Nostalgia is dealing with that emotional echo of a memory, a means of grabbing at what is lost when life moves too fast.
Intimacy, nostalgia, and motion
Movement in life
There is a pace to life. Movement is what pushes us forward and drags us around. Life is understood to be constantly pushing forward to new phases: birthdays, graduations, weddings, etc. These celebratory events are meant to mark moments that are worth celebrating because they signify progress, acting as a compass for life. Whether it be aging or falling in love, movement is intrinsically tied to life.
It’s in these motions that the most human moments are found. Emotions help to situate progress and that affective nature gives meaning to these memories. Nostalgia is the phenomenon of being able to recall emotional responses for which specific memories have been lost. It’s the memory of the emotions felt rather than the moment itself, and these emotional ties often carry more meaning than their origin point. While the memory itself is lost, its significance can be found in the emotions it evoked. These feelings are a marker of movement in life just as much as memories are. Motion kills time, but nostalgia gives life to the dead. While what is remembered is not clear and concise, the reason why can still be found in emotions that were felt. Nostalgia is dealing with that emotional echo of a memory, a means of grabbing at what is lost when life moves too fast.
COMETA, Nick Hakim
Nick Hakim’s Cometa is a gauzy fall through a love-induced haze. The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter builds on his inclination towards spiraling neo-soul melodies with newfound penchants for psychedelic production and sensual crooning. In its entirety, Cometa—the Spanish word for “kite”—captures the flying sensation of infatuation through a ten-song-long confessional that manages to capture Hakim’s vulnerability and obsession in the midst of a budding relationship.
His delivery finds itself stuck between being lovingly whispered and desperately sighed; lyrics are buried by earthy percussion and grainy synthesizers–leaving his voice coaxed in sand-like sonics that texturize both his tone and desperation. As seen in “Ani,” the opening track that buries listeners in granular guitars, far-flung horns, and the repeated “I only want to prove to you,” which Hakim drones to close out the song. Or in “Happen,” a track that exists in a ragged sonic space made up of kaleidoscopic organs and half-drunkenly drummed percussion—fitting for a song centered around a willingness for complacency when one is in love as he loses his own voice against the hugging instrumental. Hakim depicts a gentle dissolve into the affective overwhelming of being in love through these formational techniques. Texturized and tactile, Hakim finds his stride in creating these soundscapes, bottling moments in song and letting us sit in on his romance as it continues to move forward. Cometa is open and aware of its looseness. Similar to the way Hakim is tied up and held by his lover, he succeeds in placing listeners in the tender cross-breeze of being in love.
“All stories are also the stories of hands — picking up, balancing, pointing, joining, kneading, threading, caressing, abandoned in sleep, cutting, eating, wiping, playing music, scratching, grasping, peeling, clenching, pulling a trigger, folding.”
Hands tell stories. When something is held, nuzzled, strangled, or written…hands are constantly telling stories by changing what is grasped. To use your hands is to acknowledge through receiving and give back through handling. Simultaneously living and telling stories, hands are the ultimate author.
Doomscrolling is described as “the act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news.” A relatively new phenomenon that has entered the public lexicon amidst the pandemic, its existence is rooted in the obsessive need to try and get answers when one is afraid. Form in media has become accommodating to the “scrolling” nature of consumption. This transition shares a symbiotic relationship to the growing attention based economy and shortened attention span of consumers. Content is short-form and made to be easily digested, meant to be scrolled passed with the flick of a finger.
The issue, then, is in dealing with negative news that is subsequently made easier to consume despite its severity. A constant feed of negative reminders—from impending doom, like the climate crisis (while informative), to the social negativity found in cyberbullying—is bound to have effects on one’s psychology. In addition to the added byproduct of social media’s addictive interactive nature, there has been a conditioning of endless scrolling. A casualness has emerged through this conditioning that is destructive to individualism. Behavior has been trained by the numbing of content consumption, not allowing individual engagement with the traumatic realities of life. The ability to casually encounter easily digestible negative content has built up our emotional tolerance; no longer are we grappling with the reality of bad news. In what can be attributed to emotional detachment, there is a sense of comfort now found in doomscrolling. This is a literal and theoretical distance built between us and the problems we are fed in our feed. There is no more intimacy with content, we no longer hold on to anything because there is always something to see next. We let go before we can come to grips with anything. Distance is a numbing sensation. Doomscrolling is the hazy state in which one watches the world burn from the comfort of a phone screen.
My Favorite Rabbit Holes
“It was the dawning awareness of this in the mathematical world a century ago that enabled Lewis Carroll, the Oxford mathematician, to contrive Alice in Wonderland, in which times and spaces are neither uniform nor continuous, as they had seemed to be since the arrival of Renaissance perspective.”
Falling down rabbit holes is a means of counteracting doomscrolling; it presents an opportunity for intentional consumption. Rabbit holes are obsessive—an insatiable curiosity that is an act of careful gathering done by digging bit by bit. Falling in these holes stops the constant downward spiraling motion of doomscrolling, instead one falls into something pleasurable, or at least engaging.
Medically, vertigo is a symptom, rather than a condition itself. Caused by problems with the inner ear and its ability to preserve your sense of balance, it is the sensation that you, or your environment, is moving or spinning.
Vertigo as a concept is often alluded to in music or art, from U2’s hit single to Hitchcock’s iconic film and Sebald’s 1990 novel, there has always been an artistic fascination with the sensation. Something that can be attributed to its undoubtable metaphoric potential, its cloudiness. Vertigo spins, pulls, grabs, holds, and always is in motion. To give into vertigo is to give in to vagueness—it’s the loss of sense in the constant motion of life and art derived from it is merely an attempt at translating that loss.
