear, and the courage to overcome it, supplies much of the beauty that necessarily surrounds it.
But, while this notices the correlation, it does not acknowledge the causal force linking danger and beauty. That link, as I alluded to earlier, is romance.
I think I nicked this idea from Chesterton, though I can't find a reference in Google Books, and as the physical copy of the work is currently packed away, I can't find a reference.
In any case, the most fundamental characteristic of romance is an emotionally-motivated, irrevocable choice. Anything that cannot be changed contains some level of danger. Anything purely emotional contains inherent danger, in that it necessitates a certain level of internal dissonance between the mind and heart.
Marriage used to be romantic, even when it was more pragmatic, because it was irrevocable; but accessible divorce destroyed that romance in the same moment in which it destroyed the danger. Having a child is, as any feminist can tell you, both dangerous and romantic. It is an irrevocable choice that one may easily regret, that one has chosen to commit to in spite of the uncertainty of the result and the physical dangers involved. Going to war is romantic -- but there is nothing more romantic than proceeding forward in the face of possible death. Drug addiction is romantic; though the choice may be too passive, the weight of the decision to give up normal life and risk death for a dubious benefit is undeniably romantic. Seeking out a dream job can be romantic, in that one may need to risk their livelihood, perhaps in a permanent sense, for a chance to accomplish the goal.
But in all of these cases, something not safe is being done with an eye to accomplishing something. The point isn't that they aren't safe, but that, in all of these cases, the risks seem worth taking for the possible rewards.
Romance is, in essence, a gamble of high stakes, with lives and livelihoods and happiness on the line.
And it's this seeking of happiness, of things worth having at any price, that's been occupying my thoughts lately.
Yes, the beauty and the romance comes, in large part, from the danger. Without danger, so many acts would simply be droll and self-serving and uninteresting. Things can be wonderful, joyful, and full of love without danger. But they cannot be romantic, as defined.
So it's the beauty of romance I'm after, I suppose. But this time, my eyes are not fixed on the danger. Maybe they should be, but the lightness from simply feeling the danger and seeking the beauty is such a change from my younger, destruction-seeking self, that I can't help but notice the shift.
No safer than I was before, but my eyes are brighter.

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Comments {1}

idprism

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from: idprismindigo
date: Feb. 12th, 2014 05:40 am (UTC)
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by your definitions, it seems to me it's only the willingness or unwillingness to choose that constitutes romance. irrevocable marriage vows are a choice nowadays, and i think perhaps more beautiful, now, than other choices because it requires two individuals' decisions to make that commitment to sacrifice, pain, love, and happiness. i am not sure i find an intrinsic beauty in the risk of unhappiness brought upon by the commitment so much as i find beauty in the simple act of acknowledging the risk and accepting that it is not a risk at all. creating love and happiness within a consciously chosen irrevocable bond, fostering a sense of trust and community, and choosing to overcome unhappiness together as a pair when it wedges itself into a relationship are, to me, parts of the beautiful structure of a marriage.

all of the probable consequences of choice that you listed excepting war are, i think, more self-serving than not, though they do lend themselves to an interesting experience for the chooser. if a romantic pursuit necessitates a risk (danger) and the risk makes the pursuer's life interesting, then perhaps the goal of romantic pursuits in this case is simply one of personal amusement. seeking the beauty in danger as a way of life is amusing one's self at the risk of personal failure.

as to romantically seeking happiness, all things have a price. it is rarely without a detached heart that a price can be calculated, but it can be calculated. i believe the power to reason is the absolute power of Man. to control one's destiny is in my view infinitely more amusing than romantic danger, and happiness is not a gamble but a construct of one's own will imposed upon the course of his life. naturally, this "reasonable" way of life that i choose, after my desires are realized, is perhaps less dangerous, and, in being so, less romantic than yours.

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