Reconciling Nostalgia and Change

There has been a lot of upset in popular culture recently due to drastic changes in media that a lot of people are nostalgic about. Currently the millennial generation is starting to experience this, specifically referring to the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie, Spongebob Squarepants movie, Scooby Doo movie, and Pokemon games. Personally having been born in 2000, I grew up with these characters and franchises and they found a unique place in my heart and childhood. As time has gone on I’ve grown out of those interests, but I can still appreciate them for their quality and the importance they had on influencing me as a person. Even now I will testify that the first 4 generations of Pokemon games are timeless, and that the classic Scooby Doo movies are iconic due to their quality animation and plots. However, growing up means moving on, and as a result I haven’t kept up to date with a majority of the developments in those franchises. My attitude is simply this: I enjoyed them when I was young, and now it’s the younger generation’s turn to enjoy them, and I can’t blame the companies that have to change to fit this new demographic. However, I’ve recently given this change a lot of thought, and have come to a few conclusion about what it means for my nostalgia.

1st gen pokemon starters
1st Generation Pokemon
8th Generation Pokemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new 8th generation Pokemon games that came out earlier this month are especially interesting to me in exploring this question of reconciling change and nostalgia. Before it was released, it was announced that there would be no more National Pokedex, a staple in all of the previous games that allowed you to “catch them all”, the slogan of the entire franchise. The reason for its removal: they didn’t want to make models for all of the Pokemon. Obviously fans were disappointed and rightfully upset; like me, they had grown up playing these games and were used to this important feature of the game. Personally, I haven’t even played a Pokemon game since the 4th generation, and I’ve been a critic of the direction of the series for awhile.

Usually I criticize the declining creativity in creating new Pokemon; they have worse names, concepts, designs, and generally look more and more cartoonish and childish. People might rebuke me and argue that the original Pokemon were even less creative, specifically noting Rattata, a Pokemon that is essentially just a rat. However, I’m quick to point out that at least those designs were consistent and developed a believable and interesting world; compare the 1st generation Pokemon to the 8th generation Pokemon and you wouldn’t recognize them as both being from the same game. The reason for this is obvious to me, and it is simply that the series has aimed to cater to younger and younger children, not to the original fans like me who have grown out of playing the games. This trend is apparent in almost every other franchise that I remember from my childhood. I’ve come to the conclusion that change is inevitable, but I still don’t agree with how these companies tamper with my nostalgia. I wish the new media didn’t reflect so poorly on the franchises as a whole; it’s frankly embarrassing that something I hold in such high nostalgic regard is now ridiculous and childish. All I can really do is ignore the changes and focus on the original art that I fell in love with.

I think a lot of people from any generation can relate to these feelings; almost all franchises that endure undergo changes that break away from the original. A great example of this is the Star Wars movie franchise, which has been added on to drastically, more than 30 years after the original movies came out. It is not uncommon for those who saw the originals when they were young to be nostalgic for them and resent the new direction of the franchise. Many people boycott the new movies, or become harsh critics of them in a way that can ruin it for the younger generation that the new movies are targeted at. Personally, I think it’s unfair that those nostalgic people try to ruin it for everyone else, and that’s why I try to stay out of the debates over my favorite franchises changing. In the end, I’m just happy that I got to experience the golden age of entertainment in my childhood, and I’ll always appreciate the originals and my memories of them.

Enjoying Art on a Budget

As somebody who consumes a lot of art and media, I can tell you first-hand that it’s financially frustrating. I’ll hear about a book that I want to read, or an album that just came out, or a new video game that is stunning, and I always have to come to the same conclusion: I can’t have it all. This is easily attested to by the many lists on my phone of things I would love to get, and also by all the items saved for later in my Amazon shopping cart. Perhaps it’s something unique to me, but I doubt it; I think anybody who enjoys art wants something physical that can serve as a reminder of how great a work of art was. In this way, art is inherently nostalgic, and that’s a quality that I greatly appreciate, being a sentimental person myself. For example, the first video game I ever remember playing was Pokemon Sapphire on my brother’s GameBoy Advance; I absolutely loved it even though I had no idea what was going on (to be honest, I’m pretty sure I was stuck in Mauville the whole time because I didn’t know how to progress).

