Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sandy Liao - Nostalgia vs. Sustainability

How do you place value on nostalgia, sustainability, and single authorship? Are they congruent thoughts, or disjunctive thoughts?

Humans have a tendency to place value on items that are nostalgic. They collect things that remind them of cherished memories, wanting to keep the lifestyle they grew up with: music, clothing, houses. This action is driven by the notion that they are always surrounded by something secure and loving. It is the way humans decorate their “nest”. For inventors, nostalgia is important because they have value placed upon them based on how their items are valued. Single-authorship describes the fame one person can have when what they have created is widely cherished.

Yet there are some that believe in rejecting the past, thinking that it will hold them back from what the future can bring. These people promote changes- often selling the idea of a healthier, heartier lifestyle. Currently, with the idea of global warming endangering the planet’s inhabitants, sustainability has become widely supported. It caters to the idea of living an earth-conscious lifestyle, lessening pollution and encouraging giving back to nature. Its value lies in a future for the planet, whereas nostalgia has a value in the past.

While the two types of belief- nostalgia and “the new”- may seem disjunctive, they actually have a lot in common. Although they address lifestyle differently, both cater to human needs and wants. In the end, people are still living day to day using something they believe will give them happiness. As improved versions or new inventions are made, all previous items become nostalgic- just memories of the past. The cycle of new and old is constant and necessary for evolution, like yin and yang. People need to have something to look back upon in order to judge how to do things better for the future.

The current debate is that sustainability is so earth-conscious that is lacks the human element of single-authorship, but with time, sustainability will become another relic of the past- a memory of how people first began to save their planet. As newer architecture and better inventions are made, our current form of sustainability will become less valued for its purpose, and more valued for its existence as a prototype. At that point, it will become nostalgic, and people will recognize the creators for their inventions’ value.

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