The romantic prophecy

cacciata

The romantics have often been regarded as reactionaries, because of their unwelcoming attitude towards the great mutation that the industrial revolution was about to produce in their country. A revolution is a radical, somehow violent change, whose consequences are often unpredictable, but the early romantics instinctively felt that the great transformation the world was undergoing wouldn’t have been free of charge. Modern man, once left his “natural state” and thrown into the dynamics of a materialistic and competitive society, dominated by the threat of clock time, would have seen the nature of his certainties collapse with the consequent urgency of redefining a new scale of values. But what kind of values can a materialistic society produce? Wealth? Success? Career? Can a society, where the imperative is “time is money” and where men are treated as small mechanisms of a careless system, be considered as an improvement to the previous one in terms of quality of life and, why not, happiness? Certainly not. That’s why the romantics kept on fighting strenuously against “modernity”, advocating the superiority of the values produced by the “old” world. If men abandoned their Eden, their natural state, just like modern Adam and Eve, they would only find pain, hard labor, misery, hence slowly becoming insensitive and indifferent. Therefore they began to strive using their lines as weapons, lines that they had deliberately simplified in order to reach with their message the heart of as many people as possible. They talked about the importance of memory, the beauty of nature, the necessity of a world of sensibility without restraining from the impulse of imparting a moralizing lesson. But the process now couldn’t be stopped and somehow they were defeated by the course of events. The great industrial change had spread all over the country and towns, like mushrooms, kept on growing disorderly but faster and faster. At the altar of “modernity” man was sacrificing his greatest gifts as well: his creativeness, his sense of taste and harmony. Man now needed to put at the top of his scale of values beauty, many artists claimed. The most optimistic were convinced that educating people to beauty would have meant to improve man’s ethical sense at the same time, but the majority of them thought that now it was too late to teach anything to anybody and kept themselves away from the rude and insensitive masses. The first five decades of folly of the twentieth century and two world wars swept away the few certainties and values left and men seemed now motionless seated on a “heap of broken images” of the past waiting for their Godot like Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon. We are still there.

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4 thoughts on “The romantic prophecy

    • I llove Romanticism so much. They were dreamers , they believed in the power of art as the best way to elevate man. I had forgotten about this post. I think I will re-shape and re-publish one of these days.
      Thank you so much for your attention and your words of appreciation.
      Hugs
      Stefy

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