Thursday, August 18, 2011


Joshua moved! And a word on nostalgia.
The Western Confucian (Korea, conservatism, peace, Catholicism and lots of music) is the Pittsford Perennialist (substitute western New York state) – love the alliteration – with this banner quotation:
A society that has made ‘nostalgia’ a marketable commodity on the cultural exchange quickly repudiates the suggestion that life in the past was in any important way better than life today.
– Christopher Lasch

Reminds me of the difference between real nostalgia with a foot planted in the past and marketed kitsch by and for hipsters making fun of the things we love. As I explain to Donna for example, the difference between the ’50s (mid-century really: around 1935, the year my mother was born, to around 1965, the time I was conceived! I remember bits of the lingering tail end of it before ’70s experiments in fashion and changes in values took over... BTW most people in the ’60s weren’t hippies; the ’70s is when that rubbish went mainstream) and the Fifties (the fake ’50s in which apparently nearly everybody’s Fonzie or wears a poodle skirt; Elvis, Marilyn, ’57 Chevys – my dad thought they were ugly and I agree they’re boxy – etc.). I don’t dislike the Fifties when it’s well presented (such is part of the culture; I know somebody who was sort of like that growing up – yes, he’s Italian – but by the early ’60s he was a dapper fellow wearing a blue Borsalino fedora to work downtown) but of course it doesn’t tell the whole story. TV Tropes did something on this: you have the period as it presented itself (one-sided), then this stuff and then the likewise condescending stuff that’s usually modern(ist) sermons on civil rights (root truth: defending the black man’s individual liberty is a noble cause) or feminism, making fun of women of the time (both: my, we’re so much better now). My guess is Matthew Weiner with ‘Mad Men’ meant to do the last but struck a chord, a longing, among people he didn’t intend so you’ve got some real looking back culturally, which of course is great. (Peggy’s supposed to be the heroine but Betty and Joan are, even though Betty’s not very nice.) I understand there’s a contract to do three more seasons of it and NBC and ABC have their copycat shows, ‘The Playboy Club’ and ‘Pan Am’, coming soon.

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