Nostos Ou Topos

“San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. It was madness in any direction, at any hour you could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right. That we were winning…that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense, we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.”

The above is an excerpt from Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas”. I was reminded of this beautiful passage from Hunters journal last night while watching a documentary about him entitled “Gonzo”.

I must have been 18 or 19 when I first watched the Johnny Depp version of “Fear and Loathing”. I remember how strange that film seemed to me then (and how strange it still appears to this day). But I also remember the above passage, and how when it was first read chills ran down my spine, tears stinging the corner of my eyes. I was arrested by the nostalgic utopia and wonder of it all. These things have always arrested me.

Isabel Fonseca, the author of “Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey”, had this to say about nostalgia for utopia:

Nostos is the Greek for “a return home”; the Gypsies have no home, and, perhaps uniquely among peoples, they have no dream of a homeland. Utopia-ou topos-means “no place.” Nostalgia for utopia: a return home to no place.”

This became the fate of those children of the Sixties. This nostalgic longing for a Utopian dream that they were sure really happened. They were there, they saw it, they were it. Peace and love were real and tangible beings, not just some cheap bumper stickers, slogans on a t-shirt or fridge magnets.

And then the wave crashed. It wasn’t that the vision of the Sixties was so unrealistic that it surely couldn’t sustain itself. It was that the children of the Sixties, with all their “flower power” and flowing dresses, had a vision beyond this world. A vision this world was not ready for; may never be ready for.

And in many ways those who refuse to give up this vision long after the Sixties have come and gone are beset by a similar fate as that of the Gypsies: a deep and discernible longing for a place and time that, try as they may, they can never return to.


Blogger Angela said...

Did you ever see the movie Across the Universe? I love how they portray their "trip" on a bus similar to this one... And Bono's there too. Oh it's good! J'adore this movie~

2:06 PM  
Blogger Stefanie Watson said...

I don't really have trouble sleeping. If you'd read the blog post above the one you commented on, I slept for 16 hours last night.
However, thank you for the advice.
I wish I knew you. I love your photography.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

Angela, i had a good friend of mine a couple years back tell me that i should see "Across The Universe". I'll take your reminder to be a sign that i should give this film a go.

Stefanie, welcome to the blog. glad you like the photos. the earplugs comment derived after reading that a crying child woke you from your sleep. thought maybe if you had some earplugs the baby wouldnt wake you.

10:09 PM  

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