Realism or pessimism? There is a view that overly optimistic people are more prone to depression because they tend to over-estimate what they can do (leading to a more frequent sense of failure) than the pessimist who has learned to say 'no, I can't do that'. So how is that I can both over-estimate what can be done but am also dogged by a very realistic sense of my inadequacy to actually do it. Stuffed? No, not really, it just means I worry more about what I do, then get on and do it. Wouldn't life be great if all the energy spent worrying could be re-directed?
As I embark upon a course of study that relies on my need to intellectualise the daily phenomena of two people's lives, I have to realise that, what Lukacs calls, 'the clouds of mysticism which once surrounded the phenomena of literature with poetic colour and warmth and created an intimate and "interesting" atmosphere...' may be what I am trying to escape. But it's also something I need to harness to keep my reader's attention.
Furthermore, in attempting to work out an ethical position in my forthcoming creative endeavour, I have encountered a fairly simplistic binary: misery memoir -v- romance and have recoiled from both. That leaves me in limbo as to how to manage what I am about to undertake.
Hitherto my only anchorage has been Schiller's 1795 treatise: On Naive and Sentimental Poetry. Every now and then something like this comes along unexpectedly and speaks directly to a problem I have been struggling with. Although I don't recall the detail, its essence enabled me to continue more confidently, knowing that naivety - so often used as a pejorative - is a noble virtue and the pursuit of the ideal, which for me is the truth (as I see it) is far superior to mere sentimentality. Now where does romance sit along that spectrum?
Back to Lukacs then who throws another ethical lifeline when he talks about how much more genuine humanity '...attaches to the acceptance of truth with all its inexorable reality...'.
When he writes about the philosophical pessimism that existed between the last two world wars, so deeply rooted in the period's social conditions, and then says there is 'plenty of darkness around us now, he was writing from a post-WWII realistic perspective. So rock-on Tolstoy, today I am eastern European.
I've done a lot of southern European sentimentality in this blog; it's been so easy to find attractive pictures, write a little cameo, then whack in some morbidly sentimental musical accompaniment. And I've often been conscious of how contrived it all is, even to the point of rejecting a good recording if the accompanying video doesn't complement the tone of my text.
So Happy New Year from a slightly less-confused, liberal-humanist-realist with agnostic undertones who still believes in the perfectibility of humankind.
Now what music might go with that?