Digging into nostalgia
Thank you for this post. I've never thought too much about nostalgia before. As I considered it this morning, I realized that my mom was a big part of nearly every memory. She was always rooting for me and made me feel like my silly interests and ideas were amazing. I miss having that in my life.
So, I have realized that I want to be that person for my son and his girlfriend. I want to be purposeful about rooting for them in their endeavors. Perhaps they will have this kind of nostalgia one day as well.
Thank you for the nudge.
I look back fondly to a time when I was less nostalgic.
However, I do sometimes use it as a tool. I'm a stand-up, and if I'm on my way to a show and sort of "not feeling it", I will listen to songs that were popular in the late 80s, early 90s, when I was just starting out as a comic, to a time when doing shows was all I wanted in the world...and often it flips a switch and I feel myself firing back up and recapturing that desire.
I found a box of beautiful hand-written letters dating back fifty years (they end with the advent of email) that I'm slicing into one inch strips and weaving into an art piece (the 4th in a series). I'm ok when I see the strips as material for art; reading them first is mixed: nostalgia for the person I was?
Great post, Austin. As usual!
I've never experienced myself as a particularly nostalgic person. If anything, I feel like it is an emotion that is best kept at a distance. If you look at it too closely, or dwell in it too long, it tends to ruin it, yeah? Perhaps that's because I am still in my twenties though. I wonder if nostalgia changes for people of different ages?
My favorite bit on this topic is from Marshall Mcluhan. He said "One of the big marks of the loss of identity is nostalgia." In his mind, the revival of everything from certain TV series to fashion trends is connected to a rediscovery of private identity. You can watch him explain the concept a little bit around the 10:45 mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZfvqMUoHQ0&t=425s
I recently looked back at the paper ephemera from my childhood (my dad saved most of my art and little notes from that time) and got the most wonderful shock of my life. I am currently a book artist and sort of writer, and guess what I found out? These paper ephemera predicted in part who I am now. I was making childish books at ages six and seven and writing little essays at about the same age.
I was so encouraged by these discoveries. Hey, I shouted to myself...I think I'm on the right track now! These seeds were planted when I was a child. Of course I took all this childish paper ephemera and made a book out of them. This discovery has restored my faith in my endeavors.
I also discovered I was godawful speller. It also is a trait that has remained with me to this day!
I’ve been working through Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way and one thing that’s front of mind for me right now is being able to hang out with my brother who passed away 16 years ago. There’s a lot to be nostalgic about and with his anniversary coming up memories are vivid.
I'm nostalgic for my early days of learning how to do things with computers and the internet pre-2006. I learned to code in BASIC using the BASIC training section of 3-2-1 magazine. I learned HTML from a book about programming for Netscape. The American girl doll Courtney 1986 (https://www.americangirl.com/collections/courtney) plucks that nostalgia in me perfectly. While she's supposed to be 5 years older than me, she has been that same attraction to programming and her clothes and accessories all look like things I actually owned. I just started learning Linux command line and it's a lovely way to reconnect with that old interest of mine and simultaneously build a skill useful in the present and the future.
Toys that sparked my imagination got the most hours when I was a kid. Since I had asthma, I wasn’t able to play outdoor sports much, so balls, frisbees, and bikes weren’t at the top of my list. Instead, I relied on things that elicited stories from my brain.
My favorite and most-used “toy” was a cassette tape recorder. I would spend hours on my bedroom floor, taping and listening, taping and listening, until the battery drained. I’d keep going until there was no juice at all, enjoying the way my voice slowed down, long and deep, stopping mid-syllable, suspended, frozen - like an unresolved chord. As I recall, I didn’t have a power cord, so I had to beg for a trip to the store for new batteries.
I'm nostalgic for the Christmas Eves with my big family at my grandparents. Also for the last time I did a cartwheel into a Russian split. I never know when these things will end, so I am much more appreciative of the NOW.
I sometimes wish for that clean baby smell to waft through the air; it brings a comfortable warmth with it.
I might be nostalgic for youthful physical health, but not if it comes with youthful disregard for youthful physical health :-)
Be Here Now ☮️
I'm nostalgic for big wide open spaces, clear blue skies, green forests that roll on and on. We played outdoors as children at pond edges and farm fields where we made forts. Toys were stick horses we made from branches. We shared an old bike among 6 of us. Our adventures ran from morning to dusk. Crazy wild freedom.
Battle Cat! If you haven't heard the funny/creative origin story behind the creation of the toy and character here's a clip from Netflix's series The Toys That Made Us, https://twitter.com/ponettplus/status/1130876119828316161 -- as far as nostalgia, the scene from the movie Ratatouille comes to mind. Food is a source of nostalgia for me, among other things. Now, just looking at the word after typing it I was interested in its origins. The word nostalgia comes from the Greek words nostos (homecoming) and algos (pain). Whoa. Yes! ... that scene from Mad Men is an absolute classic. It makes me wonder what it was like to participate in the creation of that scene.
Great post! I had to look up "hint book"--I thought maybe it was like the slam books we used to pass around in 6th grade, only where other kids gave you hints about how to ... I don't know, be more popular. "Hint: Brush your teeth before you come to school in the morning!" "Hint: Your pants are too baggy in the butt; get a smaller size." Stuff like that (and, as with slam books, mostly cruel).
I'm always made nostalgic by The Mary Tyler Moore Show, because it takes me back to my mid/late elementary school days, when Saturday night meant "M*A*S*H, MTM, Bob Newhart and Carol Burnett (so, circa the mid-1970s). What's provoked in me is a feeling of Autumn-ness--the desire for fall and all of its glories. (C.S. Lewis experienced the same thing when reading "Squirrel Nutkin" by Beatrix Potter.)
Why does MTM provoke this autumnal feeling? Maybe because back in the day, the new Fall TV season was a really big deal, so my TV-watching memories tend to be set in the fall? Maybe because 3rd grade was the first year I was allowed to stay up to watch Mary Tyler Moore, and 3rd grade was the year we lived in Kansas, and maybe the midwestern fall was more intense than the east coast fall I was used to, and maybe 3rd grade is when you aren't a little kid anymore and everything takes on a new significance? Maybe it's all that stuff wrapped together.
This feeling of Autumn-ness is also provoked by 1970s Sears Catalogs, black and white photos of girls in plaid dresses with pilgrim collars, and old Peanuts paperbacks. I remember too much about childhood to think this is about a longing for simpler or happier days. I don't think life was better then. I should mention that this nostalgia for the Autumns of my childhood tend to come about most intensely in early August, in the hottest and most humid days of summer, when I can't wait for the season to change, and knowing that fall is around the corner keeps me going.
It's etymology - from Greek algos "pain, grief, distress" (see -algia) + nostos "homecoming,"
So I don't indulge in it that pain very often. But I have to admit I am nostalgic for the positive revolution that I thought, in the late 60's and early 70's, would overtake the world. I hoped and believed that the world would keep changing very much for the better. I guess I'm nostalgic for a world we got the taste of...but for something that never quite happened!
But I'm still working for that in some way or another, as are many other people.
Frankly, I'm a little exhausted by nostalgia - the Onion piece about running out of retro struck a chord. I'm more interested in looking forward - maybe all this focus on nostalgia has kept us from making new things, taking new paths. Do we really need Hocus Pocus 3? What would we like the future to look like, anyways? I don't think it has to be post-apocalyptic. (But, if I had to pick a decade, I'll take the 70's. I'm 61.)