Jul 18, 2010

Sense of time, passage of time, nostalgia & movies

(Warning: post written in a nostalgic mood).

According to Gloria Swanson' father, life is 95% anticipation. She developed her dad's idea (1) saying that you work, you try hard in everything, you dream with your first car. The next month you want another, bigger, faster. According to her, romance, flirting is gone, you want to get everything soon. Gloria was talking about the post war youth, but her diagnosis, I think, is still right.
But incomplete.
I think about time too much. I waste time thinking about time. I've always wondered why when you were a kid a day was a eternity. You didn't know what was going to happen next. Everything surprised you and there were no strict routines. Life waited for you.
But now tempus fugit. Time flies.
You don't remember clearly what happened each year, Christmas goes one after the other, birthdays, all the celebrations. People around you evolve, get older. The day you left school is far behind.
Is it because when you grow up your mental map becomes clearer, schematized? Is it because now, with all the technology, you're always connected, always anticipating events, avoiding waits, therefore living faster?
Yes, Gloria's dad had a point. Anticipation is a great part of life.
But I would say it's a 50%.
Or isn't it also true that most people spent time thinking about the good old days with nostalgia (and sorrow)? Isn't it true that when people talk about past times the tone of their voices change? Because time steals youth and moments. Time steals the way people were. When you appreciate old films, when you watch old videos and see old pictures, you worsen this feeling (2), adding a yearning for a past that is not really yours. Because you see these faces, these smiles, these beauties, these talents, these moments, these ways to live...and the next moment you realize they're gone. They're gone because they died, they're gone because they aged, they're gone because the world evolved and they no longer truly fit. It's Lauren Bacall receiving her Honorary Oscar earlier this year. It's Norma Desmond —Gloria Swanson, what an irony— trying to revive her glorious past. It's a Nat King Cole song. It's Elli Wallach's character in "The Holiday". It's the couple in the movie "Make way for tomorrow".
It is nostalgia. The old houses you see on the road, falling apart, once embraced laughs, lively lunches, brightness, dreams. It's a part of what you feel when you see old magazine adds, old objects. And if you think about it, you don't really want to live in a time when these objects where new. You find them interesting because they're just a reflection of former times.
Life is 30% yearning for the past.
And you don't really live the rest. You witness great moments through a camera lens, you take everything for granted, you forget that you have to appreciate every moment. Our society imposes that you must study and then have a career or a job in order to make money and survive. Obligations and habits make you forget what's really important, what life should be: to live the present. Now.

(1) Interview included in "People will talk" by John Kobal. 
(2) I have to add that films, as recordings of image/audio, are a way to preserve moments, so they work as a double vehicle of time: they combat the passage of time by stopping it, freezing it, but they also become a trigger of memories, making clear that what you're watching is gone, that there was a past before your present. I don't know if I explained myself.

PS. Your thoughts on the matter are welcome.  


  1. Wow, so well written, Clara! You put it perfectly! I know exactly how you were feeling when you wrote this :) I don't think there's much I can add to this, but I'll think about it...and if anything strikes me, I'll get back to you!

  2. está hermoso tu blog, cambiaste el look no? te felicito!

  3. Beautifully said. I really enjoyed this post.
    Being 73 I relate very well... yvonne

  4. Sophie: Thank u, I really appreciate your comment.

    Rena: Sí, le hice una actualización al diseño, qué bueno que te gusta ^^

    Yvonne: Thank u very much! I'm glad you liked it.

  5. está hermoso tu blog, cambiaste el look no? te felicito!



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