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Thursday, February 10, 2022

Comment of the Moment: Romanticism & Neil Young’s Harvest at Age 50

Harvest by Neil Young - Released on February 1, 1972

Last week, we celebrated Neil Young's album Harvest with an epic 50th anniversary posting by Harvey Kubernik.
While details are still being finalized, a 50th anniversary edition of the Harvest album is planned to be announced by his record label Reprise later this year.  In the meantime as we await details, here is the Comment of the Moment on Neil Young’s Harvest at Age 50 by Dan:


@ Thrashers: I believe this may be the longest post ever here on the Wheat. [ed: yes, we believe you're correct.]

It took awhile to get through it, but now that I have, I’ll share my thoughts on Harvest @ 50.

The day Harvest was released, my first girlfriend and I took a bus to downtown Portland and (if memory serves) went to a big department store and road an elevator up to the music department. We were each fifteen years old at the time, and flushed with that intense feeling when you first think you’re in love. Needless to say that when we got back to my house and heard Harvest for the first time, it was a rather romantic experience for us. I think this is why I hold the record so dear, as it marks a special moment in my life when the teenage hormones were raging.

When I listen to Harvest now of course it carries much more than just adolescent memories because I’ve lived with it for 50 years. In that context I relate to differently. For me, Harvest is simply one chapter in an ongoing novel that isn’t finished yet. I don’t like to categorize it as a classic album, it’s just one part of something much bigger.

There are hundreds of albums that I have lived with for most of my life, and as I grow and change, so do those records. Music is a living art, it’s not singular or stationary. It can be different things to different people at different times. There are bands that I have gravitated to throughout my life that served me well at that time, but now I’ve evolved as a person so I don’t resonate with them anymore. That doesn’t take away from their music, its just doesn’t feed me like it did before.

There are certain artists that I’ve connected with over the years that have always hit me in a deeper way, and I’ve always connected with what they were saying and what they were playing. Neil Young is obviously one of those artists that I’ve managed to grow old with. He just seems to be creating music that connects to my DNA.

If you live long enough, and your always consciously working towards becoming a better version of yourself, then you evolve and grow. I know I’m still not the person I want to be, but I’m getting closer every day because I’m constantly searching and holding myself accountable for my life. Having Neil’s music along for the ride has been a real blessing and I’m grateful he’s still alive and working. Harvest is an important part of my journey, but it only represents a single chapter. 

Hopefully there are many more to come, because I’m still here listening and dreaming.


Thanks so much for sharing these Harvest memories with us Dan.  Certainly many Neil Young fans have such tales.

It should be noted that the post on Neil Young’s Harvest at Age 50 kicked off a healthy discussion amongst our resident commenters (now known as ‘Thrashers Wheat Sanity Collective’) over "romanticism in Neil's music".  Check out those comments -- should you be a romantic.

Also, check this week's episode of Thrasher's Wheat Radio 2.0 Vodcast/Podcast - Episode #13 where we honor Harvest album's 50th anniversary.


  Thrasher's Wheat Radio 2.0 Vodcast/Podcast - Episode #13
 | Hosted by  
And, to add a visualization to our journey of romance, here is an illustration submitted by Dionys to illuminate his musings (see comment thread below) on the romantic beat.

Wanderer above a sea of fog
by Caspar David Friedrich
(thank you Dionys)

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At 2/10/2022 02:58:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

well, maybe the rusties aren't as romantic as we thought?
or maybe just not as openly romantic as we suspected?
suppose not surprising for someone like ourselves.

a little disclosure.

long ago, someone asked us something about our politics.
so we said we're just a hopeless romantic.

boy, did that trigger a reaction.
how could you be so stupid as to say that? don't you know your enemies will rip you apart?
you have to be a warrior in life!
so that's when we became a romantic warrior in the battles of love & war.

so, a long way of saying that the floor is open for romantic posts for upcoming St Valentine's day next week to all you hearts of gold out there.

submissions welcome here or thrasher ATSIGN

At 2/10/2022 03:16:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I think Storytone is Neil’s most romantic album in his entire catalog. And I believe that being romantic is the most human thing any of us can be.

Peace 🙏

At 2/10/2022 03:48:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/10/2022 04:05:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

My last comment was swallowed by th system, too bad. So I try again.

