The power of reminiscing… by Ryan Ulbrich
For as long as I can remember, I’ve longed for the past. It’s a hopeless, bizarre and binary obsession; an intense appreciation for nostalgia on the one hand, but a great fear of it on the other. I’m a storyteller collecting vinyl, writing letters, and tearing up during home movies. I’ve been afraid to revisit my alma mater for the past four years, because I’m afraid to have to leave it again.
It’s my double-edge sword, like the feeling of love for poet Colin Caplin:
“Love’s a double-edged sword,
That heals or wounds the purest heart,
It can bring you joy, or carve the deepest scar,
Love’s a double edged sword, to be won or lost.”
Nostalgia is the place where dejection in the present goes to die. I’ve tried for years to see the beauty in its ephemeral state, but to no avail. Put it this way: you can write or illustrate children’s’ books all your life, build a career around their experiences and live vicariously through them, but you’ll never, ever be able to be young again like you once were. To me that’s a sad reality. But I do see nostalgic moments as key chapters of our lives, as our own monuments in our own worlds signifying our own personal growth. For some reason or another, I think feeling nostalgic ultimately makes us better people, so long as we set our expectations.
In the wake of all this, I’ve become fascinated by artists and musicians who can recreate it best. To me, The Books’ video for Classy Penguin is as close as it gets.
The musical duo produce music under the folktronica genre, although instrumentalist Paul de Jong refers to their work simply as “collage music.” They’ve pioneered the mental re-creation of narratives in their music and performances, doing so in between the lines of their own instrumentals and video art.
What art, music or literature best represents nostalgia for YOU?
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