Nostalgia in Paris

We are just a few days from closing the year. In reflection, 2011 had many ups and even more downs. Moments have passed when thoughts of giving up ran through my mind, and other times when I felt inspired to conquer the world. It may have been a terrible year, but I have learned a lot through it; although I can’t shake the feeling that it may not have been worth the agony.

hmm.

That was quite the unexpected and dramatic start. What I really wanted to write about was nostalgia, and in a good way.

I recently watched Midnight in Paris at my friend Pu’s house, and the movie really resonated with me. I’m always skeptical about Woody Allen films but this one was perfect. The protagonist, Gil Pender, a writer, hopes to reach a level of poetic grandeur reminiscent of what he considers to be the golden age of writing and art, America in the 1920’s. And I was right there with him. He is full of nostalgic feelings about an age that is seemingly far away. I say seemingly because the beauty and magic of the film emerges when Pender accidentally travels back in time to the very golden era he adores. And there he meets the greats: Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dali, Picasso, Cole Porter, Man Ray, and many more.

Pender gets to meet the men he idolizes and gets a rare chance to flesh out ideas with them, a dream I have always had. And although he is drawn to remain among the greats, in the end, he settles for his own time. The moral of the story being, without spoiling the ending, that one must learn to love the present without trying to live in the past. I, however, find that difficult to achieve because hindsight is 20/20 while “nowsight” is blurry and unclear.

In the present, I wonder about the future. Not in the sense of “what will the future hold?” kind of way. It’s obvious that technological, medical, political (hopefully), and creative advancements are expected in the future, even in the near future. But my wonderment has more to do with reflection. How will the people of the future, how will we in the future, see and understand the current past?

I realize the slippery grammatical slope I’m on, and the scientist in me is screaming for more concrete, understandable examples.

e.g. The 1960’s were only half a century ago. And, having never lived through them, I view them through the lens of nostalgia. I wonder about late night chats with my heroes during their prime. To really figure out what the young Muhammad Ali’s and JB’s had to say when they were starting out. And in 50 years, the 2010’s will also be half a century ago. And I wonder what the kids of 2060 will reflect on most. Who stood out during my time? Who was a paradigm shifter?

I can point to President Obama or Steve Jobs as obvious answers. But when it comes to music, it’s difficult (for me) to guess, or anticipate.

I think most likely this era will be considered a time of rapid technological advancement. And that the young adults of the 2060’s will have nostalgic thoughts about then obsolete landlines, ethernet cables, and dvd players (technologies that are already becoming obsolete). But I wonder what music they will turn to? I want to know the thought pattern of the future kid that sets out to collect “rare” CDs and mp3s from the turn of the century. And brags about how nobody plays vintage music anymore.

In truth, I’m full of nostalgia. It stems from a deep love for good music, which pushes me away from the current trends to the classic tunes. But it is more than just music. I have a love affair with entire eras of American history: the dress codes of the early days, when people used to wear dresses and suits to the movies; the black and white low-budget films; the open space for creativity. Of course I’m referring to a more idealistic nostalgia (this is a common symptom of the disease). I mean, let’s not get it twisted… I’m glad I can vote now haha.

But the question still stands: I’m currently walking around during a time when someone, right now, is doing something so improbably amazing, that it will be considered a turning point for music 50 years from now. But who are you paradigm shifter?

Midnight in Paris is a wonderful movie and I highly recommend it, especially to the romantics in the crowd. Not to mention it has the beautiful Marion Cotillard, who is made to look even more gorgeous and… French than ever before, although I did not think it possible.

Plus she’ll be in the upcoming Batman Movie. Am I falling in love? Maybe if I was born in another time.

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2 thoughts on “Nostalgia in Paris

  1. Interesting thoughts. Although I didn’t really like the movie, I too wonder who will be the greats of our time when it comes to music.

  2. Sama says:

    ahh man sorry you didn’t like the movie Ronik. I usually don’t like Owen Wilson or Woody Allen films (both just seem super awkward to me), so i was skeptical at first. But turns out it was right up my alley: Paris, nostalgia, the desire to live and be among the world’s greats. What more can I ask for?

    Any guesses as to who will be the musical greats of this era?

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