I have an insatiable urge to learn new words and observe how language develops. It is an incurable condition but one I effectively self-medicate with extensive reading and the NYT crossword. What really excites me is word genesis, when a new word spreads in the mainstream media – for example retromania.

As the Google Ngram shows retromania usage really picked up in the last ten years. This is easily explained by the 2011 release of Simon Reynolds’ book of the same title – a great lament on pop music’s obsession with its past.

Retromania is similar to nostalgia – a wistful desire to return to a former time … a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time. Unlike nostalgia, however, there is a sinister excessive touch to retromania. It is nostalgia run amok.

Research shows that the more threatening we find the present, the more we flee into our memories. Reynold’s argues that because of digital archiving the past has never been more accessible. We have become victims of our ability to store, organize and access memories. This obsession he argues limits cultural development. I agree and see consequences beyond culture stagnation. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.

One thought on “Retromania – an unhealthy obsession?

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