Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Future of Nostalgia

This afternoon I knocked a glass bowl off the counter and the glass exploded into every corner of the kitchen. It was the last straw. Or maybe that came a couple moments later when i burned my arm on the oven rack. Either way I was fed up with myself.

I feel as if I am doing nothing and yet so many of the things I want to be doing

And at the same time I'm not really sure I now what it is I really want.

Now that I'm in a poetry class I seem unable to produce any.

Friday night I went out with Yoko and when we finally came back to my apartment we sat and talked a while and the conversation turned to her mission. Her advice and description of her experience was so honest and stripped of the nostalgic feeling I'm sure she has about her mission; I really appreciated it.

I've been thinking a lot about an article we read for class by Svetlana Boym about the future of nostalgia. We read it because we are reading Philip Roth's book "Plot Against America" next, plus we are reading a lot of books that look back on events. Boym says that there are two kinds of nostalgia: reflective and restorative. I think we all probably consist of a mixture of both, but restorative nostalgia is the kind that in excess creates nationalism and conspiracy theories. It is when people feel that what they had in the past is better and want to go back to it. "Restorative puts emphasis on nostos and proposes to rebuild he lost home and patch up the memory gaps. Reflective nostalgia dwells in agia, in longing and loss, the imperfect process of remembrance." Restorative creates a paradox in the fact that it often irrationally places the past in a higher place than the presence without discrimination. Also there is the fact that as much as we try to create the past in the present we can never go "home." Reflective nostalgia looks back on history and loves it, but doesn't want to go back. Tolstoy would like that, in his writing he professes to believe that we should live by our intuition (or I might say the HG) and live in the moment; a moment informed by he past and aware of the future but living in that moment just the same.

I've never had someone really close to me die, but I have had a couple moments (two to be really specific) where I felt so devastated by someones death that it was like I knew them. One of them happened today. I was babysitting for Baby S when his Mom and I got talking about medicine and she said that her mother was finally going in after denying that she was in pain for so long. The week I came back two weeks later I saw her right after she found out her mom was dying. The rest of the summer went by pretty normal, but there were moments when I could see and feel some of the wild worry she was dealing with. Being with her the whole summer and seeing how she thought about it everyday I could tell how much she loved her mother. And even though I never met her I know that she must have been great. Today I found out that she died yesterday and I feel so devastated for her family. I know I was sent into her family's life for a reason just as they were to mine. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am.

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