a characteristic tint on your images of distant — not necessarily native — times or places, “the ineliminable haze on faraway mountains in a brightest of days”; accrues by a living memorys innate, if slow, “blithe wash”: the older a memory, the more positively reinforced it gets — from a pinprick of birthpain to lifelong yearning for the paradise of childhood. More than a stress-coping adaptation, it is now understood as a fundamental trait of any emergent consciousness (Minds arent any less nostalgic than Humans); it may be trending up historically, possibly in a feedback loop: by nostalgizing our past we learn to more efficiently extract, prime, rehearse — seed the future with — nostalgia-rich ore in the present. Obsessed with our stashes for late-age reminiscing, we may be losing taste for the “raw now” without a nostalgic sauce.  ■    Nostalgia is conservative: it longs for rigidity, systemity, inside-the-rock protectedness, for a crisp detailed intake unsmeared by understanding generalizations; for uniformity, sharing, purity, innocence — ultimately, for the long-past opening of the puppet show. Still, conservative critics see in “cultivated nostalgia” another disease of the fading world: “lost into the shine” of the past, minds close up, curtail perception, slide into a paralyzing nostomania; as that comes more natural with age, serial addicts may hasten oldening in a life “to reach for the torque of lucid lateness.” But the perfect object of nostalgia is — or imitates — childhood: “lateness is rot,” the purest nostalgic bliss is incompleteness, neotenic under-unfoldedness, pausing in the doorway of beyond B — for small values of B; weve reimagined the golden age from the past into a utopian future but that only betrays the thirst — imperative? — to simplify, purify, invelop: to shrug off the now-burdensome complexity. ■    Naturally thickening at the lifesheds, nostalgia takes practice in the productive middle age: nostalgize for something you havent seen — for something to never exist, for timeless fancy instead of unreachable past; enlove, nostalgically, impossible worlds so you can imagine them. Better, nostalgize the here-and-now (“an operational definition of happiness”): savor the ineliminable nostalgic whitewash in your eye, learn to condense it at will; “dance only more beautifully for all these puppet strings.”

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