Website owner:  James Miller

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Realism in our Modern Age

   In our modern age much is made of realism.  We declare, in 
   particular, our preference for realism in literature, drama, 
   etc..  And what is meant by this?  We refer to its focus on 
   (and preoccupation with) "the low life", with badness, 
   vulgarity, violence, infidelity, etc..  We say this is realism, 
   this is "what life really is".  The honest man of character and 
   integrity, motivated by the highest principles and ideals, is 
   absent in our literature and drama.  I ask a question.  Is the 
   honest, upright man any less realistic, any less a part of 
   reality, than the low, vulgar person?  Don't the two just 
   represent different facets of reality?  Just because the bulk 
   of humanity tends to gravitate towards the low, vulgar, and 
   immoral, just because the low, immoral person tends to more 
   accurately represent most of humanity, does that make the 
   honest, upright person unrealistic?  Is it honest to look just 
   at the filth and base and ugly things of life and say "this is 
   life" and to blatantly ignore the beautiful and lovely and good 
   things in life?  Is it healthy?  Is it healthy to focus on the 
   diarrhea of life all the time?  To become obsessed with it to 
   the exclusion of the flowers and music and joy and beautiful 
   things of life?  Are not ideals, visions of honesty and 
   goodness, visions of all that is good and right and beautiful, 
   vital to the health of the soul?  What happens when you destroy 
   these ideals and visions?  Is not a vision of the high and the 
   good vital to the welfare of the soul?  Is it not vital that 
   every man strive for the highest and best that is in him?  And 
   can he do this without a vision, an ideal, a model in his mind 
   and heart?  Is there not a deep and subtle fallacy and self-
   deception in the popular sentiment that "realism" is good? 

   Mar 1980

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