In using the term romanticism or romantic one has to use discernment (digital bow to Thrasher).
Romantic in the everyday use ( in the English language as I understand it) is either derisive or even derogatory, as described by Thrasher above. It is used to criticise somebody to be out of touch with reality, not being realistic (or sober) not subscribing to modern realism.
The complimentary modern use of "romantic" in the positive sense is applied by Dan when he is describing "Storytone", it is a term related to positive emotions but thanks to media and entertainment became somewhat shallow ("candle light dinner romanticism).
What the Tharshers Wheat Sanity Collective currently is exploring is something else, an original meaning of the "Romantic" being a lifestyle, a Weltschauung (dangerous German word)a perception of the world.
"The world must be romanticized in order find its original sense and meaning again" (Novalis, pseud. for Freiherr von Hardenberg, one of the original romantic authors in the late 18th century).
Neil Young as an artist and human being, like all of us, is struggling to make sense of this world, but - and that's part of his artistic existence - he constantly and intuitively is falling back on the romantic cat's feet. To find out what these feet are and where they originally tread maybe is the most interesting and rewarding undertaking here.

At 2/10/2022 04:29:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Please excuse the typos. I am intermittingly grading papers (simple geography stuff).
Above I meant to write the word "Weltanschauung" that made it's way into the English language and in my language partly is discredited because it also means ideology in the negative sense. The use of this an many other terms by the Nazis left my language with a lot of black holes, where there were words that had many and non-negative connotations.

At 2/10/2022 05:06:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan - ahh Storytone. spoken like a true modern romantic.
and you prefer which version? Full orchestra? or Mixed Pages vers?

@ Dionys - thank you so much for engaging here on TW on the subject as we head towards St V day next week.

as our friend Ian/MR (& NYCH) would say "Don't Forget Love"!

and long may the Thrashers Wheat Sanity Collective run!

#NoFear #KeepCalm
#TurnOffTheNews+ #BuildAGarden

At 2/10/2022 05:19:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I remember Heart of Gold coming on the solid
state radio on our kitchen table the first time
I heard any of Harvest. We had just got this
radio with one big copper sheilded speaker and
the shiny silver dials and blue light background
on the station ribbon. I was 10 and life was now
awesome! After being raised as a little kid with
Johnny Cash, Eddie Arnold, Jim Reeves and Hee Haw,
plus the White, Red and Blue albums of the Beatles
and some Jose Feliciano, the harmonica and strings of
Neil's acoustic guitar captured me to a new time
country sound that has never left. I don't remember
when we got into the rest of the album real heavy, but
Old Man then hit the air waves and now and again the
other songs on the album. I remember Alabama striking
a chord in me when I heard that somewhere, and Words was
a definite clincher that this guy was something special.
Didn't ride the Horse until later after getting a hold of
Decade, but from there went backwards and forward, upward
and onward with all of it. I think back to my brothers
and sisters sitting at that table, rocking it out. I pulled
that radio out of the trash can when my folks were moving
out of the house after 42 years. It now sits in the new
garage and still blasts that FM sound like it always has.
Still giving more than I can take!

At 2/10/2022 08:15:00 PM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

I had a VW Van with a wooden interior and a great sound system with speakers on the floor and ceiling. I saved the first play of the 8 track of the Harvest album while driving through the rolling hills of Gordon Lightfoot territory near Orillia Ontario. The sun was low, the color-rich rolling roadside took on a magic air when I slid in the 8 track.

Boom Boom Chick, Boom Boom Chick, came throbbing through my feet, then up my legs, and into my heart.
"Think I'll pack it in and buy a pick up Take it down to L.A." Amazingly whenever I hear that song again, it doesn't enter through my ears. It starts at the bottom of my feet and works its way up.
Boom Boom Chick, Boom Boom Chick....

At 2/10/2022 10:09:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/11/2022 01:34:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Romance : Neil has provided a phenomenal soundtrack. I felt strongly affected by Neil’s related topics in song through the decades. The vastly underrated Storytone solo is the obvious pick for me for most romantic album. Dan nailed it. The Orchestra is a bit much. Happy Valentines Day. Your non blood related Brother in Seattle.

At 2/11/2022 03:24:00 AM, Blogger Steve L said...

I think there are traces of Romanticism to be found in some of Neil's music.

I am not saying this is what he set out to do, but if we are looking for examples of Neil work to put into that category, there are some candidates to consider.

