The Stylized Soul in Romantic Literature (MP3 download)
By Tore Boeckmann
“Romantic art is always stylized,” Ayn Rand said, distinguishing it from ancient Greek sculpture, which she called “beautiful Naturalism.”
To stylize an artwork is to condense it to essential characteristics, chosen according to the artist’s value-abstractions. The result is a work every aspect of which is expressive of his values.
In this lecture, Mr. Boeckmann explores some of Ayn Rand’s values, chosen in childhood and present throughout her two greatest novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Special attention is given to the abstractions which unify Rand’s personal values into a single theme (an ego-theme, as it were), as opposed to her moral principles, which hold for everyone. Although not mentioned explicitly, the great unifier is actually Francis Bacon’s conception that “Knowledge is Power,” which constitutes the worldview underlying Rand’s vision of the ideal man as active, modern, and Romantic. (The characteristic of “modernity” is discussed in detail.)
Literary Romanticism is compared with Romanticism in painting, using Theodor Kittelsen’s Soria Moria as the case study. (This painting is easily found online.) The Romantic method of artistic re-creation is shown to be essentially the same in the two media—namely, stylization.
The unique powers of stylization to integrate abstractions and concretes in the realm of human values is demonstrated.
This lecture was recorded at the Objectivist Summer Conference 2013 in Chicago, IL.