Saying It Well...

Khrystine's favorite quotes

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."— Mark Twain

Modern Muse

Modern Muse
Adriana Lima in Elle Magazine

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Remnants of Romanticism: Evidence of Romantics Today

Remnants of Romanticism: Evidence of Romantics Today

Western Civilization: Renaissance to the Present

Khrystine Kelsey

Romanticism was an artistic and literary movement of the nineteenth century. While the meaning has been lost to many, associating the word only with erotic love, elements of romanticism are still thriving today.

The reason the term romance has been adopted by lovers the world over, is that one can often fully appreciate the romantic sensibility when one is in love. Romantics emphasize the reality of feelings, passion, and intuition. All of these come into play when one is in love-there is an intuitive connection to the other person, feelings blind reason, and everything is felt and done more passionately. The true romantic advocates being in this world at all times. Anytime we see a Dionysian character, they are romantic. Modern examples of romantic/Dionysian characters can be seen in the T.V. show Bones, an FBI drama that is essentially a comparison of Dionysian and Apollonian characters. In one episode, Agent Sealy Booth, annoyed at an ice cream truck that has interrupted his phone call, whips out his Government Issue gun, and shoots the clown shaped speaker. While one can debate the various moralities and practicalities of such an act, it is a romantic gesture.

Science has recently found that when one is in love, the mind experiences the world similarly to the mind under the influence of certain drugs. Many artists throughout the ages have taken drugs to tap into creativity, which is considered somewhat of a supreme power for romantics. While not all romantics use or advocate the use of drugs, the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle is thoroughly romantic. As one famous rock star said, “We’re all just a bunch of romantics born in the wrong time period.” * The stereotypical rock star, with their rule by passionate impulses such as “looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night”**, is always in this romantic mode, and their fans are also usually romantic, fully accepting the genius and power of such artists. (e.g. “That concert was totally worth $X.” “It would have been worth it if they had just played Baba O’Riley and left.” “It would have been worth it if Townsend had come out, done the windmill and left.”***)

Romantics also have a fascination with the other, and usually glamorize it, whether it is the poor, the rich, gypsies, frontiersmen, prostitutes, and the list could go on and on. Director Baz Luhrman is a modern example of this, with such movies as Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and Australia. As is the romantic way, all such things, even the dark, horrible, or strange, are beautiful and meaningful. These three movies are full of spectacle, and whether one enjoys them or not, they are in style and content some of the best examples of modern romanticism.

In the same vein, romantics are fascinated by the supernatural, whether it is religious, fantastical, or just plain weird. Any speculative fiction is most necessarily romantic, even if it proclaims not such romantic ideals. You simply cannot have a “naturalist” speculative fiction. Even stories written on the basis of more naturalist viewpoints, such as science fiction, end up turning out romantic in the end if only because they have a point. (Naturalists, as a response to romance, argue that nothing inherently has a point beyond science and what we say it does.) However, of course, this can be done convincingly or unconvincingly. Vampires seem to be a particularly timely example of this, as they have seen a resurgence of popularity due to Stephenie Myer’s Twilight series. Vampires are often portrayed a strangely beautiful, since the Romantic Movement society has never been able to go long without their stories. In this newest incarnation, as in virtually all others, the young maiden has a strange quasi-sexual desire to be consumed by a young strangely-virile-even-when-undead vampire. Religious subjects are usually more convincing, partly because religion also usually has an element of the supernatural in it.

Romantics are particularly interested in religion, even if many reject the organized kind. Most romantics believe in an “Absolute”, which could alternatively be called God, energy, nature, etc. It is not surprising that most romantics, if religious, follow traditions that are more mystic. Religions provide an opportunity for the romantic to more concretely visualize a perfect world.

