Saturday, 28 January 2017

LOOK BACK AND WONDER...



There's a paradoxical element to collecting old comics,
or, indeed, just about anything that reminds us of our past.
On the one hand, re-acquiring something we had as children
or teenagers brings that period in our lives alive again, making
it seem not so long ago as is actually the case;  on the other (on
rare moments), the realisation that we first owned something
over, say, 40 years ago, brings home to us just how much
water has passed under the bridge since then.

It's strange, therefore, to think that the very things that
bring us joy, or comfort, are the same things that can some-
times cause painful awareness of how fast our lives are racing
towards their inevitable conclusion.  At times I'll look at a comic
that I first bought in, say, 1968, and, in my mind, I'm back in the
house I lived in at the time, and long-deceased friends and family
are still alive, and favourite-but-long-gone shops are still open.
When one is 'in' that moment, it's exhilarating, but once the
moment passes (as it must), it can leave us all-too aware
that a huge gulf separates us from earlier times.

Most of the time I derive great satisfaction from owning
various items from my youth, whether they be replacements
or the originals, but, occasionally, I wonder if it might've been
better to leave the past in the past and instead focus on the here
and now.  When we spend our lives living in the past, it can dis-
tract us from enjoying the present as it unfolds, and though the
future will yet creep up on us all like a thief in the night, we can
keep half-an-eye out for its sly approach, and are, hopefully,
less likely to be surprised - at least to the same extent -
by its eventual and irrevocable arrival.

(I wonder if I'd be so entranced by the past if I didn't
have so many material objects around to remind me of it?
Perhaps they're like a magnet that attracts my attention, and
if I didn't have them, I'd never think back to the times when
I first got them.  Maybe the simple act of owning them
focusses my mind on those earlier eras.)

So what do you think, Criv-ites?  Do you believe that
life is for living, rather than 'reliving', and that we should
anticipate moments-to-come, instead of reminiscing about
times that are gone - or can there be room in our lives for
      both?  Let's hear what you think on the matter.      

13 comments:

moonmando said...

One of the reasons we seek to return to the past is that the present is very often shit. It's nice to have a bolthole to escape to now and again,so long as one does not become too absorbed by the past but seeks balance between the two.

Kid said...

Balance? H'mm, that's a hard one for me, Moony. Even just standing up, I find balance difficult sometimes. When it comes to the past, I find it next to impossible.

paul Mcscotty said...

Mondo is spot on. Nostalgia is a lot of fun in moderation, but when it goes over the score you can end up living in the past and that is just sad and a waste of a persons life.

I suppose I collect comics now in (large) part for nostalgia, although in many cases it is out of interest in an artist (Toth, Adams, Reid, Bode, Robbins etc) and in those cases I may never have even had that comic as a kid (or even known about it) so have no link to a past memory when I buy it . However some comics I do indeed seek out as they have a strong link to the past for me (Hulk issues 136,137 , Mighty Crusaders issue 4 etc), I managed to get copies of the Incredible Hulk 136 and 137 when I was on holiday in Brighton with my girlfriend (August 2016) and as soon as I saw them I was taken right back to 1970 (when I was about 10/11 years old ) and saw them in a shop in Cambuslang and my mum and dad bought them for me. That all to brief Nano second of recollection was so strong and intoxicating when I got those 2 comics again, but I wonder if in say, 20 years’ time (if I have that left) if I picked them up again would I recall my Cambuslang memory with my mum and dad or my Brighton memory with my girlfriend?
I personally don’t have an issue with “water passing under the bridge” (well no more than the average person) I am aware I am getting older and as I live very much in the present it’s not that big an issue for me. I think if someone lived too much in the past the present, and getting older, can be quite distressing for them. In the right amounts I think nostalgia can be exceptionally healthy and if comics etc give you pleasure and fond memories (they do for me) of the past there is no harm in it as long as it’s in moderation . I wonder if for people that are always looking back to their childhood/ teen years it means that they forget all about the times they were 25, 30, 40, 50 etc, if so that it would be very sad to me that their only memories at 60 onwards of their 30s, 40s etc is of looking back at being 11 years old etc. Never forget your past but don’t lose your present looking for it (ooh I like that it sounds like I’m deep  )

Kid said...

Great response, PM. Of course, I'm going to steal credit for it on the grounds that it was MY post which inspired your deep contemplation. (Hee hee.) I think it's likely you'll remember both occasions relating to those comics - the time when your mum and dad first bought them in Cambuslang, AND the time you were in Brighton with your girlfriend. That's because both events seem to have impressed themselves in your memory. In my case, I suppose I've made my past my present (yeah, you'll need to read that twice), so to a degree they're both the same thing for me. Maybe I've got the best of both worlds, eh? I've just received a comic that I should have got 20 years ago, so that's where my mind is at the moment. Just about to do a post about it.

Glas0101 said...

