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Cadbury’s Wispa is being reintroduced, following a period of extensive consumer campaigning (online petitions, stage storming at Glastonbury…)

On Facebook, there are 93 ‘Bring Back Wispa’ groups with almost 14,000 members. Feelings for the retro chocolate bar run as strongly on MySpace and Bebo. During the 1980s Cadbury used a string of actors and actresses to publicise the Wispa bar: Ruth Madoc of Hi-de-Hi!, Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington of Yes Minister and Windsor Davies from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum were among the celebrities who appeared in the Wispa campaigns. The Wispa will sell for a recommended price of 42p per bar. Its 1983 launch price was just 16p [UK prices]

The Wispa was introduced in the year I was born, 1981, and phased out sometime in the early 2000s. Wikipedia has since told me that ‘Subtypes of this bar included Wispa Gold (caramel filling), Wispa Bite (caramel and biscuit filling), Wispaccino (coffee filling) and Wispa Mint (mint layer).’ None of which I recall but it’s only the basic one they will bring back anyway. (It’s being called ‘Classic‘)

I never really liked Wispas but I’m sure I’ll partake of one, all the better to remember memories and imaginings that aren’t really mine.

Image: 80s icons – Sky

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Here’s an interesting one: apexart invites creatives to challenge the “TV is not good enough for me” attitude by making a 30-second spot promoting…. them. 

  • Why don’t museums and galleries advertise on TV? Why don’t people in the arts tell the truth about how much TV they watch? Help bring the art world in touch with the real world.
  • Submissions will be presented on ustream.com, where the public will vote on their favorite commercial with the winning commercial aired on WNET-TV and WNYC-TV in New York and the winner receiving a cash prize ($1,500).
  • All submitted commercials will be shown continuously in the exhibition space at apexart in New York City from January 9 to February 16, 2008.
  • Final date to be received at apexart is December 7, 2007, in format MP4 on DVD.
  • Help us spread the word to ad agencies, ad types, videographers, artists, and others. Submissions from all countries are encouraged.

apexart, 291 Church Street, NYC, 10013, USA.  www.apexart.org Email info@apexart.org with AD PROJECT in the subject line   

Various emerging nations began to claim words for the acute sense of longing associated with nostalgia, or homesickness maybe. These words supposedly could not be translated properly, but must be understood in that language (the tongue of the homeland, so to speak). Milan Kundera speaks of the Czech litost; there is the Polish toska; the Portuguese and Brazilians have saudade; and Romanians claim dor.

I’m investigating if there is an Irish equivalent.

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A company involved mainly in gold prospecting wants to search for silver among other things in Sligo.

Hidefield Gold Plc, which is based in London, is about to be granted prospecting licences for a number of areas in County Sligo to explore for silver, barytes and base metals. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has given notice that it intends to grant the company prospecting licences for areas around Strandhill, Rosses Point and north Sligo, mainly around Ben Bulben.

Barytes had been mined from Ben Bulben (on the Gleniff side) at various times from 1858 until 1979. Hidefield Gold is a publicly listed company trading on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange. It is involved in prospecting mainly for gold in North and South America. In the past year it has undertaken significant exploration and drilling projects in Argentina and Alaska. It also has other prospecting interests in Canada and the United States and in Brazil.

The townlands for which licences are being granted are: Ballybeg, Barnasrahy, Carrowbunnaun, Carrowdough, Carrowmore, Cartron (Honaria Duff), Culleenamore, Culleenduff, Drinaghan (ED Knocknarae), Glen, Graigue, Grange East, Grange West, Grange North, Killaspugbrone, Knocknarea North, Knocknarea South, Knocknahur, Lecarrow, Lisheenacoonravan, Lissawully, Luffertan, Larass or Strandhill, Primrosegrange, Rathcarrick, Rathonoragh, rinn, Scarden Beg, Scardon More, Seafield, Sieveroe or Siberia, Templenabree, Tobernaveen, Tully (Ed Knocknarea), Woodpark.

