Sunday, May 5, 2013

Random Thoughts About Memory and Nostalgia

I'm not sure where I'm going with this... Perhaps you can make some sense out of this.

Memory is a tricky thing. I thought about it while driving to work this morning.

I don't want to become one of those old guys who can't adapt to new ideas or styles, but at the same time I'm aware that we all at some point stop seeking out things like new music. We reach young adulthood and through our college years, we have our coming of age and find ourselves. We come to know who we are and find "our styles." At some point we stop growing, not just physically, but most of us find our style of music or entertainment or ideas and stop growing in that area as well, and that becomes who we are or what we like for the rest of our lives.

Everyone knows at least one older person who insists that old classic rock is the best thing there is and today's music is just noise and eventually we will become just like them. We won't be up on the new slang, we will have our old sayings that kids won't understand. We will say things like "back I'm my day..." and shake or heads while saying "kids these days..."

Nostalgia plays an important role. That's why memory is such a tricky thing. Nothing is as good as it used to be, because it's in our memory. Today's good times won't seem half as fun until they become yesterday's memories.

I already do this to a certain extent.  I've had conversations with people reminiscing about our favorite childhood TV shows. We remember them as being great, but I'm not sure how many of the things we liked as kids would still hold up if we were to watch them today.  However, good or bad, we would stand by them because they are tied to our memory and we will always enjoy them when we remember them.  We also talk about how the shows they have for kids today are terrible and can never compare to the shows we grew up with.  Maybe that's true, but maybe it isn't. It will always be true for us, but the next generation will likely say the same thing when they reach our age.

Granted when it comes to music someone who grew up listening to what we now consider classic rock, is not likely to listen to certain types of music today and immediately fall in love with it as well, but there are many styles out there, and there has to be something similar enough that they can latch onto, and in that way, still keep up with what's new.

Having said all of this, I still think it's important for younger generations to explore things from older generations.  Generally each decade in the 1900's offered something new and unique that we can point to as being representative of the decade.  Music, movies, and even fashion are apart of popular culture, and we have come to identify each decade throughout the 1900's with those elements.  These elements also shaped who we are and where we have come today.  I think we do ourselves a disservice to not be aware of these things. We limit ourselves and our knowledge by not seeking these things out.

These styles come back around.  We can watch a TV show like Seinfeld in which the character of Kramer was supposed to be a cheapskate who never bought new clothes and was several generations behind in his fashion sense. He wore old 70's style clothing (mostly 70's style shirts), but in the last 10 years if you watched the show, he was actually back in style.

In music, particularly indie music, the electronic/synthesized sounds of the 80's and early 90's music is making its way back into modern music as those who grew up on 80's music are now old enough to start producing their own music, they want to bring back what was cool to them when they were younger. And film, and gaming occasionally explore the retro side of things as well.

Retro will always be somewhat in style because of our love for things that were all around us during "that age."

Again, I'm not sure I had a particular point, but these are some thoughts that hit me while driving to work this morning.  It was mere coincidence that The Radio Dept's song 1995 came on my CD player as I was driving.  It's a song about nostalgia for the year they "came alive." Listen below...

"1995 is missing buses
It's walking 15 miles to see your love
It's knowing you're alive through all the fuzz
It's never coming down from going up

1995 is cutting classes
It's sitting over coffees talking indie treats
It's the mere sensation of being the first one that you see
When morning opens up the skies
You see me when daylight opens up your eyes

And though I'm happier now I always long somehow
Back to 1995

All my friends have different plans to make their lives worthwhile
Some for the better
Some for the worse
Some have gone to different cities searching every mile
For missing pieces that will make a whole

1995 seems like a long time
If you ever were to find your way back home
But the only thing I really miss is being the first one that you see
When morning opens up the skies
You see me when daylight opens up your eyes"