[I]t becomes increasingly easy, as you get older, to drown in nostalgia. ~Ted Koppel
For the next few weeks, our town is hosting Art Prize, an international art festival, which draws over a thousand artists. Leslie Adam’s installation, Handwritten Dreams, generated a lot of interest. In the midst of an “old school” classroom with authentic wooden desks, she included a self-portrait from her childhood. She is at the chalk board, writing her dream of becoming an artist. She invited the audience to write down their dreams on note cards and tack them to the “walls” of the classroom. Through her work, she hopes to inspire others to believe in possibility and recognize the value of a fading art–cursive writing.
To her credit, she resists the temptation to “soften” the message with a nostalgic look at the past. The juxtaposition of past memories and the present-day dreams created a very powerful message about hope and the future.
There is also a danger in nostalgia. In romanticizing the past. Some of you will object. How harmless can it be? It’s fun…like this table-side jukebox I spotted in a local diner in Weston, Massachusetts. The beautiful handwriting of the songs and artists caught my eye.
At the same time, Frank Zappa has a point.
It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.~Frank Zappa
Nostalgia softens the hard edges of life, of memory. It is a way of luring us into believing the past was sweeter and kinder and nicer than the present. But was it, really? Are you skeptical of nostalgia–like me? Why or why not? Are you one of those people (like me) whose handwriting has deteriorated because you use the computer more? Do you miss the simple beauty of a handwritten message in elegant cursive? Sometimes, I do. But at other times, I love the speed and fluency of the keyboard. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And have a wonderful week, everyone!