Word of the Week 5 – Romantic

The happy couple are sitting at a table with curried parsnips, wine (possibly sparkling) and several candles using up more than their fair share of the available oxygen. In some cases music is playing in the background, also chosen because it promotes romance. Another word which may appear in such contexts is ‘intimate’.

The impression I get is that a romantic setting is thought to amplify affection and certainly sexual chemistry. How does that work? Does lighting a few candles and turning down the lights increase affection? I only ask because I don’t know. I feel some fellowship with the Polynesians who, when first introduced to Romeo and Juliet, found the story ridiculous.

And the alienation I feel here is already being ramped up by the approach of Valentine’s day. Here is a mild example from Elysha Krupp on the website Askmen.

When I think of what I’d really love for Valentine’s Day, I think of a nice romantic dinner (not cooked by me), candles, or maybe a surprise restaurant reservation booked by my significant other.

And I have not mentioned chocolates or flowers, though as far as I can see men are hardly ever at the receiving end of bouquets, nosegays and the like. So it is romantic for a man to give a woman flowers, but not the other way around.

As many words do, ‘romantic’ has another meaning. For example, it is found where certain poets are referred to as romantic, though this is always by others, never by themselves.

There is a view, let’s say an impressive Alpine scene. The classical poet (Lucretius) looks at it and describes it, no doubt with the apt metaphor and simile. The romantic poet (Wordsworth) not only describes it but hits us with how he feels about it. The centre of interest is moving from the external (the observed) to the internal (the observer). Books could be written about this, and no doubt they have been, but at least there is a thought here we can sink our teeth into.

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