The first instance that came to my mind was Cortez the Killer.

Another (for me) is After the Gold Rush (the song, not the whole album).

Maybe also Natural Beauty.

T-Bone? Er, no...

At 2/11/2022 09:36:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Jesus, I went back and read some passages from my library on romanticism. What a black hole. I recall taking "American Romanticism" in college and then some British Romanticism. As far as being able to collect enough content for a judgment on Neil Young's album, I am deeply skeptical. The urge for introspective lyrics and speaking first from emotion is a universal human tendency at times. In short, this topic is above my pay grade.

I do, however, see a clear and stark realism approaching and it is mixed with romanticism ("Time Fades Away") insofar as I can get clear on any of this. I am reminded of why I was frequently deranged while studying "literary theory" in college (forget theory in the humanities). Nothing stands still and all the boundaries are porous.

So, I conclude as a skeptic.

At 2/11/2022 02:16:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Neil Young's music and his (public) persona or image are deeply romantic. The problem being with this assumption is that true Romantic expression is based on teleological thinking, much more so than thinking in causal connections. The telos (what Neil Young or his character is aiming at) in Neil Young songs that mourn the past (Steve L. mentions "Cortez", I may add also "Pocahontas") infact is not so much the loss of the past, but the loss of the future (see the "Cortez"-counterpart "Inca Queen" and ATGR of course). And that's a typical romantic topos (issue theme, subject). That the loss of a future is increasingly becoming realistic could not have been foreseen by Neil Young factually (not in the early or mid 70s, a few Club of Rome prophets aside), but still the words and thoughts are there because his romantic mind set made him dream ahead. Typically that is embedded in dreamlike images, like in "I dreamed I saw..."

At 2/11/2022 02:33:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Needless to say that in order to arrive at these musings one has to free oneself first from the idea, that a romanticist is somewhat naive or not grounded in reality. Just as much as Neil Young is a shrewd businessman or a guy fascinated with technical progress, many of the German romanticists were involved with natural science, law or business as it was very difficult to make a living as a writer at the end of the 18th century. Romantic literature has a fair dose of satirical content, commenting on the reality of their times.

At 2/11/2022 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Not so much the loss of the past but the loss of the future...this is an important idea. It is relevant to everything we try to do and how we try to get better. The basic idea can be caught in causal terms, that the failures of the past, the mistakes, the tragic errors, are causally connected to the present and the future: to think otherwise is "magical thinking." Why the romantic in this case must think teleologically or does think teleologically is not altogether clear.

At 2/11/2022 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

The ultimate goal of the romanticist is to reverse the fall from grace, the bridging of the hiatus between subject and world, or the return to paradise ("We got to get ourselves back to the garden", JM; the same motive re-appears as late as in "After the Garden").
In the eyes of the romanticists paradise can not be reached by reason alone, hence the negative reaction of the romanticists to trivialized enlightenment - solely being a technocratical mindframe not taking into account the full nature of the human being- , but by balancing reason and soul in trying to achieve a (mystic) unity between the conscientious and the sub-conscientious. Sure enough the romanticists were speaking of the re-enchantment of the world, "magical thinking", as you put it.

At 2/11/2022 05:14:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

And this is by the way an (my) explanation why so many MAGA-fans of Neil Young’s music feel disappointed by their hero. They believe in a return to paradise in the future that resembles their idealized past. They subscribed to only a part of the process (the teleological train of thought), and believe that we magically will find everything we’re looking for either in technical solutions or the return to a value system they believe to have existed, but which never did and never will work for the growing new majority (in the US). They seek redemption where it is not to be found, while Neil Young moved on or has always been moving on a different track altogether, heading for a different horizon. A big misunderstanding, as I see it, partly fueled by the Country period in the 80’s. Neil Young is a romantic, the others are nostalgists. Nostalgia being a trivial and deceitful mirage that knows no real future. Phew! My meanderings are typically romantic: beyond the horizon, there is another and another, endless.

At 2/11/2022 05:36:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

This is very interesting and good stuff. I am in agreement over nostalgia, often conjures cruelty and deception. I think there is a sort of thinking, cognitive operation so to speak, that can bridge the gulf between technocratic mindset (needs more detail but I agree that there is certainly such a thing and it prevails currently) and romanticism.

