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brown neon
04-02-2008, 11:51 PM
hello everybody!

do you feel like the best days of your life are behind you, with the memory of happier times forever threatening to landslide over your uninspiring present?

or not?

i'd be interested to hear your views....

john eden
05-02-2008, 12:19 AM
I suspect my nights of relatively care-free hedonism are behind me, but then so are my days of intense existential angst.

However, I try to look on the bright side - the grass is always greener, and a lot of people didn't make it this far. Frankly, there have been times in my life where if I could have seen me now, in 2008, I would have been really fucking relieved.

There are now more things which make me happy.

So, no.

Pestario
05-02-2008, 11:19 AM
I'm relatively young so I'm probably not the best to comment but I think my best days are ahead. However, I try not to judge my days or life in terms of good/better/best or anything - just try to roll with the punches and make the best of what is actually happening.

On a related note, I read somewhere that humans have a natural tendency to omit negative memories and the degree of suppression increases as time goes on. Thus there wil always be the 'good ol' days' in people's minds.

swears
05-02-2008, 11:32 AM
I'm 24, and I don't think my life's gonna change much now. Shitty admin jobs 'til I'm at least 65. Although I might lose my job and become a crazy alcoholic homeless guy at some point, could be interesting. Best times 15-21.

gek-opel
05-02-2008, 01:22 PM
I don't understand nostalgia- for me there are no golden memories to hide back inside. No glorious childhood, or teenage years in the light of which the adult world is some shrinking penumbra of pain and misery. Its been very much of one mode really. Though it gets a little easier the more familiar with the world one is, if anything. This is perhaps where being a miserable bastard comes in useful- if its never been good, then there is actually some cause for hope in pessimism. To live as if always in retreat from a golden age must be agonizing...? Whereas for me the past is a series of errors, to be overcome in the present, rather than some halcyon idyll the like of which I will never find again.

martin
05-02-2008, 01:34 PM
I agree with Gek, if you could isolate the best times ever, in 1997 say, and go back to then to 'meet yourself', the old you would probably turn around and tell you it's a load of crap. People get hung up on the best times being years ago, purely because society fetishises youth - oh yeah, and this idea we're all meant to be so happy and liberated these days - woe betide he who complains about anything! Looking back, I probably met more conservative 65-year olds (mentally) at alternative / punk gigs than in old mens' pubs. And listening to white rastas talk about E is duller than a conversation about variable mortgage rates.

martin
05-02-2008, 01:39 PM
Not that I've ever had a conversation about mortgage rates, I hasten to add

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 01:52 PM
I don't understand nostalgia- for me there are no golden memories to hide back inside.

Surely watching Dave Morgan beat all-comers at table-football in ChCh bar while the Great Tom bell resounds across the moonlit quad outside should qualify?

Mr. Tea
05-02-2008, 02:03 PM
I don't think any game will ever rule my life as completely as Doom II did when I was 14. Even when Half-Life and its sequels came along, as amazing as they were, it was more like a cerebral meeting-of-minds than the giddy adrenaline rush of adolescent obsession.

I was that game's bitch, and I loved every minute.

gek-opel
05-02-2008, 02:10 PM
Surely watching Dave Morgan beat all-comers at table-football in ChCh bar while the Great Tom bell resounds across the moonlit quad outside should qualify?

*shudders*

If that's your golden age I pity the fool...

swears
05-02-2008, 02:18 PM
I think golden ages are marked by optimism and potential. When you start thinking "This is as good as it gets", that's when things get bleak.

So I think the melancholy comes from looking back to a past where you were looking foward to a future which turned out to be a crap present.

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 02:21 PM
*shudders*

If that's your golden age I pity the fool...

We had better quality grist for the nostalgia mill at SPC, like automatic doors and an uneven croquet lawn - I remember both quite clearly and fondly.

