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

Kirusha

Senior Member
Did Velisarius (post 38) nail it then? Is it "historical nostalgia"? Or do you find the phrase too academically sterile?

I suppose one could say something like: "He has bouts of historical nostalgia, fancying himself as a legionary".
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Phantom nostalgia is pretty good, JS:):thumbsup:
    Why can't you just say, "I always wanted to go to Hawaii."? For example.
    Because that comes nowhere near what I'm talking about, Mr P:(

    I don't find historical nostalgia as apposite as phantom nostalgia. Wrapped up in my friend's 'feeling of nostalgia for a time/place I never lived in' is the additional 'knowledge that this feeling is unutterably futile', just like missing a limb that you'll never have again:(
     

    Emmee

    New Member
    English - United States
    I stumbled upon this forum when it popped up in a Google search for a word describing a very similar feeling I have. Mine is very difficult to explain to someone who has not had the same feeling. The closest I can come is a line a read somewhere:" It is totally possible to be homesick for a place one has never been before." I get an overwhelming emotion that brings tears to my eyes when I see certain places although I don't even know where they are. The latest example was in the new Star Wars episode which ends on a very green jagged island. When that scene came up, I gasped out loud and tears came to my eyes. I had a very very deep feeling of longing. It was almost a physical heart ache it was so strong. When I came home, I had to find out where that island was. It was Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry, Ireland. I am adopted and don't know who my father was or what heritage I might be on his side. But I have had similar feelings from photos in publications or that my friends have taken on trips to the British Isles.

    I found this quote on Wikipedia regarding the German word Sensucht:
    Sehnsucht took on a particular significance in the work of author C. S. Lewis. Lewis described Sehnsucht as the "inconsolable longing" in the human heart for "we know not what." In the afterword to the third edition of The Pilgrim's Regress he provided examples of what sparked this desire in him particularly:

    That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan", the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.[11]

    I don't believe there is an English word that describes the essence of what the feeling means to me.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Welcome to this much-stumbled-upon forum, Emmee:)
    Your thing is very very much like the thing I feel* ~ after all, a period in the past is just 'another place', really. Mind you, I do generally know about the place I feel that feeling for*.
    I enjoyed your contribution, and hope you find your heritage some day:)

    I mean 'that my friend feels' etc., obviously:cool:
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Genetic/Ancestral nostalgia might work. Scientists have discovered that memories can actually be passed down through generations in our DNA. It could explain the feeling of nostalgia for something never personally experienced. It could also be the underlying cause of many irrational phobias.


    New research from Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA. During the tests they learned that that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.
    The Mind Unleashed

    In addition to determining our physical characteristics, our vulnerabilities to certain diseases, and maybe even our personality, is it possible that the DNA helix holds some of the important memories of our ancestors?
    Can we remember our ancestors’ lives?
     
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    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Well, Mr T, surely if they clicked on the link and got a page saying "This webpage isn't available in your country", they'd know ... ... ?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    At the risk of being boringly philosophical again: nostalgia being by definition a sentimental longing for things one has known but which are gone, cannot be felt for things one has never experienced.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    It works (in France at least).
    :):thumbsup: (How long it will last I don't know: I've no idea how permanent BBC webpages are.)
    At the risk of being boringly philosophical again: nostalgia being by definition a sentimental longing for things one has known but which are gone, cannot be felt for things one has never experienced.
    Well, Mr T, at the risk of being mundane, that's the whole point of this thread: to find or come up with a term for this specific thing:)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Welcome to this much-stumbled-upon forum, Emmee:)
    Your thing is very very much like the thing I feel* ~ after all, a period in the past is just 'another place', really. Mind you, I do generally know about the place I feel that feeling for*.
    I enjoyed your contribution, and hope you find your heritage some day:)

    I mean 'that my friend feels' etc., obviously:cool:
    According to the notation I see at the bottom of your post it was posted on "January 25, 2016", so maybe there is also a longing for a time not yet arrived (ewietime).
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    According to the notation I see at the bottom of your post it was posted on "January 25, 2016", so maybe there is also a longing for a time not yet arrived (ewietime).
    I'm assuming this is more philosophy, Mr P, as I don't get it:confused::confused::confused:
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I cannot imagine the situation where this term would be required.
    The mysterious word describes a past and/or place that the subject has idealised and deeply wishes that they were there instead of where they are now. Basically, it is a yearning for "the good old days [in some place]." Whereas, in fact, those "good old days" were as beset with as many problems and stresses as today is - but the subject [in their delusion] does not realise/accept this.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The mysterious word describes a past and/or place that the subject has idealised and deeply wishes that they were there instead of where they are now. Basically, it is a yearning for "the good old days [in some place]." Whereas, in fact, those "good old days" were as beset with as many problems and stresses as today is.
    But this surely is nostalgia. We've been told that we are looking for a word to describe a similar feeling for places and times we have never known, unless Ewie has been seriously deceived.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Yes, you're probably right in the way I have described it - nostalgia is the pleasnat feelings evoked by the memories, but my post was intended to show that the new word distinguishes a genuine nostalgia, e.g. for one's happy childhood, from the illusion/delusion of nostalgia for a childhood as a happy time, although it was not happy but the subject has now convinced themself that it was. More strongly, it could be a nostalgia for life in earlier times. There are characters around who think that the simple life of the 14th century peasant was more wholesome than that in present times and have a yearning to be back in those times - times (and places) that did not exist.

