The Past has not De­fined us


As the writer and satirist Peter de Vries once wrote, nos­tal­gia ain’t what it used to be. While one might be tempted à la Punch to add “and it prob­a­bly never was”, nos­tal­gia dom­i­nates the global po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural land­scape to­day like never be­fore.

From the retro-caliphism of move­ments like ISIS, with their hear­ken­ing back to what they see as a purer age of be­lief and the whenwe-were-greatism of politi­cians like Putin and Trump, with their hear­ken­ing back to sup­pos­edly ‘sim­pler’ times, to the pseu­dovic­to­ri­an­ism of flan­nel-clad Hip­sters, with their hear­ken­ing back to the hand­crafted, you’d be for­given for think­ing that the pro­gres­sive, ma­chine-driven Mod­ernism of the last cen­tury never hap­pened at all. De­cem­ber 2016

Rana Salam

In Le­banon, where af­ter decades of sta­sis and re­gres­sion, the pe­riod be­fore the war not only re­tains a mythic sta­tus for those who ex­pe­ri­enced it but in­creas­ingly ap­peals to those who did not, the siren call of a rose-tinted yes­ter­day verges on the cen­trifu­gal.

For those who re­mem­ber pre1975 Le­banon, nos­tal­gia takes the form of el­egy but for the post-war gen­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially those who weren’t born un­til the Golden Age had defini­tively shed its gild­ing, the cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion of the past says more about who they

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