Friday, December 4, 2015

The end of nostalgia

I honestly don't know why it's such a singular memory to me, but I do distinctly recall the popularity of the show Happy Days. It was a big deal in my middle school, in the seventies, when I was in sixth or seventh grade. It was a nostalgia for an almost unfathomable past, the fifties.

I like to think of that relationship to the past now, and how the measure of twenty years has so utterly changed for me. Once it was inconceivable, now it is not nostalgic or mythologizing, it's merely memory, as in:

Last Friday we went to the museum to see the Delecroix exhibit.


In 1995 we went into a near northern suburb to catch a showing of the movie Babe.

Same difference.

But now I will tell you one of the sweetnesses, or perhaps it's a skill, that has come with age:

I believe in history now.

No, seriously. In 1976 the fifties were a different time. And for much of my life the past was tinged with fantasy. The world was a different place in history. But now I understand that the fifties were exactly like now.  Because whether the Sun is younger or dinosaurs walk the earth or baroque buildings are going up all over Rome all the differences of the Universe's vast diversity of presentation pale against the terrible power of one astonishing, unifying thing: Now. 

Now has always felt like now, wherever, whoever, and whenever you are. Time is just window dressing.


  1. Hello! While procrastinating in a library in Baltimore, I suddenly thought of a comic I loved in college in California (where I shelved in the world's great Map Library), searched for it on google, and was led down a digital tunnel to this blog. Can you be the same person who drew IE Skin's Guide to All That There is To Know? I feel so happy to find you.

    Dare I ask you to send me one you didn't add to that other blog? I do. But, embarrassingly, I only remember the last frame clearly, which said something like: "And on a personal note, if you don't clean your room it will only get worse." I clipped it and put it on my wall. Relatedly, I probably still have it my room, in the giant basket of college things, but am writing this comment instead, in case I get back to work and actually accomplish something.

    This post above is so lovely. I think of that past Now, more often with reference to college 70s parties than Happy Days.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and kind words. Please feel free to read all 1,028 of my blog posts. Well, you can skip numbers 74 and 235. I understand people are busy.

      There is a strange confluence of coincidence and perhaps even irony at work here, no? Of particular note is all this library stuff leading to you thinking of IE Skin's Guide (yes, mine!), leading to a search that took you to a blog so much about libraries!

      And not only that, but nostalgia itself leading you to end up leaving your message on a post (somewhat) about nostalgia. But we'll leave all that alone.

      The line you quote from the cartoon sounds faintly familiar, though I have no idea where to begin looking. Somewhere in my studio is a folder of all those cartoons (last written close to twenty years ago!). Eventually I will go through them and if I can locate that one you refer to I will post it and try to alert you, and we'll see about sending.

      Hey, wait, there's another one: a twenty year old cartoon that says "if you don't clean your room it will only get worse" that you can't find in your room!

  2. Ah! Thanks for replying! Yes, exactly, triple coincidence confluence. 1,028 blog posts is quite an accomplishment. I love the Bob Dylan one. Just think what I could have been doing with my time had I not been posting nonsense 20x/day on Facebook.

    The college basket has in fact turned up another scrap of IESkin brilliance having to do with your family of origin nightly feeding their souls to their childhood pet, the family TV. But alas, not the most memorable one. Cleaning your room is sort of an afterthought to the rest of the content, which had God in His Firmament speaking to you (and others?) about failing to take care of the environment, I think...

    So strange, when I looked it up online I pictured there would be ordered archives, and coffee table books, continuing series in national circulation, tales of lifelong friendship with Lynda Barry. The reality is so much better, I say with no hint of irony, for I once had a fantastic dream that I had my college job back, pushing a reshelving cart endlessly along windowed passageways over looking the Bay and Golden Gate. I've never woken up happier from a dream.

    1. I am just a tiny bit non-plussed. There is a touch of It's a Wonderful Life to find such a reaction as yours to my comic. So thank you.

      Of course, the thing about 1,028 posts is that when you say you love the Dylan one I don't know what you mean because there are 23 Dylan related or specific posts. But I'm still really glad you like whichever one it was.

