Nostalgia, Transactive Memory, Gladwell & Herndon...

I recently stumbled across Malcolm Gladwell's brilliant Revisionist History Podcast, which I've been consuming voraciously on slow sojourns across London. As a social anthropologist-cum-critical theorist, I've become even more enamored since hearing his lucid reflections committed to audio format. Its' vital, pertinent listening - and a finessed exercise in discourse which directly challenges the reductionist rhetoric of the newsfeed.

Amid the incredible material on offer, one episode struck me as personally resonant, in which Gladwell touches on the idea of transactive memory, or the notion that individuals in a collective / relationship effectively act as storehouses or portals of a kind of collective memory system - at once holding and forming a more complex memory system. I'm new to the concept, but it feels fascinating to me - a notion which dovetails into my studies into 'hauntology' and nostalgia.

Here's Malcolm Gladwell speaking a little more about this....

And some further reflections on the notion of nostalgia, from Holly Herndon, who's work I find wonderfully populist in the very best of ways.

How do transactive memory systems serve to invent orthodoxies in arts practice? There's so much to unpack here - more questions than answered. Gladwell's reflections on transactive memory and Winston Churchill are fascinating..

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

Nostalgia can also lead into certain kinds of orthodoxy within genre, and I think that gets really dangerous. Once you create this entire rule structure of what something’s supposed to be like, that’s when I get completely bored and turn off. I’m more interested when things are mixed up and mashed up and people are able to experiment outside of orthodoxy. I’m not completely anti-nostalgia, but it’s not really a sensibility that I strongly play into. I think we can find new forms and new paradigms.
— Holly Herndon