At 2/11/2022 06:03:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Before I hit the sack, a few last remarks.
I asked Thrasher to upload a picture (the romantic picture!) that illustrates my thoughts above (The wanderer above the sea of fog by Caspar David Friedrich. Hereabouts, it is considered to be the perfect representation of the romantic. Add Old Black to the figure and there we have Neil Young, in my eyes.

The problem with the nostalgists is that their idea of the past is written in stone and they have a hard time accepting that their inscriptions are just one representation of the original spirit and idea of let's say for example "the right to free speech". I found it to be interesting that the notion of an forever invariably prevailing interpretation of these fundamental rights then apparently is used for lashing out against political opponents, but does not apply to their freedom to speak their minds and act accordingly. Thomas Friedman (see NYT or NYA) is right: a society with all having rights and none bearing reponsibility is in danger. I might add without implying an analogy: There is a direct historical connection between misguided and degenerated or half-assed romanticisms and the German horrors of the 20th century. (Also see Goya's famous etching "The sleep of reason produces monsters"; note the ambiguity: The Spanish motto of this etching can also be read and understood as: "The DREAM of reason produces monsters".)

At 2/11/2022 08:31:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

This is a great thread--though I did not feel I could add a whole lot. From an English lit perspective, my main thoughts on Romanticism go back to Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Browning. And (speaking of black holes)my knowledge on German arts, literary or otherwise, is mostly pre-WWII: modernism, post-impressionist and expressionist painting and early films, Bauhaus, etc. Franz Marc, though not necessarily a romantic, is one of my favorite painters.

Also, I would associate Romanticism somewhat with the American transcendentalist movement. Which might be a useful link back to Neil, given the spiritual and ecological overtones of much of his work.

Sorry, Dionys, if I'm just getting to where you've already been. If nothing else, I hope this gives some sense of what one gets covered in an American humanities curriculum.

Nor do I think we have to be circumscribed by what NY may have intended. In works of art, what the audience takes from it is often just as important as what the artist meant to convey. Reader/listener response is a rich field in itself.

"Don't forget love."

At 2/12/2022 03:34:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

The romantic epoch in Europe is understood to be the last truly Pan-European cultural phenomenon which at one point reached all corners of Europe through its different incarnations, literature, music, art. The transcendalist poet's ridge of Concord, MA indeed appears to be made up of distant cousins of that time. Like I mentioned earlier Cooper (not a transcendentalist, I know) was a great admirer of German romantic poet Ludwig Tieck and visited with him in Germany. Looking at Cooper's mourning for the loss of a landscape, a way of life and a future for both (The Last of the Mohicans and The Pioneers)he also is an early frontrunner of what developed into the neo-romantic ecology movement of our times. Coopers novels almost instantly after their first publication were translated into German and published here, some of these historical editions even found their way onto my bookshelf.

There are reflections in Poe who in Tales of Mystery and Imagination is criticising his English counterparts for situating their gothic novels (the dark side of romanticism) in German places thought to be mysterious and eery (Black Forest, Ingolstadt). If you ever came that way, you would be surprised how amiable, friendly and sunny these places actually are. Mary Shelley never travelled to Ingolstadt.
These places are a lot more as they were expressed in the paintings of Marc, Klee, and Kandinsky. Under the surface and over time there has been more interaction and more reciprocal influencing going on than one would have thought.

So if Neil Young is singing about his "little box on top of the stairs" (Pocahontas) I am reminded of a day swimming in Walden Pond (before it got swamped by tourists) and a little replica box nearby. Needles to say that in my aforementioned paper frottage collection Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau and even little woman Alcott have their own special place, but so does H.P. Lovecraft.

At 2/12/2022 03:48:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

Oh, and I forgot to add, if you are interested, around my place there are not less than five museums that have permanent exhibitions of Franz Marc's and his contemporaries' and colleagues work. Should you ever come this way, preferably around mid-September, let me know.

At 2/12/2022 11:08:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dionys - thank you so much for the musings on the romantic beat. you guys are really getting to the heart of the matters.

Also, thanks for submitting "Wanderer above a sea of fog" by Caspar David Friedrich.

