Our Revisionist Nostalgia

Monday, April 22, 2013

Glennray Tutor at Mississippi Museum of Art
Glennray Tutor, at the Mississippi Museum of Art. I was so happy to see this one in their collection, and take a pic of it. He is amazing.

From the Oxford American, and excellent: Our Revisionist Nostalgia:
How are we so imbued with nostalgia for a moment, a story, that isn't our own? We want our jams hand-jarred and our chocolate in wrappings reminiscent of Victorian wallpaper, but we're children of the late twentieth century. We didn't grow up eating in fields. Yet this pioneer narrative is so apparent, so moving, that we adopt it in unquestioning rapture, a bunch of hungry Whitmans cooking (and tweeting and tagging) the songs of ourselves...

...Perhaps the appeal, to us twenty- and thirty-somethings going about life like it's one long home-ec class, is that georgic chores like composting food scraps or butchering pigs are just beyond our memory's reach, but not so far beyond it that we can't imagine them. The distance makes them perfect focal points in our digitized pastoral—learning how to distill whiskey or pickle okra in a Mason jar is at once old-fashioned and modern, comforting and adventurous, nostalgic and novel. It feels familiar, even if we've never done it. (And it doesn't hurt that these activities are tactile antidotes to the inevitable emptiness of ordering dinner online and liking status updates.) Besides, making mayonnaise sounds more fun when buying a jar of Hellmann's remains an option. Culinary nostalgia, like any nostalgia, is borne of romance and distortion...

...We live in an inauthentic time, Davis said, and these are authentic experiences. And comforting ones, at that.

True, true, true. My great-grandmother, MawMaw Polk, was a terrific cook and I have the most beautiful memories of sitting at her heavily laden table of scratch-cooked fare (oh, if only there'd been Instagram when I was four...), but a generation later my grandmother, Nanny, embraced the conveniences and can-opener of her day.

Which do I long for, and try to emulate? Doing things long-handed, like MawMaw did. Nostalgia, however revisioned, re-envisioned...  Needing to learn how to *do* things again.  Yes.

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