Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Long Live Nostalgia

My nephew and his friends are fascinated with the 60s, 70s, even the disco 80s. They wear retro, collect now-expensive vinyl albums, watch old movies and feel as though they may have been born too late. I have become nostalgic too. I tear up when I hear an old song and seek out movies with actual plot lines that don’t depend on blood and gore and split-second attention-deficit scene changes.  Then again, it might be that I’m just getting old and long for a time I like to think was kinder, gentler.  

Actually, I’m not sure why the nostalgia. In my case it might stem from feeling as though I’m no longer being heard. I’m a ball of opinions with few old avenues for communicating them. I’m starting very slowly to embrace new communication streams, but that’s a slow process and in the meantime what do I do with my disillusionment with our leaders and what I see as their misguided initiatives on so many fronts from the criminal code to the environment. It’s difficult to know where to begin and complacency is such an easy fall back position. Maybe it’s easier to think of the good old days. Still, there has to be more. Perhaps by looking back I’m trying to find my way out of this mire. I don’t know.

In his book, “Retromania,” music writer Simon Reynolds explores how this nostalgia obsession is infiltrating everything; from fashion to performance art to electronic music. He comes away with the following prognosis. “If we continue looking backward we’ll never have transformative decades, like the 1960s, or bold movements like rock ‘n’ roll, again. If we watch and listen to things that we’ve seen and heard before, and revive trends that have already existed, culture becomes an inescapable feedback loop.” 

I beg to differ.

My nephew’s band, Jung People, is classified under Progressive/Indie/Post-rock branching towards Punk, Metal and Folk among others. Although instrumental, Jung People express their political and humanitarian idealisms largely through their album art, song titles and music videos. They site their influences as being as diverse as Patrick Watson and Pink Floyd. They make their own album covers from recycled materials, design their own logos, and work with locals to produce t-shirts made right here in Canada (how quaintly nostalgic and powerfully empowering). Building on a foundation of the past’s very best, they are creating something new, distinct and as transformative as rock and roll itself was in the 60s.

And thankfully this resurgence of the old is not just seen in music, pop culture, or my tear-stained tissues, but also in today’s protests. Tired with the rhetoric of politicians, the lack of actual leadership by our leaders, and the greed of too many organizations that think they are above the law, some people have gone back to the good old-fashioned peaceful protest. They are exercising their right to be heard through letters, blogs, flash mobs and in waves of marches from the Middle East to Europe and from India to the United States. We have our very own home-grown movement in Canada, “Idle No More”.  Today’s technology affords everyone the ability to reach more people, allows anyone from the comfortable middle class grandmother to the overworked, stressed out family trying just to make ends meet to voice an opinion or get involved. An old concept made new by technology and growing frustrations with systems and leaders long past their due date and in desperate need of an overhaul. And I say about time. We’ve been complacent too long. Me included. Long live all that is good and admirable about our past. Long live those who remind us we have a past to mine, and rally us all to wake up and get involved in new and different ways. Perhaps, with this enthusiasm and foresight I too will find my own voice again.  


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