” Dangers Of Nostalgia Of The Past” Mohsin Hamid

{Worth reading article by Mohsin Hamid on the dangers of nostalgia of the glory of the past and what writers can do to imagine a new bright future}

As I travel the world on my phone and computer and by foot and aircraft, it seems to me that nostalgia is a terribly potent force at this moment of history. Nostalgia manifests itself in so much of our political rhetoric. Islamic State and al-Qaida call for a return to the imagined glories of the early years of Islam. The Brexitcampaign was fought with a rallying cry of taking back control from Brussels, promising a return to the imagined glories of pre-EU Britain. Donald Trump emerged victorious in the US election wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the words “Make America Great Again”, words chanted by his supporters, envisioning a return to the imagined greatness of an America recently victorious in the second world war. In China and India, too, leaders seek a return to imagined past greatnesses, usurped by foreign invaders, colonisers and barbarians. All of these movements are, at heart, projects of restoration.

Nostalgia manifests itself in our entertainment and artistic culture as well. The most viewed films of our time revolve around protagonists created a generation, or multiple generations, ago: superheroes, super villains, super secret agents, super space adventurers, super ironic symbols of super sexy pasts. And on television, where we are told great storytelling happens, much of what we see in popular and acclaimed shows comes situated in a past where characters can still plausibly be almost all white. I loved Mad Men and my wife loved Downton Abbey; we and many of our friends in Pakistan loved these and countless other shows so much that it has only intermittently struck us that they are imaginative vehicles hurtling back and away from our vastly non-all-white present-day planet. Even in Game of Thrones, the laws of physics and biology and consistency allow for fire-breathing dragons and undead warriors and interminable winters, but not for non-white people living in most of Westeros. The laws of race, it seems, are immutable even there.

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posted by f.sheikh