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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Nostalgia is Trending

I suspect that 2017 will be flooded with nostalgic stories, and I am not even referencing the success of “Stranger Things” – which made art out of derivation in ways never before witnessed.

The year 2016 will be known as one of the most brutal in terms of the amount of talent taken by way of death. Of course, the issue is not really about celebrities dying. The issue is that some of those celebrities were seminal artists whose work influenced our lives. 

(Parenthetically, I hope I'm not the only one who goes into social media and every time I see a name highlighted in the trending lists my first thought is, "Oh no!" So the idea of nostalgia trending makes me a little nervous--will its evolution go from a sweet wonder like "Stranger Things" to pure and total horror?)

These folks provided context in literature, style in film and performing arts, and a soundtrack in music.

We did not define ourselves exclusively in the terms they proposed or manifested themselves, but they did influence us. We took notice, at the very least.

Their work and their presence in our stratosphere help us remember landmark moments (births, deaths, meetings, dates, engagements, marriages, breakups). Re-experiencing their work reminds us of events that shaped us.

Losing them brings back the memories in an already sad context. It also reminds us of our own mortality, and the very reality that these folks will not offer any more work for us to enjoy (because their work becomes ours once they share it and we hang on to it selfishly because it really becomes part of us).

For my part, just putting together just short stories based on my favorite works from just Bowie, Prince, and George Michael would fill three volumes (though I am not ready to share 2/3s of that, not even fictionalized!).

Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, covered an essential turning point for me and included a mantra, an anthem, a release and a battle cry all in one album.

These folks were influencers for more than just having hordes of “followers” while posting images on a digital platform. These folks produced a work-product that had emotion and meaning, and dug into our very humanity beyond good camera angles.

To be honest, it wasn’t just losing the singer-songwriters, but also the writers or performers that will be missed in a way that permeates our work. The astronaut reminded me that I have a space station story that I should get back to and try to move forward. For other writers, the need to write might be influenced by the scientists, journalists, politicians, academics, painters, dancers, photographers, sculptors, and other departed in whatever propels their passions.

Beyond the nostalgia, I look forward to perhaps a new genre that pairs biography with memoirs as a literary duet. What 2017 will dawn on us remains to be seen, what with the promise of new friends and a whole new nuclear race... For now enforced nostalgia – whether it colors our experiences rosier or we meet our past realistically, defiant and triumphant (though I suppose you get negative points for Pyrrhic victories).