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A Plague of Nostalgia

SClawsonFeb 20, 2020, 6:08:55 PM

Art Credit: Jeffery Gillette

[preface: I recently deigned it unnecessary that I needed to adorn my writing with imagery. It seems almost childish and I felt it would take you, the reader, out of your immersion. Please inform me if you preferred the GIFs and pictures that I have typically embedded into my writings, I will take that into consideration. Enjoy!]

What a more fitting time than today, a month after the onset of what might be a cataclysm of contagion of the Corona virus (or better known, Wu-Flu), than to speak about another rot in the world—rather the literary one. I am referring to the 21st atrocity of the self-induced plague of nostalgia-porn and the postmodern condition of hauntology. I understand that talking about postmodernism might garner me some ire, to which I dismiss politely but wholeheartedly. I don’t believe in self-censorship, nor in ignoring critical thinking, no matter how it might challenge my own train of thinking—I would encourage all to continue despite your feelings about postmodernist philosophy.

What I am discussing today I believe might be more relevant than any single book review, topic or even my books.

Nostalgia, known as the fond feeling associated with memories, usually contrives the positive pieces and excluding or willfully forgetting the negative aspects of that experience, I believe is one of the most important emotions when embracing works of media, or rather re-embracing it. For example, remember the time when you first watched movie adaptation, The Fellowship of the Ring, as the fellowship of man, elf, dwarf and hobbit depart into the wilderness *cue the orchestra for montage* with the stunning backdrop of New Zealand and a 2-second minimum action shot, per main character? The scene was memorable; it was The Lord of the Rings, an epic fantasy adventure that we collectively experienced at various times. I’ve been hiking at times with friends where we whistle the tune to poke fun at ourselves, rolling dice at our table for a D&D game and a request for the theme is made, or the topic of the movies floats into the conversation. The feeling of nostalgia itself can be powerful, heartwarming and wondrous.

So given such an example of organic and naturally-invoked nostalgia, how could that turn sour? How could a feeling like nostalgia be so destructive to the idea of art? Enter the consumerist hellscape that is the 21st century—defined by its overlords, the corporate media empires who invented what many call the corporate period of art—which I must credit, David V Stewart, who did a fantastic breakdown of this in his video (here). Hold on, allow me another example before we go into this.

By the theme given, let us examine another popular fantasy book to movie adaptation: Harry Potter. Immensely successful, loved by women worldwide (and men less so), and iconic to no less than an entire generation who grew up watching the movies in their own coming of age (Gen Y/Millenials). I think we can all recall the iconic scene where the half-giant hermit Hagrid stalked across the world with belligerent insistence, kicked down the door Kool-Aid man style and barked at Stockholm Syndrome the teenager, aka Harry Potter, that he was in fact a wizard. It resonated with many kids that wanted so desperately to be lifted from the grimy masses of their peers and be proclaimed as ‘special’, notwithstanding we were a generation who’d been raised with that motto since we could suckle at the teet.

Why do I use Harry Potter as an example of the tyranny of something called manufactured nostalgia, while the scenery of Lord of the Rings is organic nostalgia?

For one, one of the franchises was developed In-Memoriam to a brand of quasi-mythological heroism that no longer exists in this corrupt, decadent age, while the other was designed as a marketing campaign to squeeze the hard-earned dollars of middle-class families so their tweenage daughters could build their own plywood wand and drink overpriced cream soda. Is this a conspiracy that Harry Potter was merely the catalyst for a theme park? Entertaining as that may be, there is a nugget of truth embedded in the concept that Harry Potter is a penultimate intellectual property to be harvested and that it serves to prove my argument...(continued at WordPress.com)

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If you enjoy this kind of content, please let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts and what kind of reviews you'd like to read more of!

Alternatively, I do enjoy magic and wrote a fantasy series about it, in a world called Aelorad. It's very sword & sorcery, adventure, swashbuckling kind of stuff. If that's your dig, then check out my website for it!

Check out my newest book HERE