“The past, like some immense, collective ghost, is here beyond all possibility of exorcism.”
— Virginia Woolf
Our next issue marks TTR’s tenth anniversary, and we editors celebrate that fact by announcing vol. 10/2014 will be our first-ever themed issue. It makes sense then, too, that we’re looking for writings that evoke and/or inspire all things nostalgia.
The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form. The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of (nóstos), meaning “homecoming,” a Homeric word, and (álgos), meaning “pain, ache.”
Nostalgia (1971), a short film by Hollis Frampton, is composed of black-and-white stills that are slowly burned on the element of a hot plate while a soundtrack offers a personal story on the content of the images. Each story is heard in succession before the related photograph appears onscreen, thus causing the viewer to actively engage with the ‘past’ and ‘present’ moments as presented within the film.
nostalgia: (a noun that does something to you like a verb) i.e.: y’all, chrome bumpers, Lucky Strikes, wooden indians, the politics of father’s fathers and mother’s mothers, narrative, Modernism, Postmodernism, Romanticism, any thing that looks back, any thing that looks forward, time, country music, rap music, back when, once upon a time, three miles uphill through snowstorms, goddamn big cars, cold wars, microwave dinners, door-to-door vacuum salesmen, Willy Loman, Biff Loman, T.S. Eliot and Tennessee Williams, the south, Robert Frost, Dukes of Hazard, leaded windows, ashtrays on airplanes, vintage campers, the smell of gasoline, dirty red shop rags, hope, hatred, jazz, Sinatra, rearview mirrors, truck beds, corn that’s tasseled, rivers, etc. and so on this could go on forever and it will, anyway….
David Lowenthal’s book The Past is a Foreign Country includes the chapter “Wanting the Past.” In said chapter, Lowenthal writes, “If the past is a foreign country, nostalgia has made it ‘the foreign country with the healthiest tourist trade of all.” Lowenthal treats nostalgia in some ways as a kind of pathological aversion to the present—or an illness. It has been described as a medical condition and a form of melancholy. Nostalgia, the ol’ “Swiss illness.” Hmm. We’ve noted that most trips bending to the nostalgic tend to lead to less critically-aware moments (in which some horrifying things are swept under the rug).
At the least, seeing nostalgia as a way to pursue or preserve some “acceptable” or “safe” version of the past is useful. The philosophical dimensions are fairly obvious though, as an attachment to the idealized past is a troublesome, often kitschy fixation.
Nostalgia turned on its head—deformed, healthfully inverted though . . . We wonder if there is a type of reverse nostalgia, for all things discomforting and strange about the imagined past. Seems like it would be a fun playground for the psyche.
We look forward to seeing what vol. 10/2014′s contributors come up with.
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The Tusculum Review
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We read year-round, though our response time is slower during the summer months. We go to print annually in April of each year.
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We want writing that takes risks while still paying attention to craft. We are happy to see prose poems, stories that burst into poems, poems that burst into stories, etc. We publish poems, fiction, nonfiction, and plays. For prose, please limit your submission to 25 pages. For poetry, 10 pages. We’re looking for scripts in the 10 minute format (10 pages). Because of limited staff and funds, we can only accept solicited art. Please do not waste your money sending us slides. You can, however, e-mail us at email@example.com to inquire about our art needs.
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