nostalgiaI realized something today about the way certain works of art make me feel, something I couldn’t exactly describe until now.

So, here goes nothing: Certain works of art make us feel nostalgic about things we never even experienced.

For a few minutes or hours or whatever, we find ourselves submerged in a world that could never really exist, and at the same time we feel that if it were to exist, it would still be a world we’d never belong to.

It’s a strange feeling, to read about experiences you never experienced, to see things you never saw in person, to hear what your ears never heard, and feel nostalgic about them. It’s like a deja vu, actually.

I believe the biggest difference between artists and “normal” people is the artists’ ability to describe what everyone feels, and sometimes, if they’re lucky, to describe something no one else has felt before.

Maybe this is one of the great things about art: making the impossible not possible, but plausible. To give us hope that the life we think we deserve can exist.


26 comments on “Nostalgia

  1. K. A. Brace says:

    Cristian, I wrote this some time ago. I thought you might appreciate it.


    Please let me go! Leave me, let me go again
    To cry and smile my songs into pain
    From the old wound I pray never heals.
    Memory is lost on me it is its ache
    That I desire to embrace with loving arms
    As often as each second will allow.

    There were no days as those I had
    In which, though hurt by thoughts,
    I felt the longing in the loss of myself
    And ache to feel that empty past once more.
    The past that does not exist.

  2. Daedalus Lex says:

    Or maybe historians and scientists mine objective space, artists mine subjective space, which, unshackled by objectivity, allows the artist to pipe into a concrete medium all the possible pasts and presents and futures we can imagine. But it’s all there in what Eastern mystics might call the akasic record or what Jung might call the collective unconscious; hence the feeling of “nostalgia.”

  3. CrazyGuyinThailand says:


  4. Jo Scott-B says:

    If nostalgia is a longing of the past, surely that means an experience which raises a question about your second sentence.

  5. sporterhall says:

    Very nice and thanks for inspiring me to look at ‘nostalgia’ in a way that I haven’t done before. I’d say….mission accomplished! Have a great day!

  6. iwantciara says:

    It’s strange, but I can identify with that distant nostalgia. Actually, most of my short stories stem from deja vu moments, or memories that didn’t really happen to me.

  7. J-Money says:

    This explains SO much. I’m so happy I got a moment to read this today.

  8. I think you’re right. To me, one of the attractions of stories and – to a lesser extent – of poems and non-fiction, is that they impose (create?) a type of order. An order which we often crave in our own life. And something not quite order, but something which follows order (in our understanding) – and that’s when things “make sense” to us. Maybe that’s even how we sense what we call order, when things make sense to us.

    I believe that (in the big picture) there is an overall order and sense to life, but that only God can see it, and that if we ever hope to get more than a fleeting glimpse of it, it will be at the end of time, looking backward.

    Maybe if we have that sense of nostalgia you’re talking about, it happens because we so want that order and sense, and when a really good writer creates a good story, it feels like a “home” of some sort that we want to crawl into. (A “world” is how we usually say it, when it comes to stories.) But, if our sense of discomfort or not-belonging is strong enough in our own life, our own “world” – then maybe that’s when we don’t even feel like we can belong in the made-up world. No matter how inviting it is.

    That’s my long idea, anyway 8^).

  9. makeascene21 says:

    ‘I believe the biggest difference between artists and “normal” people is the artists’ ability to describe what everyone feels, and sometimes, if they’re lucky, to describe something no one else has felt before.’ – This is a beautiful summary. I’ve been thinking about this lately but I couldn’t describe it like you just did. Great post

  10. colleenldonnelly says:

    Lovely, and so real!

  11. Victor Alarcón says:

    Reminds me of a piece I wrote a while back, though never published. Might I boast that ‘great minds think alike’?

  12. barn7777 says:

    This statement,

    “I believe the biggest difference between artists and “normal” people is the artists’ ability to describe what everyone feels, and sometimes, if they’re lucky, to describe something no one else has felt before.”

    is completely true.

  13. vanyieck says:

    I believe you have described the very essence of creativity.

  14. jswunxin says:

    This is so true, I feel that nostalgia when reading books, watching documentaries or drama series or when writing. Thanks for the post :)

  15. bryanliu1993 says:

    Inspiring perspective on art!

  16. divinedetail says:

    I really like the way you articulate such elusive emotions. It makes me feel nostalgic in just the way you describe! If you haven’t already, you should check out Kant and his position on free harmony. Though I’m not sure if I agree with him, I found it very applicable to the heart wrenching feeling something beautiful can cause us to feel. He claims that the only certain sign of human free will is in our judgments of aesthetic pleasure, for though these judgments are subjective from one individual to the next, they are universal in that they “are based on the supposed pleasure of free harmony…We know that we are experiencing free harmony because we are having a pleasurable feeling unlike any other”. Thought you might find his ideas on the matter interesting!

  17. kilaheem says:

    I feel nostalgic

  18. This is amazing! The number of things making me feel nostalgic while reading this was very surprising. I feel like I should get out and travel instead of sitting on my laptop writing away….

  19. kiki culte says:

    My morbid half agreed – I am writing today’s post -( reposing the edited version) for your perception of an artist – I now hv doubts ! Am I an artist ? Am I a designer ? Or perhaps I was being overrated – I am apathy – living by the moments – done n seen with all possible scenes – I am a drifter – swaying too much over little – ur words woke me from land wonder -;) kp pouring ;)

  20. I feel, see, hear, appreciate. My ordinary life transforms into an extraordinary one when I paint and create art. The life we think we deserve is there (it exists!). We just need to take a deeper look into everything that surrounds us.

  21. I’m inlove with your writing! Never stop!

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