Saturday, June 18, 2005

nostalgia 1 - forgetting and remembering

A certian friend of mine has become enamoured with nostalgia. We see the symptoms in feverish utterences, 'I remember those times when we... when i...'. It is a common saying. It is seemingly certian, but infact, it is a saying that conceals a doubt. Hanging on the edge of nostalgia one can not help but wonder about the things they have not remembered. One cannot help but notice the gaps in their memory, absences that become painfully obvious when you must reply to your friend - 'really? i have completely forgoten'.

the love for nostalgia infects. it is a true epidemic - it only worsens with time, and there is no return for those infected to a time prior to nostalgia. It seems that once we know that all actions liqify into memory we cannot take action with inocence. That is: we act now with the knowledge of the present's fate. The present is to loose all its depth & colapse into the surface of memory.

We share our past with others only for them to return the favour. We could call it a Verbally Transmited Disease. My memories shall compel the uncovering of yours, even if you choose not to verbaly express them. This sweetly-sickly condition speads to yet another. And so the great epidemic of a transient past continues to walk into our present.


And what of that doubt? the blessed forgetting. the imposibility of 'living' without having a trace of that 'living moment'? I am tempted to believe that the anxiety comes not simply from the fact that we have forgoten. If we were to simply forget, then why the anxiety?

I look into an old photo album & am stumped to place myself where this photo proposes i was. My memory fails. I am frustrated, but why should i become anxious of this fact? It is an unmemorable moment, inconcequential part of my life i happened to record in a photo. But now it is the basis for anxiety. more is at work here than we percieve. Perhaps is the suggestion enclosed within this moment, the suggestion that we are not who we remember ourselves to be.

I am tempted to draw a link between this and Nirvana. It literally means extinction. A blissful forgetting without ignorance. A state of being without attachment or compassion. Perhaps the anxiety is the inevitable outcome of forces within ourselves to both exist and to cease existence. Where else would our anxiety appear for such an event other than in our inability to remember ourselves? At place that questions our existance. Of course this is a romantic concept. In truth the answer is likely to be much more dull, and this truth will be a chalky pill to swallow as it will remind us that our lives are no epic play of the gods.


A friend of mine departed recently for a year to japan. Before she left i found the act of nostalgia, of remembering our joint past, a little difficult. There was an internal refusal to acknowledge what was past, a defence mechanism enforcing a blockage. It denyed myself a sense of loss by denying the very fact that something is being lost. Instead i was left meloncholic, sad for no reason, or rather a rationalised sadness. What broke that sense of meloncholy, this forgetting - what returned me into the warm hands of nostalgia was a care package.

The package was not meant for my friend in Japan, it was for another friend who had left a while ago for a land full of faux nostalgia... America. I asked myself a question 'what would i put in such a package?' I did not recieve an answer to that question. Something else happened. It came on as if i had pulled down an album from a shelf, only to have photo's fall into a mess without order or priority. Smiles and sadness, i began to remember. thoughts floating both to the continent of america and the island of japan. i missed them, both of them.

I am glad to chose a few smuged memories over a hevenly & blissful engagement. I did not send anything in that care passage, but i imagine that recieving it would be like finding an old photo. Tattered with memories, a brief convulsion and they too spread the bable of memories further through the world.


gaylourdes said...

dearest, times like these make me want to quote my whole embodiment course at you, which no doubt would take an inordinate amount of time, and we'd probably both forget the beginnings and middles by the time we got to any ends, if indeed, there were any ends to be made.
3 things.

back to things themselves (a mr edmund husserl, whose character i know little.)

and they said then, "but play, you must,
a tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

a tune upon the blue guitar
of things exactly as they are" (a mr wallace stevens, perhaps it was a poem? the man with the blue guitar

if every event which occurred could be given a name, there would be no need for stories. as things are here, life outstrips our vocabulary. (a mr john berger, who was writing, i presume once in europa

rapunzel.emma said...


I never heard you write so softly. So gently.
A contrast to the hurricane of now, the past is as real as it is a lie.
No truth lies beneath or behind it.

The past is made of fragments and narrative - and nostalgia is romance fiction.

Nostalgia is often the refusal to let go of our own narrative, to consider others - sometimes this is important, and sometimes it is damaging. Only other stories shared can fill the gaps.

When you speak about obliteration, I shudder - obliteration is inevitiable. But in the meantime, we must live with our pasts inside and all around us and we must learn to love them.


rapunzel.emma said...

PS- of course we are who we remember ourselves to be. And of course we are not. There is no "us" outside of memory. In one sense, that is all we can be and that is why remembering ourselves becomes more important as time passes. In the other sense, we are a thousand different people - one for each memory that someone may keep of us. From a bitter ex-lover, to a person we sat next to on a bus. All narratives exist concurrently and change over time and in the telling.