The term Nostalgia describes a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning "homecoming", a Homeric word, and ἄλγος(álgos), meaning "pain, ache", and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Described as a medical condition—a form of melancholy—in the Early Modern period, it became an important trope in Romanticism.
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- Nostalgia is denial. Denial of the painful present. The name for this denial is Golden Age thinking - the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one's living in - it's a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.
- Do not say: How is it that former times were better than these? For it is not out of wisdom that you ask about this.
- Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 Verse 10 (New American Bible, Revised Edition)
- But I’ve also observed a tendency, over my years as an SF reader, for SF writers of a certain age to give the After Us The Deluge speech, so I promised myself I’d try to be watchful of the onset of that, try to fend it off as best I could. I suspect that when people notice how much of the world they grew up has already ended, it’s quite natural to feel that the world is ending. Because the world one knew quite demonstrably is. But it always has been ending, that way. You can read the ancient Greeks, say, doing it at great length. When younger, though, this sounds like something one can simply choose to avoid, just as old people, to the young, appear to have made some sort of inexplicably terrible decision to become old.
- Hopes can be disappointed. Nostalgia is irrefutable.
- Mark Lilla, The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction (2016), New York City: New York Review of Books, p. xiv
- Compared with that, Angie thinks, what is there for us in the present? “Nostalgia,” we are apt to label this phenomenon. It is the success of the invading plant, which seeks only to anchor itself in the past. Why move forward? Why move at all?
- Man should possess an infinite appetite for life. It should be self-evident to him, all the time, that life is superb, glorious, endlessly rich, infinitely desirable. At present, because he is in a midway position between the brute and the truly human, he is always getting bored, depressed, weary of life. He has become so top-heavy with civilisation that he cannot contact the springs of pure vitality. Control of the prefrontal cortex will change all of this. He will cease to cast nostalgic glances towards the womb, for he will realise that death is no escape. Man is a creature of life and the daylight; his destiny lies in total objectivity.
- Colin Wilson in The Philosopher's Stone, p. 317-318 (1969)