Quotes from Geoffrey Miller – on Romanticism versus evolutionary psychology – from a chapter in Evolution, Literature, Film: A Reader (2010).
So – on `Arts of Seduction’:..
`Ever since the German Romanticism of Schiller and Goethe in the early nineteenth century, many have viewed art as a utopian escape from reality, a zone of selfless self-expression, a higher plane of being where genius sprouts lotus-like above the petty concerns of the world.
This Romantic view opposes art to nature, but also opposes art to popular culture, art to market commodity, art to social convention, art to decoration, and art to practical design.
It has often presented the artist as a male genius shunning the female temptress that would sap the vital fluids that sustain his creativity (Dijkstra).
Thus, artistic success has also been seen as opposed to sexual reproduction.
Perhaps it is not surprising that many modern artists have adopted the ideology of these German philosophers. Romanticism makes excellent status-boosting rhetoric for artists. It presents them as simultaneously overcoming their instincts, avoiding banality, striving against capitalism, rebelling against society, and transcending the ornamental. The genius’s need to shun sexual temptation also provides a ready excuse for avoiding sleeping with one’s less attractive admirers.
But this Romantic view makes no attempt to offer a scientific analysis of art – indeed, it actively rejects the possibility.
The kernel of truth in the Romantic view is that art is pleasurable to make and look at, and this pleasure can seem a sufficient reason for art’s existence. It’s pleasure-giving power can seem to justify art despite its apparent uselessness.
But from a Darwinian perspective, pleasure is usually an indication of biological significance. Subjectively, everything an animal does may appear to be done simply to experience pleasure or avoid pain.
If we did not understand that animals need energy, we might say that they eat for the pleasure of eating. But we do understand that they need energy, so we say instead that they have evolved a mechanism called hunger that makes it feel pleasurable to eat…
The Romantic view of art fails to take this step, to ask why we evolved a motivational system that makes it pleasurable to make and see good art.
Pleasure explains nothing; it is what needs explaining.’
And for more slamming of `the Romantic view of Creativity and the Arts’ – see these posts, especially #14:
- StoryAlity #6 – What is Creativity and How Does It Work?
- StoryAlity #7 – On “the 10-Year Rule” and Creativity
- StoryAlity #8 – More on the 10-Year Rule” and Creativity
- StoryAlity #9 – How To Be More Creative
- StoryAlity #9B – Creativity in Science (and – The Arts and Film)
- StoryAlity #10 – About The Creative Personality
- StoryAlity #11 – Wallas and the Creative Process
- StoryAlity #12 – Combining Practice Theory and the Systems Model of Creativity
- StoryAlity #13- Creativity and Solved Domain Problems
- StoryAlity #14 – On Romantic Myths of Creativity
Also, watch the Top 20 RoI Films. They are: cinematically pleasurable.
And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:
StoryAlity #132 – The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)
And for a great consilience & creativity & evolution reading list, see:
StoryAlity #71 – On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication
Comments, always welcome.
High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher
The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky
JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/
Miller, G, reprinted in Boyd, B., Carroll, J., & Gottschall, J. (2010). Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader. New York: Columbia University Press.
Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.