Nostalgia for a place or time you've never been to

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ewie

Senior Member
English English
Hello folks. Does anyone happen to know if there's a term for a phenomenon (or maybe 'psychological condition':eek:) whereby a person feels nostalgia for a place he's never been to or a time he's never lived in?

I can't think of anything to add, really, to this remarkably short question.
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Okay, I've done a bit of looking on that there th'internet, and yes, some people do seem to use that term (which, for mysterious reasons, I don't remember coming across before) in the sense I want, which is specifically: nostalgia for a time or place you cannot possibly have lived in. I'm not really interested in that kind of 'rose-tinted view of one's own past'.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I would say so. Does the following fall within your description?

    "Nostalgia is looking back at actual past experiences and remembering them, usually fondly, sometimes desiring to go back and relive them. Sometimes this is valid escapism, other times it's just a consequence of the nostalgia effect. False nostalgia, on the other hand, is when the past I'd like to go back to never happened. It's fantasizing about the past."

    http://everything2.com/title/False+nostalgia

    PS Of course, nostalgia about a golden age is often false, although the person who claims to be nostalgic would prefer not to think so.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    E2efour's explanation of "false nostalgia" seems to refer to something slightly different - a longing for a past that never existed. It seems to me that it's perfectly possible to feel 'real' nostalgia for a time you haven't lived through - not a mythical "Golden Age", but simply a century when you might have felt more 'at home'.

    If it's that feeling you're talking about, ewie, then I can't think of a better word than nostalgia, with no prefacing adjective.
    I'm not sure I'd use it of a place, as opposed to a time, though.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    If it's that feeling you're talking about, ewie, then I can't think of a better word than nostalgia, with no prefacing adjective.
    I'm not sure I'd use it of a place, as opposed to a time, though.
    Yes, that's the jobbie, Mrs. There's a certain dollop of golden-ageism in my little friend's nostalgia for other centuries, but, at the same time, he's enough of a realist to know that it wasn't all beer and roses in those days. (His nostalgia is very much time + place, rather than just time:))
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, Ewie. :) I don't have much to add other than I generally use "romantic" to modify imaginary views of the past: His romantic nostalgia for the eighteenth century is untroubled by any facts. I can't really think of a good noun that means "romantic nostalgia".

    After thinking about it a little more, I've decided that "nostalgia" doesn't really need an adjective like "romantic". M-W supports this view: 2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or return of some real or romanticized period or irrecoverable condition or setting in the past <nostalgia for his more impressionable youth> <felt a sudden pang of nostalgia for German music>

    When I was a kid I shared with many boys a nostalgia for the age of dinosaurs.
     
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    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Hello Mr Ewie, in my humble opinion, nostalgia means your thoughts revert to a specific period of time that made you feel good.
    But in accordance with what you said, it had never happened before, how can you get such feeling?

    Please comment.
     

    nzfauna

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I think you'd have to explain it out. I don't think there is a word for that feeling.
    Nostalgia for a place I've never been. A unexplained connection to a place I've never seen. etc.


    Maybe there is a psychological condition of that nature??
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm wondering if myth might help us. The feelings described reminded me of the myth of Cythera, the island of Aphrodite. Baudelaire's famous, and, shocking poem (the Roy Campbell translation is the one I recommend, if you don't have French) gives an idea of the power of the idea exploited by Watteau's picture in the Louvre, which it is partly about, I suspect.

    I'm not sure that 'going on a voyage to Cythera' is quite what I understand Ewie to be describing. The phrase evokes the idea of yearning for something unobtainable because in an imagined past, but it is also in most people's minds, I think, at least partly concerned with love, or with the finding of the ideal soul-mate.
     
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    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I agree that nostalgia does not necessarily have to refer to a time or place which is familiar to you or which you have actually experienced. However, true nostalgia and false nostalgia seem to me to be useful terms to distinguish between the two meanings.

    Some people who claim to be nostalgic for a non-existent past clearly suffer from false memory syndrome.

