To be re-written!
To be nostalgic is to be human, the assurance that your current life circumstances too, are as fleeting and transient as your most cherished memories.
These memories can take on good or bad connotations, but ultimately they are worth remembering. To me media, whether music or TV, is ultimately distilled down to a life bookmark. 90's J-pop takes me back to gray CRT's beaming pirated Japanese VHSes in a La Crescenta apartment. Sour cream and onion pretzels reminds me of brick-walled indoor malls and grotty closed-loop water fountains. Pool water takes me back to afterschool swimming lessons and my sexual awakening.
Nostalgia is also about moving on, born on top of the mental insistence that what you left behind was born within a very specific set of circumstances nonreplicable today. Media born in the 90's for example looks utterly foreign in the globalized techno-dystopia we live in today. Just look at this early internet documentary, you think this could be made today? Trust in institutions, trust in people, trust in technology, proximity to nature, they all color the media we produce. Just as 60's rock and roll received very different reactions between its inception and today, cultural attitudes change over time and those disparities can be lost through sacralization or nostalgia. Green Day may become emblematic of Bush-era cultural unease. Hopefully not. Similarly, revisiting old media is like rumination. Reflecting back on the stuff I used to enjoy is a fragile game of extracting gratification while steadily unraveling the associations that made them so significant. Nostalgia is greater than the sum of its parts. I got into Japanese garage rock while in Community college, saccharine female vocals while in high school. With each revisit associations are eroded, further pushing that media into an awkward intermediary both in the present and past.
The images I archive too, are sorted by year. Those associated memories are always transient and fleeting, almost a sense of negligence in what I've missed. And all the stuff I didn't get into, the stuff I wished I could get engrossed in.
Other people's nostalgia
Everyone archives. No doubt your parents have a dusty bin full of prints and negatives somewhere, the rest ornately framed and sun-damaged. Speaking from personal experience people are much less inclined to take pictures of the mundane, even when the process has become so accessible and simple as it has today. It feels too analgous to really be of any value, "why now?" I can say with vigorous certainly that archiving your life, even on the internet, will be of considerable interest 5, 10 years into the future.
I now archive obsessively. Despite growing up with PC's I only have files from 2007 at the earliest. Every year I retrospectively find categories I should've saved or something I missed. Most painful was a Youtube channel with ~30 videos that was taken down. Back then I was stuck with a 100GB drive in a Dell Dimension B110, and paired with Fraps' obese output files and no cloud services meant no backups.
Broadly speaking, I divide my digital archiving into the following categories:
- Text files - journals, to-do lists, links
- Desktop screenshots and digital photos
- Game screenshots
- Audio Clips
Images can be anything, really. Memes, cute pictures, cursed images, anything. Desktop screenshots are actually pretty useful. Logging what you watched or what you played feels surface-deep and it can be better conveys through images in my opinion. Vlogs were the hardest to maintain consistently, as you need a certain element of privacy as well as brevity in your talking. Meandering with your worders is frustrating to film and watch back later. Audio clips consisted of Skype, teamspeak, and discord recordings. I used tools like OBS and Amolto call recorder. I saved the funny moments as well as the mundane conversations.
In 2015 I also started a life recap in my notebook, divded by school semesters. I don't adhere particularly well to schedules, so most notebook projects don't last long. This one, however, I've dilligently continued. It gives me a holistic image of periods in my life, better contextualized by the music, videos, and games that enriched my time. Neocities has also bolstered my efforts, packaging my thoughts alongside images in an accessible manner.
What do I regret not saving? Videos of my surroundings is one. I barely remember what the school dorms look like, and the surrounding forest was gorgeous. My childhood home is another, although I made a 3D map of it while me and my friend were considering making a game. I also wish I took more family videos. There's an old camcorder somewhere with some stuff but nothing from 3~6 years ago. My parents are getting old man. Eventually I'll forget what they used to sound like.
The only aspect worse about nostalgia is when there is none. To live a life so repetitive, so one-sided, that there's little to remember it by. 2016 and 2017 were those kinds of years for me. They were also the years I were working and going to class. Growing up, those years encompasses the aspects I abhorred about adulthood. Monotounous, an almost autonomic existence. Complaining about the passage of time is immeasurably pointless, but retrospective regret is a very real dilemma. I wish I had the tools to spend my time efficiently back then. I was emotionally destitute, and I attributed that to my life circumstances.
After reading a tohno-chan poster's intent to kill themselves if diagnosed with the virus I've been thinking about death. Specifically the boring stuff that follows it. Material leftovers are rather simple, they're just stuff. The OM-2 that's now my constant companion might've been someone's first paycheck commemoration or just some boomer's garage filler. It'll sit rank-and-file in a thrift shop like all the other orphaned belongings. And just throw my body in the garbage. My concerns lie in my computer files. Ultimately the sentimental value of all these folders lie in their arrangement holistically, not neccesarily the images' content itself. I flip through albums to arouse a timeline in my head: Each percipitating backdrops, events, people, smells, and interests back to me. The benign and remarkable hold equal value as they compensate for the falliability of memory. On their own though, without decryption, those associations are not there.
But through the anime pictures and cursed images, surely there's something of worth there. Just like my disdain for the exclusionary spheres of Japanese photobooks, my friends have no way of accessing my memories I've had with them. The one-off screenshots and audio recordings belong to more than just me, they're bookmarks to a collective memory that we all share. To sequester that seems grossly unlike the feverish nostalgia chases that have defined my adulthood. So I sort though files like marksboypussy.mp3 and creatureofthenight.png.
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