Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Nostalgia, the NFL, and One Hundred Years of Solitude

Just finished re-reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude. It tells the story of the Buendia family and the rise and fall of Macondo the town founded by the patriarch and matriarch of the family. It goes through several generations and ends pretty much with the last generation being wiped out by their affection for sex and nostalgia - two of my favorite vices by the way.

There is some fascinating stuff in the there about time and how it is not linear, but how everything happens at once - but I want to focus on the nostalgia part a bit. As I mentioned previously, I recently started thinking a lot about the 1970s NFL and even did some rudimentary research into the success rates of the six teams that really dominated the era. Why is the 1970s NFL so important to me? The more I think about it, it has to be nostalgia.

The 1970s were when I was coming of age as a child and the NFL seemed so great, so exciting. Really, all sports did to me, but the NFL was probably the most accessible and the most exciting. I realize a lot of bad things came of that time, like injuries to underpaid players who now can't afford proper medical care or who have died due to complications from the era. That said, I can't help but remembering the games with fondness. (This is also mentioned by Kevin Cook in his excellent book The Last Headbangers, which is about football in that era.)

So, here's a quote from One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I think sums up the power of nostalgia and why I can't help but think of the 1970s NFL as a great thing, when a lot of evidence points to the contrary. Aureliano, the last surviving Buendia, is deciphering parchments which foretell the destruction of the town. "Then the wind began, warm, incipient, full of voices from the past, the murmurs of ancient geraniums, sighs of disenchantment that proceeded the most tenacious nostalgia."

Yes, there are certainly "sighs of disenchantment" around the 1970s NFL, but the tenacity of the nostalgia is so great, that I can't resist it. More on this later.

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