    For example, those remarkable individuals who are regressed under hypnosis to a period long before their birth. They might well also have a feeling of nostalgia in their waking moments, if they remembered what happened during the hypnosis session.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Thanks for all the answers, folks:):thumbsup: I'm still not sure what to call it ~ I don't care for false nostalgia (it sounds ... well, false); false memory syndrome is a bit more like it (but sounds false again, and a bit too clinical); I'm very reluctant to use plain nostalgia because, for me, that specifically means 'longing for one's own past', which this isn't.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks for all the answers, folks:):thumbsup: I'm still not sure what to call it ~ I don't care for false nostalgia (it sounds ... well, false); false memory syndrome is a bit more like it (but sounds false again, and a bit too clinical); I'm very reluctant to use plain nostalgia because, for me, that specifically means 'longing for one's own past', which this isn't.
    How erotic do you want it to be, Ewie?
     

    hyperslow

    Senior Member
    Polish
    From epistemological point of view it is highly unlikely to think about an 'experience' that had never occured, existed.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    It seems to me I've read things like She felt a strange nostalgia for a time long before her birth. It's more of a desire than nostalgia, isn't it?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    You could always invent a word, ewie.


    Yester-yearning?






    Golly that's brilliant, Looloo:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     

    scorpiotide

    New Member
    Chinese
    Hi guys! I was thinking about this feeling today as well, stumbled upon this while searching for a good coin :)

    I don't think false nostalgia would do, since it's about something that never happened/existed. What we are talking about here is more about something that might pretty likely have happened, but long before someone's birth (from a few decades to a few centuries). Like "oh I wish I could live in the 80s in Manchester, so much amazing music being made."

    I heard about a word called "prestalgia", which means feeling nostalgic about something that is happening or have not yet happened. It's not about our case, but would that sparks some inspiration? :) like "postalgia?"

    I think people's fascination about retro/vintage things can be a part of this as well.
     

    Michael Mackenzie

    New Member
    English (American)

    I apologize for intruding into your discussion of “nostalgiafor a place or time you've never been to,” and I realize that it is rather old,but just in case some of you are still interested, I recall reading the term “nostalgicillusion,” which sounds like a description of what you are discussing.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm an Ancient Greek in an Englishman's body. I'm channelling Cleopatra. The word "atavism" is sometimes used (correctly or not) to refer to a strong attachment to a byegone age: I found this in the BNC
    FPR 1378 Equally, however, the farmer is entitled to demand that the countryside be viewed neither as a more extensive version of an urban recreation ground, nor as an arcadian idyll set aside for the pursuit of an indulgent atavism
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    Reading this old thread, I see that several contributors questioned whether one could have strong attachment to a time and place that have never experienced themselves.

    One specific example is that of adult offspring of migrants especially where the offspring are not fully assimilated. There is often a curiosity about, a yearning for, some idealized notion of the life they have not experienced themselves directly but have heard a lot about from older family members and others in similar circumstances.

    I don't know of a name for this phenomenon, but I wouldn't be surprised if anthropologists do.
     

    sunny_88

    New Member
    English
    I think I know what they want to say . I also have memories of places and things that .. well probably now .. not hapened to me . I don't remember them very well but I do know that I haven't seen those nowhere . Sometimes I'm just out with friends and I start to remember things but not fully . I know I haven't been there , but I've got that feeling that there was something important that happened in thouse things and I have to remember them , but I can't . There are diferent cents, tastes , feelings or places that are provoking thouse memories . It's like they are are from some other life . ;[
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    There is a term in psychology called Sehnsucht.

    That might apply.

    I looked on line for a psychology definition but only found a bunch of new age mumbo jumbo. Maybe one of our German speaking members can amplify.
     
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    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The word "atavism" is sometimes used (correctly or not) to refer to a strong attachment to a byegone age.
    It does mean attachment to a byegone age (in a sociocultural context , not a genetic one), in the sense however that people actually revert to the 'old ways', i.e. they start behaving or thinking as their ancestors would have. I think that goes beyond the mere yearning for or curiosity about an earlier time that we are talking about here.

    Michael Mackenzie mentions nostalgic illusions, which initially I thought might work, but then it occurred to me that the expression is somewhat derogatory: people with nostalgic illusions idealise the past, in my opinion, they yearn for something unreal: illusion, after all, means delusion or misconception. I don't like fake/false nostalgia for the same reason.

    PS. I think nostalgia has to be based on past experience so, again in my opinion, I do not belive we are talking about nostalgia in any form here: this is longing, yearning, but not nostalgia.;)
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thank you clynn393!

    These definitions are from Urban Dictionary (submitted in 2007 and 2008):

    1. Protonostalgia

    A feeling one gets of being nostalgic for a period of time or place they had never been. Coined by Ryan Norths Dinosaur Comics.

