This week I was most interested in Universal versus National Romanticism. I like the idea of the exploring the soul, art, and nature, and looking deeper and more carefully at the creative aspects of the world that make it what it is. I feel that we don’t place as much emphasis on these topics today in our media and culture and instead place a greater emphasis on science and pop culture, which is a bit sad in my opinion. In regards to National Romanticism, I also found the idea that the people of the world were seen as one organism blossoming in its potential really lovely. There’s such an innate level of cohesion there that we don’t always recognize on a daily basis that would go into that. I’m intrigued by the description of plants and nations both as living organisms, in fact. I have personally only ever regarded a plant as an organism, but I can recognize and understand the thought process behind calling, as the book does, poetry or a nation to be organisms. I disagree with the idea that these two types of romanticism blend together. I think there is a much clearer “world spirit” as it is called in Universal Romanticism and the direct focus on the arts and on the development of ideas versus in National Romanticism, with such a strong focus on the people themselves. People don’t always act in ways befitting where they come from or their ultimate potential, but art and literature can and more often does reflect romantic ideals.
In reading about National Romanticism and Universal Romanticism I was particularly reminded of the June Rebellion depicted in Les Miserables. The idea of the voice of the people fueling a revolution based on their ideas, language, and passion in order to change the course of their nation’s history neatly captures the ideas of National Romanticism. The rebels themselves acted and were regarded as one entity, working cohesively in order to fight, and though they eventually lost and were killed, they became symbols of the fighting people of France. Their fight went down in history as short and bloody, but it was real and meaningful and therefore recorded still. The “innate potential” of the group derived from its passion for freedom, and those who now watch the musical or see the movie or even endeavor to read the book can, as a National Romantic would do, explore the triumphs and sorrows of the unified spirit of the rebellion group. Additionally, however, with the musical Les Miserables, the use of song and lyrical explanation captures some of the ideals of Universal Romanticism. The idea behind the lyrics was to embody the spirit of revolution and combine it with the fears of loss and death, and these raw emotions can be found in the hearts of people around the world. These emotions are not simply exclusive to those on the French barricades, but are universal in themselves, and are part of the world soul. By way of Universal Romanticism, the musical itself is an organism, in that it develops, grows, changes, has deep expressions of human feeling, and is the product of artistic genius. I would never have regarded it as such until now and I’m fascinated by it.