In a world comprised of advancing technologies, the human obsession with the past remains vigilant. This prevailing interest is not limited to the far past, such as the Civil War era or medieval England, but more recent eras, such as the ‘70s.
In downtown Huntington, amidst Sprint and Intelos stores, there is a vintage video game store with playable entertainment systems from the ‘80s and vintage arcade machines. It is not uncommon to walk by the place and see it filled with people. People’s interest in the recent past is generally borne out of nostalgia, but what about periods of history further back in time? Fairs and festivals that emulate a certain period of history are always prevalent. While often anachronistic, people all over the world engage in such events, either as spectators or reenactors.
As we move forward, we are always looking back.
What is it about the past that invites such interest? The further technology advances, the greater the interest in the past seems to grow. There are a number of factors for this, but it is arguably the severed connection to our past that generates such interest in recreating it. We only have historical writings, works of art and some photographs to connect us to the past, and such things can only take us so far. History is like an un-climbable mountain peak: we can see it, we have an idea of what it might be like at the summit, but there is no way to know all the details. So we fill in the blanks as best we can.
People’s obsession with the past can also be a way to escape the real world for a while. The modern world moves at a much faster pace than ever before, and sometimes it is nice to slow down and take a moment to sit back and relax.
But most importantly, history, either through study or anachronism, teaches us to understand where we were and where we are going. The past is a lesson: it shows us our successes and failures. It guides us down the right path so that we have a better idea where the future might lead us. No one can predict the future, but with the past as a lesson, one can at least make a pretty good guess.