We have added to the posting above at bottom. the painting perfectly captures our journey of romance.

after contemplating this all with thrashette last night, regarding our attempt to pull this together into a St Valentine's Day posting on Neil Young & Romanticism in His Music, we've reconsidered.

we can't do proper justice to the subject by mashing this thread together into a digestible fashion. too much.

most likely, we'll just link back to this comment thread on St Valentine's Day.

but let's keep the conversation going. while we're on the topic of Romanticism, a few questions:

- Romeo & Juliet? the ultimate romantic story?
- Unconditional love? the ultimate expression of romantic love?
- can Romanticism be truly expressed by words alone? Say poetry? Or only conveyed via an art form such as music?
- Is the song "Heart of Gold" Neil's true pinnacle of Romanticism?
- how can emotional Romanticism transcend dispassionate intellectualism in our 21st century technocratic state?

well, no worries, on bothering to attempt a reply. don't want to wreck your weekend plans or anything.

@ Thrashers Wheat Sanity Collective - might we refer you to as the TW Romantics?

At 2/12/2022 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

Dear Thrashers,

Thanks for putting Ol' Caspar D. Friedrichs Painting up there. In my mind I add the picture of NY&CH watching the sunset that came with "Barn".
The other questions will have to wait, first I will have to solve a few problems around a shadow kid (a 16 year old, that has been kept in isolation because of the pandemic for the last one and a half years, with parents totally paranoid.)

At 2/12/2022 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I can't contribute all that much here, as I don't know enough about the genre talk. I also find myself at odds with much of American romanticism, especially the transcendental business with Emerson. But I do have a lot to say about the last question.

The world of 20th century and 21st century United States culture is, in my view, antagonistic to dispassionate intellectualism. What has happened, especially in mid-20th century is the technological regime, which has now concealed itself in many ways. Efficiency, convenience, and brutality (especially for those on the margins) are the marks of this regime and it was Heidegger who started the philosophical movement in opposition. His essay, "The Question Concerning Technology" is a beast. In it, he discusses the components of the technological worldview, which is a "setting upon" natural reality. Heidegger was a prophet in this sense as we see the ecological ruin everywhere. Following Heidegger is Albert Borgmann and "Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life." Delillo in "White Noise" might have produced the best novel centered on this ontology.

Dispassionate intellectualism, as in a clear sighted analysis of the technological worldview is most welcome (which is what I work on in philosophy and interdisciplinary studies) and the connection here to Trans is interesting. I am not sure about "romantic" (again) but Neil is engaged with the dehumanizing force of the technological world and the manner in which we might come to some sort of change or "transformation." Our most difficult struggle is, in my view, a species knowledge with respect to our limits and our wants. The ruin of our environment, our failure to communicate when technology consistently claims more ways to communicate, and the continuous brutality toward those dispossessed and marginalized define our spiritual wasteland. As all of you probably know by now, I am not an intellectual optimist.

At 2/12/2022 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

My lack of higher education prevents me from adding anything of value to the conversation, but I am enjoying it. Thanks.

Peace 🙏

At 2/12/2022 01:48:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Dan, all your posts are greatly appreciated. I have learned a lot from you, especially your thoughts about the music.

I wanted to make one thing clear, I am really talking about a culture that abandons normative standards of rationality. "Dispassionate reason" clearly has a negative connotation. I would say, abandonment of rational standards (anywhere: music, poetry, novels all are subject to rational inquiry as a necessary condition for aesthetic judgment). Feelings/emotions are communicable as they tie to rational standards. Avoid the "ineffable" as far as possible- this is the road to conflict, violence, and sheer assertion (sound familiar)?

At 2/12/2022 02:28:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

A few more remarks on Romanticism

I am not so sure about Romeo & Juliet being romantic at all. In the 19th and 20th century the story has been trivialized to a degress that it is almost impossible to see the real thing. So let us talk not falsely now: It's about the belief that our origins should not determine our fate.

The real romantic would have dismissed the idea of the romantic expressed in words only. I do not know about English romantic poetry, but the German romantic poetry has a certain sound when spoken. These poems count among the most beautiful spoken texts of German literature. This found it's way into the romantic "Kunstlied"-tradition: Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssoh-Bartholdy marking the highpoints of romantic music.
Romanticism postulates the interaction of all sorts of expression in art: "It's all one song!"

At 2/12/2022 03:08:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Dionys: I appreciate your point on Romeo & Juliet Their relationship may have been romantic, but their story wasn’t. The fact that both end in death simply elevates the premise of “our origins should not determine our fate”. I never saw it as a love story, so I’m glad I wasn’t alone on that front.

