I'm already sad about this as I type it...
November 13, 2006 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Is there a word for a sort of nostalgia or longing for the current moment?

Nostalgia is a word used to describe the longing that one feels for (the place of) their childhood, a romanticized place that we can never go back to (due to loss of innocence and all that jazz).

Is there a word in English or otherwise that describes the feeling of longing for the present moment that we know will pass and will never occur again?

I looked here, here and here, all good threads about notions and words, untranslatable or not, and did not find what I am looking for.
posted by exlotuseater to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I'm certain Buddhism has a term for this, I just can't remember it. It is, of course, seen as a bad thing. "clinging" to the present robs you of actually experiencing it.

I know exactly what you mean though.
posted by phrontist at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2006

Trishna is the sanskrit term for desire/attachment generally speaking. There has got to be something better though.
posted by phrontist at 5:31 PM on November 13, 2006

That reminds me of this exchange from Kicking and Screaming (the Noah Baumbach movie, not the Will Ferrell movie):

Max: I'm too nostalgic. I'll admit it.
Skippy: We graduated four months ago. What can you possibly be nostalgic for?
Max: I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I've begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I'm reminiscing this right now. I can't go to the bar because I've already looked back on it in my memory... and I didn't have a good time.
posted by amarynth at 5:32 PM on November 13, 2006 [5 favorites]

Best answer: There's a passage about (roughly) this idea in a recent Salon article:
In his famous essay "The Sense of an Ending," the British literary critic Frank Kermode drew a distinction between the two Greek words for time: "kronos," which is the mere tick-tock of ordinary life, clock time, just "one damn thing after another," and "kairos," which is special or crisis time, transfigured time, time with the tragic dimension restored. He argues that Christianity, the central Western myth about time, instills that dimension; so does great literature.

So, in their own way, do children. They uncannily double your experiences, like an overtone or an octave note. You see yourself in your kids, but in a very strange way. Watching your children is like watching yourself through a window. You simultaneously live your life and observe it. This leads to a peculiar phenomenon: You frequently remember the experiences you have with your kids at the same time you're having them.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:36 PM on November 13, 2006 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know of any word for it, but "nostalgia for the present" works fine. (There's no single word for "French toast" or "puppy love"; so what?) For what it's worth, it's the name of a good book of poetry by Andrei Voznesensky, and you might be interested in this discussion of the quality in Godard.
posted by languagehat at 5:49 PM on November 13, 2006

Best answer: Nowstalgia.

Thanks, I'll be here all night.
posted by ontic at 5:58 PM on November 13, 2006 [11 favorites]

Best answer: The Japanese call it mono no aware – or did, I have no idea whether it's still a key part of their culture.

The Elizabethans had a similar notion, mutabilitie – the sense that everything's always changing. And Buddhists talk about impermanence.
posted by zadcat at 6:10 PM on November 13, 2006

"How could today be any more beautiful?" Tom cried panglossianistically.
posted by rob511 at 6:26 PM on November 13, 2006

Best answer: I've heard it referred to as "anticipated nostalgia."
posted by cerebus19 at 6:27 PM on November 13, 2006

Could fear of change be another way of describing being happy in the moment and not wanting that to end? Maybe a word for fear of change, then.
posted by emelenjr at 6:33 PM on November 13, 2006

"It's a Kodak moment"...remember the ads?

Am I a child of the media or what?
posted by JujuB at 8:09 PM on November 13, 2006


ba-dum (crash)
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 9:24 PM on November 13, 2006

Chinese is good for this: 留恋 and 依依不舍 are both close to what you want.
posted by of strange foe at 10:02 PM on November 13, 2006

I experience this a lot, but I'm not sure if there's a word for it.

On a related note, is there a word for that feeling you get when you're sure there's a word for something and you're right on the verge of coming up with it, but can't? No, I didn't think so.

I think "anticipated nostalgia" or "nostalgia for the present" would work.

Some poetic treatments of the subject, in case anyone is interested:

Nostalgia for the Present, Jan Haag

The cicadas like
electrical impulses
fill the afternoon
from one fastness of the universe
to another
filling my heart with summer
leaves in abundance
covering the forest
grass covering the hills
love welling up
spilling across your
my body
with the soul-contracting
of a gasp
as you touch my hand
my face
as you touch my belly
like a cicada
full of electrical impulses
in the quiet
of the summer afternoon
where two lives intersect
I hardly dare breathe
with your fingers
against my lips
your touch on the very
apex of my heart
electrical impulses
as pervasive
as the cidada's hum
through the summer afternoon
as the mist
obscures the number
of the leaves
on the trees
and my heart
with longing for
this moment
to happen

Nostalgia for the Present, Jorge Luis Borges

At that very instant:
Oh, what I would not give for the joy
of being at your side in Iceland
inside the great unmoving daytime
and of sharing this now
the way one shares music
or the taste of fruit.
At that very instant
the man was at her side in Iceland.
posted by Urban Hermit at 12:22 AM on November 14, 2006 [5 favorites]

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