So, I listened to a really interesting programme on BBC 5 Live this evening with Anna Foster and Adam Parsons. The subject was nostalgia, born out of the resurrection of The Clangers, TFI Friday and The Crystal Maze, and an associated article in The Telegraph by Bryony Gordon. Anna asked the question, ‘Is all this nostalgia good for us?’
My response (naturally) was of course it is. How on earth could a wistful affection for the past be bad for you? What’s wrong with appreciating the best of decades gone by? Seriously Anna, I thought, if you saw my vintage brooch collection you’d understand! Wearing something old and beautiful makes me feel good about the present. It doesn’t lessen my experience of it. So, after hearing Bryony speak on the programme, I found her article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/11675360/Why-nostalgia-is-bad-for-your-health.html and settled down for a good read.
And a good read it was, even if I don’t agree with the conclusion! ‘Nostalgia is an illness – one that stops us from enjoying the present’ Bryony says. I do understand where she’s coming from. Sometimes people look to the past as a means of escaping the present or avoiding the change that the future brings. It’s only natural that we seek comfort in that which we have experienced. But that doesn’t mean that all nostalgia needs cured!
In my opinion, nostalgia is a tonic. It enables you to appreciate quality, to see the positives, to repeat the things that are worth repeating. Feeling nostalgic for letter-writing doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the joy of FaceTiming. Longing for the corseted elegance of the forties doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a nice pair of skinny jeans! If we didn’t accept nostalgia at some level, we’d also have a very different view of fashion, music and art.
So, in answer to Anna’s question, yes I do think that nostalgia is good for us and I’m happy to live in a world where past, present and future can co-exist.