I don’t exactly feel intimidated by the conversation here, but I am outside my education of the subject at hand. Many of the writers mentioned, I’m unfamiliar with, yet I’m very familiar with the composers you’ve listed. I can follow the stream of conciseness from the information given, but I don’t get all the references. I am gaining more understanding through this discussion, so I’m enjoying the journey.

Peace 🙏

At 2/12/2022 05:23:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

In regard to Abner's points, I think this conversation suggests one of the first principles of rational inquiry: the need to have agreement, or common understanding, to define basic terms. "Romantic" is a big word with many connotations and, as we can see, everyone brings in their own sense of what it means, both individually and at broader cultural levels.

So aligning Neil Young's music with Romanticism would likely need a fair amount of qualifying or specifying of what the writer/critic means by "Romanticism". (Notice that I keep using the capital R here, to signify a distinction from more informal definitions.)

Put simply, Neil Young's songs deal with "man vs. machine" conflicts, along with the sense of an abiding, positive belief in the power of the human spirit. These seem like baseline Romantic traits. Instead of "power of the human spirit", one could even say Love. So it's possible to see how colloquial meanings are distantly related to academic ones.

On some level, I value intuition (of course, my "intuition" could just be neurological pathways I'm not consciously aware of). However, Abner is right to allude to pitfalls of Romanticism--the openings for irrational, and even reactionary, responses to change. Also, particularly in the US, a kind of rugged individualism that may not get us very far.

"Don't forget love."

At 2/13/2022 05:12:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

"TW Romantics"? Not so much, as an alternative I suggest Thrashers Wheat Sanitary Unit. The main goal being to make clear to those who mistake this venerable digital forum as being their political outhouse, TW is a forum of civil debate, be it science or be it based on the expression of individual perception, emotion and enthusiam. So if we meet here, have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse... (OK, that's something out of the Magical Realism of Bulgakow's Master & Margarita) :-)
In other words: Taking this to the lonely heights of scientific deliberation can also be understood as an act of protest to some recent derailment. Also it can be seen as an encouragement to those who understand, that the ailments of the American media landscape are just the silhouettes on a cave wall.

At 2/13/2022 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I have noticed what might be called "trash talk"? This is an interesting point, the "political outhouse" issue as it relates to recent free speech "debate" we had on this venerable forum. The tendency for discussion to degenerate as passion gets hot is understandable but actually not justifiable. Students debating about mask mandates get pretty upset (for example) and I tell them it is just when you are most passionate that you need the most control. I admit that I called someone an "idiot" on this forum some weeks ago and then quickly apologized but this is still not good enough. Particularly and especially in these times we need to hold ourselves to very high standards of civil discourse. This does not preclude a tough response or argument. we just need to make sure we do not sink below the expression of ideas and arguments. Other rhetorical schemes and manipulations are inevitable and so cannot be avoided.

At 2/13/2022 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Ian, I hear you. I think a definition of "romanticism" complete with necessary and sufficient conditions (an analytic definition, nothing extensional allowed) is hopeless. It does not follow that we cannot continue a discussion, although it might be a bit messy.

At 2/13/2022 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

OMG, and we haven't even started with the term "romantic irony". Remember these postcards or pictures that showed a different scene depending at which angle you were looking at them? (a type of early hologramms) Such it is with the romantic irony. The Romantics were a young generation who used a code ("You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by and so become yourself because the past is just a goodbye") or a parole (as opposed to langue) to recognize each other and keep themselves ("Are you on the bus or off the bus?") apart from the "Philistines" (squares, rednecks) as the older generation was called in the student idiom of what today would be called fraternities or sororities. So sometimes it's really hard to decide whether you are dealing with Romantic speech or not. The best approach to identify the Romantic would be rather simple: compare a text to the known arsenal of romantic motives, key words and metaphors, something which I tried throughout this thread.

At 2/13/2022 11:16:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

Also one has to keep in mind that the theory of the Romantic (like most theories about literature) was written post factum, that's why the pragmatic approach as lined out in my last comment works best.

At 2/13/2022 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

Oh, reading this again, I remember: I almost fell to the floor when I heard and saw that dialogue in "Dead Man": "Big George, what is a Philistine?"

