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
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