Ballinvoher, Ballyweelin, Carncash, Carney (Jones), Carney (O’Beirne), Cloonderry, Clooneen, Coolbeg, Cregg, Creggyconnell, Cullagh Beg, Cullagh More, Doonierin, Drum East, Drum West, Drumcliff North, Drumcliff South, Drumcliff West, Finned, Kiltycooly, Kintogher, Lisnalurg, Magheragillerneeve or Springfield, Rahaberna, Rosses Lower, Rosses Upper, Shannon Oughter, Teesan, Tully.

Ardnaglass Upper, Ballynagalliagh, Barnarobin, Carrownamaddoo, Cartronmore, Cartronwilliamoge, Clogh, Cloonmull, Cloyragh, Derrylehan, Glencarberry, Gleniff, Gortaderry, Gortadrung, Gortnaleck, Keeloges, Keelty, Lyle, Moneylahan, Moondoge, Oughtagorey, Slievemore or Kingsmountain.

A prospecting licence only entitles the holder to explore for minerals, it dose not authorise them to mine any mineral deposits identified. Maps showing the areas concerned are available for inspection at Sligo Garda Station or through the department’s website http://www.emd.ie

Any objections must be in by Wednesday, October 3.

SOURCE: John Bromley, Sligo Weekender 18.09.07

Image: Alaska State Library photograph PCA 44-3-15 Sourdough in stream panning for gold (Skinner)

nearly autumn:

stubborn denial sweeps leaves

seedless sunflowers 

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‘pop culture is the collective dream of the unconscious’

This acute observation is from Adam Lawrence, a Rolling Stone journalist played by John Travolta in a 1985 film called Perfect.   In the film, he travels to Los Angeles to investigate a drug case and decides to write an exposé of the health-club craze of the 1980s. He sets out to trash the fitness craze as just a replacement of the shallow singles bar scene of the 1970s. He even has a title in mind: “Looking for Mr. Goodbody.” As he researches his story, Adam meets Jessie (Jamie Lee Curtis), a sexy fitness instructor who has little use for scribes like him and bad history with reporters. Adam charms the reluctant Jessie, and before long the hot couple is ‘working out together–in more ways than one’. Suddenly Adam is faced with a quintessential dilemma of journalism: Can he be Jessie’s lover and still ridicule her friends and workplace?

I saw this now pretty obscure film at about 2am one morning when there was nothing else on and I was most likely suffering from a bout of insomnia. I don’t remember picking up on this particular quote but I do remember thinking it was pretty remarkable for a mainstream film to have such critical insight into contemporary culture. Lawrence/ Travolta’s quote came up in conversation with Jesse (a different Jesse, with a different spelling) as we were preparing for an interview about her work. It was only when she described the film in more detail as we were actually doing the interview that I realised I had seen it too.

This struck me at the time as a really amazing coincidence, and it still does. It always surprises me the sense of connection that I feel with people through this kind of memory, the surprisingly rich and nuanced texture of it. And it seems to describe something about how popular culture might operate as a kind of reservior of collective memory… somehow Bosco, a particular TV advert, a momentary fashion fad, can really locate a personal biography within an era.

This is of course cynically exploited by the endless recycling of ‘I (heart) 1970s’ and ‘Top Ten X’ shows; remakes of 70s, 80s TV shows as films; and so on and so on. But in a roundabout way, this only reinforces the texture of the quote itself, and I wonder about its potential.

Just friends:
he watches my gauze dress
blowing on the line.
Alexis Rotella (After an Affair, 1984)

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Ostalgie is a German term referring to nostalgia for life in the former East Germany. It is a portmanteau of the German words Ost (east) and Nostalgie (nostalgia). Initially, all GDR brands of products disappeared from the stores and were replaced by Western products, regardless of their quality. However, with the passing of time some East Germans began to feel nostalgia for certain aspects of their lives in East Germany. Ostalgie particularly refers to the nostalgia for aspects of regular daily life and culture in the former GDR, which disappeared after reunification.

