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Stuck in the Past

story © Michael Betancourt | published November 14, 2009 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  


Lately it seems like we, collectively, are stuck in the past, the 1980s to be accurate. I don't know what happened to the present (nevermind about the future, that was always already an imaginary)? I increasingly get the feeling that we aren't going to be getting anything of or from the present for a while at least. Instead, we have this strange obsession with revisiting the past artifacts of our culture and redoing/remaking/recreating them at a higher resolution and with more detail, but without anything that we haven't already seen.

I suspect this has to do with the dislocation that novelty,especially radical novelty, brings with it. There is a psychological defensiveness to this return to the 1980s, almost a willful rejection of what it would mean to live in the present--and confront all that needs our confrontation--so instead, the collective we that is our culture (almost entirely a commercial enterprise now, little space is actually left at the margin, since that too is now fully colonized by commerce) desires only insipid returns to the past.

The past, even the pseudo-original return that is happening now, is consolatory. It creates the illusion that the pressing issues of the moment are not really pressing, do not require attention, do not need any action. It is a senile retreat from reality into a safe fantasy supported by the worst kind of nostalgia. To live in the present is always the hard thing when nostalgia calls.


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