Romanticism’s desire for idealized utopias gave rise to nationalism, in both positive and negative aspects. This broad term is the only real political one romantics agree upon, though they are also known for favoring revolutions, and some confused romantic support revolutions that eventually oppress the creativity and freedom they find so important (e.g. fascism, communism). Due to a romantic’s passionate nature, it is very easy for one to idealize nations, parties, or people. In the last administration, we have seen romantics viewing the war in Iraq as an opportunity to bring freedom to an oppressed people. We have also seen romantics who claim it is the signal for a new revolution in which the constitution is “actually upheld”. Both romantics, of course fiercely love America, and the same person based on new information or enlightenment on the issues at hand might hold both views. ****

Romantics also have a serious crush/love affair/worship (depending on the person) of nature, particularly as untamed. Nature represents the authenticity and unspoiled passions that romantics so earnestly search for. More humanistic romantics see man as a harmonious part of nature, others see us as highly detrimental to it, but both agree that humanity should check itself before making an impact on it. (An extreme view can be seen in Alan Weisman’s The World without Us.) All environmentalism is a romantic sentiment, and there has been a renewed interest in it lately as evidence for Global Warning is becoming harder to sweep under the rug. Even fashion magazines, wal-mart, and car companies, the triumvirate of consumerism have been advocating “green” practices lately. This nature also applies to people and society, especially in the case of urban romantics, whose numbers have grown throughout the last century. These romantics appreciate the universalism of a kid playing ball with a dog in the park, and see beauty in the street musician outside the theatre. Urban romantics, unheard of until the industrial revolution became widespread, have a need for nature as well. This often manifests in wanderlust, and even the most citified romantic needs time in a park now and then. As the ultimate city girl, but nonetheless romantic character Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City said, “City girls are just country girls in cuter outfits.”

One character has emerged from the romantic ideal as the romantic hero; he is sometimes called the anti-hero. This hero fights within themselves and society to be themselves. They can be moody, even obnoxious at times, and they are usually a loner. The apex of their heroism is to know themselves, rather than to conquer an outside enemy. Good examples of triumphant romantic heroes are Andre and Kyra in the book We the Living by Ayn Rand. Andre commits suicide after he realizes he is serving a corrupt state, and Kyra dies moments away from the border of the Soviet Union. Despite the tragic ends, this is a triumph romantically; both characters are free from society. A romantic tragedy would be 1984 by George Orwell, in which Winston, on the verge of being a revolutionary, is brainwashed by the state. A more recent romantic hero, who does affect society for the better (a plus but not a goal of romantic heroes), would be John Bender (played by Judd Nelson) in The Breakfast Club. While all the characters in this movie are heroes, Bender is the hero and the best example of a romantic one. Class is not important to romantic heroes; Bender is at the lowest end of the spectrum. He is the loner, and seriously offends every other character at least once. He is a revolutionary in the sense that he is completely against the administration of the school. He even has long unkempt hair, reminiscent of paintings of Byron. The school is the ultimate romantic villain-not an individual, but a body, who uses fear and trades on authority to abuse the students, who are not to be believed, even (or especially) by their parents.

Romanticism can cause many problems. Even to a self-proclaimed romantic like me, it is not always ideal. I am a humanist first, a romantic humanist, not a humanistic romantic. I see no point in contemplating a world without us, even if I do believe in creating sustainability. I am a city girl myself, which gives me authority to write on urban romantics. I believe, at least politically, that we should be tempered by reason. Nevertheless, as a romantic, I will never stop believing that people are at their best when given complete freedom to live their ideals. I will never be convinced that I am imagining things when my intuition is telling me what to do. I will always keep a healthy respect for the supernatural, not messing with what I do not understand. I am artistically of the romantic school, and even historically. I will assume people are and were noble until given evidence to the contrary. You will find me in any group of people determined to make the world as it should be, and not merely what it is. To quote another romantic, undoubtedly my biggest influence, “You will find me at the foot of every rainbow, searching for the vision seldom seen.” *****

*I do not remember who said this, which bothers me, as it is one of my favorite quotes.

