In Casablanca, when Rick looks Ilsa straight in the eye and tells her, “We’ll always have Paris,” the idea of nostalgia was born in popular culture. These famous words meant a perfect past was gone, but a memory would linger like a diamond ring, sparkling and forever.
Of course, depictions of nostalgia go back even farther than 1942, perhaps all the way to Odysseus, who used the memory of family and home to power through a treacherous journey. After all, the word “nostalgia” comes from the Greek “nostos” meaning a longing to return and “algos” being a general suffix denoting pain. Yet for as long as Odysseus’ journey was difficult, nostalgia has been viewed as a sort of mental illness, a disconnection from the real world, and a coping mechanism for the pathetic and melancholic.
Johannes Hofer, the Swiss travel writer who coined the term nostalgia in the late-17th-century…
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