I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nostalgia for Something I Haven't Experienced Yet

     There are many definitions of the word 'nostalgia', but all of these definitions agree that it is a feeling that accompanies fond thoughts of the past. The last two days I know that I felt nostalgia in this way, but I think I felt it about the future as well. 
     My cousin, (in the image on your left holding Squeaker), just graduated from high school on Thursday, which was crazy for me to fathom because I remember holding him when he was just in infant. He has always been like a little brother to me and I love him so much, so I did go down memory lane a bit thinking of our good times growing up together. I remember playing on the trampoline together and climbing up the apple tree that grew in this front yard. We went to the pool together, snowboarded together, I can't help but feel weirdly reminiscent when looking at him and realizing that he is going to college next year. I had a great time remembering the past and seeing him again, celebrating his accomplishments throughout high school. I loved being a little kid and discovering new things everyday, which I still do but not at all in the same way. So when I look at my daughter, I can't help but get excited about the future and imagining the memories we will create together. 
     I am so happy to be a mother and able to watch my own child go through the struggles, as well as the joys, of childhood and adolescence. Christmas is more magical as a kid, Halloween more scary, everything is amplified because children aren't jaded by experiencing the world yet. This is how I started to feel nostalgic about things that haven't happened yet, almost waiting for the past to happen. It's an odd feeling and a silly way to word it, but I can't find a better way to explain how I feel. 
     This idea is not a new one either, which I found interesting. I stumbled upon a work by Berel Lang entitled "Postmodernism in Philosophy: Nostalgia for the Future, Waiting for the Past" wherein Lang says, "What this means for postmodernism is that in it, too, philosophy, waiting again on the new present, will be tactical, moving from the immediacy of particular moments of experience, incited by the moments themselves... Nostalgia, when it is spontaneous, is for the future; anticipation, when it is not merely wistful, is of the past. This is why philosophers would say at first -- and then again and again in their history -- 'Let us begin.' Let us, then, begin. Again." So, Lang is elegantly discussing the ways in which philosophy works and how postmodern philosophy is inaccurately defined by many as simply reenacting philosophy as it once was. Lang believes that postmodern philosophical thoughts are immediate experiences that are brought on by experiencing the moments spontaneously, it is not a planned and deliberate act of doing philosophy in a way that it once was at all. If philosophy is done as it once was then it would be a consequence of the immediacy, not some plan to discuss philosophy in an old fashioned way. I like how Lang puts this idea and I'm enjoying reading his work. However, the point and purpose of this blog post is to say that I feel that I am experiencing this nostalgia for the future just as postmodern philosophy is according to Lang. 
     I believe that while I experience a single moment in time I am creating a past and soon that creation will be something that Squeaker will also actively participate in and remember someday. I might recreate the past, but not necessarily deliberately or the same exact way that it once was (like with cloth diapering). I have learned from how my family raised me and how I have created myself via making individual choices, which make me decide how I immediately react to a given situation and how I raise my daughter. Our memories and pasts will be different, even if some things are similar (like going to the pool or playing on the trampoline).
     This might all seem backwards, an anticipation of the past and nostalgia for the future, but it works in my mind somehow and I'm glad that philosophers much more educated than me have also thought of this concept in parallel to how the history oh philosophy is created. It is as though postmodern philosophy is a child being raised by contemporary philosophers, who may mimic the past in some ways and create new ways of arguing at the same time. No matter what the way is, the philosophy and the child are new and different from any other seen before. New futures, presents, and pasts are made in each moment of every life. 

     "I do believe in beginnings, middles, and ends -- but not necessarily in that order."   
                                                      ~ Godard  

(my other cousin playing with Squeaker)


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