Friday, February 29, 2008

Nostalgia, Upon Further Reflections

In college, I tried to reign in my thoughts about something that would essentially be the antithesis of historical context. While I tried and tried to muster the words to describe my theory, they never came. And really the major problem with this theory was that I was trying to base it as the opposite of something else. My desire to define it against something, rather than for what it was, led to nothing but grand vertical drops in to the great abyss of plans/ideas never rendered.

What on earth does this have to do with nostalgia you ask? Well in my desire to create a beguiling academic theory I forgot about an essential quality to understanding, the sound intrinsic nature of an idea. I was far too fascinated how it would marry and play in the grander extrinsic discourse. And as I have debated the nature of nostalgia in my head over time I keep bumping into a natural vs. commercial divide, or better yet an intrinsic/extrinsic schism.

I think there are two different kinds of nostalgia, intrinsic and extrinsic, or really one that comes from experience and one that comes prepackaged and commercialized. The commercialized version makes me want to stick hot pokers down someone's urethra (the pandering producer of objects that gleam with nostalgia), and yes, I mean pokers as in plural. But I have no adverse reactions to the nostalgic feeling/impulse that comes from within. In fact I find the memories of experience to be wonderful (even when painful), like when a scent on the street opens up a long dormant memory of a different time or you notice a scar on your body that you never see and instantly return back to the time of injury.

The prepackaged version of nostalgia is simply a crass marketing tool, as it appears that people are trying to churn money out of previously discarded things, as they are too afraid to attempt to market something new - sans recognition value. In creating commercialized nostalgia they are employing triggers that attempt to key into an individual's intrinsic nostalgic mind space, bending the two streams together. That this is such a prevalent marketing angle tells me it is quite successful. And I find that greatly troubling.

No comments: