Nostalgia cuts itself off from its descendents. For instance, a euphoric celebration of artistic movements can delimit between precedent setting and the new sensibilities that such stretching makes possible: paradigm shifts are revelatory in their repercussions, not in the moment of their rupture per se. Nostalgia obscures this forward movement. And yet, how then to carry forward the lessons of the past?


2 thoughts on “

  1. I wonder what role there might be for mutability in this distinction between nostalgia and history? Both seem to court declaration–this is what happened, and wasn’t it fabulous!–but ramifications persist through time not as singular events but as transformative potentialities. This opens up an ideological space for something else, for a third way of transmitting remnants of the past on into the future. Is there a word for this? Does “translation” suffice? Translation captures the movement and the indeterminate nature of any particular articulation (despite an aspiration to be precise, which is fidelity to a referent).

  2. “Nostalgia tends to neuter critique…[but] there’s a model here for nostalgia that doesn’t wish away the distance between past and present; doesn’t romanticize the past as tragic and heroic; and doesn’t simply trivialize it (as so much 1980s nostalgia did) as trite and silly. Instead, it highlights our compulsion to interrogate our ghosts in search of meaning — and the inexorable way they slip our grasp.”

    From Carl Wilson’s “My So-Called Adulthood

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