Nostalgia - Bucolic & A Tad MoreMonday, August 08, 2011
It seems that just about every day that I read my NY Times from cover to cover (and section to section) I find something that nails down something that may be nagging me at the moment. Most often that something has to do with living in our modern world replete with social media, instant communication and with how rapid technology affects my life and those whom I love. A case in point is an August 4 essay by Carl Wilson in the NY Times Sunday Magazine, My So-Called Adulthood. The essay is about Generation Xers' concept and sometimes rejection of nostalgia. It was within this essay that I read:
It’s not that we were aware the term was coined to describe the crippling melancholia that overcame many 17th-century Swiss soldiers when war took them away from the bucolic mountain landscapes of home.
For years since Argentine painters Nora Patrich, Juan Manuel Sanchez and I mounted an exhibition called Argentine Nostalgia I have known (as easy as this might seem it did take me many years to figure it out) that it is impossible to feel nostalgia for a place when you are living in that place. What this means is that I would have to be living in Venice before I might approach a lovely women on Ponte de Rialto and say to her, “I am a photographer originally from Vancouver and I would like to take some photographs that reflect my nostalgia for that city. Would you be willing to pose for me, undraped and holding an umbrella?”
There is no doubt that I feel nostalgia for the United States that we drove through for three weeks in our Malibu. I feel a nostalgia (my Microsoft Word objects to the preceding a to nostalgia and refuses to accept that the a for me redefines or further classifies my nostalgia to a particular one) for some of the open spaces and open skies of Montana and Utah. This is a nostalgia that I could satisfy by driving to Canada’s middle provinces. But I am not about to leave my garden and cats for another fling of motoring.
It is Monday and I am preparing my equipment to photograph the actors and the director/writer Bronwen Marsden of a play:
Three Sisters in Langley : A modern adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters; ours is the story of four theatre school graduates who’ve ended up in Langley B.C. doing community theatre. Now they must stage Chekov’s classic, but how? Dance Theatre? Naturalism? Musical? Clown? Will they ever get out of Langley and back to their beloved Vancouver?
Because this preparation amounts to the slight injecting of a routine that used to pervade my life as a magazine photographer I feel a tad cheerier. But I must admit to feeling of nostalgia. Is it a nostalgia for the United States on the road? Or could it be (rhetorical as I am indeed sure of it) a nostalgia for sharing it not only with my wife, but with my two granddaughters? Yes that must be it. There is a vacuum in the house of silence. It is a vacuum of silence caused by the knowledge that the phone will not ring and that Hilary will not say to Rosemary, “The girls are still in bed and I am enjoying the peace and quiet.”
Looking at these three panoramas of open space in the US but also with the magic presence of our granddaughters, they give me a feeling, yes a nostalgia for them being here.
Those Swiss soldiers of old may have indeed felt nostalgia for the bucolic mountain landscapes of home but they surely must have felt a nostalgia for their families, wives and children.