Truly, I think you have to find pleasure in the mundane and relish its return (which is good strategically, as it will always be around). For instance, I went to achingly uncool Clacton for a solitary day out last weekend - for the umpteenth time - and had a grand time playing quiz machines, buying cds in charity shops and communicating with working class people. What's more, I managed to do all of these things unironically.

Once you start making your own buttons, it becomes easier to press them.

IdleRich
05-02-2008, 02:28 PM
"ChCh"
Christ Church college maybe, but what's SPC?

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 02:29 PM
Christ Church college maybe, but what's SPC?

St Peter's - you know, the one opposite Argos.

gek-opel
05-02-2008, 02:29 PM
St Peters College...

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 02:30 PM
St Peters College...

Yes...

Dave Morgan is the quintessentially reasonable man - if you can't find solace in his existence, then there is truly no hope for you.

And that applies for everyone.

swears
05-02-2008, 02:37 PM
Does anybody ever fantasize about going back to another age in their lives? I find myself doing this all the time, it's pretty unhealthy. "Oh, I could have done this, done that, etc..."
If I could have either a million quid or go back ten years (with the foresight I have now), I'd choose the latter. I sort of think of those years as being precious, high quality and more recent times as cheap and nasty, bargain-basement.

Mr. Tea
05-02-2008, 02:45 PM
If I could have either a million quid or go back ten years (with the foresight I have now), I'd choose the latter. I sort of think of those years as being precious, high quality and more recent times as cheap and nasty, bargain-basement.

I assume you're not saying that simply because you know you could invest all your pocket money in Apple Computers or somesuch, or bet on the outcome of certain sports tournaments or famous people dying, in order to become a millionaire in addition to just enjoying the earlier phase of your life?

Edit: ahh, you added that bit while I was replying.

swears
05-02-2008, 02:52 PM
Just personal stuff, no Biff Tannen-style schemes. I wondered if this was common. To wake up and see "1999" on a calendar on a summer's morning, the last decade a bad dream, what heaven!

IdleRich
05-02-2008, 03:00 PM
"To wake up and see "1999" on a calendar on a summer's morning, the last decade a bad dream, what heaven!"
Why would it have to be a bad dream though?
You have such a totally different outlook to me Swears.

Pestario
05-02-2008, 03:01 PM
Does anybody ever fantasize about going back to another age in their lives?

Sometimes but more to relive great experiences than to be in that part of my life. Eg, I would love to relive things like family holidays, playing 4-player Goldeneye on N64, adventures in the woods etc. But to be back in the closet in an all boys school...pass

One thing I do like doing is revisiting places that trigger strong (and pleasant) memories just a means of escaping my present state of mind.

gek-opel
05-02-2008, 03:14 PM
One thing I do like doing is revisiting places that trigger strong (and pleasant) memories just a means of escaping my present state of mind.

How does this not slide into nostalgia--> then into maudlin reflection- in comparison to now---> into misery? Good past memories can be like a poison, can be absolutely corrosive- Swears seems a pretty good example of this, poor chap.

I'd rather posit even the good times of the past as concealed bad times, bad times which had yet to be understood as such in that precise moment, good times only to the extent that they are structured by ignorance.

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 03:14 PM
playing 4-player Goldeneye on N64,


Fun to see people having such vivid and pleasurable memories of playing computer games.

I feel nostalgic about the games in that I just don't seem to enjoy them much anymore. My brother is of the same mind and thinks it's because of a hard-wired developmental shift: installing the new 'maturity bundle' is how he puts it.

I feel nostalgic about being able to feel certain things that I think I cannot now - about having my horizons shortened against my will, or perhaps being aware of the extent of the unchanging horizon, but having poorer means of transportation.

STN
05-02-2008, 03:18 PM
[QUOTE=gek-opel;125200]How does this not slide into nostalgia--> then into maudlin reflection- in comparison to now---> into misery? QUOTE]

Easy. 'That was fun, good lord I'm rather a brilliant chap, I will probably do things that I will feel this way about again'. I enjoy a bit of wistfulness* - I think you have to make an effort not to let it be a sad feeling though.

*maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

swears
05-02-2008, 03:18 PM
I feel nostalgic about being able to feel certain things that I think I cannot now ...

Yup! It's like I've had my brain chemistry downgraded, there just aren't as many strange new sensations... You get a flicker now and again, but it's not the same.

Pestario
05-02-2008, 03:30 PM
How does this not slide into nostalgia--> then into maudlin reflection- in comparison to now---> into misery? Good past memories can be like a poison, can be absolutely corrosive- Swears seems a pretty good example of this, poor chap.

I'd rather posit even the good times of the past as concealed bad times, bad times which had yet to be understood as such in that precise moment, good times only to the extent that they are structured by ignorance.

I can see how it could slide into nostalgia but isn't the prerequisite for that slide a loss of hope that the future will bring more great memories? You assume I hate the present/future.

When I said to 'escape my present state of mind' I meant that in a temporary sense, like the escape offered when watching a cherished film.

IdleRich
05-02-2008, 03:45 PM
"I'd rather posit even the good times of the past as concealed bad times, bad times which had yet to be understood as such in that precise moment, good times only to the extent that they are structured by ignorance."
Avoid feeling bad about today by convincing yourself that the past was just as bad? Why not try making today better?

Mr. Tea
05-02-2008, 03:50 PM
Why not try making today better?

Because today has to get apocalyptic before it can get better... ;)

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 03:55 PM
Yup! It's like I've had my brain chemistry downgraded, there just aren't as many strange new sensations... You get a flicker now and again, but it's not the same.

I think part of the problem is that as you get older it is more likely that you have done things to excess, meaning that the pleasure you would get from anticipating excess has gone, and, even worse, in the same swoop, the moderate and everyday has been upvalued.

So, you forget about edging the volume knob up towards the maximum with your happy hardcore tape packs (partly because there's no mum around anymore to annoy) and start listening to James Blunt instead, defeated and forlorn.

gek-opel
05-02-2008, 03:58 PM
Avoid feeling bad about today by convincing yourself that the past was just as bad? Why not try making today better?

Its part of the same motion, not to say the past was just as bad, but that the past is relevant only as a series of determinations which bring about opportunity within the present instance, or worse as an oppressive inert mass to be resisted via practical activity. The past is not to be fetishised, the past is to bve overcome. And the apocalyptic (meaning precisely the arrival at the absolute singularity/limit, in a Deleuzian sense) --if not the actual terminal catastrophic event of the elimination of life you might term the actual apocalypse--is better.

STN
05-02-2008, 04:08 PM
.

So, you forget about edging the volume knob up towards the maximum with your happy hardcore tape packs (partly because there's no mum around anymore to annoy) and start listening to James Blunt instead, defeated and forlorn.

Should one wish to annoy one's mum as an adult can I recommend going home for the weekend, waiting until she's trying to do something, then picking her up and moving her to a different part of the house? Repeat as necessary. This only works if you have a small mum.

Gavin
05-02-2008, 04:11 PM
The future looks bleak from my vantage, but that's because my country is rapidly losing its empire and the advantages it confers upon its citizens, so the rich are making a grab for the whole pie. Don't see too much good coming out of it, although I guess things are more interesting than they were in the '90s. My best years are the same as Frank Sinatra's, 17 and 21, so I guess I have 35 to look forward to -- blue blooded girls of independent means yay!

I don't see why reminiscing about the past is categorically bad/pointless... Surely the past can be a strong motivating force as well. That whole Benjamin quotation about revolution coming from past wrongs more than anticipation of a glorious future... Nostalgia and regret, maybe with some resentment, should be a package deal.

Mr. Tea
05-02-2008, 04:13 PM
Past, Present, Future: All are One in Yog-Sothoth.

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 04:14 PM
"Oh, I could have done this, done that, etc..."

On reflection, I usually conclude that my not doing something is explanation enough for not having done it. Proof happens when opportunities come round again and I choose exactly the same course of action.

