Posts Tagged ‘Nostalgia


Boym’s Future of Nostalgia

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

•    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.”


Jameson’s Postmodernism

Postmodernism, or, The Logic of Late Capitalism
Fredric Jameson

Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Methodology: Marxist theory; critical theory
Argument: Jameson forwards the idea of historicity, the perception of the present as history.  He argues that history is related to the present which somehow defamiliarizes it and allows us that distance from immediacy which is as length characterized as a historical perspective (284).
Postmodernism is an attempt to think of the present historically; PoMoism is also the consumption of sheer commodification as a process
PoMoism might illustrate the end of one of Lyotard’s “master narratives” (*return to this idea when reading Lyotard)
-“The return of the narrative as the narrative at the end of narratives, this return of history in the midst of the prognosis of the demise of historical telos, suggests a second feature of PoMoism theory which requires attention, namely, the way in which virtually any observation about the present can be mobilized in the very search for the present itself and pressed into service as a symptom and an index of the deeper logic of the PoMo, which imperceptibly turns into its own theory and the theory of itself” (xii).
“PoMo” = the production of PoMo people capable of functioning in a very particular sociological world (xv)
Bearing the universal weight of a representative particular, turning back into the work which isn’t supposed to exist in the PoMo
Freudian retroactivity? (*return to this when reading Freud)
Possible definition of Late Capitalism: falls somewhere between Hegel’s “essential cross-section” and Althusser’s “structure in dominance”
Chapter 9: Nostalgia for the Present
Major question: Did the 50s see themselves as the 50s?
Marcuse’s “false happiness” = cultural representations
What real life is and what is mere appearance (280)
-Its own representation of itself
-the sense people have of themselves and their own moment of history may ultimately have nothing whatsoever to do with its reality
So…is there such a thing as history?  Further, can we imagine the future at all?
Historicity is the apprehension of that present as the past of a specific future.
Formal apparatus of nostalgia films has trained us to consume the past
If PoMoism is to think of the present historically, what does this to do the future (as Jameson already asked…)?  I see some strong connections with Deleuze.  If we’re thinking of the present in terms of a specific history (Jameson), then we’re preserving the past in that present moment (Deleuze).  *More connections will obviously come with more reading.,,

January 2019
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