Nostalgia

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There is a thrill hearing a song you love and own on the radio. You could of course at any time open it up from the HD, put the LP, CD or heaven help us Cassette on, but the unexpected joy of hearing something not in its usual context is quite odd really. It happens a lot, I usually listen to BBC 6 Music during the day, often losing track when I am writing and having to look up what has just played on the website. Sometimes I listen to Radio 3, but so much on there is so quiet it is often hard to even hear it on my good DAB radio. Just now Garbage are on, I have a few of their CDs but I doubt I have listened to them for the past two or three years if not longer, yet I am really enjoying it. There is also the point one reaches (I am 59) when I listen to things thinking I haven’t heard them before, then realising I have the album. But what I really look forward to is new music.

There was an interesting feature doing the rounds last week on news programmes about how good listening to new music is for the brain and how it responds.

Is it the same for all art forms?

Maybe. I remember the creative and good-feeling rush I got in the early 70’s at a sculpture exhibition and an independent film festival, which offered me a totally new view of the World. I wrote about this before. Is it the same ‘rush’ we have when meeting someone who attracts us for the first time, I don’t mean that immediate sexual attraction, but that whole person attraction? Is our brain/self really searching for the new experience to refresh our input/output needs?

How do we deal with this when we write, it is so hard to put onto paper without sounding like a gushing idiot.

But the thrill we receive from hearing something again is maybe writeable. It is hard to think of any other media than music this can occur in, other than film/TV. I know I have watched films, including annoying adverts, that reside on a DVD less than two foot from the TV! Perhaps it is the inherent nature of music. On the radio now there is a track I really like by The Staves, a lovely gentle airy piece, which I’ve heard quite a few times lately(and is on my website on a page of music I have been listening to). I did not know it was coming on and it feels just right, whereas earlier today at about 10.30 the choice of music just didn’t fit, so I turned the radio off as I wrote about Vincent and put on the new British Sea Power album, which although very very good didn’t fit. I ended up with Schumann Piano Quartets/Quintets playing.

Do we revisit music far more than we do any other artform? Maybe. I regularly reread poetry and when I used to have to go to London on a regular basis had a number of paintings I would revisit time and again. I have seen a number of films (or now more often bits of films) too many times to admit (I could look obsessive if I told you). But books? That is harder. I have been interested to follow a blog by someone I’ve never met but am ‘friends’ on FB (how modern), who has been rereading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann and writing about it. I have read that twice and have been thinking of reading it again. First when I was 22, then in my late 40’s. The readings were very different, I did the same with Mann’s Doktor Faustus, again in my early 20’s, 40’s and a couple of years ago. Each time because of my experience the readings were quite different. I could go through a number of other books, the only other I will mention is Zola’s Germinal, which I have read 4 times, each a very different and rewarding experience, and each time with sympathies swaying towards different characters.

It is a useful exercise and sometimes a realisatory experience, the book, symphony, album, poem, film or whatever that ‘changed your life’ at 21 looks very different from the viewpoint of a 42 or 63 year old. But it is useful to explore it, but not get bogged down by a nostalgia for a past which was never actually as good as we think we remember it!

Today’s photograph is a revisit. It is of some trees I sat amongst at a friend’s house in SW France two years ago, six oak trees, which fitted a poem I had recently put together. It was taken in August 2011, on a very hot day with brilliant sunlight and near darkness. Looking at it again it needed a much more sensitive setting and camera to bring out the leaf panoply and colours against the harsh sunlight, perhaps I should have gone back at about 6am, maybe will do next time I go!

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