    2. protonostalgia

    An emotion you feel when you are nostalgic for a time you were never alive in. It is a proper subclass of nostalgia.

    3. protonostalgia

    Longing for an inaccurate or naive image of an era you may or, far more commonly, may not have lived through.
     
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    zapateado

    Senior Member
    English USA
    I think "wistful daydreaming" comes close to the sensation, though daydreaming does not have to involve a past, real or not, but can include fancying a non-existent past. "Sehnsucht" in psychology seems to mean a longing for some event, circumstance, or achievement that would give meaning to one's life.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Nostalgia for a past one has never lived in might be called "historical nostalgia" See Live Science, which discusses a character in a Woody Allen film who has a nostalgia for 1920's Paris. They distinguish between "personal nostalgia" and "historical nostalgia".
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    The word you are looking for is "protonostalgia."
    Is it?

    I was wondering if "atavistic yearnings" might suit ewie's mate. Assuming they still are mates after all these years.

    Ref post number 27, that dictionary entry is rather light. In actual use the word nostalgia is always associated with a person's own experiences, however rose-tinted.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The prefix 'proto-' means (according to AHD):

    1. First in time; earliest: protolithic.
    2. First formed; primitive; original: protohuman.

    Those definitions may not be easily associated with the kind of nostalgia described in the OP.

    But what about 'para-'? These are the first four definitions given by AHD:

    1. Beside; near; alongside: parathyroid.
    2. Beyond: paranormal.
    3. Incorrect; abnormal: paresthesia.
    4. Similar to; resembling: paratyphoid fever.

    Paranostalgia.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    My little friend and I (yes, we're still friends) thank you all for your continuing efforts, folks:)

    We've put our heads together and ... well, ideally we're looking for a two-word term [adj + noun-which-is-probably-nostalgia] which is self-explanatory ~ and which doesn't make us sound too delusional:cool:
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    ...ideally we're looking for a two-word term [adj + noun-which-is-probably-nostalgia] which is self-explanatory...
    I'm almost positive you know this:

    The BYU Google Books interface allows searches for strings such as [adj + nostalgia] - the actual string being "[j*] nostalgia".

    There are two corpuses, a British English and an American English. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the BrE interface to work properly for the above search string. The AmE interface returned 226 collocations. (One sets the maximum number of results by clicking "options" at the bottom left corner; the default is otherwise 100.)

    Among the results, which included some of the suggestions given above, for example, false nostalgia, romantic nostalgia and historical nostalgia, there was also vicarious nostalgia.

    These are a couple of extracts from the Google Books results for the phrase:
    .
    Likewise, Baker and Kennedy (1994) distinguish between 'real' nostalgia and 'simulated' nostalgia. The former is a nostalgia for some remembered past time, the one Davis (1979) identified originally; the latter is a form of vicarious nostalgia evoked from stories, images, and possessions (Belk, 1988; Baker & Kennedy, 1994; Stern, 1992).
    --- Brands in the Retrospective - A consumer motivation study, Nora Henning.

    The sixteenth-century world is, as the social historian Peter Laslett said in those great works that he did in the sixties, a particular structure of social life that one doesn't look back to with any nostalgia. We can't look back to it with nostalgia because we didn't experience it, but there is not even any vicarious nostalgia - we don't want to go back to it.
    --- A profile of Jonathan Miller, Michael Romain.
    .
     

    Miss Amazing

    New Member
    Scotch-Israeli
    hiraeth (n.): a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you. Do you have a source for that definition?

    From Wikipedia, I found this: Hiraeth /hɪəraɪ̯θ/ is a Welsh word that has no direct English translation. The University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past.
     
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    Miss Amazing

    New Member
    Scotch-Israeli
    I don't. I guess it's just reworded. Wiki cited has Lampeter "attempting" to define it as this longing for a place that you can't return to. Not necessarily because it doesn't exist anymore, but because it never actually did explicitly, implied, figuratively, or otherwise. Yes?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I imagine from the attempted definition that some of what is missed was real and some romanticized, but it is a Welsh word, rather than a generally known English word, and it apparently describes this feeling not for a general place but specifically for "the Wales of the past."

    I mention this only because those last two items seem to disqualify it as a general term for a "nostalgia for a place he's never been to or a time he's never lived in."
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I cannot imagine the situation where this term would be required.

    Why can't you just say, "I always wanted to go to Hawaii."? For example.
     
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