Regret is never in full possession of the facts, being a retrospective process, and cannot be trusted.

I think a more sensible regret would be regretting 'not being the person who would have done otherwise.'

IdleRich
05-02-2008, 04:15 PM
"The past is not to be fetishised, the past is to bve overcome"
Why not just enjoy it every now and again when you happen to think of it without fetishising it and then move on?

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 04:15 PM
Should one wish to annoy one's mum as an adult can I recommend going home for the weekend, waiting until she's trying to do something, then picking her up and moving her to a different part of the house? Repeat as necessary. This only works if you have a small mum.

And a big hand. :D

stelfox
05-02-2008, 04:15 PM
communicating with working-class people without irony... fuck, next time you could maybe visit the zoo.

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 04:16 PM
communicating with working-class people without irony... fuck, next time you could maybe visit the zoo.

BAITED. :D

Mr. Tea
05-02-2008, 04:20 PM
communicating with working-class people without irony... fuck, next time you could maybe visit the zoo.

Pffft, I was thinking this when I saw it. I imagined m_b as a sort of latter-day Jane Goodall, trying to emulate their primitive grunts and scowling/gurning facial expressions...

gek-opel
05-02-2008, 04:24 PM
Why not just enjoy it every now and again when you happen to think of it without fetishising it and then move on?

Interesting question-- I suppose because the purely sensory pleasures/emotions associated with a positive experience/period of time past are inaccessible, I am aware they existed, but the reality of them as a lived experience of pleasure, joy, excitement, contentment or whatever remains out of reach except as words by which I can categorise the experience. As such what remains is the memory of the situation in which that positive emotion arose-- which is difficult to enjoy, or which from my current perspective is impossible to enjoy, or is a mere husk in which the positive emotion arose. The essentially ephemeral nature of the experience makes it impossible to replicate via memory (and the same is true of negative emotional experience). So I just think it weird that somehow that reminiscence can trigger anything but frustration to the present me.

So its not really a choice per se-- I'm not able to derive happiness from reminscence of past happy experiences. And attempting to do so leads to the whole Swears style "if only I could go back" agonising.

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 04:27 PM
Pffft, I was thinking this when I saw it. I imagined m_b as a sort of latter-day Jane Goodall, trying to emulate their primitive grunts and scowling/gurning facial expressions...

I modify my behaviour expertly: I shake hands robustly on meeting them, look them in their eyes, call them 'mate,' employ 'banter,' beat them at pool to move up the social hierarchy...it gets easier with practice. The pool, that is - not the other stuff.

IdleRich
05-02-2008, 04:51 PM
"I suppose because the purely sensory pleasures/emotions associated with a positive experience/period of time past are inaccessible, I am aware they existed, but the reality of them as a lived experience of pleasure, joy, excitement, contentment or whatever remains out of reach except as words by which I can categorise the experience. As such what remains is the memory of the situation in which that positive emotion arose-- which is difficult to enjoy, or which from my current perspective is impossible to enjoy, or is a mere husk in which the positive emotion arose. The essentially ephemeral nature of the experience makes it impossible to replicate via memory (and the same is true of negative emotional experience)."
Well, I recognise all of that of course - and yet, without effort, good memories tend to produce a good feeling and bad ones a bad (though always necessarily, to a greater or lesser degree, less intensely than at the time - or is that actually true?). I don't see that as fetishisation though, I guess it's no more a choice for me than for you.
Life in general is made of infitesimal moments, the past and the future and the now, if you reject all except the now (presumably future suffers from the same problems as the past?) then you are restricting it to an infinitely small point.

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 04:55 PM
If you make your present efforts future-directed, then future nostalgia is to an extent prevented, as the future is the fulfillment of the past, and the past merely a foreshadowing of it.

