I’ve been looking at a few things Nostalgia related and I came across a few really interesting blogs/pages to do with the exact things I’m sort of looking into with this work. This one explores ideas of hoarding and the natural way we use material objects to store memories. here’s a little taste -
‘What I found really interesting about Frost’s account of hoarding is that it is very compatible with current research on the extended mind hypothesis. Hoarders often use their collection of stuff as an external memory source. They can remember the details of when they brought each object into their home. To throw away these objects would be tantamount to throwing away their own memories. Moreover, it is not just their memory that is externalized but their very personal identity. William James thought we all had a “material self” that bleeds into our personal possessions, but with hoarders this sense of self extends into ALL their objects, and not just special ones. They feel like their objects are part of their basic self-hood, to the point that it becomes emotionally traumatic to throw away a piece of useless trash. Hoarders often have deep personal histories with each of their objects, and what might look like junk to an outsider could be to the hoarder a treasure worth cherishing. Hoarders are also interesting because they seem to enjoy aesthetic qualities in everyday objects that normal people might only experience on psychedelic drugs. The stained pattern on an old milk carton might be beautiful to a hoarder and they just can’t imagine throwing it away.’
It’s really good stuff and definitely worth a read. It shows that everything I’ve been thinking about isn’t just made up, it really can work like that. Material objects can hold a whole world of memories!
Another one is cognitivephilosophy.net and the post ‘In defense of Nostalgia’ covers some similar points as the one above, but it talks in terms of Nostalgia and not Hoarding.
There are times when I am looking for a movie to watch, or after I have just finished a book and am looking for a new one to read, where I just survey my libraries for a time. Looking at different titles one after the other and transporting myself with each new cue. Not only remembering the stories and ideas contained within the book or the movie, but also the time or times I read or watched it, what else was going on in my life at the time, how it affected me, the people who I shared those experiences with, etc…A few hundred years ago, none of this would be possible.
Is the take away from this that we should spend all our time looking at things that bring back happy memories? No. But is there a function that nostalgia serves beyond simply giving us momentarily pleasurable experiences? I think so. But that’s a post for another time. I’ll just mention that for those who have been reading some of my ethics posts, you’ll notice that I tend to have a future oriented approach to ethics. While your experience is always happening in the present, and may be of the past, it can only possibly have a causal effect at some future point in time. Whether seconds, minutes, or days. My subjective conscious experience can have no causal consequences for the past, and given that synaptic plasticity is always taking place, and that brain activity is an active ever flowing process, what I think about in the now necessarily affects what I will think about in the future, who I will BE in the future. So whether we know it or not, simple acts of reminiscing necessarily affect (and to a certain degree, effect) the kinds of people we will become. That’s something worth keeping in mind in general. Whether implicitly or explicitly, everything we do and everything we think, directs who we will be and what we will think at a later time.’
Some very interesting points, don’t you think? It sort of makes me feel validated in what I’m doing now, gives me a sense that it isn’t just me and it is something that everybody has experience of.