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"HOSTEL"ity Towards Romanticism
Submitted by JoeM on Wed, 2006-04-19 23:59
In the "Bootleg Romanticism" chapter of THE ROMANTIC MANIFESTO, Ayn Rand writes:
Nathaniel Branden expressed his uneasiness over this passage, claiming that Rand went overboard in this depiction. But has she? This was written in the Sixties. If it was overboard then, then it's certainly justified in our time. Just released this week on DVD is the Eli Roth movie HOSTEL, which is a perfect example of what Rand was writing about.
Consider this summary from Amazon.com:
At least the synopsis pays lip service to the idea of the spirit as something worth protecting, but as Rand wrote of horror movies, "popular literature, more honest in this respect, presents its horrors in the form of physical monstrosities. In 'serious' literature, the horrors become psychological and bear less resemblence to anything human; this is the literary cult of depravity."
And a cult of depravity there is. The first reviewer listed on Amazon.com for HOSTEL gives the film three stars, the headline proclaiming the film "Dark, nihilistic, misogynistic...but somewhat flawed." Not flawed for choosing to portray these traits as an end in themselves, but for not going far enough. "One thing that I wanted Roth to do which he seemed to have pulled back from was going all-out in presenting Hostel as a horror exploitation film. This film tries to emulate the gory exploitation Italian and American films of the mid-70's to early 80's. Maybe the MPAA had forced Roth to trim certain scenes to get an R-rating. In certain scenes one could almost feel and sense that something was left out."
Consider the above in relation to a recent post of Rand's vision of the past by Lindsay Perigo on the Romantic Manifesto thread here :
""In regard to Romanticism, I have often thought that I am a bridge from the unidentified past to the future. As a child I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War 1 world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history ... Its art projected an overwhelming sense of intellectual freedom, of depth, i.e., concern with fundamental problems, of demanding standards, of inexhaustible originality, of unlimited possibilities and, above all, profound respect for man. The existential atmosphere ... still held a benevolence that would be incredible to the men of today, i.e., a smiling, confident good will of man to man, and of man to life. ... It is impossible for the young people of today to grasp the reality of man's higher potential and what scale of achievement it had reached in a rational (or semi-rational) culture. But I have seen it. I know that it was real, that it existed, that it is possible. It is that knowledge that I want to hold up to the sight of men ... before the barbarian curtain descends altogether. ... I am not willing to surrender the world to the jerky contortions of self-inducedly brainless bodies with empty eye-sockets [see any modern-day music video—Linz], who perform, in stinking basements, the immemorial rituals of staving off terror, which are a dime a dozen in any jungle—and to the quavering witch doctors who call it art. Our day has no art and no future. ... Will we see an esthetic Renaissance in our time? I do not know. What I do know is this: anyone who fights for the future lives in it today."
Linz is absolutely right to proclaim that the Romantic Manifesto is "a rescue-reinstate-&-renew mission. It's a declaration of war on contemporary nihilism in the name of that cultural radiance of yore &, hopefully, of the future which is ours to win." And if Nathaniel Branden STILL thinks that Rand was over the top, I'll be glad to send him a copy of HOSTEL for him to enjoy.
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