Time has lost all meaning in that nightmare alley of the Western world known as the American mind. We wallow in nostalgia but manage to get it all wrong. True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories... but American-style nostalgia is about as ephemeral as copyrighted d?j? vu.
It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind. With Americans, it is a national trait, as native to us as the roller-coaster or the jukebox. It is no simple longing for the home town or country of our birth. The emotion is Janus-faced: we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.
Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother's cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better.
The good old times -- all times when old are good.
To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.
It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind. With Americans, it is a national trait, as native to us as the roller-coaster or the jukebox. It is no simple ...