Post-Modern Nostalgia: a Longing for the Tottaly Other
The idea that post came from a discussion in a class of Communication Studies at the Anhembi Morumbi University. The general theme was the Postmodern Studies. We discussed the nostalgia that dominates the postmodern aesthetic (remake, patchworks, etc…) We note the existence of a paradox: if nostalgia is to miss season that were experienced, how to explain the nostalgia of the postmodern aesthetic in which new generations have missed the times that have ever been experienced? What’s behind this nostalgia: an aspiration or ideological manipulation by the “tottaly other”?
“Every ideology has its moment of truth” (Theodor Adorno)
A retro nature dominates the cultural horizon of contemporaneity. Patchworks and subsequent refresher create a cultural scene paradoxically nostalgic. First because it comes wrapped in a modern and contemporary packaging. Movies like Kill Bill shows a Tres chic Uma Thurman in the fight scenes in martial attire fashion, radical and seemingly very current. But to the delight of moviegoers, they are costumes worn by Bruce Lee in his movies Kung Fu B 70s. Actually, Kill Bill is a pastiche of references to the 60, 70 and 80 (western spaghetti “Italian ’60s, Bruce Lee movies of the 70s, new wave sounds of the 80s etc.). Indeed, what makes the films of Tarantino cult is precisely the mastery of signs of these quotes from various eras and contexts, removed from their roots and placed in a logical set timeless.
Second paradoxical aspect: these pastiches that are the delight of moviegoers reveals a strange nostalgia: nostalgia for times that were not experienced. Youngsters ride the ambiance of their new homes with objects and decorations that recall the ’60s and ’70s, the ’80s return with “ballads” specializing in this decade (“trash 80,” Project Autobahn etc..), Street fairs where they are marketed Objects that time (books, games, toys) for young groups strangely nostalgic for an era that did not experience, themed bars recreate youth ambience and atmosphere of distant times and places in time and space (“bars chics” that revive the bars Popular 50s and 60s, bars frequented by tribes of young “rockers” in their black leather jackets, Tufts to Elvis in an environment with scenic studiously junkerboxes, checkered floors, and posters with success in films of the season).
How to understand this strange nostalgia that seems to characterize the young contemporary nostalgia of experience that have not been experienced and of places that were not visited? There are two different perspectives on this topic that we can name the first as a finalist and the other as causality.
In the first approach the nostalgia that infects contemporary cultural production is intended to serve “the interests of specific ideological stagnation of life that we should allow them to renew forever. Nostalgia, that both speak the newspapers and magazines, is nothing but a powerful psychological tool of Death Organized. “(Luis Carlos Maciel, Death Organized) is a kind of” psychological knot “to divert attention to the present problems. This approach is the traditional complaint of ideological manipulation of the media. Nostalgia as false consciousness.
The second approach causalist we exemplify the approach with Frederic Jameson’s nostalgia, pastiche and cultural schizophrenia of postmodern subjectivity. Lacan on the foundations (the identity is structured through language) Jameson realizes the impossibility of the schizoid to ascend to the language and I build a persistent and enduring through time. Without being able to represent the real, it takes significant as the things themselves, to read an intense experience, ad hoc and fragmented. Time is perceived as eternal present and intense moments together a timeless, as well as cultural pastiches. In summary: nostalgia and pastiche as a symptom.
If we Adorno’s epistemological proposal that “all ideology has its moment of truth” we can understand that these approaches finalists and causality are inadequate because they can not grasp the particular moment of truth. Be that as false consciousness or as a symptom, post-modern nostalgia is in any way, discarded in toto as a myth or illusion or regression.
Without doubt, this nostalgia (symptom of a malaise of postmodern subjectivity) is exploited as a commodity, however, operates a nostalgic feeling real and concrete: the “longing for the totally other”. Expression of Horkheimer, the “longing for the totally other” summarized the purpose of Critical Theory: tackling the idea of temporal progress and propose a rescue from the past:
“The wholly other can only mean pure transcendence, redemption: the materialism of Critical Theory is back for both the singular and redemption of the generations who went through history. We must connect the nostalgia of what happens in the world, the horror and injustice are not the final word, there is an Other ”
There is this assertion Horkheimer a strong mystical or Gnostic: the time as a prison, a source of deception, illusion and deception. In fact, Gnosticism seeks to free itself of becoming and return to the status of the principle of everything: stability and true to the Pleroma, the eternal, the whole being. It’s a romantic nostalgia.
From this point of view, this paradoxical nostalgia of postmodern culture expresses the mystical component of a radical subjectivity of the malaise now the malaise of an exile, a stranger in his own country, who yearns to seek something in the past that is lost, the real source.
Here Nostalgia is nothing more or false consciousness, nor a symptom, but, above all, call. The past is calling us to something that only experience like deja vu. Every game Genius found in antique fairs or images of old video game Pack Man who inexplicably inspires nostalgia in a young man who grew up playing Nintendo, we can find this nostalgia for the “Tottaly Other”.
A good example is the movie Donnie Darko (Richard Kelley, 2001). In addition to its retro aesthetic (the narrative is set in the late 80s), the film depicts the life of a troubled adolescent, Donnie Darko, with a mysterious mental condition that separates it from a cultural environment conformist: he begins to realize the unreality of suburban life of American middle class through state and sleepwalking after taking antidepressants. Donnie senses that something is wrong with the world through insights and altered states of consciousness and not from ideological or religious principles. Donnie also discovers that the timetable in which he lives can be reversed and that he has power to do so, that is, to transcend his plan through a temporal vortex and move freely in other planes by changing the predetermined destinations. After the death of his girlfriend and later his mother in a plane crash sucked into another dimension of time, Donnie goes back in time. This time Donnie is in his room and dies in the fall of the turbine. A great sacrifice that takes Donnie to wake up this world and change the flow of time – his girlfriend and her mother will escape death. “I went home,” said Donnie expressively. He will find in the past the redemption of a world that Donnie inauthentic experiences so painful.
Incidentally, is recurrent in recent film protagonist’s incessant quest for answers to the malaise of this in the past, through shifts in time (either through technological mediations or altered states of consciousness). From Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985), to Peggy Sue(Coppola, 1986) until we reach the recent The Butterfly Effect (Eric Bress, 2004 ) witnessed a nostalgic return to the past as a search for a lost innocence, the reconstitution of an experiment, the recovery of “looking the first time,” the freshness of a first experience that was lost in the temporal trap of becoming.
Mestre em Comunição Contemporânea (Análises em Imagem e Som). Jornalista e professor na Universidade Anhembi Morumbi nas áreas de Estudos da Semiótica e Linguagem Audiovisual. Pesquisador e escritor, co-autor do "Dicionário de Comunicação" pela editora Paulus, organizado pelo Prof. Dr. Ciro Marcondes Filho e autor dos livros "O Caos Semiótico" e "Cinegnose – a recorrência de elementos gnósticos na produção cinematográfica" pela Editora Livrus.