Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past

Book - 2011
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We live in a pop age gone loco for retro and crazy for commemoration, band re-formations and reunion tours, expanded reissues of classic albums and outtake-crammed box sets, remakes and sequels, tribute albums and mash-ups. But what happens when we run out of past? Are we heading toward a sort of cultural-ecological catastrophe where the archival stream of pop history has been exhausted? Simon Reynolds, one of the finest music writers of his generation, argues that we have indeed reached a tipping point, and that although earlier eras had their own obsessions with antiquity the Renaissance with its admiration for Roman and Greek classicism, the Gothic movement's invocations of medievalism 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?
Publisher: New York : Faber & Faber, 2011.
ISBN: 9780865479944
Characteristics: xxxvi, 458 p. ;,21 cm.


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JCLBryanV May 06, 2015

What happens to the cultural present, let alone its future, when so much of what defines us is rooted in some form of retrospection?
Reynolds’s discussion about music’s endless references to the past is itself exhaustive. However, his analysis doesn’t stop there. Particularly interesting is the chapter on the fashion world’s obsession with retro styles, which in Reynolds’s words are a “mad scramble to pillage the past as soon as a decent-enough interval has passed.” Eminently readable.

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