Sunday, November 2, 2014

Drink, Weep, Sleep, Repeat...

          When you hear the word war, what are a few things that pop into your head? Is it death, the ringing of an explosion, the strong smell of lead and blood, the low hum of airplanes and helicopters, or the distant echo of gunfire? Whatever your imaginations perceive about this word, nothing can compare to actually witnessing it or being on the front lines. Few know the true horrors of war and even fewer return mental stable or unharmed. World War I was a traumatic event that shifted Europe from a more traditional time to more modern. Traditional Europe was ruled by a monarchy or aristocracy. People followed strict moral guidelines set in place by the church and even stricter social hierarchies given to them by birth. After the war, there was less of a moral authority, social status was based on wealth, and people drank away their sadness and grief. World War I, also referred to as the Great War, altered people’s views of tradition and caused them to question everything they knew.
Wikimedia Commons: Rcbutcher
          La Belle Époque, a time of happiness and optimism, was shattered by the war. Many soldiers returned with severe trauma and suffered from shell shock, a condition closely related to PTSD. These soldiers were referred to as the Lost Generation. The war changed how many people viewed the world. Before the war, everything made sense and after people were confused and frustrated and displayed their emotions through literature, music, and art. Homes and towns were families flourished, children played, and bonds were built were destroyed. Churches were reduced to nothing but a pile of rubble and ashes. These horrific images caused an entire cultural change in Europe.
          People began to explore and experiment with different styles of art and writing. Poetry became darker and art became more unique. An example of this would be the poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est”, by Wilfred Owens. Owens describes a horrifying image of the war and states that people would not tell their children how glorious war is if they knew the truth. The emotion of this poem is powerful enough to place you in the shoes of a soldier fighting for his life in the trenches. The years after the war also brought about the development of jazz music and various other forms of art.
Wikimedia Commons: Freimut Bahlo
          Even though this was a depressing time, I would argue that this shift to a more modernist culture was beneficial. Not only did people begin thinking for themselves, they started to move away from tradition and started doing what they’re hearts and minds dictated. Sometimes, disconnecting from the world to find out who you truly are is better than following the path society has laid out for you; don’t you think?



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