Nostalgia is readily dismissed by many as deluded sentimentalism. But the more I think about nostalgia, the more I'm struck by its complexity. For example, I don't think I'm alone in experiencing a kind of nostalgia even for difficult and challenging periods in my life.
Today, a completely fortuitous combination of temperature and the feel of a particular pen took me straight back to the experience of Finals (very Proustian). I used to keep my college room ridiculously warm because it somehow helped me to concentrate, and I made a lump on my finger through gripping my old biro so hard. Those two weeks were horrifically intense and stressful - and yet, the feeling they evoked today, was one very far from revulsion. I wouldn't go back to that fortnight for anything - but at the same time, the thought of it is oddly comforting, as if I was cocooned in cloud of adrenaline and ideas.
|Arras, Grande Place. Image, wikicommons.|
I wonder what is going on in such episodes - these were just involuntary memories, but certainly nostalgic ones: bittersweet and somehow warming. Perhaps it's because there were positive dimensions of these experiences which I didn't recognise at the time - or perhaps nostalgia is altogether more complex, responding to the looping and interweaving of moments in time, the doubling-back which offers a kind of stability in the face of change.