There's been lots of Pulp talk this week, thanks to frontman Jarvis Cocker's show at the Whitney (under his Relaxed Muscle guise), an appearance on Jimmy Fallon and two concerts at Radio City Music Hall. I'm seeing them there tonight to get a hit of the narcotic that is nostalgia.
A lot of people wring their hands over nostalgia (with considerable friction resulting from Simon Reynolds' book Retromania). I don't think that, "This is good because it's old or reminds me of something that is," is a particularly sound critical stance, but I also cannot deny the visceral power of nostalgia. An old song I loved attaches to my pleasure receptors and rips me back in time like nothing else — sometimes the result is mindless joy and sometimes it's so overwhelming to be confronted with the way things were that I feel something in my stomach that feels like a cross between a crush and nausea. "Sorted for E's and Wizz," which my friends and I listened to compulsively during the best summer of my life, 1996, does just that. It almost hurts.
But it's also exhilarating. Once you rid yourself of the concept of "guilty pleasures," pop-cultural hedonism isn't too far behind. At this point, indulging in nostalgia is as reflexive as its effect on me.