Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stream of Consciousness on Nostalgia

Nostalgia is one thing anyone can find solace in. No matter who you are, no matter what your disposition or philosophy is, you will most likely be able to idealize a time in the past (not even necessarily your own) when you find yourself backed into an emotional corner. Those more depressive of us may find ourselves doing this with higher frequency than regular people. I am no exception.

I can often find myself remembering and visualizing, in ludicrously romanticized terms, things in my past... Even times that I hated when they were going on. It's like watching a film version of your life prior - tight editing, only the correct takes used. Artistic cinematography, evocative lighting. The idea that only your imagination controls what exists outside the frame. No problems, no worries, nothing in the focus other than what we're meant to be seeing and feeling. Well-staged and memorable shots that will remain archived like a video collection only I hold the key to. I apply specific combinations of sight, sound, smell, and atmosphere to certain time periods, including ones before I was alive. I will have 'memories' of these periods that are like admiring paintings from afar. Oftentimes when listening to music or playing a videogame or watching a movie from that period I will apply this extra layer of 'atmosphere', as if I were playing or watching or listening to it from that context - that time period and cultural zeitgeist.

The thing about it though is that it can pull us down into a continuing cycle of depression. We can make ourselves feel even more hopeless wishing to go back to the past, and it can hasten the eventual transition to bitter and resentful that most people don't reach until they're old and cranky. Unfortunately, a lot of daydreaming ties in with the same feelings as nostalgia, so it can be hard to avoid...

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