Thursday, November 29, 2012

Golden Artifacts of the Aphasic Record

Vintage on deviantArt
No, the title is not a typographical error. If you’ll indulge, I’ll explain.

This Thanksgiving my family and I reminisced about the early video games of the 1980s as we watched the children play games on smart phones and tablets.

Legoland Castle on deviantArt
As I, my friends and, it seems, much of the world enter middle-age nostalgia can be a powerful force driving our passions, our endeavors and much of our social media. The phenomenon is certainly nothing new. Anyone old enough certainly remembers the Hollywood obsession with 1950s and ‘60s retro culture in the 1980s. What child of the ‘70s or ‘80s didn’t love Back To The Future or grow up watching Happy Days and Leave It To Beaver re-runs? Now, with the advent of the global Internet and social media it’s easier than ever to remember the wonder years of our youth as we easily locate beloved, nostalgic relics from our youth that have been found locked away in basements and attics around the world.

Actor Wil Wheaton on Twitter
Just this week residents of the Twitterverse were treated to actor Wil Wheaton’s virtual online garage sale and real-life purge of his own collection of nostalgic memorabilia that had until now been locked away in customary cardboard prisons found in his garage. And of course let’s not forget that Mr. Wheaton himself is a nostalgic reminder of a favorite television series of our youth for many of us. Many people still remember him as “Wesley Crusher”, not “Dr. Isaac Parish” of Eureka, or even “Wil Wheaton” from the Big Bang Theory.

Intellivision Gaming Console on eBay
Why, do you ask, would hundreds or even thousands of people around the world watch as a man thousands of miles away empties his garage? – An original Atari gaming console. Need I say more? It’s the music of our youth on actual tape cassettes, the movies and television series on video cassettes, even the worn, painted T-shirts we used to wear that give us all those familiar, nostalgic pangs we all crave and give us that cathartic release we’re looking for as we remember the favorite items of our own youth – the Matchbox cars, the G.I. Joes, the comic books, the Cabbage Patch Kids, the Barbies, the Fisher Price slides, the Slinkies – that let us revert back to the boys and girls we used to be, that helps us remember that we too were young, that it was not so long ago and it was good.

Solution on deviantArt
That’s how we remember it. So we unpack those boxes and play with that old Rubic’s Cube a little. We hook up our old Intellivisions and Nintendos and play the old games for a few days. We wonder how such treasures ever got locked away in storage in the first place. How did we ever part with these things? Then, not so long after we return to our youth we remember how to solve the cube and suddenly it’s not quite as fun. We get annoyed by gaming controls tethered to bulky consoles with twisty, tangled chords. And with a sigh and a final insistence that, boy, were these things great, we pack them up again and return them to storage or go on eBay to hunt for others seeking to relive their youth.

Hot Rid on deviantArt
Are we wrong to remember our youth with rose-colored glasses? Do we all have some sort of brain damage, aphasia that only lets our mouths form good words about the golden artifacts of our past? I don’t think so. Our past is an important part of who we are. It informs our present and our future. Even if we have a tendency to build up the good and overlook the bad, at least we remember. Remembering is good. It helps us learn. It helps us grow. Possibly, remembering a positively skewed version of our youth helps to paint a picture of the innocence of our youth, real or imagined, to remind us of the adults we want to be.

Not So Random on deviantArt
I wonder in this holiday shopping season, even with its rampant commercialism, what unsuspected, even unintended, positive memories we’ll create for the children in our lives through the gifts we give. We never really know how some silly toy or cheesy movie will have a positive impact on a child’s future.

All of my original 3D digital renders shown here can be viewed full-size and downloaded at deviantArt.

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