you can almost see the cells multiply

Romanticism and Europe

In 2001-2002, I attended the University of King’s College in Halifax and studied in the Foundation Year Programme.  It is an integrated programme in which human history is explored through six sections by examining works of literature, philosophy, music and art produced in that time period.  For me at the time, it was a bit overwhelming as I was living on my own for the first time (not in residence) and the reading assignments were very demanding, nonetheless I managed to pass with a quite good mark and decided not to return to university the subsequent year (or ever).  I do feel that it was a worthwhile exercise, and I am still working through the texts we studied and trying to reach deeper into the material, with my new awakened perspective.

The text that moved me the most at the time, and still to this day makes me sob and cry like an emotional teenager, was Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther.  An early novel by arguably the greatest German writer of all time, and the first German book to be a success in England and France, Werther caused a stir across Europe and inspired many youths to adopt not only his clothing style, but also his unfortunate end.  To me, the character of Werther embodies the passion, sensitivity, and depth of feeling that is at the heart of the European soul.

Werther and other works belonging to the Sturm und Drang movement laid the way for Romanticism proper to emerge in Germany, England and France.  During the period from about 1780 to 1880 there was a tremendous amount of artistic, musical, literary and philosophical genius taking place in Europe, in which Nationalism and reverence for nature played a large role.  This movement was a reaction against the Age of Enlightenment thinkers who promoted the growing systems of democracy, capitalism, bureaucracy and litigation.  The Romantics attempted to restore and elevate the the individual human experience and emotion that was being lost in European culture.  I see this movement as the last great struggle for life in European culture, which was snuffed by modernism, the beginning of World War I, and of course all the degenerate fecal matter we call contemporary art.

Now, enough talk, let me give some examples of great Romantic music and art!  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

The-morning-large

Midday-large

The-summer-large

The-Heldsteinnear-Rathen-large

The-North-Sea-in-Moonlight-large

Notice how the human figures and their constructions are dwarfed, humbled by their magnificent surrounding landscapes.  Also I find the music from this period more free-formed, dramatic and emotive than earlier music.  Evokes action and passionate feeling.

Norwegian Romantic painter Johan Christian Dahl:

Johan_Christian_Claussen_Dahl_Der_Watzmann

ICDahl,_Bjerk_i_storm

Dahl-Stalheim

ICDahl,_Skibbrudd

I think it’s important we remember that every great movement needs great culture to inspire it to great achievements.  During the Romantic period, the forces which now threaten to annihilate us were strengthening their hold in our homelands, and certain individuals were giving prophetic warnings about what was to come.  I will close with the overture from Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and an excerpt from Act Three of the libretto:

Beware! Evil tricks threaten us:
if the German people and kingdom should one day decay,
under a false, foreign rule
soon no prince would understand his people;
and foreign mists with foreign vanities
they would plant in our German land;
what is German and true none would know,
if it did not live in the honour of German Masters.
Therefore I say to you:
honour your German Masters,
then you will conjure up good spirits!
And if you favour their endeavours,
even if the Holy Roman Empire
should dissolve in mist,
for us there would yet remain
holy German Art!

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5 responses

  1. I don’t know much about art history but I have a book about Caspar David Friedrich and his paintings and also a copy of his famous drawing “wanderer above the sea of clouds”. The romantic artists really praised beauty! Because art is a reflection of circumstances and an expression of a more or less human beeing, there is of course no degnerated or bad art. It tells much about the artist and the people who appreciate it. Instead of reading history books or watching the news I would prefer to have a look at the art of that time. Maybe the art itself is not very deep and doesn’t require much talent but the information and conclusions we can get from it is quite interesting to understand a mind-system or a way of thinking which we were not aware of before. I think of cubism for example or the bauhaus design (which was founded by people from a special ethnic group btw…). We don’t have to criticize it – it’s just an expression which can guide us to the roots of a problem. Yes, art can be dangerous but he who feels attracted by it just follow his own ideals and will be selected by the laws of nature/universe to go into the abyss or rise up. Only the strongest and the smartest which are able to see and feel the truth behind an image will survive this chaos.

    January 13, 2014 at 6:41 pm

  2. Of all of the art movements in Europe I was always particularly compelled by Romanticism. I didn’t know why until I found Varg’s music and started spending more time in nature and appreciating life. I thought it was the most interesting and identifiable art movement to read about when in my European history class in senior year. Yes I liked the Baroque and Rococo art styles too but Romantic art is pure beauty and alluring. Don’t even mention the degenerate art styles (Cubism, Dadism, Impressionism, Surrealism etc). Most of those movements were created by Jews and were the culture of Weimar Germany. You are quite correct in your assessment of the movement. It really was the last gasp of an honorable and caring European spirit before the infestation of the cities and industrialization. It was a reaction to the Enlightenment ideas of reason, observation, reality, democracy, capitalism and the neglect of emotion, feelings and intuition. The Romantics believed in a very European worldview. They believed that the individual could learn more about themselves by living in accordance with nature. They were anguished and lost by living in their time and by the exponential destruction of the natural world around them. The movement itself was a median to the past and more beautiful times. The art itself is the pure embodiment of the European spirit.

    I wish I could transcend into those vast paintings and into a world where beauty exists. This is probably my favorite painting made by Hans Gude:

    Have you ever listened to Empyrium? Pure Pagan nostalgia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2LPopzhulw

    January 21, 2014 at 12:29 am

    • Thank you for your comment, and for the painting, it is beautiful! And, I had never heard Empyrium but I enjoyed that song and will check out more. I have been thinking a lot lately about the ongoing debate on the validity of metal music to our movement, and I am sure I can hear the voice of the Romantic Pagan spirit, speaking through many of these groups. I think it’s important we don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater” so to speak. We are constrained by the time and societal framework in which we live, and so are our artists. In a different time and place, their creative spirit may have spoken through different instruments, but the important part is the feeling their music arouses in us, as it speaks to our own pagan spirit.

      January 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

  3. Originist

    I’ve followed your blog silently but I’ve appreciated your views since Mr. Vikernes’ most active days. I’m becoming a more active blogger so I’m going to contribute when I can. This is probably one of my favorite entries – I could just stare at the art all day long and forget my problems. We need to study our cultures of old and free ourselves to create more. It’s all part of our history. The closer we get to total global collapse, the more awakened we white brothers and sisters become. So in reality we should hope that things only get worse, and rest assured it will. We’ll see a lot more art European at its core following complete disaster, so make yourself self-sufficient while you can. And to an earlier post of yours: I hold out too waiting for the one who can make me happy enough to never look for another. Unfortunately they always turn out to be across the USA or outside of it, so the worthwhile wait does get difficult during those otherwise peaceful episodes of solitude. She must strong and awakened enough to survive the end of the Digital Age (which has decayed our people since it began in 1992), so like it or not I must wait.

    January 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

  4. Eir Primrose

    Oh, I love Sturm und Drang. I deeply believe that now, when people of Europe are slowly opening their eyes to certain issues and both paganism and nationalism are more and more widespread, we are slowly entering a new era of Romanticism. I also believe that this time it will be even greater and more focused on what is native to us (rather than on the Orient as the Byronic Romanticism used to be). Only imagine what literary and cultural greatness we can achieve by combining modern fantasy literature with the love of our blood and soil – Tolkien started it and I believe it is not over- it is just a very slow beginning of something wonderful.

    January 26, 2014 at 3:50 pm

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