Radical Desire for Time Travel


“I would say we’re in the process of radical desire for time travel, which is something different. There was a survey – really fascinating to me – done of Republican voters in this last election by the Times. Seven out of ten of them wishing America could go back to how it was in the 1950s. This is very interesting point for me because that kind of historical nostalgia is only available to a certain kind of person. ”

Gross: “A white person.”

“Mainly. I can’t go back to the 50s. Life in the 50s for me is not pretty. Nor is it pretty in 1320, 1460, 1580, 1820, or even 1960 in this country frankly. That is interesting to me. The historical nostalgia that is available to some but not to others. And I am also historically nostalgic. The left is also nostalgic. As tempting as it would be to apply the solutions of the past to 1970s semi-socialist England to the present problems, I don’t think that is possible either. I think the idea is that you find some way to restate the thinks that you find valuable in the past – if you find them valuable – in a way that people live with – in a way that is livable in this contemporary moment.”

“That interests me. how to deal with nostalgia, which is a total human train on the right and the left – but in a way that is clear-eyed and factual. ”

-Zadie Smith and Terry Gross on Fresh Air

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