Hauntology and the pining for technologies lost

Hauntology is used to describe something that invokes thoughts of ghosts and longing, a mysterious feeling of haunting but with a twist.

Instead of ghosts or past events that usually cause that feeling, this is a result of something that hasn’t happened yet. First defined by philosopher Jaques Derrida, it is a combination of haunting and ontology; ’a presence of being is replaced by a deferred non origin…a ghost’, ‘a nostalgia for lost futures’ and ‘pining for a future that never arrived’. In Derrida’s book, it was used to describe communism, at that time but it gained popularity a few years ago as a way to describe and critique retro or nostalgic genres of music and arts.

Is it coming up again through the nostalgia we see for a technology of the past and a pining for its lost physical future?

The record player, instant cameras, notebooks, overly expensive coloring markers, the list goes on. We now have practically everything on our phone but our human desires long for a variety of devices that we can feel and touch. What if those devices of the past had been able to evolve into something better? Most of them are copies of the past withholding some new enhancements to have them work with digital applications but what would have happened if they had continued to be invested in?

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