      And yes, as you seem to wonderfully articulate, or allude, unless I'm fancifully imagining, the clerkmanifesto here is very much the evolution and realization of IE SKINs GUIDE, I think in a purer, more natural form. You could say God is still a character here and even Doris the super intelligent alien has shown up.

      I am far more me though than I ever was in the comic.

      So, um, thank you for your patronage and very kind words. I would also say: comment freely, tell your friends, follow by email, write your congressperson, and drop clerkmanifesto into all your casual conversations, but I have learned to, um, not. Just, um, you know, do whatever, and even that only if you want to.

  3. 1. Yes, It's a Wonderful Life, perfect. It's the time of year for suchlike.
    2. With him in sweatpants at the corner bar. I'll have to reread.
    3. I see what you did with that Usher post. Which I only mention as an opening to tell you that I now sit 100 feet from Poe's grave, (and, sadly, 4 blocks from where he is degraded into our football mascot.)
    4. I have in fact sent the blog link to my college library clerk pals, with whom I used to service the course reserve needs of the man who discovered that meteors killed the dinosaurs, and could beautifully deliver Ozymandias from memory.

    1. 1. Right.
      2. Yes, I suspected that cafe one as it is the most recent. There are subject tabs at the bottom of each post (such as: dylan) and if you click on a subject word it will take you to all other posts with that subject (not a suggestion, more a point of useful information).
      3. Poe is dead? Oh well, I guess Yeats won't be too put out as he was no fan.
      4. I am heartened by the honor of your blog link sending, though I am aware that, oddly, library clerks and library people in general rarely like this blog, which is more popular among famous rock stars and Nobel Prize Committee Members.
      4.5. That's a powerful association. I can do a pretty good recitation of The Cremation of Sam Mcgee (though I'd have to do a memory refresh these days) and I discovered, er, I discovered, hmm, well, it's not like it's a competition!

  4. Ah, found it.
    I remembered it wrong.

    Title: A Psychic Look into the Future (1995)

    Medusa as Fortune Teller with Crystal Ball: "It's very ugly, are you sure you want to know?"

    Man Who is Less You-ish Than Blog You: "No. I guess not. I'd rather not."

    MAFTWCB: "Many people will lose their jobs. Poverty in this country will quickly double."

    MWILYTBY: "Um, really, I'd rather not know. I thought I wanted to know but..."

    MEDUSA: "Republicans will blame the economic disaster on poor people and a weak military. Most democrats will see the obvious sense in this, but will oppose people starving to death."

    YOU: "I can't hear you. I'm not listening"

    MEDUSA: "Every person on the planet will grow 4 more inches apart. There will be great weeping"

    YOU: "LA LA LA LA LA I caaaaan't hear youuuuu. I'm not liiiiistening Laaaaaa."

    << they sit in silence for a frame >>

    MEDUSA: "On the personal level, if you don't clean your room it will only get dirtier."



    I decided to look on the back of the clipping, thinking I could tell you some iconic band was playing nearby that week. But it is the "Psychic Healing and Services" section of the classifieds.

    1. Well that was fun, having my cartoon recounted there. Thanks!

      As an aside I find it a good example of the cartoon me being less me than the blog me: in this blog I would totally want to know the future, to the point where I would pepper Medusa with questions. But, alas, it would still probably not work out that well for me in the end, either way. Which is where those listings for psychic healing might come in handy!

  5. (^^^ Why did Yeats hop onto this thread?)
    Was it because you knew the found comic would have a prescient "[economies/bedrooms] fall apart // the centre cannot hold" feel to it?

  6. (^^^ and how did Yeats hop onto this thread? Ozymandias/Sphinx? Or maybe you probably knew the comic, once found, would have a prescient "[economies/bedrooms] fall apart / the centre cannot hold" feel?)

    1. I don't know how, but it would have been great if Yeats wrote Ozymandias instead of Shelley- I mean, just by accident, but Yeats merely came in by virtue of not liking Poe, which I vaguely recall was a narrative necessity for my point three above. Then it all got out of hand.


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