The Draw of Nostalgia

There is something bittersweet about the notion of nostalgia; with its sepia-tinted flashbacks that calls out to the stirrings of ones’ insides. We romanticise, like William Morris’s yearnings for the yesteryears, due to our familiarity, or the belief that we have so far went astray from the illuminating periods from the past that our ancestors will scorn at the state of the current world.

In the case of William Morris, dissatisfied with the zeitgeist of his time and wished he could go back to the Middle Ages (albeit with rose-tinted lens, you’d never want to be a peasant in an agrarian feudal society), he formed a firm to champion the arts and crafts movement with like-minded individuals such as Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burned-Jones together with Neo-Gothic architect Philip Webb.

In our current world, nostalgia is going to hit early-on with the rapid advancement of technology and with globalisation allows information to be sent in real-time, especially amongst the generation we call the “millennials”.

Already we see teens and adults who experienced the transformation of information-processing landscape of the 90s feeling nostalgic with everything from stick-on earrings to Cartoon Network when it was relevant (90s kid bias here).

Of course, the most popular of this is Pokemon, with some fans insisting the original 151 Pokemon are the best before the franchise goes downhill from there. With its 7th generation of Pokemon coming out soon, there are already pessimists dissing the design of the new Pokemon. Aside from introducing new Pokemon, Nintendo release new “Alolan” forms — updated designs and abilities — for Pokemon from the Generation I series, most likely in an effort to retain fans that are familiar with the original 151 Pokemon.


Naming it Persian for a cat Pokemon? Original.
Naming it Persian for a cat Pokemon? Original.

As humans, I guess we are not so receptive to changes and if the things around us inevitably change, we tend to evoke memories of past events (e.g. the Whatsapping auntie who laments the good old kampung days of being able to chat face-to-face with the neighbours on the verandah).

Generation I Exeggutor with its new Alolan form in the new game series.

Progress is inevitable, necessary even. As humans, we often strive to make our lives better; inventions and research for a higher standard of living will never expire from our consciousness.  Nostalgia too, is inevitable; a self-coping mechanism of current stresses that makes one think of cherished times.

In typography, new inventions lead to a revival of past typefaces — the revival and update of fonts when the metal type was invented and the digitisation of these fonts with the internet.

Nostalgia is a powerful emotive tool. Look at Trump with his “Make America Great Again” slogan. Neo-Wiccan who wants to embrace and retrace the pagan roots before Christianity sweeps across the whole of Europe. ISIS’s dream of establishing an Islamic Caliphate. Nostalgia can also be a tool where we emulate the positives of previous ages and apply it to the current zeitgeist.

Nostalgia does not have to be just sepia photographs swimming in your head. Capitalise on it and hit the sweet spot of the designated target audience.

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