22
Sep
08

Boym’s Future of Nostalgia

Svetlana Boym
The Future of Nostalgia
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Intro

•    Nostalgia is a longing for a home that no longer exists or has never existed
o    A Sentiment of loss or displacement; a romance with one’s own fantasy
o    Nostalgic love can only exist in a long-distance relationship
•    Sometimes nostalgia is directed not towards the past, but sideways
•    Nostalgia: longing for a different time, not place
•    Nostalgia is about the individual in relation to groups or nations
•    Time out of time
Chapter 1
•    Nostalgia produced ‘erroneous representations’ that caused the afflicted to lose touch with the present
•    Expectation is the future made present
•    The nostalgic is never a native but a displaced person who mediated between the local and the universal
•    Unrepeatable and irreversible time
•    Nostalgia: not the location, but the quest itself
Chapter 2
•    Modern opposition between tradition and revolution
•    Nietzsche: nostalgic for a prenostalgic state
Chapter 4
•    Longing might be something humans share, but it doesn’t prevent us from telling different stories
Chapter 5
•    Restorative Nostalgia: national past and future → collective pictorial symbols and oral culture
•    Reflective Nostalgia: individual and cultural memory → individual narrative and memorial signs
Critical Moments in the text
Xviii: “nostalgia is the repetition that mourns the inauthenticity of all repetitions and denies the repetition’s capacity to define identity.”
11: “What is crucial is that nostalgia was not merely an expression of local longing, but a result of new understanding of time and space that made the division into ‘local’ and ‘universal’ possible.  The nostalgic creature has internalized this division, but instead of aspiring for the universal and the progressive he looks backwards and yearns for the particular.”
19: “Bruno Latour points out that ‘the modern time of progress and the anti-modern time of ‘tradition’ are twins who failed to recognize one another: the idea of an identical repetition of the past and that of a radical rupture with any past are two asymmetrical results of a single conception of time.’”
28: “Instead [Benjamin] plays with a ‘fan of memory’ that uncovers new layers of forgetting but never reaches the origin: ‘he who had once begun to open the fan of memory, never comes to the end of its segments.  No image satisfies him, for he has seen that it can be unfolded, and only in its folds does the truth reside.’ Benjamin wished to ‘fan a spark of hope in the past,’ to wrest a historical tradition anew from an empty continuum of forgetting.  Constellations are the instance when the past ‘actualizes’ in the present and assumes the ‘now of recognizability in a flash.  They result in revolutionary collisions or profane illuminations.  Benjamin’s method can be called archeology of the present and its potentialities for which he is most nostalgic.”
49: “Restoration signifies a return to the original stasis, to the prelapsarian moment.  The past for the restorative nostalgic is a value for the present; the past is not a duration but a perfect snapshot.  Moreover, the past is not supposed to reveal any signs of decay; it has to be freshly painted in its ‘original image’ and remain eternally young.  Reflective nostalgia is more concerned with historical and individual time, with the irrevocability of the past and human finitude.  Re-flection suggests new flexibility, not the reestablishment of stasis.  The focus here is not on recovery of what is perceived to be an absolute truth, but on the mediation on history and passage of time.”
53: “ Collective memory, however, is not the same as national memory, even when they share images and quotations.  National memory tends to make a single teleological plot out of shared everyday recollections.  The gaps and discontinuities are nemded through a coherent and inspiring tale of recovered identity.  Instead, shared everyday frameworks of collective or cultural memory offer us mere signposts for individual reminiscences that could suggest multiple narratives.”

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