Friday, April 25, 2014

Living in an Age of Nostalgia or the Politics of Nostalgia

Georgia lawmakers pass controversial ‘guns everywhere’ bill


Listening and reading various news media and their treatment of the various groups such as white supremacist and other groups who embrace rhetorical and sometimes violent regimes of desire I find the word nostalgia, at times, to be very much appropriate.  Reflecting on the word "nostalgia" I find a word that engenders intimate memories of better times, the need for the good old days. According to Webster's, nostalgia is pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.  Particularly in the U.S., comments regarding black people being better off in slavery, that somehow there is a certain longing, even a strange admiration for a violent economic system based on the dehumanization of a people, the repercussions of which they still experience today at various levels, while absurd, are nevertheless longed for by those who benefited from the regime.  Clearly the people who make these statements long for a day when the world was about them and their people.

Paul Spoonley
Now considering the various discourses in the media regarding culture and society, i.e. gun control, an identity regime in crisis, the decline of unions and the reemergence of the gilded age,  to name a few, and the implications of these discourses within a shifting demographics, nostalgia becomes a mediation point, for some, to engage an emerging civilization with a different sense of being.  A sense of being not located in definitions established by one people, or one continent couched in an empire of need but informed by articulations of wonderment. A civilization where, hopefully, one persons liberation will not be at the expense of another persons liberation which seems to be the underlying question regarding nostalgia.  For a moment let me explain articulations of wonderment.

Articulations of wonderment emerge as I seek to experience myself and other people outside of definitions established by white supremacy and its various modes of colonization.  Each person must be encountered as a divine presence embodied with God's gifts in the earth realm.  In this sense it is intimately engaged in care of the soul.  Not for the sake of exploitation, exhibition or labeling for economic intent but simply put, the person, the very person you may or may not like or understand is God's presence on earth.  Of course, because so much of who we are is invested in the limitations established to maintain a plantation culture, the idea of articulations of wonderment may seem somewhat out of bounds, even "pie in the sky" yet history has shown over and over again that people live for, long for and die for liberation, to be free, to express their articulation of wonderment.  How many revolutions have been fought for just this reality.  So then, articulations of wonderment is very much in line, at least to me, with an arch that bends towards justice.

That said, articulations of wonderment is a liberative movement of political import and as such cannot be separated from political realities.  So to, nostalgia, at least in this writers mind, cannot be separated from the political. Conservative elements such as the Tea Party, the redefinition of race by a Republican party that is rapidly loosing its base and various laws such as stand your ground, stop and frisk, and a broken immigration system, are all conversations within the politics of nostalgia.   As an activist and an emerging transgender scholar I rarely hear nostalgia as part of a conversation within a discourse of transformation.   Going more in depth on this topic, I am reminded of TV shows such as "Happy Days", "Good Times", and "All in the Family", The Jeffersons", the re-emergence of pre-cable network programming, which I suggest, at least to me, rest in a desire for nostalgia, engaging challenges of joy and lament in the midst of  a changing world of globalization.  For those who might remember "All in the Family" or the Jeffersons, Its like Archie Bunker or George Jefferson saying, "Stop the world I need to get off".

Now I consider nostalgia as a part of being human.  That said, how do we utilize nostalgia as a means to heal, to create a space that embodies the grace and mercy necessary.  No easy or simple answers here but a recognition of the importance of nostalgia within a conversation of transformation.