Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Nostalgia

It has been a nostalgic two months here in Rome, nostalgic for the same reason as all nostalgias are. For what do nostalgias claim, they claim the familiar, they claim images and memories from the past so as to dwell in the past and in this dwelling they somehow tend to bend the present towards the past. It is the tendency of making the present, which is not the past but still is the continuation of the past where nostalgias live in and here is what makes nostalgias different from memory. For memory can happily co-exist with the present, though at times rebelling against the presence of the present too. But nostalgias are also created, they manifest some lack within the present in which the human beings try to transpose their present over the past and in this process they somehow create the past too. But what has happened with me, is it a creation of the past or just the past itself which is trying to assert itself in times when the self finds itself alone with no transcendence in the realm of the other. Well, I would like to think that nostalgias live with both kinds of past, a transposed past and the real past since the transposed past itself is not mythic but comes out of a memory which is itself interpreted. It is here that we dwell in the realms of the interpretations of memory, since memory itself cannot exist outside the domain of interpretations, while we can remember events of the past but when it comes with the relationship of that event, it always happens in a context. A context i.e. our present and it is this character of relationship of the past with memory that nostalgia finds itself carefully secured.
But then one would have to understand what is it that nostalgia demands, does it as some say demand the same kind of past or even the interpretation of it or does it actually demand its recreation in the present or does it actually demand a different present itself. Actually it can be both since as one can say that nostalgia takes birth out of certain debilities that the being finds in the present, so it might actually be an attempt to overcome those lackings within us, rather than that past. But so is human being constructed and I would believe truly so, that we dwell in the realms of emotions as well as those of reasons and both come in together rather than as separate beings.


  1. does the present exisit in the past or the future? or the future exisit in the present or the past? or the past exist in the present or the future? But What about the pain? Does the pain of future exist in the past? please enlighten us further.

  2. Thanks on the comments and the questions which made me think and I possibly have no answers but can only think about them.

    when we talk about the past, present and the future there are continuities as well as there are ruptures..there is that future which is unknowable and there is that future which we orient ourselves towards and where we visualise ourselves as someone who we want to be and in this visualisation of the future we somehow start reorienting our present too.....even at times this leads us to a remembered past, not the past we had but the past which we can only have through memory and which we wish to see only through memory so in this sense there is that presence of past in the present and possibly in the future.....and human beings being historical can not not be anything than that continuation.....

    Does the pain of the future exist in the past? I would not say so but in the possible future one can envision a pain which belonged to the past but then that future would not have been future but present itself....but it can be the case that at times pain itself is continuous and can exist in all the time spheres of past, present and future..I dont know if my answer was satisfying but would like to have more discussion...gud to have you on the blog whoever you are.

  3. Interesting and thought provoking. I liked the crazy hoping around different time zones and it made me realize how our Present is hardly ever independent of the Future or the Past. And u are absolutely correct in suggesting that we create our past by virtue of our memories which are constructed, both by our Present and Past and thus inventing something very different from what it actually was. It constrains our Present and modifies our Future. Here..I would like to share the example of my grandfather who hails from Bangladesh and now resides in Delhi. His sense of pride and being is solely attached to his home town and his notion of 'glory' and the perfect 'life' is restricted to his childhood years in his village. His Present is merely something he has stepped on, for lack of better alternatives. He lives in Nostalgia...almost like Utopia!
    Your post has made me think that..perhaps if he goes back to his hometown he will not find what he left and even if he goes back in time..he wont find what he his less acknowledged Present seems to have played a significant role in constructing his Past...and now the the Past is like an elusive Myth...a story that gives him the strength to live his nothing else does..

  4. Thanks Esha! the story you shared completes my abstract thought process and grounds it in reality :) but perhaps lets hope one finds a way out of this :)