The Third Place: On Heroic Realism

Heroic Realism” refers to a type of artwork that rose to prominence in the early 20th century. Its aesthetics can be easily distinguished from other contemporary artworks, especially those from the period, through the ability to convey lifelike paintings to an intended audience. The imagery is designed to leave lasting impressions in the mind on how Life in the State of Total Mobilization is supposed to be lived. Thus, it differs from the broader artforms of Realism insofar as it seeks to provide instructive information to that audience in the form of memorable slogans. True Realism as an artform by contrast seeks to portray its subject matter to the audience as it truly is.

Although many of the great powers of the early 20th century had employed aspects of the art style in their advertisements and even propaganda, Heroic Realism was far more prevalent among Socialist countries like the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and the German Reich. In Socialist countries, Heroic Realism was not necessarily promoted as propaganda, at least not in its primary aims. In actuality, Heroic Realism sought to create the foundations of a different artform that could be presented as the viable alternative to Liberal Capitalist conceptions of the arts. The “Realism” is to be drawn from Real World experiences of Reality in the workspace, imbued with imagery that highlights the realistic aspects and enhanced by other aspects which accentuate its potentiality to achieve something far greater. It is that potentiality which gives rise to the “Heroic” quality, hence the term “Heroic Realism.”

Art, according to Heroic Realism, should strive to uplift and inspire the audience about its Authentic Dasein and what they are capable of accomplishing within the State of Total Mobilization. It can be used to help lay the foundations of a National Consciousness befitting of a National Identity and National Essence worthy of binding the Self to their Totality and State. Art also needs to convince the audience about the importance of living a life devoted to key traits found in heroism such as selflessness and devotion to duty in the workspace. If the audience is relying on the Work-Standard, art can serve as a visual aid in conveying important instructions about the basic specifications of the Work-Standard, enticing those interested to read what has been written about it. If the audience happens to be under Neoliberalism, art should seek to inform and remind them that another way of life will always be within the realm of possibility.      

If one needed a good analogy to comprehend the real intentions behind Heroic Realism and why its usage goes beyond the pettiness of propaganda purposes, think about the stained glass windows that adorn the old Catholic parishes and cathedrals of Europe. A stained glass window is designed to be bright and colorful enough to convey imagery in the audience’s mind about the Catholic faith, especially for those who are either illiterate or else cannot be bothered to spend Zeit (Time) reading. One can even portray the fourteen Stations of the Cross through stained glass windows. The aesthetics behind Heroic Realism is reminiscent of those old stained glass windows insofar as its artworks are always meant to be instructive and not necessarily having to be persuasive (which is the real aim of propaganda as a rhetorical application of mass communications). The stained glass windows that one might find at an old Catholic parish or cathedral are not there to literally persuade someone on why they should be converting to Roman Catholicism. Instead, they are meant to serve as visual aids for those who already consider themselves to be Roman Catholic.   

For Pure Socialism, the applications of Heroic Realism are dependent on whether the Pure Socialism in question considers itself as “Scientific” or “Artistic.” In Scientific Socialism, the general theme is to portray Heroic Realist content in a manner that best articulates aspects of Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet rendition or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the Chinese rendition. Ideas related to Marxist Theory can be conveyed through Heroic Realism in ways that cannot otherwise be achieved vis-à-vis literature or cinematography. The intended purpose is to give the audience a clearer picture on what Marxist Theory is, how it applies to their everyday lives, and how they can be inspired to realize aspects of it within the State of Total Mobilization. However, not every application of Heroic Realism needs to be related to Marxist Theory. Some artworks relying on aesthetics of Heroic Realism have been used for celebrating the achievements of the national economy, instructional safety posters, advertisements, and pinups.

For Artistic Socialisms, the conventional rules of Heroic Realism are similar to those upheld by the Scientific Socialisms. The key difference is that, instead of promoting Marxist Theory, Artistic Socialisms employ Heroic Realism to convey its own themes and interpretations of Pure Socialism. Pan-Germanic Socialist applications of Heroic Realism seek to convey the lifestyles and behaviors associated with the broader German-speaking world in a manner that seeks to unite the German-speaking world around a single National Consciousness. We can argue that an Artistic Socialism relying on a religious Weltanschauung (Worldview) will employ Heroic Realism to express their faith. Sometimes, Artistic Socialisms may be inclined to draw from tradition and history to demonstrate how and why its practitioners share the same historical legacy as the founders of their nation and why they are determined to continue that legacy in the State of Total Mobilization. For Hamiltonian Federalist Socialism, the new Federalist Party will try to portray itself as the long-awaited continuation of the old Federalist Party, conserving what is capable of adapting to change and revolutionizing what can no longer be preserved.       

In a world order where Neoliberalism is predominant, the commissioning of artworks with aspects of Heroic Realism will always be a delightful occurrence. The Council State can and should allocate a portion of its State Budget toward the funding of artists whose Profession is to create these artworks for the Totality and Student Body. Some may find it to be a Vocation in itself, while others might view the endeavor as a stepping stone in the realization of their Vocations. In the case of the latter, their true callings may instead be geared toward the aesthetics of other art styles. In any case, under the Work-Standard, artists contribute Arbeit and Geld to the Life-Energy Reserve by successfully creating a single work of art and receiving the approval of the Council State for widespread dissemination. Any Geld that the Council State may issue to the artist as a Stipend, to be added on top of their weekly Paygrade, does not count as a transactional sale. Selling artworks to an art gallery or to an Antique Store will.        

Once the Council State has decided on which artworks best personify the aesthetics of Heroic Realism for the National Consciousness, the next logical step is to determine where to display them. While the Council State could consider disseminating them in the Real World and in the digital realm as small leaflets, there are more suitable opportunities for displaying them. The obvious example would have to be the Shopping Citadel and the Shopping Arena. In the Shopping Arena, Heroic Realism seeks to convey the general idea behind what is to be expected of everyone in Production for Dasein and under the Work-Standard. But at the Shopping Citadel, where one is bound to encounter Foreigners, they can serve as great conversational pieces about the National Consciousness of the Totality. And, assuming the artworks themselves leave lasting impressions in the minds of Foreigners, they can serve as a convenient avenue for the Socialization of Young Minds by inspiring and uplifting those same Foreigners into improving their own nations.   

Even so, one must entertain important questions about the current state of affairs surrounding the arts in the Western world since the late 20th century. Most Western countries have abandoned Heroic Realism in favor of newer artforms made available by Technology. Other forms of mass communications have achieved significant technological advancements that they have become the preferred methods of advertisers and propagandists within the West. Photography and cinematography now have higher resolutions to capture more lifelike images and films. But even those have their limits due to the rise of Social Media making it necessary to create shorter, easily accessible films and images. One could that Social Media as a concept could set the stage for the comeback of Heroic Realism, and there are arguments to suggest otherwise. On the one hand, Social Media has made it easier for information to reach larger numbers of people in the digital realm. But on the other hand, Social Media is not ideal for fostering talent and creativity.  

This is of course an issue related to mass media in general. Most conventional forms of mass media described up until Section Five are still designed to reach a massive audience across vast distances. Unlike the artworks that can be displayed at an art museum or at a Shopping Citadel, artworks intended for mass media dissemination need to be straightforward, yet concise enough to attract its targeted audience. While many depictions of Heroic Realism have already achieved this a century, we have yet to witness ones intended for widespread dissemination in the digital realm. The ones that one might find in the digital realm are still artworks from the previous century. It remains to be seen if anyone is willing to resurrect Heroic Realism in the 21st century.    

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