January 18, 2004


Is nostalgia 'missing the point', as our unnamed correspondent has it? (See Comments on the Comedy/ Drama post, below).

Is the problem with nostalgia that it gives a false image of the past? That it judges the present too harshly by comparison with a past that never was?

But what if the past was better than the present? What if the greatness of the past was, after all, no illusion? Are we still being nostalgic in ---- noticing this?

Or is the problem with nostalgia that it pretends that the past has not passed --- that the old and the superceded are still current?

Posted by mark at January 18, 2004 04:16 PM | TrackBack

I think I touched on this concept in a previous comment. Still can't figure it out myself. My first experience of cultural nostalgia occured in about 1985, when I started pining for the 'lost' futurism of early '80s electropop - about 18 years too early, it seems.

Posted by: Nick at January 18, 2004 11:31 PM

The problem is not with nostalgia itself, it's what you do with it (or what it does to you). Sitting there, pining for a lost past is pretty sad. Taking that desire for something better that using it to change the present in some way is healthier at a personal level - altho the outputs may not be that wonderful. I'm thinking here of the "Napoleon of Notting Hill" - who uses his nostalgia for a heraldic past that never was to reconfigure the present as such.

Posted by: Daniel Byron at January 19, 2004 06:45 AM

agree with above. probably, nostalgia plays a part in how things are produced in the present. like for example all this valve technology vs digital - they're sort of merging - you don't have to decide, like the white stipes, that digital is bad, analogue is good...or..erm..

Posted by: loaf at January 20, 2004 12:22 PM