The day recalled in my previous blog entry was of such monumental significance to old-time radio enthusiasts that I thought it appropriate to shroud myself in the silence to which US radio drama was sentenced back in 1962. Actually, I was away for a long weekend up north in Manchester, England—but the timing was fortuitous. Now this past break presents itself as an opportunity to escape the rigidity of my “On This Day” feature, even though I shall continue it before long. In my attempt to avoid waxing nostalgic, I have become too much of an historian by letting past dates dictate my present thoughts. Now it is time for the present to have its day. Well, sort of . . .
Historians seek to make the past present. Those afflicted with nostalgia make their present past. The personal pronoun is significant. Nostalgia is a more self-centered engagement with the long ago. It is openly impressionistic and subjective, which makes it an endeavor at once intellectually dubious and honest. The researcher feels compelled to cover up the subjectivity underlying all our thoughts. As a refugee from the here and now, the nostalgic wanderer is not in need of such subterfuge.
Now, as I wrote when I inaugurated this blog, my approach to the past is neither historic nor nostalgic. Historians make it their business to discourse on the past and its relevance; nostalgic people tend to remove themselves from the everyday, the onslaught of a present they are at a loss to confront. Instead, they surround themselves with like-minded dreamers and reminisce about what they sense to be missing. How can anything we dream or think about be missing? It is there, present in our mind—and, in the act of sharing, it is being represented.
Why such reflections now? Well, having been away for a weekend alone in a big city, I felt detached from those around me. I went out for a few drinks one night and was so tired of standing by myself in the crowd that I went back to the hotel room to catch a late-night TV screening of The Curse of the Cat People. I was not wide-awake enough to follow it, but I had more of a sense of a shared experience watching something broadcast for everyone to see than I had staring at and being stared at in a barroom of unknown anybodies.
I had hoped this journal would make it possible for me find a few somebodies in a vast space of anyones—connected in the spirit of sharing. Thus far, my modest ambitions have not been realized. Anyway, this is the present, and I will get past it.