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Nostalgia Delenda Est

“You can't go home again.” -Thomas Wolfe

To look back on the past and engage in self reflection is something we all must do--with the aim of using that introspection to form a vision of the future. One can look up Gothic cathedrals and Baroque paintings and admire their aesthetic feats. But we cannot go back to that time. No amount of intellectual Dungeons and Dragons will change that the contemporary US is shaped by post modernity; this means that no matter how "trad" someone wishes to present themselves they are molded by the zeitgeist.

The far right and Conservatism Inc both have a weakness for nostalgia. The only difference is that the former prides itself on having the correct version of it (traditional Christian monarchy) rather than the liberalism that created the United States. Neither of these are productive. The American people that created the US Constitution are no more alive than the Hapsburg dynasty, even if their descendants exist.

The Modernism in art derided by radical traditionalists did not emerge out of a vacuum. The men that created it--men who came from the right--needed to articulate and create an aesthetic for the future. The old order had been discredited and then killed off in the trenches of the Great War. Why would the artists and political thinkers of the time simply want to "go back?" The right is eternally looking backward, consigning itself to pining for a romanticized portrait of the time Before. For the American conservative, this may be before the Civil War or the Federal Reserve System. For the traditionalist, it's the French Revolution or the Protestant Reformation.

Ultimately, these events have happened. By constantly critiquing or shouting down anything that has emerged out of Modernity(TM), the internet right wing will never have to think beyond pornographic nostalgia for the past. For an intellectual sphere allegedly committed to the truth, it all too often falls into self indulgent fantasies.

This kind of yearning is antithetical to the truth as well. A revival in the arts that apes the Baroques or Romantics because the aesthetic beauty of those paintings is synonymous with the truth. This is an understandable, but misguided approach. Those artists were shaped by the zeitgeist of their time. If such art existed now, it would be overly sentimental and untrue to the time we live in. Rather than look back on those periods and live vicariously through them, there are much better questions to ask: what were the conditions that made that aesthetic possible? Why did one particular movement diminish in relevance over time? How can we apply that knowledge to today?

In this light, Vaporwave is a style more true to our time than any kind of Renaissance revival could be. While backward looking, to the 1980s, it is the kind of art "movement" only possible thanks to the internet. Vaporwave is simultaneously a new form of music and graphical art that celebrates and simultaneously critiques post-modernity. Most importantly though, the music and graphics are memorable.

Classical revival is not going to meet the needs of the age; telling the truth through art will not be pretty. This is why Fluland (formerly Caspermag) has managed to get a sizeable following. The poetry and fiction is true to the absurdities of Amerikwa/Weimerica, rather than self-consciously "restore" an imagined version of the past.

An aesthetic vision for the future is not to be found in nineteenth century landscape paintings, but "Tren Warriors".

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