Nationalism, psychology, and sentimentality (7/8)

Rebecca West, in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, expresses the need for an honest "mode of life" that is more than what England offers, and this drives her towards Yugoslavia as a novel space in which to explore her worldview. While sentiment-driven, her intuitive thoughts often prove more evocative than more cautious, vetted observations. Her worldly knowledge blends with the feeling that motivates her analysis. I found this approach reminded me of surrealist theory. Her subconscious (or sentimental) self offers an honest mode of thought, even if this mode falls victim to what initiated it.

West seems to have reallocated much of her "nationalism"  to a nation... and those with whom she cannot identify outside her context as an observer. Her external gaze provides clarity, but then also leans too hard into romanticism: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon can somehow address the dangers of ethnic zoning (which would be relevant in the upcoming war) and also limit the Slavic nationality to its pre-globalization "purity." Critics in the introduction address this pitfall, because her fea that sameness has caught up to her is a product of psychological need. The black lamb is arguably a symbol of national identity, youth, loss, and sacrifice all in one. In exploring the symbolic so directly, West reveals what she wants to protect in Yugoslavia. The diverse population appears divided in her writing, resulting in the ideological death of the Ottoman Empire. Lacking in agency, a nation as its people has become the "sacrificial lamb" without agency instead of the "priest" who controls the ritual (war). 

Bryher and Brittain both address this idea of psychological need in different ways. One describes war in the present (situated memories) and recalls the effects on the mind and the young. Identity, packaged in nationalism and a higher education community built on the discussion of historic ideals, drives one soldier to hope he will reflect well on his college whatever happens to him individually. Bryher says, simply: "Fascism and Communism alike respond to primitive, psychological needs." The global culture shifts pre-WWII, whether that is after avatism and the sentimental nationalism; modern media like film, aimed for social evolution; or a different system of government, hyper-national identity.