TRANSCENDENTAL TOPOGRAPHY

Lukacs coined the term of “modern transcendental homelessness” and defined it through the development of art as well as social life. Lukacs’s The Theory of the Novel (1916) opens with an elegy of epic proportions: “Happy are those ages when the starry sky is the map of all possible paths – ages whose paths are illuminated by the light of the stars. Everything in such ages is new and yet familiar, full of adventure and yet their own. The world is wide and yet it is like home, for the fire that burns in the soul is of the same essential nature as the stars.” This is no longer nostalgia for one’s local home but for being at home in the world, yearning for a “transcendental topography of the mind” that characterized presumably “integrated” ancient civilization. The object of nostalgia in Lukacs is a totality of existence hopelessly fragmented in the modern age.

– Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia

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