NOSTALGIA HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AESTHETICS (ARCHAEOLOGY AND ABSCESS)

Water has its own archaeology, not a layering but a leveling, and thus is truer to our sense of the past, because what is memory but near and far events spread and smoothed beneath the present’s surface.

– Ron Rash, “The Woman at the Pond”

I spent fifteen minutes strolling under the arcades with their metal beams, slightly surprised by my own nostalgia and aware, at the same time, that the place really was extremely ugly. Those hideous buildings had been constructed during the worst period of modernism, but nostalgia has nothing to do with aesthetics, it’s not even connected to happy memories. We feel nostalgia for a place simply because we’ve lived there; whether we lived well or badly scarcely matters. The past is always beautiful. So, for that matter, is the future. Only the present hurts, and we carry it around like an abscess of suffering, our companion between two infinities of happiness and peace.

– Michel Houellebecq, Submission

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