It was a combination of the style, the game-play, and the interesting Pokemon that kept me entertained, but more importantly, the game came to represent a simple time in my life. Eventually the game was sold, as it became obsolete in the face of iPods and iPhones, and I gradually forgot about it. Then a year or so ago I started to feel nostalgic about the simplicity of the GameBoy; it didn’t need internet, the battery lasted for days, it wasn’t cluttered with apps and social media, and it was a reminder of one of my first great experiences with art. Needless to say, I ended up finding and buying a used GameBoy and started collecting the Pokemon games, which eventually led to buying a used DS Lite for the nostalgia of playing Pokemon Diamond and Platinum. However, the cost was adding up, and I started to realize that I had forgotten the point entirely; I never wanted all of the games, I just wanted the one that was sentimental to me.

I learned a lot from that experience, but most importantly that art can be appreciated and enjoyed in small quantities. When I thoroughly enjoy a work of art, I no longer try to buy everything related to it, instead I focus on the one thing that I loved about it and try to find something that will represent that in a nostalgic way. As a result, I have a little bit from everything: the seventh book of One Punch Man (the style of the fight scenes in this book are especially impressive), the first volume of One Piece, a deck of tarot cards, and a poster from the anime Akira, just to name a few. Each of these things I would love to indulge in, but I’m glad I haven’t; it is essentially quality over quantity, which is perfect for somebody like me who already enjoys so much art to begin with. And as far as cost goes, I can appreciate a work of art without having to waste money; for example, if I wanted to own every manga from Akira, it would run me about $170, when instead I can appreciate it and remember how much I enjoyed it with a $15 poster. Obviously this is just my personal philosophy, and some people might think it’s outrageous to only own one book from a series. I can’t say they’re entirely wrong, and in a perfect world I would want the whole series too, but realistically this is what works for me. So consider this an alternative way of thinking about and appreciating art; perhaps you can find the same value in this philosophy as I do.

(Image Credits: Google Images)

Becoming-Shem

Virginia Woolf Tattoo

“we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself”

And so my body is tattooed (again).

Growing up in a religious culture that frowned upon tattoos, I was always hesitant if not judgmental but also intrigued when it came to people with tattoos. They looked dangerous, sinful, hip, and I loved people that wore their masochistic art like a manifesto for the world.

After coming to college and transforming into the magical being that I am now (*humble*), I now have four tattoos, although in my mind they are only two (since they are in pairs). My first two (“Yes.” and “the”) are a testament to my love for James Joyce (Ulysses and Finnegans Wake (Shem), respectively). My newest one, split between my two forearms, is a testament to my undying love for Virginia Woolf. The quote is from Sketch of the Past, which is her autobiographical/memoir essay that she wrote a few years before her death. It was written during the beginning of WWII where the entire world and her life started to deteriorate and fall utterly apart.

To me, the context and the quote itself are almost a summing up of my entire college career–this is why I got my tattoos a week before graduation, that, and I had to have it immediately.

There are moments for Woolf and I that we call moments of being. It can be an extraordinarily good or bad moment that shocks our reality into letting us know that we are alive. For Woolf, writing is a way to keep herself alive, mentally healthy, and meditating on life, existence, and reality. Something that I do with writing but also, more generally, thinking. She calls into existence a type of ontology that is foundational to reality itself (something I just wrote about in connection with Deleuze and Guattari). But, interestingly enough, she takes it all back by proclaiming, “But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven, certainly and emphatically there is no God.”

We are it. ‘We’ remains ambiguous, which is beautiful and perplexing and why I love Woolf’s identifications. We are language (which I take to be a later meditation on Lacan and psychoanalysis at large), we are the music (something that Deleuze and Guattari theorize about that has important metaphysical implications by destabilizing us), and we are the thing itself (and every philosopher rolls over in their grave because Woolf just layed down some truth).

For me, this quote means that we are it in the most positive way. We are transcendent, we are immanent, we are the best, we are the world, we are existence, we are it and that is beautiful and comforting and earth-shattering.

And it just so happens that this is my last blog for Arts,Ink. I start my rounds of graduation next Thursday and I’ve never felt more alive. Not because I’m graduating, not because of UofM, not because of any of this.

But ever since I was in 7th grade I was planning my college experience. I planned out college applications, future course plans for high school, course plans for college (that all fell through . . .). And I realized three days ago that I had just successfully completed and lived one of my longest dreams that I’ve ever had.

Every day now I try to remind myself that no matter how lost or sad I am that I am living my dream. I am living my form of happiness.

And today, April 25th, my favorite date, is a day that’s not too cold, not too hot, all you need is a light jacket, umbrella, Woolf tattoo, impending graduation, and being surrounded by existence, loved ones, and infinite poetry.

Writing to you all has been such a blessing, a treat, and something that I will always cherish. Thank you infinitely.

