Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

This Is No Time to Wallow in Nostalgia; VIEW OF THE NORTH

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

This Is No Time to Wallow in Nostalgia; VIEW OF THE NORTH

Article excerpt


THE Journal, in association with Arts Council England, is currently seeking your vote on the best arts events of 2008.

The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in March. The Culture Awards shortlist reminded me how great last year was.

Yes, that's right: I said something positive about 2008.

Why does that sound surprising, almost heretical? It seems that it has become obligatory to talk only in apocalyptic terms about the last year and indeed the next.

It feels like a new kind of political incorrectness to point out that all kinds of fantastic things happened, and that some businesses actually had really successful years. (I should say I'm a big fan of political correctness, just in case you think I'm being ironic. I think it's achieved a lot. And I do work for the Arts Council after all). The speed with which the "national mood" has changed is dangerous. We can lose sight of the reality of the situation: the negatives and the positives. We may slip into nostalgia for the "good old days" (remember when we thought we were better off because we could always remortgage?) or we can think the improvements we started, like more ethical food production, considering climate change and so on, are simply not affordable in hard times.

I think nostalgia is an acceptable indulgence when looking through photo albums or meeting old friends. As a way of life, it's not to be recommended. I took this so far as to make avoiding nostalgia my New Year's resolution, concentrating on new experiences, new bands and records and so on. (Remember the New Year, wasn't it great? Whoops)

The trouble with both nostalgia and with doom and gloom is they can make you feel powerless, unable to change the future. And what we need most of all right now is individual and collective confidence to change the economic and social environment. …

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