    Ewie will not hesitate to tell me I am wrong but:

    A: [Wistfully]: "Ah, back in Ancient Rome there was no A, B, or C and everyone could do E, F, and G. Those were the days... [drifts into reverie.]"
    B: "I'm not sure that's right - you seem to be suffering from an attack of <insert word>: in Ancient Rome, A, B, or C were rife and only a few rich people could do E, F, and G."
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    You're not the only one to be thrown by this philosophical discussion, Mr Packard.;)

    I thought at first that Pedro's post below had something to do with the famous French (Cartesian) logic, or even that it was something to do with the dreaded French "theory":

    It works (in France at least).

    :idea: It was a relief when I realised Pedro meant that the BBC link works in France. It works here too,
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    That would be pretty much perfectly it, AO ... if it weren't for the fact that the word appears to have been invented by [whoever invented it]: it's not in the full OED and all the citations on th'internet* lead back to the same source:(

    *Well, all the ones I could be arsed to look at, i.e. the first half dozen.

    EDIT: Oops, I was forgetting to do my duty by Mr Q [post #69]. Well, you're wrong in my case at least, Mr Q. I know that yes, there are plenty of people who have that 'false nostalgia' for past times that they imagine were idyllic etc. etc. That's not what I have: I feel 'nostalgia' for past times (and unknown places) despite knowing that they were undoubtedly just as vile as the here and now.
    ... And in some cases. ... well, here's an illustration: I'm currently reading Mrs Gaskell's Mary Barton (1848), in which she depicts the relentless, grinding poverty of urban Manchester with all its injustices etc., set against the background of that annus horribilis to end all annus horribilioides. And I actually feel a kind of weird 'nostalgia' for it:)
     
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    Aryaved

    Senior Member
    USA
    Marathi, Hindi
    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.

    How about the term "Romantic Fascination"? Nostalgia, to me, almost always implies some sort of solemn bittersweetness for a time long past from your more youthful days, an era once experienced, & etc. For something you CANNOT have possibly experienced but still feel some sort of connection to implies a phenomenon in which one feels fascinated by a bygone era, in my view, Romanticism and therefore Romantic would be apt from the term describing the artistic/literary movement which encompasses " emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature".
     

    Aryaved

    Senior Member
    USA
    Marathi, Hindi
    It's certainly a very nice bit of terminology, Aryaved:):thumbsup:

    You posited an interesting question on a topic I used to think much about. It's funny how people like music from the 50s/60s/70s/80s, but were born in the 90s (like me :p). How people in this global/technological era long for a simplicity found only in a bygone era despite being born in this era who must experience it vicariously through their parents/grandparents or old books/movies! Certainly an interesting topic because it is an element of many political philosophies. Can't believe there isn't an actual, academic term for it :(
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    A: [Wistfully]: "Ah, back in Ancient Rome there was no A, B, or C and everyone could do E, F, and G. Those were the days... [drifts into reverie.]"
    B: "I'm not sure that's right - you seem to be suffering from an attack of <insert word>: in Ancient Rome, A, B, or C were rife and only a few rich people could do E, F, and G."

    Context is everything. Here one would obviously want to be slightly insulting:
    "You seem to be suffering from an attack of golden ageism"
    or
    "You seem to be suffering from an attack of Sehnsucht" (which somehow didn't make it to the BBC's list of weird words)

    I'm not sure about a more pleasant bitter-sweet feeling, though.
    "I was reading about Ancient Rome and I felt a pang of longing". :)
     

    Nemo9619

    New Member
    Hindi - India
    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.
    "Hierath"
     

    Nancy4

    New Member
    English- American
    Perhaps the word is "saudade"

    The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness. A. F. G. Bell In Portugal of 1912


    This word, as well as "hiraeth", have been popular on a missionary kid Facebook group that I am in.
    But apart from the "in between-ness" that MK's and other Third Culture kids experience (and our complicated feelings of home and homesickness), I have the feeling that I think is similar to yours, ewie, when I start reading or watching To Kill a Mockingbird. Years ago I even posted it as a status in Facebook, about whether one could feel homesick for a place (and time!) one has never been before. To me, the elements of "wistfulness" and "longing" are important.
    I think the films Midnight in Paris and Somewhere in Time are close to this feeling as well as the episode in the Twilight Zone television series titled "A Stop at Willoughby."
    I've enjoyed reading this thread :)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Thanks for dropping by with your input, Nancy:) (I confess I'd never heard of MK or Third Culture before reading your post:oops:)
     

    msladyrobin

    New Member
    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.
     

    msladyrobin

    New Member
    English
    Try this one:
    (I just joined, and it happens to be a favorite of mine:))

    Fernweh
    pr: fern-wuh deriv. german

    "feeling homesick for a place you have never been to."

    Hope that helps!
     
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    msladyrobin

    New Member
    English
    Hi srk. Yes, I see that now. I overlooked it until a nano-second after hitting 'Post Reply.' I may need to hone my observationals for this site.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The other March request was for “a word that means nostalgia for a time when I wasn’t alive.” This put more than a few readers in mind of the poem “Miniver Cheevy,” by Edwin Arlington Robinson. (Sample verse: “Miniver loved the days of old / When swords were bright and steeds were prancing; / The vision of a warrior bold / Would set him dancing.”) Thus were coined the likes of mischeevyousness (by Arthur Saltzman, of Joplin, Mo.) and cheevery, cheevish, and cheevement (all by Bruce L. Bush, of Highland Park, N.J.).
    Word Fugitives

    Ewie comes over all cheevish when he reads about the Industrial Revolution in the North of England.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    :D:thumbsup: I like it.
    I've never heard of the poem, and, alas, will probably have forgotten all about it within 38 seconds of closing this thread again:oops:
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The advantage of 'wistfulness' is that it can be felt for something which never existed. It means longing, usually for something unspecified in the mind of the person longing.

    I don't know why this scratching around for unfamiliar words in German, Greek, and Urdu, etc. continues.

    Sorry to be serious.
     
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