Something has been worrying me. Am I living in a present which has completely given up on the future?
Pretty much, according to Simon Reynolds in ‘Retromania’ his superb dissection of western societies current obsession with ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’.
The brave new world of the sixties, where unless something was modern and new it simply wasn’t happening, has given way to a world where all that matters is either the atemporal or the past.
The main thrust of Reynolds interest is music but he manages to tie his thesis into similar trends in everything from banking to manufacturing to space exploration.
The overall effect of his erudite study is both exciting for its intellectual vigor but unsettling. Why have we given up creating content that looks forward rather than back?
Possibly it’s just exhaustion following on from decades and decades of innovation in the twentieth century, as Reynolds hypothesizes . For example, the first decade of the 21st century brought nothing as startlingly new as hip-hop or techno or house.
Maybe, as Reynolds states simply, this lack of belief in change is because it’s time for ‘the west …to rest’.