By (attempting) to live in the present, you become prone to nostalgia, as each moment stands alone.

mixed_biscuits
05-02-2008, 04:59 PM
Interesting question-- I suppose because the purely sensory pleasures/emotions associated with a positive experience/period of time past are inaccessible, I am aware they existed, but the reality of them as a lived experience of pleasure, joy, excitement, contentment or whatever remains out of reach except as words by which I can categorise the experience.

Surely this is overstating the case - what about one's memories of food? Do you not drool at the thought of yet another Big Mac and fries?

zhao
05-02-2008, 09:19 PM
Instants

If I could live again my life,
In the next - I'll try,
- to make more mistakes,
I won't try to be so perfect,
I'll be more relaxed,
I'll be more full - than I am now,
In fact, I'll take fewer things seriously,
I'll be less hygenic,
I'll take more risks,
I'll take more trips,
I'll watch more sunsets,
I'll climb more mountains,
I'll swim more rivers,
I'll go to more places - I've never been,
I'll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I'll have more real problems - and less imaginary
ones,
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives -
each minute of his life,
Offcourse that I had moments of joy - but,
if I could go back I'll try to have only good moments,

If you don't know - thats what life is made of,
Don't lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
and without an umberella and without a parachute,

If I could live again - I will travel light,
If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet
at the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn,
I'll ride more carts,
I'll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live - but now I am 85,
- and I know that I am dying ...

Jorge Luis Borges

gek-opel
05-02-2008, 10:06 PM
Surely this is overstating the case - what about one's memories of food? Do you not drool at the thought of yet another Big Mac and fries?

I think sense-memory and emotional memory are slightly different matters. I can imagine green with ease, or striated, or the smell of bacon, or the taste of paprika, or entire symphonies. But when I imagine, say "joy" (and beyond that generality towards a precise variant or shade of it, a very definite blend as experienced, as much as a particular tone or a texture of sound say) it eludes me- I can only remember, or rather recreate, a crude linguistic label for it, and a set of related external circumstances associated with it. I'm unsure as to why this is. Possibly something to do with the synaesthesic linkages between senses and language/representation...? Which necessarily excludes internal emotional states, which are described in some tertiary fashion in insufficiently detailed terms? Imagine for a moment any given drug-state- whilst the kinds of audio-visual hallucinations and alterations to social interaction are easy to describe (and to remember) the actual internal sensation almost entirely escapes representation (in language)... perhaps...?

fokse vektaire xeven
06-02-2008, 12:30 PM
I can imagine green with ease, or striated, or the smell of bacon, or the taste of paprika, or entire symphonies. But when I imagine, say "joy" (and beyond that generality towards a precise variant or shade of it, a very definite blend as experienced, as much as a particular tone or a texture of sound say) it eludes me- I can only remember, or rather recreate, a crude linguistic label for it, and a set of related external circumstances associated with it. I'm unsure as to why this is. Possibly something to do with the synaesthesic linkages between senses and language/representation...?

pretty much, visual sense impressions in particular are very strong, once you have seen green and have green "qualia" effectively when you envision green your brain is doing what it does when you see green in reverse. the primary visual cortex is activated, creating a mental, near tangible simulation of green. joy "qualia" could not be said to exist in the same way, so your mental representation of joy is contingent on memory rather than absolutes.

i've always been depressed by people fetishising their teen years. certainly this tendency has come about in the latter half of the twentieth century, i would say it has its roots in contemporary culture. you should be at the peak of your powers as a grown adult. i'm in my early 30's and i'm still very much hoping the best is yet to come. i'd like to think where i'll be in a decade is somewhere i couldn't even conceive of now. what has made you all so defeatist?

STN
06-02-2008, 12:51 PM
Being a teenager was dire, really.

No matter how bad things might get, at least no one can make me do PE now.

vimothy
06-02-2008, 12:54 PM
you should be at the peak of your powers as a grown adult. i'm in my early 30's and i'm still very much hoping the best is yet to come. i'd like to think where i'll be in a decade is somewhere i couldn't even conceive of now. what has made you all so defeatist?

OTM -- maybe everyone else here has just lived such fantastically exciting lives that the future can only be disappointing?

