Thought Box

Nostalgia Versus Evolution

Nostalgia Versus Evolution

by Shiv Bhalla October 14 2013, 5:14 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 43 secs

“Man it was better back in the day” or “Oh you guys have no idea what it used to be like” are smug statements that everyone has heard at some place or the other. Referring strictly to art, we have all heard the older generation assert their superiority of taste as they get sentimental about the “good old times” in reference to music, cinema, literature etc. We ourselves have abused this license and made such uninspired statements. However, upon introspection we realize that these are ego traps, for the imposition of one’s nostalgia upon others is self important and narcissistic.

It can be argued that nostalgia can inhibit evolution. This is evident across the spectrum of creation and knowledge, from science to art. Human nature dictates that we are inherently resistant to change unless we push ourselves to embrace it through dedication, critical thinking and honesty. One could argue that this is based on an intrinsic fear of the unknown, which explains why we feel the need to categorize and organize even the most abstract and esoteric thoughts and ideas. God is the key example. It is this fear of the unknown that hinders growth. From this perspective, nostalgia is the sanctuary from this fear of the unknown in many circumstances. Nostalgia is created as an archetype within people’s minds to help define the abstract in a certain sense. Take for example the advent of jazz music, which left the structural part of a composition loose and open to improvisation. At the time, this clashed with the mental archetype for what music should sound like within a vast majority of people, initiated arguably from fear of accepting a new paradigm and having all concepts that one held dear and true about music shattered by a simple shift in the structure of a song.

When one looks at evolution scientifically and mathematically, one arrives at a spiral from a visual approach and at the Fibonacci or Phi ratio from a numerical one. If one were to look at a continuous manifestation of nostalgia we would arrive at a circle, an infinite repeat experience. There would be no growth or evolution, a platitudinous and monotonous encore; over and over. It is only when a person deviates from a norm dictated by nostalgia that a point in the circle detaches itself from the circle, now creating a spiral. This is how evolution and growth occurs, new experiences, new sources of knowledge, fascination, rapture and awe. One most move from what was believed to be true to a larger truth from a wider, perspective. It is experimentation with the novel that causes new trends to occur. These are rejected at first, until a critical mass is reached; where they become the norm. It is those that create the trends that are exceptional and fulfilling a certain sense of infinity to their field. The jazz musician has expanded the possibilities of what can be achieved by music through improvisation.

A concept that every metaphysical and spiritual school of thought emphasizes on is that of balance. Therefore completely rejecting nostalgia will not stimulate one to transcend human barriers into a space of divine creation, but would rather alienate oneself from past experiences and introspective self improvement. Striking a balance to where nostalgia should be celebrated as a celestial sense of timelessness and insight into past experiences, and not a “holier than thou” ego boost. A realization of this and a constant consciousness to abide by this balance can prove to be powerfully humbling.

In the song “Lateralus” by the band “Tool” the vocalist Maynard James Keenan talks about living life on the principle of the Fibonacci. To quote a lyric, Maynard tells his listener that he should “swing on the spiral of, our divinity, and still be a human” and to “ride the spiral to the end, we may just go where no one’s been”. To carry on from there, as we are all spiralling out, we must work towards creating equal opportunities for others to spiral on their own journeys. To create equality and justice, to improve our surroundings and embrace uniqueness, for that will unlock humanity’s full potential. It is this yearning to dream and evolve that will bring people above politics, war and other injustices, to a spiritual ascension and change in priorities.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.