I finally watched the movie Midnight in Paris, although I’d been very familiar with the philosophy behind the script – and I’ve loved that it’s always brought me back to appreciating and being fully conscious of the present moment.
The movie centers around the present being a little unsatisfying – well, because – life is a little unsatisfying! (you know, we all have those moments when we question our daily existence). It’s written imaginatively and poetically – a reminder that at some stage in our life, everyone probably thought that a different time period was the Golden Age of existence. I would bet in most cases, not in the future though. Purely because the past is something familiar, something nostalgic, something we can read about and something we can imagine/feel.
Dress – Forever New SA
Shoes – Aldo SA
Clutch Purse – From Themoderngypsydiaries store (email to order)
Whilst I wouldn’t want to live in Renaissance Italy (entire populations were wiped out due to the plague!), I quite like the idea of living in a seaside African trading town, somewhere in about the mid-to-late 16th century, when Arab/Portuguese/European traders were at the center of the emerging political, commercial, and cultural globalization.
Or perhaps in 17th century China, when the first true Chinese dynasty emerged. I have this obsession ever since I visited the Summer Palace in Beijing a few years back. It was built in 1750 and boasts such benevolence, opulence and Chinese spiritual symbolism.
Anyway, Midnight in Paris highlights the concept of nostalgia (a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past) as denial. Denial of the painful present. In quoted words, “the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s currently living in. It’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present”.
In this particular film, the main character doesn’t just daydream about escaping the unsatisfying present to Paris in the 1920s (his place and time of choice). He is actually picked up at the stroke of midnight in an antique car, and time-travels there. It’s through this journey to the past, that the character identifies the present as the most relevant place and time to be.
I suppose in whichever era you’ve lived, it’s very human to fear death and question our place in the universe and present time. Sometimes we struggle to find purpose in the here and now, and we feel as though we would have fit in better in another era. But fantasizing about living alongside/rubbing shoulders with literature guru’s like S.Fitzgerald (he wrote the Great Gatsby) and Hemmingway in a 1920’s quaint Parisian bar, isn’t exactly productive nor practical. Wouldn’t it be much more favourable not to succumb to despair, but instead become artisans of our own age, and aspire to find antidotes for the emptiness of existence in our respective presents.
I suppose the illusion that there was a golden age of the past, more exciting and creative than the present – is just an illusion. Sure the past will always have a romantic aura about it, and sure the present is something we are responsible for. Perhaps so that we can help create the necessary flux for future existence. In this same way then, as in every other era, our pages will be full of stories about interesting people and places that are antiquated with big cars and futuristic living!
In a way, the past allows us to forget about our present and future, and it allows us to enjoy what’s great about humanity. In another way, the past allows us to be complacent and compliant with our current stations in life by providing a way out of dealing with it. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia, but it’s important not to get too swept up by its romance, losing yourself in it as the current world outside passes you by.
As for the outfit, well that’s something I’d love to wear for a romantic night out in Paris- with a light overlay jacket, sometime in the near future.
Hope you enjoyed the post and I’d love to hear about time’s that you’d like to have lived in. Till next time, Carpe Diem.