Everything Eventually Connects
“Eventually everything connects — people, ideas, objects…the quality of the connections is the key to quality.”
Everything and everyone holds hands eventually.
I miss knowing what everyone’s handwriting looks like
The death of handwriting is the death of intimacy. One of the most devoted forms of communication is writing and even more intimate than one’s writing is the ways in which it is written. Devoid of content–form and structure carry their own meanings. “The medium is the message,” as media theorist Marshall McLuhan preaches. The death of handwriting is the death of the message! One’s handwriting is the embodiment of their personality, the way you write is parallel to the ways in which you would speak. To rid writing of personality is to disservice the potentiality for meaning. To handwrite “I love you” breathes self into the words; in comparison the voice falls flat when one types the same message. Our words are as intertwined with their shape as our bodily constitutions are to our identity. To handwrite is to give shape to what is being said. It gives identity to writing. If eyes are the window to the soul, handwriting is a means of speaking to the spiritual.
Dad-bod Web Design
Dad-bod web design is a stylistic formatting that is as awkward and uncomfortable to use as possible. With little to no CSS used in its code; this style of web design is easy to point out with recognizable characteristics like exclusive use of Times New Roman font, a myriad of blue and purple hyperlinks, painful use of Photoshop, tacky graphics, and a heavy amount of text. One central reason behind these stylistic choices was the technological limit at the time of the internet’s infancy. While dated now, this specific format for websites was popular during that time and presented itself as the optimal format for personal sites and small blogs. These personal sites and their format were the foundational base for early social media sites like Myspace and Facebook.
Looking ahead, dad-bod web design has found itself having a quiet resurgence as source material for modern web formatting. With the resurgence of the blog format and growing popularity of minimalistic web design, a number of reference points for content hierarchies on modern websites are rooted in the presentation found in dad-bod sites. One could argue that this resurgence is a form of resistance to the emergence of web 3.0 culture and the advancement of the internet.
Ironically enough this resistance is rooted firmly in a time when the internet was as bare as can be code-wise. Where dad-bod web design finds significance isn’t in its technological characteristic–but instead in relation to its relationship with identity. Lack of means meant people had to make do with what was available. The goal was to get as much of one’s self on the web as possible. Back when the capabilities of web design was limited by technology, there was an inherent intimacy to the internet. Despite freedoms gained through technological advances, the internet has been starved of autonomy and identity through the endless cycles of data management and social media. The resurgence of dad-bod web design isn’t just a form of resistance to the progress of the digital, it’s a plea for intimacy.
“To die healed”
This phrase comes from my chance encounter online with a slide show titled “Consultation Issues In Palliative Care.” Meant to serve as a guide for those with a career in palliative care, browsing these slides I’ve come to be reminded there is a certain melancholic maturity in being capable of dealing with the inevitability of death. Even more in deciding to make a living out of caring for those who are forced to face the reality of it.
“To die healed” was the title of a slide buried in a section devoted to building a relationship with clients in palliative care. According to the slide in order for one to die healed: “We need to be allowed to express: I love you, Forgive me, I forgive you, Thank you, and Goodbye.” While seemingly blunt in its how-to description, there is a certain complexity that is terribly overlooked, but somehow captured contextually in the phrase.
This positive lens is built by the use of the word “express” in its guide. The method in “To die healed” is a comedically sardonic means of making death overly optimistic. It points to a sense of satisfaction in death, a sense that is firmly rooted in the concept of spirituality and emotional fulfillment. A mantra devoted to at least finding peace of mind before passing. There is a call to action to those who read the phrase and its simple steps. That action is in the allowance of expression—an action which provides movement that is counteractive to the stillness that is often associated with death. That counteractive nature is what gives this statement power.
Nostalgia and grief are more intertwined than most people realize. The sensation of nostalgia is often described as being bittersweet. To acknowledge something as nostalgic is to admit the loss of it. The loss of something nostalgic is almost impossible to make up. The grief is never-ending and consequently so is our relationship to the nostalgic.
“There is something about the kitchen that invites intimacy. I suppose kitchens are a space for intimacy because I will touch with my hands the things that will go in your mouth; I will taste what you taste; I will work for you, or you will work for me. I will make this for you because I love you, because you need it, because you want it.”
Cafuné is a Portuguese term that has no English equivalent. It’s a word that can be best described as the act of tenderly running one’s fingers through a loved one’s hair.
It’s intimacy in its purest form: slowing down time for the sake of affection. Hands are the best storytellers, and cafuné is one of the best ways intimacy is communicated.
Mountains and God
“I’d rather be in the mountains thinking of God, than in church thinking about the mountains”
All intimacy is religious, but not everything religious is intimate. To be intimate with something is to give oneself away. Intimacy as a religion is to chase after the feeling of vertigo that comes from being so infatuated with something that you are moved in some shape or form–it inspires motion and is lost in it all at the same time.
Let Your Hands do the Thinking
Come to grips with things. Build a library of gestures. Practice your handwriting. Hold on to things that matter. Follow what you feel…or don’t, depending on the feeling. Pinky promise. Dig a hole. How do your hands love the earth? Love others? Love yourself? What can’t you let go of? What do you need to let go of? Be intimate. Be aware. Walk on your feet but let your hands do the thinking—because they are your best tools for being.