Quotes: Nostalgia Filter

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"Yeah things were simpler then
You ask exactly
The New Pornographers, "Sweet Talk Sweet Talk"

"As your body floats down Third Street
With the burn smell factory closing up
Yes it's sad to say, you will romanticize
All the things you've known before"
'They Might Be Giants, "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head"

"We recognize the present
Is half as pleasant
As our nostalgia for
A past that we resented
Recast and reinvented
Until it's how we meant it"
Barenaked Ladies, Testing 1, 2, 3

"Farewell, Romance!" the Cave-men said;
With bone well carved He went away,
Flint arms the ignoble arrowhead,
And jasper tips the spear to-day.
Changed are the Gods of Hunt and Dance,
And He with these. Farewell, Romance!"
The King by Rudyard Kipling

Say not, 'Why were the former days better than these?' For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme,
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have express'd
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
And for they looked but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 106"

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
— Opening line of A Tale of Two Cities

Anything before you’re thirty-five is new and exciting, and anything after that is proof the world’s going to hell.
Daniel Suarez, Influx

They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men —some in their brushed Confederate uniforms—on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.
'William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily

Being the lice lady was quite a good job in those days as so many of us were lousey a good deal of the time. Whenever I see the visual cliche of a character scratching his head as if deep in thought, I am transported back to my happy, lousey childhood.
Tom Baker, Who On Earth is Tom Baker?

The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands. In the post historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual care taking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed....Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.
Frances Fukuyama, The End of History

You have to understand the Teabagger mindset; they have this nostalgia for this America that they think was stolen from them, that used to be, that was better – it's really the 1950s, okay? That's what they think was Shangri-La, and, y'know what they really don't get is that it's kind of insulting to a lot of Americans to pine for this era, cause it wasn't that good for a lot of people. It was good if you were a white man. It wasn't that good if you were Mexican, or black, or Jewish, or disabled, or gay, or a woman.
Bill Maher, But I'm Not Wrong

Forward, America! Forward! ...to the hallowed principles of our forefathers! Forward! ...to the sweet tranquility of the status quo! Forward! ...to yesterday!
Sen. Billboard Rawkins, Finians Rainbow

    comic strips 
Andy: Four weeks of "Captain Goofball" comic strips and not a funny one in the batch. I think I've proven my point. I'm going to vote to cancel it.
Roger: Andy, you can't judge "Captain Goofball" on a day-to-day basis, or even a month-to-month one! You have to look at the broader body of work!
Andy: How broad?
Roger: When I was 13, the strip was a riot.

    western animation 
You know, in retrospect, I may have over-romanticised those memories.
Phineas Flynn, Phineas and Ferb

    film - live action 
It's old rock. That doesn't make it classic. What sucked back then still sucks today.
Matt Farrell, Live Free or Die Hard

Anti-robot rioters have sacked a Servus manufactory in Paris inflicting estimated damages of half a million credits. A spokeswoman for the Home Subjugation Front called for housewives to reject the soulless machines of modern consumerism, and return to a Golden Age of exploitation and domestic drudgery.
Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space

    web video 
Narrator: So ride along for a story you've totally seen before, for this below-average reboot that's all but ruined the franchise!
Kid: Hey, I thought it was pretty cool...
Narrator: Where'd you come from, kid?
Kid: Why are you being so mean? Michelangelo's funny!
Narrator: But the plot was terrible! And they completely ruined the characters!
Kid: You know this is a kids' movie, right? It's not like the Turtles were better in your day.
Narrator: They were!
(plays the infamous dance scene from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze)
Narrator: Ugh... Touché.

    web animation 
Nostalgia is like putting cocaine infused marbles into your mouth in that it makes you say stupid things.
Yahtzee, Zero Punctuation

    web original 
Waah, where’s the glorious philosopher-kings who’ll take me back to their enlightened caves and regale me with their vast manly wisdom and fawn over how intelligent and philosophical I am before sheathing off their heavy robes and—? Oh yeah, hurgygurgy, something something cocktail chit-chat has gone downhill these days.
Sadly, No!, "But Nobody Bleeds For the Hack Writer"

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.
— Mary Schmich, "Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young", Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1997

