Friday, March 14, 2008

Comment elsewhere: Presidential romance

Over at Terry's place, in response to a discussion of presidential remarks to troops in which he said
"I must say, I’m a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

I wrote
[teacher hat] Romance actually used to mean something else entirely: if you look at "the Romantics" in literature and music, there’s actually a very powerful range of emotions going on, many of them very unromantic. The essence of Romanticism was a connection to nature and to our primal, emotional selves, and a rejection of rationality as the core human experience. There is often a fascination with violence in romanticism, as an expression of emotion and as a primal experience. So there’s a very natural connection between adventure/danger and Romanticism.

There’s also a connection between that same fascination with violence (and hyper-masculinity) and fascist aesthetics, which draw much more heavily on Romanticism ("Blood and Soil", etc.) than most people realize. Romanticism is a component of modern nationalism, though the extent of it varies. [/teacher hat]

The implications of this reading of "romantic" are pretty troubling, actually. I’d love to know if these were unscripted comments, because when he goes off script he does put his real self out there sometimes. As someone else said about the same speech, fodder for generations of psych students….

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