As I lie here at 2:30 in the a.m. watching a recap of the Olympics, hoping to get "sleepy", and contemplating the 147 things that need to be done tomorrow, I am struck with a palpable emotional overload. And, I might add, this palpable feeling has been growing steadily for years now.
What I don't exactly understand is why.
At the mere age of 38 I am saturated with desperate nostalgia for a "time better spent." I maneuver through a culture so completely different from the one I knew growing up that the thought of returning to it consumes me. I crave desperately to crawl back into a geographical and temporal womb. To kick off my shoes and put my feet up on an ottoman called "yesterday."
As a child of the 1970s, I must admit that I feel a complete and total disconnect from the youth culture of today. Not always mind you, I do teach hordes of undergraduates every semester and "connect" on various levels with various students. But, this feeling is a more macro disenchantment, ambivalence, and disenfranchisement in "general" which as a result, has left me clueless and disillusioned. I don't know how to navigate anymore - a captain without a compass or even a star to sail by. The world is rutterless...
I find something "good" everyday as there is much good in this world of ours. But, I yearn for the slower pace of my childhood. I yearn for rotary telephones, typewriters, family dinners, playing in the snow with my brother, fishing on those long, hot, dog day summer afternoons, the sting of sweat in the corners of my eyes as I reeled in a small mouth bass, the sweet plum compote that my grandmother would make, watching the four o'clock movie while eating an oatmeal raisin cookie (in a pre-cable society and on a television set that only received seven or eight channels because that's all we had). We all have a nostalgia for our childhoods, none of which were perfect, but they are remembered that way. I am not blind to the problems that I or we had back then. It's not so much that I want to go back to my childhood, I just want to go back to the 1970s - period. Did you know that while I sit around doing work - I have the Game Show Network on for several hours every day? Why? Because the re-runs of Match Game, Card Sharks, Family Feud, (and others) teleport me back to the mid to late 70s - a time where things made SENSE to me. Yes, I'm grateful for some of the "modern conveniences" of life today, but I would give them all up in a second to go back. The state of world affairs was a bloody mess then too - many dominant ideologies of that period are thankfully no longer sanctioned, political and economic matters were (as usual) chaotic, core issues that face us today were but whispers, and so forth and so on, and yet, I still would want to go, in spite of all that.
The cultural differences between 1970 and 1980 seem very small to me. The differences between 1980 and 1990 also seem insignificant. The differences between 1990 and 2000 are crater like. And 2008, just seems an extension of this chasm.
A student told me - just last week - that the technology of your average cell phone eclipses the technology put into the NASA spacecraft program that sent men to the moon. 1969. The year before I was born. That's the place I belong. I'm an anachronism in 2008. One of my heroes, Alan Moore, addresses this phenomena in the following, please watch:
Maybe I subconsciously chose a profession where I can keep the past alive and well because this society often leaves me cold.