**Wayne’s World 2.

***My friends and me after a Who concert.

****Also me.

*****Eli Benjamin Kelsey, a song that may or may not have a name.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Assembled Art Project: The Wheel Goddess

Assembled Art Project: The Wheel Goddess

Art 1010

Khrystine Danielle Kelsey

Title: The Wheel Goddess

Genre: Collage

Date Completed: April 27, 2009

Materials: Computer scanner, photo editing programs, Microsoft paint, photographs. Photograph of Sharon Leal by Carter Smith, Allure Magazine, May 2009. “Muladhara” found at “Svadhisthana” found at “Manipura” found at “Anahata” drawn by Kelsey using Microsoft paint. “Vishudda” found at “Ajna” cut and pasted from copy of Smith photograph. “Sahasrara” found at

I have always been fascinated with collages as a form of borrowed art. Collage, like many forms of design (e.g. fashion, furniture, architecture) is art that is appropriated for ones own uses. The difference is that while these other elements may be as embellished or as purely functional as the artist desires, collage is always conscious of the desire to create a new artistic piece, with a message that may be completely different from the original artist. Especially considered in my re-interpretation of Carter Smith’s photograph was how technology affects art, the blending of East and West, and the prominence of the nude in art, especially the female nude in portraiture.

My basic purpose of this work was to show how modern women, and indeed women of all time represent the characteristics of the goddess-the female archetype that embodies fertility, transformation, and wisdom. The original Smith photograph (below) was, I believe, intended to show the same thing in a more straightforward “modern” sense. The compelling aspect is the mix of softness and strength. I however wanted to show that this is not just an aspect of the modern woman, and that we in our modern society are much less removed from the primeval, mysterious, and magical than we think.

It seems that much of western art from Impressionism to the present has been concerned with portraying the modern as something new, when really it is just the fact that we are here, and not our parents, that make this particular zeitgeist so exciting. This is not a criticism, we should feel this way. Nevertheless, the times we truly feel ourselves rock with the cradle of the world, there is an awareness of certain things that transcend time. Eastern art and philosophy, at least in places where it is allowed to flourish such as India, seem to have more awareness of this. Kundalini Yoga is an old practice that has gained popularity among people who ironically refer to themselves as “new age”. Kundalini is a meditation on various energy centers associated with various parts of the body and represented by chakras, a Sanskrit word that means wheels. (Hence the title, “Wheel Goddess”.) The ideal is that these wheels be spinning at all times, ensuring the correct flow of energy in all areas of ones life. I chose an object to represent each of the seven wheels, some based on tradition, some based on interpretation. I wanted to create a feel of modernity and antiquity by combining nature with vestiges of middle history and the modern metal curtains the model Sharon Leal is wrapped in.

I created most of “Wheel Goddess” on a computer. I believe there are those who question whether anything created through these means can really be called art, just as there were with photography at one time. I do not wish to discuss this in much detail, but it is interesting to note perhaps how much simpler it is to find the materials for a collage. However, it is not necessarily easy to do a collage this way, unlike with glossy magazine cutouts, the textures of the various photographs are not the same, neither are the quality of the photographs. This creates a weakness in that the collage is not as unified, has blocky sections, and is less organic than a traditional hands-on creation.

Leal is nude in the photograph. This is nothing new in art. Artists choose to portray women nude for many reasons. Sometimes it is simply part of the theme, such as a woman bathing. Sometimes it is to make the scene idyllic; the woman is innocently without her clothes, like a child might be after he escapes his mother trying to dress him when he has better things to do. It is also used to convey a sense of timelessness or eternity, as in my interpretation in this collage. For many it is an aesthetic celebration of the body (as in the original photograph), for some it verges on the scientific, and for pornographers it is intended to facilitate sexual climax. Despite the fact that they are not inherently erotic, many people are uncomfortable with nudes. Indeed, there may be a fine line between aesthetics and erotica, and erotica and pornography. Some may feel this line is thicker, some thinner. I have struggled with my own definitions, which I believe are important on a personal level. Smith’s photograph served my purposes of a timeless open, confident woman well, yet the original photograph is erotic, more so than the others in the series it came from, and I hesitated using it. Perhaps what bothers so many people about the nude in art is the projections of the artist on the subject. That is why aesthetic and erotic nudes (yes, even in photograph) don’t bother me, the subject is sharing of his (though usually her) self. Pornographic and scientific nudes both treat the subject as an object, to be examined or used. This is not my intention with “Wheel Goddess”. She is a powerful woman who transcends earthly trappings of clothes or the lack of them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Review-Mixed Blood by Roger Smith

Mixed Blood: A Thriller Mixed Blood: A Thriller by Roger Smith

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
Smith is a screenwriter, and you can tell reading this book-it's very cinematic. This book makes you want to keep reading, and it's fast paced. However, there are several very disturbing images, and it's hard to tell if the characters really redeem themselves. Maybe they're not supposed to. I didn't dislike this book, but I was relieved to finally finish it.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Since Last I Wrote...

