Sunday, March 06, 2005

Movies

I saw The Notebook last night. It was a very moving film that was unashamedly romantic. Cynics might have called it corny and idealistic, but those sorts of moments were few. Scott Holleran offers a good review over at Box Office Mojo. After reading comments on IMDB's message board I’ve noticed that many are intrigued over courtship and how the standards of those times (1940s) determined that a very different code of conduct for relations between the sexes. Rachel McAdams who played, Allie, was as innocent as Noah (Ryan Gosling) and both treated sex with the utmost seriousness. If one of the central messages of Kinsey was "the idea that love and sex ought to be integrated, a notion that repudiates left-wing intellectuals' moral acceptance of promiscuity" then The Notebook is a perfect demonstration why the two ought to be integrated. On the topic of romance/sex, I suggest reading 'The End of Courtship' by Leon Kass. Whilst I disagree on some points, I found it to be very thought provoking essay. The contrast between Noah and Allie and relationships of today is striking. Ayn Rand, my favourite philosopher, also has written much on the topic of romantic love. In a 1964 Playboy Interview she expresses some of the same points made by Kass. She argues that "sex is one of the most important aspects of man's life and, therefore, must never be approached lightly or casually". Kass expresses the same sentiment when he writes that safe sex is a 'delusion of shallow souls' because sex is innately connected to your soul. Rand expands on this in the Virtue of Selfishness (pg77) that "if a man is attracted to a woman of intelligence, confidence and strength, if he is attracted to a heroine, he reveals one kind of soul; if, instead, he is attracted to an irresponsible, helpless scatterbrain, whose weakness enables him to feel masculine, he reveals another kind of soul; if he is attracted to a frightened slut, whose lack of judgment and standards allow him to feel free of reproach, he reveals another kind of soul". To expand on this:

PLAYBOY: You have said that the kind of man who spends his time running after women is a man who "despises himself." Would you elaborate?
RAND: This type of man is reversing cause and effect in regard to sex. Sex is an expression of a man's self-esteem, of his own self-value. But the man who does not value himself tries to reverse this process. He tries to derive his self-esteem from his sexual conquests, which cannot be done. He cannot acquire his own value from the number of women who regard him as valuable. Yet that is the hopeless thing which he attempts.

I find this to be undeniably true. Those who brag about their 'sexual conquests' only reveal their lack of self-esteem and their desire to put on a front. Everyone wants a spiritual equal, a soul mate, and those who cannot achieve it (they reject the notion of romantic love to begin with) attempt to fake it. Rand writes that "man is compelled, by his nature, to feel a desperate need for pleasure, as a confirmation and expression over his control over reality - but he can find pleasure only in an escape from reality"(pg78). He is escaping reality by denying the connection between sex and soul therefore he is left in a state of hopelessness and frustration. My argument is simply that many people today have made a serious error about what constitutes a fully human life. Few seem to understand that romantic love is a necessary condition for complete fullfillment. Too many still think of sex as a casual activity that is almost like a sport. This reveals a deep cyncisim about human love that could never hope for the inspiring romance portrayed in The Notebook.

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