or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Past
Saturday, June 11, 2011
"Oh my...I can't believe it's not clutter"
There are numerous blogs and websites devoted to nostalgia, especially of the retro variety. This is probably a result of the many baby boomers being bitten by the byte bug. My own nostalgia blog is informed by info from others research and postings. I know I’m not speaking just for myself when I exclaim the immense joy I get out of re-hashing the visuals of a package of Goofy Grape or hearing the roller-rink rock n roll of ELO. But where does this come from?
This morning, Kelly and I were discussing the art of Feng Shui, specifically the metaphysical aspects of “clutter.” And, completely aware of my completist-driven collection of DVD’s and VHS’s (consisting of ALL my favorite films and TV shows organized in the order release, not viewing), my scientifically-organized Hanna-Barbera comic books (which I began carefully curating after I discovered the ability to easily find them for a price on the world wide webs, resulting in the replacement of worn and tattered with good to near mint copies of same), my obsessive price- conscious acquisition of books about film, cartoons, and politics (the third rail of my loco motives), and finally, my thirteen tubs of newspaper clippings, gifts, memorabilia, collectibles, and whatnots from each chapter of the ever-unfolding, unpredictable narrative I call “MY LIFE.”
In a verbal defense of this behavior (which, by the way, was about as long and tedious as the above sentence), I actually had to stretch the limits of human logic to justify a monthly storage unit expense which could soon double. But, at least in my case, the “clutter” begins with the mental aspects.
Please allow me to wax in generalities. I am speaking of myself but I have a hunch many people of my time frame may find some “aha” moments in this. Or “uh-hem.” Or “Oh shit.” Or the most popular: “Oh shut the hell up.” I digress.
The internets, the paragons of modernity and progress, have basically been the breeding ground for much of this retro-grading. This manifests itself in two ways. First, the groundswell of the above mentioned forums detailing memories aided and abetted (appropriate terms here) by you tube clips, music files, Amazon/ebay postings, and Google images can be daunting and readily available for perusal with one search….which leads to another search. We can all relate. Facebook has provided a perversely necessary tool to disseminate these memories. I created this blog for these purposes and find myself bypassing it and going directly on my Facebook wall, leaving said blog feeling neglected and unwanted.
Secondly, the voluminous amounts of NEW information, true or untrue that is cast out on our beloved webs is, well, overwhelming. No matter what your interest, you can find the topic being discussed ad nauseum on millions of pages or feeds. Today, a Jack of all Trades becomes a Jacked-Up info junkie unable to leave his bedroom. Or just burned out. So rather than trying to decipher fact from fiction, trying to belabor a point to someone who may possibly be located in the insane asylum you will surely end up in, or simply valuing your sanity and realizing you can’t solve all the world’s problems….there is the simplicity of the past.
Now, of course, the sixties and seventies were not simple. In some ways, they were even more complex than today. But we could probably take one historical event from, say, 1973 and with a certain amount of time and money, collect all written and broadcast materials about that event. When it comes to video, many things of that era were just not kept…they are gone. But there is a FINITE end to it…somewhere. Today, Sarah Palin can stub her toe and we could send to the moon and back simply the first sentences of all items consisting of evaluation on that fascinating topic. (As a side note, I am a burned out political junkie…I still follow the news but have cut out most of the wasted time on what as basically become red vs. blue gotcha pr-d to death pablum.)
So when I find myself perching on the precipice of a three-hour debate regarding health care or paternity suits, I hear the calling of my newly found facebook friend from New Hampshire who just posted the cover of Gold Key’s The Munsters issue number 4 and an accompanying analysis of 12 cent price point. The resulting three hours ending in a video file of Tony Orlando and Dawn playing Robin Hood and His Merry Men was no more of a valuable time suck than some endless back and forth on the latest American Idol controversy.
I look back fondly at there being only three TV stations (and the PBS affiliate). At prime time (remember that?) starting at 7:00 you had a choice of two sitcoms, a family adventure or McNeil-Lehrer report. Simple. When something newsworthy happened, there was the network evening news, the morning shows, the newspaper or weekly newsmagazines. An interrupting news bulletin was REALLY news. And the follow-up journalism/criticisms/analyses/wrap-ups would not be packaged and ready for consumption two weeks later. Jeez, I remember VH1 doing an “I Love the 90’s” special in 2002. Come on.
So to go back to the Feng Shui discussion, I was justifying physical “clutter” with the concept of mental “clutter.” Which feeds which? It’s true that the acquisition of the material items has been suspended due to the time spent surfing about those items I still have not collected- or gathering more useless info on the items I already have. And this retro surfing is enhanced by the revulsion and, let’s face it, fatigue of the barrage of information related to everything nowadays. I could just get rid of my collections and start over. That would be the simplest and most painful solution. The “mental” clutter would probably follow due to the resulting nervous breakdown. Which would lead to a New Life with New Interests. Throwing out the “mental” clutter would give me time to re-evaluate my priorities in life. In that case, the “physical” clutter may sit in a closet and storage unit for awhile. Then, in ten years, I will rediscover it after I have produced three successful screenplays: one about a frustrated filmmaker, one about a psychotic comic book collector, and one about the undoing of a major political figure due to his unnatural hoarding instincts.
Then, and only then, can I know that I gleaned everything I need from those books, films, and life experiences to create something meaningful. And there is no need to hold on to them. No need to re-hash or re-watch or re-read. No need to have a “wall of memories”. I’ll just have three dvd’s with commentary, the resulting novelizations, the reviews of those films, the memorabilia from the making of those films, the documentaries and behind the scenes clips, the 6-volume reality show sets about my triumph in “removing the clutter”, the resulting self-help book titled “Removing the Clutter”, and an Academy Award.
I’ll have either that to replace all the other stuff. Or I can make a decision right now to divest myself of all of it in one fell swoop. Yes, all of it. Well, except that Dell issue of Huckleberry Hound with the balloons on it. Oh, and two-disc Dr. Strangelove, can’t part with that. While I’m at it I may need information from that book on Watergate for an upcoming screenplay..and well, come to think of it…there’s the--
Gotta go! While I’ve been writing this, Kelly has cleaned out her spare bedroom and we need to go to Goodwill. Oh, well.