'Tique Talk ~ About Antique Collecting ~ by Marianne Dow

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Death to Originality - Long Live Vintage!

"Never has there been a society so obsessed with the cultural artifacts of its own immediate past. Retromania is the first book to examine the retro industry and ask the question: Is this retromania a death knell for any originality and distinctiveness of our own?"

So asks the new book titled Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past by Simon Reynolds.

Reviewer Nicholas Carr writes:
"As all time is compressed into the present moment, our recycling becomes ever more compulsive. We begin to plunder not just bygone eras but also the immediate past. Over the course of the last decade, writes Reynolds, “the interval between something happening and its being revisited seemed to shrink insidiously.” Not only did we have 1960s revivals and 70s revivals and 80s revivals, but we even began to see revivals of musical fashions from the 90s, such as shoegaze and Britpop. It sometimes seems that the reason things go out of fashion so quickly these days is because we cannot wait for them to come back into fashion. Displaying enthusiasm for something new is socially risky, particularly in an ironical time. It is safer to wait for it to come around again, preferably bearing the “vintage” label. "
-- Excerpt from Nicholas Carr's review of Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past

While the main focus of Reynolds' book is on late-20th century music, he also discusses retro trends in fashion, architecture, movies, and art, so it's certainly of interest to those of us who like antiques and vintage stuff.

But, do we, as a culture, have ARCHIVE FEVER? Is our obsession with saving and archiving all the minutia of history leading to anarchive?

You can read a nice long excerpt from the book here, where Reyolds discusses French philosopher Jacques Derrida's book, Archive Fever, and talks about how the 'archival mindset' is dooming us to a world of un-originality.

Reynolds tells us that we don't need to save everything, that history needs to take out the trash :

"...delirium of documentation, which extends beyond institutions and professional historians to the Web's explosion of amateur archive creation. There is a feeling of frenzy to all this activity; it's like people are slinging stuff 'up there' - information, images, testimonials - in a mad-dash hurry before some mass shutdown causes all our brains to burn out simultaneously. Nothing is too trivial, too insignificant, to be discarded; every pop-culture scrap, every trend and fad, every forgotten-by-most performer or TV programme is being annotated and auteur-ised. The result, visible above all on the Internet, is that the archive degenerates into the anarchive: a barely navigable disorder of data-debris and memory-trash. For the archive to maintain any kind of integrity, it must sift and reject, consign some memories to oblivion. History must have a dustbin, or History will be a dustbin, a gigantic, sprawling garbage heap."

Sounds to me as if the free storage space of the internet has turned us into virtual hoarders.

As antiques dealers, we want people to want to buy back the past. That's how we make a living. But look around at those mall booths and even dealers at shows who just have so much junk. Are we doing our business a disservice in the long run? Oughtn't we to edit and curate our collections and merchandise?

Lots to think about, eh?

Ms. Dow Antiques Blog 'Tique Talk is published by msdowantiques.com

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