Many businesses in Germany cater to those who feel Ostalgie and have begun providing them with artefacts that remind them of life under the old regime; artefacts that imitate the old ones. Now available are formerly defunct brands of East German foodstuffs, old state television programmes on video and DVD, and the previously widespread Wartburg and Trabant cars. Now Berlin has opened Ostel, a Friedrichshain budget hotel rampant with Communist-era design. Most notable are the clocks in reception showing the time in Moscow, Berlin, Beijing, and Havana, and the room choices of a larger “Stasi-suite” and a multiperson “pioneer camp.” And of course expect brightly colored 1960s-style wallpaper and portraits of former Communist officials and public figures.

I’m currently looking into ideas of ostalgie and the contemporary legacy of lebensreform with migrations of German people who have moved to certain areas in the west of Ireland. All under development.

(source – good old wikipedia. See also ‘Germany Battles over Right to Reminisce’, by Clare Murphy/ BBC news online; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3077054.stm)

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Yugo-nostalgia, translated from jugonostalgija / југоносталгија, is a little-studied cultural and psychological phenomenon occurring among some citizens of the former Yugoslavia, specifically toward the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). While its anthropological and sociological aspects have not been clearly recognized, the term, and the corresponding epithet “Yugo-nostalgic”, is commonly used by the people in the region in two distinct ways: as a positive personal descriptive, and as a derogatory label.

In its positive sense, Yugo-nostalgia refers to a nostalgic emotional attachment to idealized positive aspects of the SFRY… economic security, socialist ideology, multiculturalism, internationalism and non-alignment, history, customs and traditions, and an allegedly more rewarding way of life. In the negative sense, the epithet has been used by the supporters of the new regimes to portray their critics as anachronistic, unrealistic, unpatriotic and possibly treacherous. Present manifestations of Yugo-nostalgia include music groups with Yugoslav or Titoist retro iconography, art works, films, theater performances, and many organized, themed tours of the main cities of the former Yugoslav republics (mostly Belgrade and Sarajevo).

Image: Some 1,000 people gather near a statue of Josip Broz Tito during a ceremony commemorating the 26th anniversary of his death in Sarajevo, May 4. Getty Images

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I’m reading a book by Svetlana Boym at the moment, The Future of Nostalgia. I’m intoxicated with it.

Boym’s thesis resonates somewhat with Walter Benjamin’s idea of ‘revolutionary nostalgia’ in that she distinguishes between ‘restorative nostalgia’ and what she sees as the critical potential inherent in ‘reflective nostalgia’.

 The term nostalgia has its roots in medicine… during this period, from the late seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century, that doctors diagnosed and treated nostalgia, it also had other names in various languages — mal du pays (country sickness) in French, Heimweh (home-pain) in German, hiraeth in Welsh, and el mal de corazón (heart-pain) in Spanish. Cases resulting in death were known and soldiers were sometimes successfully treated by being discharged and sent home. Receiving a diagnosis was, however, generally regarded as an insult. Cases of nostalgia, which sometimes occurred as epidemics, were less frequent when the armies were victorious and more frequent when they suffered reverses. Nostalgia was, however, still diagnosed among soldiers as late as the American Civil War.  Nostalgia occurs in a particularly potent form after political revolution – French Revolution; Russian Revolution; recent ‘velvet’ revolutions of Eastern Europe.

Boym sees the contemporary manifestation of nostalgia as inherently tied up with the modern condition – the twentieth century is bookended with futuristic utopias at its beginning and nostalgia at its conclusion – in this sense nostalgia is not just an individual sickness, but a historical emotion, negotiating the relationship between personal biography and collective memory.

I’ve always thought nostalgia was slightly dangerous but I wonder to what critical uses it could be put, if the sense of longing could be redirected from the past (or an imagined past) to somewhere else.

September 2007
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