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Old 12-30-2015   #11
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Re: Nostalgia for the Imaginary

Scientists say that when we recollect an event we are really recalling the last of all our previous recollections of it. So it's easy to see how memories become distorted and exagerated, turning into a mesh of fiction and fact.
As Borges once said, all autobiographies should be indexed under fiction..
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Old 12-30-2015   #12
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Re: Nostalgia for the Imaginary

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
Scientists say that when we recollect an event we are really recalling the last of all our previous recollections of it. So it's easy to see how memories become distorted and exagerated, turning into a mesh of fiction and fact.
As Borges once said, all autobiographies should be indexed under fiction..
I sometimes wonder about this. If you have a cassette, or a record, say, you expect it to get worn with use, so the sound quality naturally deteriorates over time, having less and less definition. I wonder then, why sometimes I remember an event dimly for years, and, suddenly, for no apparent reason, remember it with incredible clarity. That's a little like playing the same record for years, hearing it become more and more crackly, and then, suddenly, the next time you play it, it's recovered much of its definition.

Of course, the definition, in the case of the memory, might not accurately correspond to the event it's based on, but higher definition seems an anomaly to me, anyway, if memories are always and only a memory of the last memory.

"Irreverence is a greater oaf than Superstition" - W.H. Auden
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Old 12-31-2015   #13
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Re: Nostalgia for the Imaginary

When i enregistered as a member of this forum a few days back it was to comment on this thread specifically; by now the discourse has broadened considerably, so apologies if i seem to lag behind.

I often see the word nostalgia used to mean the kind of sentimentality touched upon here. Historically, this appears to be a fairly recent encroachment upon its original meaning of a certain light melancholy or a variation of homesickness. If we accept this change in the word's meaning, oughtn't we then look for a new word to signify the old meaning? To examine nostalgia critically also means to look into these aspects, i think, since the continuing adjustment of languange to the contemporary lack of subtlety does seem to validate itself by this exact refusal to acknowledge history, tradition, the past.

In response to some points raised: i think it is sentimental by definition to describe a character's development in terms of what they say or "shriek and mutter"; sentimental by definition to describe a character in terms of development, or a story in terms of characters. Fiction can do so much more than that.
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Old 12-31-2015   #14
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Re: Nostalgia for the Imaginary

I had a very nice childhood; we had vacations, clothing, food and plenty of toys and games, both my sister and I. I can't complain. It was also plagued by the normal share of middle class western boredom, bullying and responsibilities, however that was better than starving to death, being hacked to pieces or blown by shellfire in some other devastated corner of the world. I think nostalgia is a useful tool to appreciate the good things one had at a given time, always being sure to double check the spare diamonds from the coals.

Romanticizing bad times has a place around the drinking table, or during other forms of mental stupor. I always look with a nice mixture of fondness and sadness at past girlfriends, rejections, professional pitfalls, lost opportunities and various other failures, but only while drunk (these days less frequently). The spell disappears right next morning.

I think it's a nice coincidence that this thread was brought up. I was precisely thinking about this very issue last night, while mussing on my teenage years. The good thing about being a teenager, lots of people say, is that it ends. And I agree. My teenage years were calm and boring, but also sporadically chaotic and full anxieties and doubts. I still hold those last two, but who doesn't? I've never understood the fascination some people have with teenagers and their bull####. I'll take the smell of an introspective adulthood over the teen spirit.

Happy good year, folks.

Anyway, people die...
-Current 93


I am simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?
-Emil Cioran
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Old 01-02-2016   #15
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Re: Nostalgia for the Imaginary

Well, there is no less a rank smell about most people's definition of introspective adulthood, i'd say. There's not a lot sensible about the teenager's blind hormonal raging, either, but through the distortion and white noise of all that, a genuine indignation at finding the World as messed-up and insane as it is (through the government of those wonderful introspective adults) often shines through.

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
-Shaykh Ibn Al 'Arabi
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Old 01-23-2016   #16
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Re: Nostalgia for the Imaginary

This thread reminds me of of a short story by Turgenev, "Bezhin Lea", a memorable story because it evokes in the reader nostalgia for rural countryside and even love for an imaginary landscape.

Maybe nostalgia in writing is sanitized vomit, but it has a special texture to me here.

I envy people who have memories of idyllic afternoons baking with their grandparents or innocent first crush or romantic sense of justice. If their nostalgia memories are golden films, my memories are a Cliffnote autobiography of blanks, names, and some faces. I remember words, not pictures.

Maybe it's due to my bad childhood that my brain doesn't store much visual memories or feelings. I didn't have TV or internet or grandmas, and day to day was pretty much eat-go to school-go to cram school-go home. The only memorable thing was rain pouring down heavily and the house flooded. In my mind, that's a statement, not a scene of flooded house. I didn't meet my mother for 6 years, and I forget how she looks or sounds like or memories I have of her. It's disconcerting, but I know I will eventually forget about forgetting too. No nostalgia for me.

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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