I recently purchased an old comic which I had once possessed (Superman 159 (don't judge me - it was an imaginary story (Alan Moore's quote to the contrary)and about Krypton) , and being a child at the time I read and re-read it to destruction.
Weeks ago while toddling through ebay I stumbled over a copy, although it was not in great condition. So in a fit of nostalgia I looked for a near fine minus copy and spent over 300 times the cost of the original buying a piece of my childhood (.....well not mine but someone else's....you know what I mean). When it arrived in its pristine beauty I just sat looking at it with but a single thought. "Oh God! This is 53 years old!" (subtext..."Oh God! I'm even older." Then the depression set in - deepmost weeply).
Nostalgia is a dangerous emotion to embrace unwisely.

Colin Jones said...

I get my nostalgia kick by reading blogs like this one or looking at a cover gallery. I don't own any old comics and I haven't got anything from childhood except a few knick-knacks like the half-pint jug in which my mother made gravy or a sherry glass, the last survivor from a set my father bought circa 1976. The most important thing to me is having something that once belonged to my parents, sister and grandmother. On the whole I'm happy enough living in the modern day and certainly have no interest in buying second-hand tat from e-bay. But I'm curious, Kid - do you cherish anything you've bought in recent years ? For example, I've got a green glass tumbler which I use for drinking water, milk, orange juice, alcohol...everything. I bought it in 2012 and I've become very fond of it, I wouldn't want to part with it. Do you have anything like that or do you only care about things from the distant past ?

Kid said...

That'll eventually settle 'though. Glas - then you'll derive a joy and a comfort from owning that issue. True, occasionally you'll feel sad as well (as you've just described), but surely the best times in our lives are always bittersweet?

******

I cherish everything I buy, CJ. I become instantly attached to it, and find it almost impossible to part with anything. An item doesn't have to be from the distant past for me to cherish it - I can feel that way about things I got last week. The past is the past to me, whether it be 20 years or 20 days. (And I wouldn't rule out 20 minutes either.)

B McMolo said...

I think collecting items I owned as a kid/ adolescent is the closest I'll get to time travel. I go through - well, went through; I've learned my lesson now! - purge periods where I basically empty the closet and all my shelves on eBay or at the Goodwill. Then years later, I end up re-acquiring them. (Or most of them.) After a few cycles of this, I finally realized which particular mementoes were charged with this time travel quality, and which ones weren't. Stuff I got when I was 28 or 30 doesn't have the same magic, even if they're associated with magical times. Perhaps that will change as I get even older.

These 5 Indy Find-Your-Fate books that I haven't read since the 80s? I've gotten rid of them and reacquired them, now, 3 different times. I just like to have them on the shelf, that sense of continuity. It's an illusion (particularly since they're different editions, re-acquired), but one I like. Very Star Trek-y, I guess.

This was a great post that cuts to the heart of the matter - whether time travel or just enjoyment (or blocking out the present) or what not, it's always a good idea to reconcile yourself with the all-too-mortal guy in the mirror.

Kid said...

And yours was a great answer, BMcM. I've gotten rid of things, only to realise I miss them and therefore just HAD to re-acquire them. As I've said before, I missed (to steal a phrase from Antonia Barber's 'The Ghosts') 'the warm familiarity of their presence'. Most of the time I'm glad to have my links to the past - it's only occasionally that I wonder if reliving past moments prevents me from enjoying new ones. I doubt I'd change things 'though.

TC said...

Hopefully, one can maintain a reasonable balance, occasionally enjoying nostalgia while still being able to function in the present.

I'm sentimental about stuff that I associate with my childhood. Not so with recently acquired items.

It's sometimes a little jarring when I see a post here, or on John Pitt's blog, about some Silver Age comic that I remember from when I was a child, and then I realize that it was literally half a century ago. What really staggers me, though, is when I see a post about something like Frank Miller's Daredevil or Dark Knight, and I realize that not only was it a long time ago, but that I was a young adult when it was first published.

Kid said...

What gets me, TC, is when I look at something (book, toy, record, movie, comic, etc.) which seems only fairly recent, but when I check the date it first appeared, it turns out to be 15, 20, 40 years ago. That happens a lot with me. It seems to me that The Dark Knight Returns only came out about 8 or 9 years back - but it was actually over 30 years ago. Staggering!

Colin Jones said...

Kid, I'm glad to hear you cherish recently bought items - as you say, the past is last week or last year just as much as 40 or 50 years ago. But I don't really understand why you (and others) need to be surrounded by mountains of stuff (which often is not the original item anyway) just to have some sort of link to childhood. As I said above, a few items do me fine and they are all the genuine original items. But each to his own I suppose and of course it gives you plenty of topics for the blog :)

Kid said...

It's impossible to explain colour to someone who is colour-blind, CJ , is the best analogy I can use in reference to you not understanding the matter. The way I see it, if I replace a comic or toy from my past, if the replacements were published or manufactured at the the same time as the originals, then, in a sense, they ARE the originals. Even if they're new issues using original plates or moulds, I feel almost the same way. If I hold a replacement copy of World's Finest #178 in my hands (published back in the '60s), there's no discernible difference between it and the one I originally had, so all the memories and associations which accompany it are the exact same as if it were the original issue I owned. In short, no difference. If you broke your favourite glass and then bought one the exact same in every respect, it would feel like it was the same one to you. The difference between you and me is that perhaps you wouldn't search out a replacement, but if you just happened across one you'd probably buy it because of the memories it would conjure up.

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