Robbie Sapunarich

Against Nostalgia


I’m starting to become less patient with nostalgia.

I get it. I enjoy playing Goldeneye and revisiting Nickelodeon cartoons. I remember when X-Men and Batman Begins were released, and they heralded exciting new possibilities that didn’t feel like they were being rehashed every summer.

But at the same time, many of the people I know who thrive on nostalgia, seem hell-bent on just rehashing the past.

A complaint I recently heard about Star Wars: The Last Jedi was that it was just Disney trying to make money on new characters that “no one cares about”. Yet there are people who care about the new characters, more particularly kids. Kids who are the same age that my friend who voiced the complaint likely was when they first watched A New Hope.

According to the Dictionary app on my Macbook (using the New Oxford American Dictionary), the word “nostalgia” seems to have entered English usage in the late 19th century, initially meaning “acute homesickness”. I certainly can empathize with nostalgia at a much deeper level when considered in that sense.

But perhaps part of maturation is to build a home for oneself and one’s own. To continue to create memories in the present.

Another good friend pointed out that the way he stopped being disappointed in movies was that he stopped expecting to undergo an experience by them. He instead learned to embrace them on their own terms.

And perhaps the cure for nostalgia is to embrace what is in front of us instead of pining and mourning for the experience of the past. It’s not like we cultivated such cherished memories by mourning the past then.