The Art of Graduating in 2 Weeks

It’s at this point in my life—second-semester senior, post-thesis, part-time student, burnt out, uber-queer angst land, etc.—where I think it’s appropriate to reflect and teach others the senior-year lifestyle, or as I like to call it, “so you’re graduating and are no longer able to give a f**k.” So yeah:

1. Attend less class this week than days you consecutively visit bars.
And I’m not talking about just skipping class (I am, partly) but  look at your schedule and notice that the sheer number of classes you have is dwindling and that the nostalgia for meeting up with friends, lovers, mentors, and those who can pay for you is at an all time high. In short, I am now friends with all the bartenders at Savas and I’m more than OK with this.

2. When someone asks you what are you doing after graduation, outline EXACTLY what you will be doing everyday:
“well the day after I plan on having an existential breakdown to be met the next day by getting together for brunch at Sava’s with my friends (Brian, Audrey, etc.), and then I’m planning on starting ‘House of Leaves’ the following day but maybe ‘Paradise Lost?’ And when people get bored and ask you, “NO, what are you doing professionally or educationally,” just reply, “well, it really needs to be contextualized within my daily routine all summer long because in isolation everything is meaningless.” Basically just be really sassy and blunt with everyone you come into contact with. It’s not like you’re going to see any of these people again possible ever again.

3. Invite academics to campus and get excited about preparing questions that “destroy” them, either:
i) call them out for being problematic, or ii) interrogate their methodologies and bash their disciplinary location. “So I see you use ‘LGBT’ as the realm of discourse you’re analyzing on a national level, but the evidence you cite blatantly excludes trans* folks, how does their exclusion and your implicit blame onto a highly marginalized community fit into your argument? Don’t you really just mean ‘gay and lesbian’?”

4. Wear every pattern that you own so that people will know and be visually convinced you are graduating.
Look i) hip, ii) hip not in the hipster way or appropriative way but like in the damn cool and stylish way and so so “out there,” iii) a little bit out of your mind eccentric, iv) not to be tested, v) ready to leave. There’s no use in pretending that I’m not COMPLETELY ready to start a “new chapter” (chapter 22) of my life that is not located in Michigan.

5. Get really frustrated when people don’t want to hear about your term paper on Deleuzoguattarian metaphysics in conversation with Woolf’s “The Waves.”
I’m at the point where my schooling is something I’m both frustrated and in love with, similar to other folks in my life, and so I talk about it all the time because it is my life. Those that don’t get that don’t always deserve to take up all my time.

6. Say ‘no’ to everything you can because this is the last chance, at least in my opinion, where you have the privilege to prioritize self-care to the max.
My job lets me say no, my classes let me say no, my friends let me say no. But come a year from now I’ll be in a different community, a different job (that I have to keep in order to live), and a different location. I know that ‘no’ isn’t always an option, especially in the foreseeable future; so say ‘no’ and love the time you can self-create.

7. Be direct, be open. 
After living life for 21 years, I finally realized that I could be direct with people while not being rude. Saying that you don’t want to be friends isn’t rude, it’s honest on both a time and personal level. Telling someone that you need to talk isn’t a passive aggressive move or a manipulative move, it’s letting someone know you need better communication and that you value both parties to find a time that works for both schedules.

8. Fall in love more often and deeper.
Granted, this is EVERYONE’S advice for growing older but seriously. Tell everyone you love them. (Ask before you can do any of the following:) Hold on to everyone’s hand. Hug everyone for minutes not seconds. Kiss everyone you can on the cheek. Start conversations with strangers. In all of the ups and downs that I’ve been on and through for Ann Arbor I love the space and I love many of the people. And I’m so thankful for my life and the lives of others/places/things. I show my gratitude through my love.

A Little Nostalgia

With a new year beginning, feelings of nostalgia are bound to arise in place of past events, people, and art. As the years go by we are graced with new and upcoming artists and artwork that brings about change within how we view certain aspects of life and ourselves. With the start of a new year, it becomes a question of what will be created or discovered this year, that will completely trump anything we’ve ever seen before? What will challenge our views or enlighten our minds? Yet, there will always be a deep appreciation for what art has done to get us where we are today.

Take these photo sets for example:

School Break (Detroit)

Photo Credit: BoredPanda.com

A New York Minute

batmanpride.tumblr.comMacauley Culkin in Home Alone 2: Lost in New YorkTom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got MailPatrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost

Photo Credit: PandaWhale.com

I loved these photographs because they elicit feelings of nostalgia for the past and greater times, especially when it comes the time for new beginnings. What I also loved was the artistic quality of them and coupling two eras of moments that are completely different from each other.

In art there should always be reverence for artistic history, and what got us to where we are today, but let’s also keep our minds open to whatever creativity can bring us in the future.