I made two short films. I have to say this tongue-in-cheek because, technically speaking, I merely borrowed movie clips and music that I just cobbled up together for some sort of makeshift music video. Mostly, I wanted to learn to use a Movie Maker program because it seems everyone is into videos these days. Many contemporary artists, in fact, count this medium in their artistic formulary. And many writers now use video book trailers to sell their books.
I do not usually collect movies. The four I have were all given to me and were the only ones available for me to use. So, of course, they factored in greatly into the type of music videos I ended up putting together.
While the materials I had at hand pretty much dictated the feel of these videos, I was actually struck, afterwards, by how romantic they both turned out to be. More so, I thought, than the full-length films they were culled out of. Stripped of other scenes and selected for their relevance to the music I chose to pair them with, the videos crystallized the themes of love and romance.
Then a funny thing happened as I was watching my finished pieces. I realized I was a sucker for romance. I never thought so before. My tastes for films and books trend towards the depressing, the foreign, the unusual and the cerebral. But I admit that a simple love story—unsentimental, unvarnished and in which sexy scenes, when used, are not gratuitous—can leave me warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately, such love stories are rare in films. If there are any that come close, they are likely to be period pieces from England. Those that come out of Hollywood often bear little relationship to the experience of real people with their contrived scenarios and beautiful people who are obligated to jump into the sack at some point just to titillate the audience.Chagall, Lovers in Venice
As a culture, we tend to be uneasy about romantic love. Sex, yes, of course. That is inevitably a draw. But emotions communicated in longing aching gestures are too subtle for most of us. We label them “romantic,” giving ourselves permission to dismiss them. We prefer the unmistakable tingling elicited by heaving bodies. I like heaving bodies as much as the next person and I do believe there can be romance in sex. Still, many other western cultures probably do not have the same queasiness that we do about desire trapped in sighs of yearning or smoldering eyes. But as basic as sex may be for pleasure and procreation, romance is I think essential to our humanity. Indeed, it is an integral part of it.
Romance can mean different things to different people. It is, perhaps, this elasticity in its meaning that gives it its humanistic essence. But whatever meaning you give it, romance, I believe is set apart by its quality of transcendence. Consider what descriptions one online dictionary associates with romance: love idealized for its purity or beauty; a mysterious, exciting, sentimental, or nostalgic quality; a spirit of adventure, excitement, or mystery. These, to me, are words we can easily associate with the best traits in ourselves that we all can draw upon.
There is transcendence in many things that we value for the nourishment they give our souls: art and music, good literature, or religion and philosophy, for instance. We embrace these things more openly; so, why the uneasy rapport with romance? A few yearsr ago, an article appeared in Newsweek that may provide some insight. Nathaniel Branden, a therapist and former lover of controversial writer Ayn Rand is not exactly the authority I would turn to but he did write a book on romantic love that is considered a classic and in this quote, I do agree with him:
Romantic love can be terrifying. We experience another human being as enormously important to us. So there is surrender—not a surrender to the other person so much as to our feeling for the other person. What is the obstacle? The possibility of loss. Need creates a vulnerability that can be frightening and enraging. Romantic love is not for children. Ten-year-olds can’t have romantic love and neither can a 35-year-old whose view of his self-interest is fit for a 10-year-old.
I would say, neither is romance for the birds. Like verbal language, it separates us from all other living things. Branden’s extremely short list of obstacles is quite potent. Our fear of loss comprises not only fear of losing the other but also of losing control, probably an even scarier prospect for many. Still, letting go and making a mess of things, while only human, can be exciting, mysterious, adventurous; in other words, romantic.
We can infuse almost any human undertaking with romance. For instance, romance has been a subject matter of art and fiction for centuries. Then, there is romanticism, a recognized style that defined the work of artists in the early 1800s. But the romance in art and writing for many artists and writers of any period resides not so much in the finished artwork but, rather, in its making. Most artists will tell you that doing art is a leap of faith in which the end result is often not defined. This may not be as true for writers because words have a definiteness to them that artworks do not. But both writing and art-making evolve through a process, an exciting adventure that can also be scary, frustrating, painful and laborious.
About the Author:
EJourney thinks of herself as a flaneuse, watching life unfold, then writing and illustrating what she loves about what she sees. In a past life, EJ, who has a dormant Ph.D. in the field of psychology from the University of Illinois, did mental health program research, evaluation and development. Now, she does art in various media— from oils to digital paintings— and writes when she feels she has something to say. Some of her musings on Art and Such, Travel, Tasty Morsels, and State of Being reside in cyberspace at http:// www.eveonalimb.com. EJ did the digital “paintings” (cover and all other illustrations) for Margaret of the North, on an iPad using SketchbookPro.