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Nostalgia, the land of still time

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The dilated present is the space-time of the present man whose consciousness becomes Odyssean. (1) . In his eternal present, man does not stop walking, quenching his thirst that devours him to try the adventure of the elsewhere of time. The same adventure as that of Ulysses abandoning Penelope and his island of Ithaca or Alexander on the banks of the Indus, as that of the Knights in search of the Grail or the Jew wandering towards the land of his fathers.

Thus, nostalgia appears, which, for the Lebanese philosopher Rene Habachi, is "neither of old, nor of later, nor of near, nor of far, which is of the present. Which arises from the here and now, at the very instant, at the height of gesture. » (2)

It's a mistake to reduce nostalgia to homesickness. It is an existential state, but of an existence that feels bad about itself because it hears echoes of its over-existence. In this sense, it is an extremely contemporary evil because it breathes the atmosphere of the eternal in its present and is constantly resourcing itself at its origin. It is there, haunting and discreet, waiting to be recognized, to be heard by our conscience. In reality, it is not we who call for nostalgia, it is nostalgia that calls us; indeed, its over-existence allows it to "take the form of a memory or a project, of the past or the future. But in truth, it is nostalgia for the present. » (3)

● It is the conservatory that allows us to live here and now according to a mythical spatio-temporal elsewhere. Michel Maffesoli calls nostalgia "the land of still time" (4)This reflects the desire for something that is past but still present in the social imagination with an unsuspected power. It is the myth of the paradisiacal garden of paradise proper to the Judeo-Christian world as well as to the Muslim world, it is utopia, the non-place, the land of dreams arising in the present of men. At the same time, it is uchrony, non-time, the point of reference and structuring of society at a given moment.

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● Social life is not built on simply solving the problems it encounters. This is what progressive modernity thought, steeped in bigoted faith in the omnipotence of the productions of its intelligence to face the future. Social life today is built, beyond historical linearity, on the tension of problems between them. This is what gives the eternal dimension to the present.

The present temporality, the eternity of a concrete universal, finds its dynamic in the thirst for the infinite that nostalgia impels. It puts time on hold in order to tend, between past and future, towards a dreamed eternity. Gregorian chant is the image of this tension. It is in fact a horizontal, raised, tense line, which does not come down despite the inflections of the voices. It is a breath, a thread stretched between the silence of the beginning and the silence of the end, from eternity to eternity. Nostalgia is the expression of this dynamic of time, putting in tension past and future in an eternal present.

● Nostalgia is no longer what it used to be; it only re-actualizes a lost melancholic past. It crystallizes a lack of horizon, an ignorance as would say Kunderaof a utopian future, lost in the meshes of an autarkic present. When the current air of time sings, in the present, the tunes of the past, the mind is carried towards a fantasized future.

The beginning of the 21st century is thus seeing the formation of a wave that intrigues many parents. Their offspring sing songs that they themselves hummed at their age, a generation ago. These refrains are today's hits, remixed or not, compiled in souvenir albums or covered by the budding stars of the Star Academy. This phenomenon is not a nostalgic retreat from the past, but a nostalgic retreat from years gone by. It's a worldwide phenomenon. It's a phenomenon that affects audiences all over the world. Towards the end of the 90s we thought we'd been forever buried by the techno, rap and metal wave, the august monuments of rock and pop music. Wrong. Bowie comes back, the Stones come back, Mac Cartney still sings the Beatles as if they had never disappeared, Santana gives rhythm to teenagers' bedrooms, Mark Knopfler, a remnant of the Dire Straits, is the model for all fourteen year old guitarists, Jimi Hendrix, an idol, a god still alive, an object of worship, books, exhibitions...

The fact is curious because we were rather used to generations clashing and excluding each other. Today that is not the case. Parents go with their children to concerts at these historic monuments. They applaud to the same songs, vibrate at the same tempo. But their nostalgia is different. The parents are nostalgic for their past, their adolescence, their lost youth; the children are nostalgic for an impossible future that would resemble their parents' youth, at a time when parents were demonstrating and chanting their rejection of the world they wanted to change. (5)

For, rock'n'roll was indeed this movement that carried subversion, the refusal of order and established values; it accompanied and gave rhythm to protest and protest. Today's teenagers certainly have their own music, but they refer to their parents' spiritual fathers to live vicariously the revolutionary dreams of yesterday.

 

(1): Cf. Jean Brun, Les vagabonds de l'Occident, Desclée, 1989.

(2): Cf. René Habachi, Mazurka et philosophie : analyse de la nostalgie, in Actes du colloque Musique et philosophie, Université de Dijon, November 1983.

(3): Cf. René Habachi, op.cit.

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(4): Cf. Michel Maffesoli, L'instant éternel, op.cit.

(5): See Évelyne Pieiller, Nostalgie d'un avenir subversif, in Le Monde diplomatique, April 2003.

 

 

 

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