Screw Nostalgia

NostalgiaAs the year draws to a close, media is stuck in its annual paradox: it celebrates the past while looking forward…and completely ignoring the present. Best of lists proliferate, like jellyfish in an unbalanced sea, until you don’t even feign surprise to find a Best of Best of list, or, at the very least, a list of Best of lists or the most read Best of lists…..Lists are an industry and there are people who’s job it is to just keep track of things so they can create decent Best of lists.

Look, I like the lists too. I’ve even been on some of them. But Best of lists are nothing if not nostalgia, or, perhaps, a way to catch up on what’s been going on while you were too busy. So then, the Best of lists perform a function: they fill in the gaps, and so, like some awesome Tetris expert, a well curated selection of Best Of lists can keep you in the know on an annual basis, and give you something to talk about at New Year’s gatherings before you’ve had too much and are well on the way to oblivion.

Here’s what I don’t like: nostalgia. I never have. Yes, I have cried during It’s a Wonderful Life, but that’s not because I’m nostalgic but because it’s a damned fine movie, ok? Nostalgia seems to me like a nub on a branch that becomes regret. Because the other way to look at all those lists is: Look at all this great stuff I missed out on! Why didn’t I hear about all this? I’m so out of it! I’m such a loser!!!!

and the best reaction:

I need the media to keep me abreast of everything because I miss out on great stuff and don’t hear about it because I’m so out of it and such a loser!!!
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So, loser. Why live in the past? I’m not saying never say never forget. Or that ignorance is bliss. Because neither of them are true. Yes, those that forget history are condemned to repeat it. We say that because it’s true. Even those that remember history repeat the mistakes of history. Even nostalgic people repeat the mistakes – for varying reasons.

But nostalgia is a lie. Nostalgia is a sugarcoated reading of some things that happened and a lot of things that didn’t happen. Nostalgia is nothing more than an incompetent memory. And incompetence is in the top five evils in the world. Right up there with indifference, and, well, I forget what the other ones are. But one of them might be Wal-Mart.

So, screw nostalgia. And while we’re at it, screw its twin: the futurist.

Happy Holidays!

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One Comment

  1. dc
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Thankfully writers have excellent memories!

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