the two nostalgias

I recently watched Doctor Sleep, the film sequel to The Shining.

Much of our entertainment these days relies on nostalgia, the recreation of stories experiences we’ve previously encountered. Hence the expansion of franchising and endless barrage of sequels. However, the implementing of this nostalgia can work in one of two ways, evoking one of the two kinds of nostalgia.

Restorative nostalgia is defined by a longing for the way thins used to be and a desire to recreate the past, whereas Reflective nostalgia is defined by a sense of acceptance and awe at the ways in which life has changed.

There are plenty of movies out there that are simply a rehash of what we’ve already seen before. Minimal effort on the part of the filmmakers results in the stoking of our sense to return to the past. However, certain films, Doctor Sleep included among them, make the choice to return to the past for the sake of the present.

Without spoiling two much, the first two hours of Doctor Sleep stand on their own as a compelling story with fascinating characters. By the time the film returns to the familiar world of Kubrick’s original, it not only feels like they’ve earned the right to do so, but the result also feels inevitable. We’re not going back to The Overlook Hotel and the horrors within to reminisce, but because it can help us deal with the present. This is reflective nostalgia at work.

I’m a big believer in trying to make myself nostalgic for the present. Be it with the songs I’m playing on repeat, the books I’m reading, or the movies I’m watching, I’m always conscious of making each day something I’ll long for in the future.

Perhaps this is what it is to be present.

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