The English poet T. E. Hulme said that the root of Romanticism is man’s “infinite reservoir of possibilities.” Between the French Revolution and the two World Wars, that reservoir burst forth into a new world of promise and crisis, and at the headwaters was the Romantic movement.
Blood, Soil, Paint is an essay on Romanticism, but it is much more than that. It clarifies the intersection between blood, soil, language, and culture, and shows how each influences the others. What emerges is a deeper understanding of the nationalist currents that arose in the Romantic era and continue to this day.
This essay suggests that there are ways of knowing the world and people—through action, through experience, through contemplation, through art-making—and that our instincts can reveal to us truths that we unconsciously knew but which outside authorities prefer to obscure or refute. We find these truths also through responding to art and literature. The struggle to reconcile these truths with our personal values and the civic values of our time is the struggle of nationalism and Romanticism.