Finding the Past
In the book, Jim and co. are looking for a past beyond their lifetime experience. They aren’t certain of it at first; Sandy summarizes the general feeling among them when he says “I want to see someplace different” (Robinson 225). They all go to Europe, hoping for something unfamiliar. In Ithanos, a place untapped by tourism, they finally find something that satisfies their quest: ruins. It has a past far deeper than they can comprehend. They are constantly amazed at how old and timeless the place seems (Robinson 234-235). Jim, so completely blown away by this discovery, decides to start writing about Orange County’s past. He decides “Collectively they made this place. And so it has a history. And tracing this history might help explain it,” (Robinson 261).
We have a similar longing for our past today. A big theme of the book is nostalgia, and it’s no less present in the actual present. An ultra-recent example of this is the song “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. In particular, the main hook/chorus goes “Wish we could turn back time/To the good old days/When our moms would sing us to sleep/But now we’re stressed out.” The song differs in, rather than longing for an unknown past, the singer longs for their prior experiences, before knowing the pressures and downfalls of society at large. The song isn’t calling so much to know how they got there, but lamenting the transition to adulthood. However, it is careful to avoid calling past times outright better, instead comparing the simplicity of a child’s perspective to the overbearing nature of adult thinking. Jim and co. aren’t idolizing their own past, but they definitely are looking for “the good old days.”
Robinson, Kim S. The Gold Coast. Tom Doherty, 1988.
“twenty one pilots: Stressed Out [OFFICIAL VIDEO.]” YouTube, uploaded by Fueled by Ramen, 27 April, 2015,