Share this article with your friends.The notion of nostalgia intrigues me. I am one of its victims. Suffices that the moment be past for me to remember it with nostalgia.
Isaiah Berlin discusses it in his book "The Roots of Romanticism". He looks first at the notion of depth, as in a piece of art or a thinker which we might call "deep". According to him it's also something that was born with Romanticism, this idea that there is always more than meets the eye, than meets the brain.
From there he explains that because we can never reach totality, because infinity is out of our reach we can only turn around and pine for the past. While thinkers from the Enlightenment believed firmly that the future could be perfectly satisfactory if we found the right way - the right laws, the right rules - to reach it, the Romantics aspire to heights, to impossible perfection. I have a lot of admiration for Berlin's thinking but I am not convinced by his explanation of nostalgia. it seems to me a case of a thinker pushing a triangular object into a circular hole within his system and explaining how perfectly well it fits. Isn't there more to nostalgia than a lack of faith in the future? And nostalgia is common to other cultures besides Romanticism. I had always thought that the nostalgia expressed in African American culture had been passed down by ancestors deprived of their homeland. But I wonder if it's does not find its origin in Africa's own very strong brand of nostalgia in many of its cultures, hear Ismael Lo (below).
My curiosity has been pricked, i'm going to keep on investigating. Any comments or suggestions welcome.
Contributed by - - Arabella Hutter