Saturday, February 24, 2024

The past is another country

Thomas Mallon writes about nostalgia in the November 2023 issue of The New Yorker. As he concludes, he writes (emphasis mine):
Nostalgia goes even deeper than that, so deep that one wonders if it isn’t a neurological condition, something fundamental and immune to the vagaries of history. As people begin living beyond their Biblical allotment of seventy years, they experience the first exaggerated panics over forgetting a name or a date, which is usually remedied by a Google search. But then comes the growing realization that short-term memory has nothing like the staying power of the long-term variety. Mentally, the seven ages of man speed up their full-circling, until the past’s sovereignty over the present is complete. The further along one gets, the more one understands that the past is indeed another country, and that, moreover, it is home. Long-term memory’s domination of short may be a hardwired consolation that nature and biology have mercifully installed in us. 

Nostalgia is what I feel when I see children playing in the street, running around, getting dirty, still indifferent to the pleasures of day time naps. It is what I also feel when I drive past quiet streets lined by trees and greenery. 



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