In The Hours Have Lost Their Clock, Grafton Tanner charts the rise of nostalgia in an era knocked out of time.
Nostalgia is the defining emotion of our age. Political leaders promise a return to yesteryear. Old movies are remade and cancelled series are rebooted. Veterans reenact past wars, while the displaced across the world long for home. But who is behind this collective ache for a home in the past? Do we need to eliminate nostalgia, or just cultivate it better? And what is at stake if we make the wrong choice?
Moving from the fight over Confederate monuments to the birth of homeland security to the mourning of species extinction, Grafton Tanner traces nostalgia’s ascent in the twenty-first century, revealing its power as both a consequence of our unstable time and a defense against it. With little faith in a future of climate change and economic anxiety, many have turned to nostalgia to weather the present, while powerful elites exploit it for their own gain.
An exploration into the politics of loss and yearning, The Hours Have Lost Their Clock is an urgent call to take nostalgia seriously. The very future depends on it.
“Is our collective life flashing before our eyes as we head toward certain annihilation, or does our nostalgia play a healthier role, orienting us in an otherwise post-temporal reality? In a world where the reassuring sweep of the second hand has been usurped by a digital pulse, Grafton Tanner’s meditation on looking back may be just what we need to dare look forward again.” Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock
“Thoughtful and intelligent.” Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show
“[M]oving… Mixing personal history and anecdote with political theory, Tanner offers an illuminating examination of our now.” Los Angeles Review of Books
“Nostalgia is in part a response to a pervasive sense of loss, a feeling that only stands to intensify as our living standards continue to decline and as the climate crisis accelerates. The Hours Have Lost Their Clock makes the case that people seeking out the warm embrace of nostalgia in the face of those challenges do not require a reality check but ‘a livable world…’ Nostalgia, Tanner argues, can be put to more positive use in the effort to build that world.” Jacobin
“[A] thought-provoking reflection on our out of joint times and a warning that there is no escape into the past.” The Morning Star
Shocked by 9/11, the Great Recession, digital anxiety, and ecological collapse, the West suffers from nostalgia. People everywhere yearn for a utopian version of the past that never existed. Desperate for relief, many long to escape from the present. Some will stop at nothing to achieve it.
In his essential new book, Grafton Tanner, author of Babbling Corpse: Vaporwave and the Commodification of Ghosts, argues that our nostalgia today is partly a consequence of the attention economy. At a time when historical literacy is crucial, and old prejudices are percolating into the present, Big Tech’s predictive algorithms are locking us into nostalgic feedback loops. The result is a precarious society with its gaze fixed on the good old days.
Spanning from the ancient Sophists to Black Mirror, The Circle of the Snake is at once a reckoning with the myth of digital utopia and an incisive analysis of nostalgia as a weapon to spread fascism.
“[A] much-needed vision of democratic alternatives to surveillance capitalism.” Vincent Mosco, author of The Smart City in a Digital World
“Tanner lays bare our ideologies and confronts not only the historical development of capitalism but the particular condition of today’s digital corporate world.” Alfie Bown, author of The PlayStation Dreamworld
“In a world where it is suddenly impossible to disconnect, to log off, Tanner’s work deserves redoubled consideration.” Ryan Alexander Diduck, author of The Limits of Control
“[A] blueprint and a map for understanding where we are in the cultural landscape.” What Sleeps Beneath
“The Circle of the Snake is a welcome addition to the oversaturated market of politics of technology texts for the general reader.” Communication, Capitalism & Critique
In the age of global capitalism, vaporwave celebrates and undermines the electronic ghosts haunting the nostalgia industry. Ours is a time of ghosts in machines, killing meaning and exposing the gaps inherent in the electronic media that pervade our lives. Vaporwave is an infant musical micro-genre that foregrounds the horror of electronic media’s ability to appear – as media theorist Jeffrey Sconce terms it – “haunted.” Experimental musicians such as INTERNET CLUB and MACINTOSH PLUS manipulate Muzak and commercial music to undermine the commodification of nostalgia in the age of global capitalism while accentuating the uncanny properties of electronic music production. Babbling Corpse reveals vaporwave’s many intersections with politics, media theory, and our present fascination with uncanny, co(s)mic horror. The book is aimed at those interested in global capitalism’s effect on art, musical raids on mainstream “indie” and popular music, and anyone intrigued by the changing relationship between art and commerce.
“Babbling Corpse is quick and academic, but it still stands sturdy as a deconstruction of an enigmatic and confounding artistic movement. It is thoroughly researched and rich in source material, yet also engaging, especially for readers familiar but perplexed by the haunted wells of pop culture.” Under the Radar