Johann Gottfried von Herder and Ernest Renan both tried to give a definition to a notion of a nation, and the ways they used to do so were, seemingly, similar. First, they both incorporate the idea of nature and its barriers and unifications – mountains and rivers – in their works; however, each of them proves different points. Herder argues that “if otherwise mountains had arisen, rivers flowed, or coasts trended, then how very different would mankind have scattered over this tilting place of nations” meaning that he believes that nature and the planet surface is one of the main reasons so many distinguishable nations exist (Herder 2).
Renan, on the other hand, believes that geography, although important, is not an absolute reason because there are countries that have mountains inside them and they still exist as a whole nation. Another fact that differs their ideas is the argument about the role of the past and the future in the nation. They both argue that the past is something important to a nation; however, Renan explains that the only thing that can truly hold the nation together is their desire to work as a group for a better future.
Moreover, he believes that “race, language, interests, religious affinity, geography, military necessities” do not “suffice to create such a spiritual principle [a nation]” (Renan 2). Herder, however, emphasizes that “to deprive a people of its speech is to deprive it of its one eternal good”; therefore, he stresses the importance of a shared culture of a past between everyone from a nation. Thus, Renan believes that nation is a spiritual phenomenon and Herder thinks that it is more cultural.
I prefer the definition of Ernest Renan because he merely defines a nation as a group of people who are ready to work together for the sake of their shared future while Johann Gottfried von Herder believes ties the notion of a nation to the notion of ethnicity. Group 2, Question B Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” describes the lives of young German soldiers, the lost generation, who became familiar with the war in the first person at very young age and who later on felt alienated in the society.
Paul Baumer is one of the many young men who share this fate. Throughout the novel, he expresses his disillusionment with the ordinary life on numerous occasions: he does not feel home at the house of his family, his civilian clothes “feel[s] awkward”, and, overall, he thinks that people who have not been through war cannot understand him (Remarque 164). He is longing for home and his ordinary life; however “a sense of strangeness will not leave [him], [he] cannot feel at home among these things”, he thinks that there is “a veil, between” him, his sister, and his mother.
The reason for that is not that they stopped loving each other after he went to the war; the reason is that despite the fact that they love him and sympathize with him, they cannot understand the reality of the war (Remarque 160). Other people want to hear about his and German army exploits and treat him as props who is at war to bring glory to the nation. They speak convincing words about glory, fame, and progress, and youth like Paul believes them, at first; however, after they see their friends dying and other terrors that war brings it all loses its meaning.
Paul admits that sometimes he is jealous of people who just live their civilian lives; however, on the other hand, it all seems surrealistic for him and men like him. He has lost his hope for a future because all he now knows is war. Group 3, Question A Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” is an example of a propaganda literature since his goal was to persuade a large group of people that what he was writing was the truth. The method he uses to do so is drawing a parallel between nature and humans which takes roots in social Darwinism.
To stress the importance of distinguishing inferior races from superior ones, he cites that “every animal mates only with a member of the same species”; for example, “The titmouse seeks the titmouse, the finch the finch, the stork the stork, [and] the field mouse the field mouse” (Hitler 1). Thus, he concludes that an inferior animal mating with a superior one is unnatural, and same, accordingly, applies to human beings. This comparison is not intricate and is not hard to grasp by the general public; therefore, it makes his method of reaching the public convincing.
Moreover, giving the devastation of the Germans after the Great War, they could have easily believed anything that put them on the pedestal and the comparison with strong animals certainly did. Another method he uses is anti-Semitism. Jews, in his perception, are those weak animals, an inferior race with no culture of its own. It was convincing because it gave Germans the reason they lost the Great War that had nothing to do with their own failures. However, Hitler did not create anti-Semitism – although his leadership certainly enhanced it in Germany – it existed in Europe for centuries.
Therefore, he gave the population the idea they already were familiar with. A lot of Germans might not have hated Jewish people as passionately before the Nazi party politics came in practice; however, as the comparison to the animal world, Hitler gave Germans something easy to grasp. Thus, those were the method he used and the reasons he succeeded. Group 4, Question B – Salvador Dali “The Persistence of Memory” “The Persistence of Memory” is one of Salvador Dali’s famous paintings, as well as one of the most famous surrealistic painting, in general.
As other surrealistic paintings, “The Persistence of Memory” challenges the notion of reality. The world depicted in the picture is definitely not the reality familiar to people, but it is rather a dream that a person might have. The painting combines solid objects with melting clocks, and it can leave viewers wondering whether clocks are clearly unreal or, giving the situation, if solid objects are, in fact, more likely to be unreal. Thus, Dali in “The Persistence of Memory” questions the very concept of reality and embraces the higher reality.
Besides, the painting reflects an expression of an unconscious truth. This truth is represented by the clocks. They are soft and it seems that they are melting off the solid objects; therefore, it can represent the relativity of time. In the reality, people seem to learn to control time: with clocks, dates, years, hours, and minutes. Moreover, time is a very important concept in the reality because everything that happens can be assigned a specific time period. However, in Dali’s understanding, time is relative, thus, surreal. Accordingly, it may be argued that Dali has reached the individual enlightenment.