Two for the Price of One

I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that listening to John Fogerty or Mark Knopfler is merely one more form of nostalgia, but considering that even Knopfler is over fifty, it would be tough to conclude otherwise.

My recent purchases on iTunes include albums by both of them, two by Knopfler, but I was a little surprised to realize that my favorite song on Fogerty’s Deja Vu All Over includes both of their talents.

I think it’s actually Knopfler‘s guitar playing that I like most, but they’re also my favorite lyrics from the album, perhaps because they make me feel slightly guilty considering how many hours I spend in front of my computer and how few people I actually see since retiring to Tacoma.

NOBODY’S HERE ANYMORE

He got the latest software
He got the latest hardware too
He got the latest gizmo
up in his room
He's feeling so connected
But he don't talk to a soul
He got a stash of Twinkies
up in his room

Nobody here anymore
Nobody mindin' the store
They've all gone
to another dimension
Nobody here anymore

She comin' 'round the corner
Ah in a SUV
She got the latest cell phone
up in her ear
I'm running 'gainst the traffic
She don't see me
One hand on the cell phone
One hand on the mirror

Nobody here anymore
Nobody mindin' the store
They've all gone
to another dimension
Nobody here anymore

He's sittin' back of the classroom
A million miles away
He's listenin' to the rock star on the CD
Up front the old teacher
She's too tired to snag his mind
He's lookin' at the future, she's looking way behind

Nobody here anymore
Nobody mindin' the store
They've all gone
to another dimension
Nobody here anymore

Nobody here anymore
Nobody mindin' the store
They've all gone
to another dimension
Nobody here anymore

Of course, I’m always amazed how much better lyrics sound in a song than they do without the accompanying music. Still, these quick sketches, particularly the first one, seem frighteningly realistic. Though we could easily have afforded it, I never had more than one television or one computer in the house when my kids were living at home, convinced that it wasn’t particularly healthy to have a kid sitting alone in their room night after night immersed in various forms of media or games.

Dave Rogers has presented this argument more often and more convincingly than I have, but I also suspect there is a real danger that virtual communities can actually weaken real communities and provide a false sense of security.

And, of course, in a greater sense it often seems that people are so caught up in their day to day communication that nobody’s looking out for the future.

5 thoughts on “Two for the Price of One

  1. Recently, I bought the CD, “All the Roadrunning,” with Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris and was listening to it when I drove into Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge for the first time a few weeks ago. Again, thank you for your blog, Loren. It has helped me return to a sense of community both on-line and in the small town community where I live.

    Whenever I hear John Fogerty I remember the spring day in 1969 when the man I still love left for basic training at Fort Lewis. He stopped by my parent’s house, accompanied by another young man, to say goodbye to me. As he drove up, “Bad Moon Rising” was playing on my clock radio.

    Little did we know.

    Nostalgia. The old songs and old voices remind me of just how painful that time was. The past was once a present where I was too numb to feel anything. Hearing the old songs helps me feel and heal. Hearing the old voices sing new songs teaches me about perseverance. As the I Ching says “Perseverance furthers.”

    From http://www.vva.com –“It appears Swiss military physicians in 1678 were among the first to identify and name that constellation of behaviors that make up acute combat reaction or PTSD. “Nostalgia? was the term they used to define a condition characterized by melancholy, incessant thinking of home, disturbed sleep or insomnia, weakness, loss of appetite, anxiety, cardiac palpitations, stupor, and fever.”

    “Sherlock,” of course, has a somewhat different definition, saying that nostalgia is “longing for something past,” with overtones of mawkishness.

    PTSD (nostalgia), for me, is less about looking for refuge in something in the past than in experiencing and accepting the unequivocal loss of the hoped-for future that was shattered in the wake of war and other disasters and having survived. The faces of the survivors on both sides of the war in Iraq and of those who love them are familiar. Deja vu. Nothing mawkish about it.

    What I like most about your blog is its timeliness and that it is anchored in the present. The vast present, with its tears and laughter, is richer than any future I could ever have imagined as a young woman.

  2. Glad to hear that I had some small part in leading you back to Nisqually, Amanda. It’s a beautiful place “from the past,” one that I hope to see become a greater part America’s future.

    For me nostalgia isn’t so much a longing for the past as, a way to a better future. We ignore the past at our own peril.

  3. Well…I don’t know about the song(s), but the question of how many people you see reminds me of 4 or 5 themes. One is the recent book BOWLING ALONE, by Putnam, which addresses the ‘decline of community’ as a function of the digital age. I don’t agree with the book, but it’s a tempting hypothesis. In fact, we’ve always been alone (not just paraphrasing Camus here). In a very mundane way, we spend most of our hours alone; unless we manage the complaint department at J C Penney or Sears. Or maybe work at the post office or serve food in a chowline. Two autos speak to this best: Italian poet Cesare Pavese–who pointed out that our character is not shaped by trauma or crisis, but by the way we spent our time alone as adolescents. And Gaston Bachelard, who says our first house shapes our relationship to space (other living spaces). So the idea that the digital era (computers, etc.) have somehow weaned us of a “better” time when we were close to each other is an illusion. TV arrived in mid-50s and got blamed for this then (how often do we know Archie Bunker’s family better than our neighbors?) But in fact, I had a similar preoccupation with comic books at age 10. I think we romanticize family and/or imagine it was warmer, kinder, richer in some prior time. Nah. We ate dinner together. Then we ran off to our islands. It was never all hymns and making Christmas ornaments together. We may not be islands, but we are probably planets.

What do you think?