IdleRich
06-02-2008, 01:03 PM
"what has made you all so defeatist?"
Hang on, who is being defeatist? The only ones I saw say negative things were Swears ( as normal) and Gavin who said that the outlook for his country was bleak. That's simply a rational reply rather than a defeatist one as such.

swears
06-02-2008, 01:18 PM
Never said my life was going to be terrible, just very, very dull.

I'm grateful for the easy life I have, part of that is the luxury of looking back on the good times.

IdleRich
06-02-2008, 01:28 PM
"Never said my life was going to be terrible, just very, very dull."
Oh, that's great then - sorry my mistake.

martin
06-02-2008, 01:35 PM
Being a teenager was dire, really.

No matter how bad things might get, at least no one can make me do PE now.

Yeah...just think of zits, dressing like a spastic, girls treating you like a leper, being told you're going to hell by your mum, people saying "YOU JUST LISTEN TO WEIRD CRAP, SOUNDS LIKE AN MOT TEST"...oh hang on, this all still happens to me!

We should start a thread about PE teachers

frogger
06-02-2008, 08:21 PM
pretty much, visual sense impressions in particular are very strong, once you have seen green and have green "qualia" effectively when you envision green your brain is doing what it does when you see green in reverse. the primary visual cortex is activated, creating a mental, near tangible simulation of green. joy "qualia" could not be said to exist in the same way, so your mental representation of joy is contingent on memory rather than absolutes.

i've always been depressed by people fetishising their teen years. certainly this tendency has come about in the latter half of the twentieth century, i would say it has its roots in contemporary culture. you should be at the peak of your powers as a grown adult. i'm in my early 30's and i'm still very much hoping the best is yet to come. i'd like to think where i'll be in a decade is somewhere i couldn't even conceive of now. what has made you all so defeatist?

You need a minimum amount of memory to have an experience of green. Qualia (green object + processing) + memory = experience. Joy might also be contingent on affect and recollection, although, is it possible to have joy not related to a past recollection?

I'm not sure why people fetishize their teen years. It might be because they had a disposable income + free time + low levels of responsibility...Personally, even though I had these things, I prefer where I am at now. Much more stable and ready to deal with whatever comes.

brown neon
06-02-2008, 08:36 PM
without effort, good memories tend to produce a good feeling and bad ones a bad (though always necessarily, to a greater or lesser degree, less intensely than at the time - or is that actually true?).

not sure that's true. the collision of a memory with the present often spins me into new emotions. i like the past, it's a fertile inspiration for the present/future. sure is tense tho.

Troy
15-02-2008, 10:16 PM
I miss the way I used to view the future. It was a wide open world with millions of possibilities, all ahead of me.

Mr. Tea
15-02-2008, 11:02 PM
Something that's pretty interesting, and is very far from being resolved, is the fact that in general relativity time is treated as a dimension much the three space dimensions so that rather than having a mathematical expression for the geometry of space that changes as a function of time, you just have a fixed expression for the geometry of space-time; a sort of Buddhistic 'eternal now'. In this formulation, objects don't really 'move'; their trajectories are described by paths in space-time that are eternal and unchanging. So time, in this formulation, doesn't have a 'forward' and a 'backward' direction any more than the universe has a built in 'left' and 'right'.

So there arise two important questions relating to human consciousness: how is that we feel that time is something that 'passes', whereas space is somehow just there; and why is that there is a past that we can remember and record, and a future that we cannot? In other words, there is not (yet) any clear physical basis for the psychological perception of the passage of time or for the direction it takes. The laws of physics are, to an extremely good approximation, symmetrical with respect to time, and don't distinguish between past and future. Even the tiny violations of this symmetry only involve certain kinds of exotic particles and have no relevance for ordinary matter. The apparent arrow of time seems to have something to do with the extraordinarily low amount of entropy (disorder) in the early universe, which has been increasing ever since, but it's not yet clear how this relates to causality and consciousness.