At 2/13/2022 01:11:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dionys - tomorrow's St V day post is coming along. We found this and are working on integrating.

Regarding Neil Young and Romanticism -- and to a degree post-romanticism -- from a review of Neil Young's 1977 album American Stars 'N Bars by PAUL NELSON, originally published in Rolling Stone on Aug 11, 1977:

"In the New York Times, John Rockwell, in a highly favorable review, characterized Young as "the quintessential hippie-cowboy loner, a hopeless romantic struggling to build bridges out from himself to women and through them to cosmic archetypes of the past and of myth." Well, no.

Unless one understands the "On the Beach"/"Motion Pictures"/"Ambulance Blues" trilogy from On the Beach (and "Don't Be Denied" from Time Fades Away), one simply cannot write intelligently about Neil Young. But when one understands these songs, one begins to perceive the exciting possibility that perhaps Young is rock & roll's first (and only?) postromantic. That he knows something that we don't, but should. Indeed, I suspect that Young took one of the longest journeys without maps on record, never even slowed up at the point of no return, but somehow got back anyway, a better man with all senses intact. When nearly overwhelmed by marital difficulties and the death of friends, he apparently looked into himself and managed an instinctive or willed act of Jungian purification that put him somewhat safely on the far side of paradise, if not paradox. I'm not saying he's happy, but who the hell is happy? For Young, being a postromantic probably means he still loves the war, but knows exactly how and where to invest his combat pay-he may lose it, but never hopelessly.

Romanticism is a foreign country; they do things differently there. It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Too homicidal. Having gotten through the more self-destructive aspects of romanticism, Neil Young certainly takes full advantage of his revisiting privileges, pointing out the highlights and contradictions of his itinerary to all who will listen."


so, post-Romanticism? Is Down by the River the ultimate post-Romanticism Neil song?

or have we just gone full circle? the song remains the same b/c it all one song? we try and avoid clichés of cliches, but we digress...

At 2/13/2022 02:34:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

This thread has been most enjoyable, and I just wanted to thank everyone involved for sharing their thoughts and knowledge. I’ve gained a new appreciation for being involved with such remarkable individuals.

Peace 🙏

At 2/13/2022 02:39:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I do believe I mentioned Down By the River way back at the start of this discussion as "anti-romanticism.

Here is a suggestion. Instead of thinking about romanticism from its literary/poetic/musical tradition, how about a moment within ordinary language? Perhaps in synthesis with some folk psychology? "The romantic" is a person who behaves, believes and feels in ways that are unfortunately inconsistent with reality. This is not a good place as reality has a tendency to win out. The narrator in DBTR is perhaps such a person, one who has expectations and emotions (dispositions) toward love and relationships that are simply too expansive for the reality of the human person. Hence the homicidal comment made by Paul Nelson and the homicide in the song: there is a disappointment that turns into a vile resentment. The romantic is in this sense quite dangerous and almost always bordering on violence (emotional and otherwise).

Cowgirl in the Sand is similar. The person who has changed her name is within some half baked hippy dream. My sister did this shit, changed her name, went over to a chaotic life looking for something like peace and love (forget it). Finally, an irresponsible move that defeats the conditions for real human love.

When Neil Young says "don't forget love" he might mean that hard fought struggle, that determined set of dispositions, beliefs and emotions to make life as good as it might be given the circumstances. Kindness and affection in every moment, attention to the details of our fellow souls, in a world that is- at bottom- nasty, brutish, and short (sorry, forgot the rest of Hobbes).

At 2/13/2022 05:21:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Anything labled post-something makes me suspicious. In my understanding post-modernism still is modernism. Post-romantic is a term fashioned after the everyday and inflationary use of "romantic": the "post" suggesting that the person labled so somehow overcame an illness or something (Abner's sister's "Hippie Dream").But that's the trivial side of it. DBTR clearly is from the dark side of town (the Romantic), but that's what the true Romantic always knew, in opposition to the ever optimistic raisonneur of the enlightenment, that the human being has that abysmal side and always will. The basic mood or attitude of the Romantic is melancholy, no matter how gay and jubilant some of the art might appear.

At 2/13/2022 05:26:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Listen to Neil's self-ironic comments on these OTB songs mentioned above as they will appear on the soon to be released official bootleg of the Bottom Line Club show in 1974: "It's my trip, man!"


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