Living in the modern world is hard. Trying to be a decent person in a diverse, pluralistic society takes work, and there will inevitably be missteps along the way. All of us across the political spectrum believe that democracy has problems, the government has problems, 'political correctness' has problems. But even in its most innocent form...a dislike of 'political correctness' and the modern world can take you to some very ugly places very fast—the past was, as only some of us have the privilege of forgetting, a very ugly place.
Arthur Chu, "Occupying the Throne"

We watch I Love the 80s to wax nostalgic about movies that we have no nostalgia for in order to build up the illusion of nostalgia for the purposes of being made to buy something new, but at every turn the actual object of pleasure is displaced — the fun is somewhere else. Dreadful practice. To be avoided at all costs.

“I think I would have done very well, as a writer, in the forties,” he says. “I think the last time America was a great country was then, or not long after. It was before Vietnam, before Watergate.”

It was a great country, yes, for great white men. It was a great country when you could still trust in greatness. As many of us (who watch HBO, at least) long ago stopped believing in God, a God who for all Christian and capitalistic intents and purposes was male, it could not be much longer before we also stopped believing in things as theistic as neutrality and objectivity and omnipotence in journalism. I do not want us to stop believing in heroes; only in heroes who think, as Sorkin's heroes think, they're truth-raining gods.

Hi and Lois has apparently decided to embrace its status as one of the squarest comics in syndication by just doing a whole week of 'weren’t things different and maybe better in decades past?' Yesterday we had 'Cars sure were larger and less fuel efficient back when gas was cheaper'; today we’ve got 'remember when everyone used to watch TV, before the entertainment options available today existed?' Super psyched to see if they can drag this out for another four days!

The success of Marvels showed the Big Two that there was a market for stories set in the past starring characters that the audience had grown up with. That (Kurt) Busiek is a fantastic writer who can push characters into the future even while tying everything into older continuity (as he did in Avengers Forever) was largely ignored. All the Big Two saw were dollar signs in stories about the past. Naturally, they went too far in one direction, and now we're inundated with these kinds of comics. It's not Busiek's fault (hence the "unwittingly" in the title), but he definitely pointed the way.

So, next time you’re feeling nostalgic about how great Quakeworld or the original Donkey Kong Country was, I recommend going with it. It’ll make you feel better even if you overlook the problems at the time or the improvements that have been made since. Just don’t over commit yourself to any opinions born of memory’s fickle biases. Because graph paper, himem.sys, and two buttons on a controller were worse than you really remember.

I look forward to Star Wars Episode VII. I look forward to see the visual effects from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith but done ten years later. It should be stunningly cool to see. We live in a time when storytellers can tell any story and it generally amazes me there are people who cross their arms and want to go back to a time that never really existed. The thesis that limitations lead to genius is just flat-out illogical. If we gave The Beatles crappier guitars or we gave your new favorite band vintage equipment, would they make better music? No. They would make music with the tools at their disposal. The anti-CGI discourse needs to end.


"Now that there's a NEW Generation of Pokémon, I immediately abandon ALL the hatred I had of Gen III and IV in favour of saying how much the Gen V sucks. I hated Gen III? when?"
— Quote from VGF.

    real life 
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a past, which in fact, never existed.

Yesterday is yesterday. If we try to recapture it, we will only lose tomorrow.
Bill Clinton, speech at the University of North Carolina's 200th Anniversary

The Memory Cheats.
John Nathan-Turner (Doctor Who producer 1980-1989), Points of View

It's an Orwellian quirk of this country that we are extremely fond of our heritage of bloody murder, the gore of yore, the poisonings, bodysnatchings, and slit throats of a reassuringly long time ago.
David Stubbs, The Guide, issue 28th Jan-3rd Feb

...start listening to the “Hits” and “Now” compilation LPs from end to end. Of course, your conditioned brain will tell you it’s all a pile of shite and pale into insignificance compared to the Golden Era in Pop, when you were on the cusp of your adolescent years. Dig deeper into your heart and you will know that you are just lying to yourself. All eras in pop music are golden ages, or will be looked upon as such by the only generation that matters at any given time. Not only are all ages in chart pop equal, chart pop never changes, it only appears to change on its surface level.

'The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 'twelve'."
— Peter Graham, science fiction fan.