I have taken finals, gone to Seattle, given my hair a makeover, become an aunt again, and attended one and a half parties.
Finals: Grades haven't come out yet, but my anatomy final (which scared me a ton) seemed a lot better than I expected. I am almost worried that the teacher will be suspicious that I actually know something. I will likely be posting final papers, but I think I will wait until grades for the semester are officially posted to "publish." I also will be posting a final art project, so you all can judge me. ;)
Seattle: Seattle was great, I truly love it up there. Our first night in town we attended a new student party at Safeco Field. I was surprised to publicly recieve a scholarship award and also to find a fellow Salty. (As in Salt Lake City Resident.) So evidently I will not be the only Utahn at Evergreen. We stayed at the Raddisson, which was very nice. They have sleep number beds that are soooo comfy. My number is thirty-five, by the way.
Saturday we drove down to Olympia to explore the campus. I had seen the campus before, about three years ago, but this time I explored a little more. There are these awesome little trails I think Toby will love to go for walks on. I also looked into finding a place to live. That makes me a little nervous because it occurs to me that I might need things like rental history and in-state cosigners, neither of which I have. Luckily, Daddy seems like he'll be very supportive and will do what he can to help me find a nice place.
On Sunday, Daddy and I went to play in the city. We ate at Ivar's, which is a famous fish place near the docks. I had deep-fried salmon. It was really good, but I spent most of my time throwing french fries to the seagulls. Seagulls aren't all creepy and greedy, like pigeons get. I even held out a fry that a seagull took from my hand! Then we went shopping at Pike Place Market. Those who know my shopaholic ways will be impressed to hear I only spent ten dollars on myself at the Market. I bought a suede Pony Tail Wrap. It's wraps around your hair and almost looks like it's been braided. I love it. I find cities so inspiring, and I have decided to rename my blog accordingly. Street musicians, people swing dancing in front of Starbucks...awesome.
The day before finals, I decided to dye my hair a deep rich brown. I bought some Nice 'n' Easy hair color and ended up with black hair. I really had to get used to it. I'm okay with it now-I even sorta like it-but I think when it's time to do it again, I'll just re-do it.
On May 6th, at 6:26 pm, JoAnna and Jeffrey had their baby, Rayne Miranda. She is gorgeous! She has sparkly, pretty green eyes. JoAnna and Rayne stayed with us last night, and are planning to for a while I think.
On the 8th, Friday, my friends Sara and Natalie graduated with their bachelors of anthropology and family sciences, respectively. We all hung out at Natalie's place that afternoon along with Aurora an Alexa (in this picture). Natalie's sisters and mom were there too, but I don't have pictures of them. :( The next day I was supposed to go to my friend Ginger's baby shower. She's having twin boys on the twenty-third of June. I woke up on Saturday exhausted (I don't know why-I didn't have a baby) and didn't leave the house until 12:40. The shower started at noon, but I couldn't buzz into the apartment (not hers). It just didn't work. So later I stopped by and dropped off her present at her place. But it was still good because it was just her, her mom and youngest sister Nicki. So I got to find out how the whole family, who I've basically adopted, was doing.
So this week, I turn twenty-one, on Tuesday. My niece's daughter Hunter will be one on Wednesday. My brother Eli will be in town from Florida, so that's pretty awesome. And today is mother's day. So in honor of that, let me just say how cool and stylish my mother is. As bad as this will sound, the more I hear about other people's mothers, the more I appreciate my own. So here's to Mother!