Tag Archives: nostalgia

A thought on Postcards in the Digital Age


Why bother sending postcards in the digital age? You can facebook, tweet, instagram, e-mail etc. etc. Even though it´s not an either/ or situation, why send something snail-mail, that might take weeks to get to its recipient (sometimes, if at all), that´s expensive, that takes time and thought and effort? Well, I suppose because it takes time, thought, and effort. I used to have dozens of correspondents who shared my love of sending and receiving postcards. Over the years, this has dwindled to a few; and it saddens me because I love sending and receiving them. But why? What does a postcard offer that sending an image through messenger doesn´t? Well the obvious thing, is the physical object itself. The less obvious thing is that mentioned above, the thinking of the person, the selecting something especially for them, the going to the trouble of writing, finding stamps, going to the post-box, all especially for them (and from them to me). It makes me feel special; and I certainly think the people I send them to are also special to me. I wouldn´t bother otherwise. But there´s more to it than that: the mark, the trace, the aura. Postcards leave the marks of a body with writing that has extended from someone´s emotions, to their thoughts, to their brain, through their arm, to their hand, to the card. Their writing, their mark, is like no one else´s. I don´t think this is just romanticising nostalgia, though perhaps there is a teensy weensy a bit of that. But there´s more: there´s probably DNA on the card, fingerprints, and probably not only from the sender. Postcards have an aura—the hand-writing on the back is what helps create it in a Benjaminian sense. In the more coloquial sense of the term, the postcard evidences a past presence left imprinted, a consciousness made physically evident. It makes one feel closer to the person. I treasure the practice and the individual cards. Today I received this one above.

José Arroyo


In Conversation with Martha Shearer on ‘New York City and the Hollywood Musical: Dancing in the Streets’.


I so loved reading Marthat Shearer´s New York City and the Hollywood Musical: Dancing in the Streets that I wanted to talk to its author to find out some more about it whilst hopefully also drawing attention to the work. The result is the podcast below:

In the podcast Martha and I talk about the origins of the work in an earlier study of Gene Kelly, Irishness and Urban Space; how the choice of New York seems self-evident considering the preponderance of its presence in the American Musical. I was delighted at how the book takes on figures and aspects normally marginalised in traditional studies (Bing Crosby, Mae West, the Fox musical). We discuss the influence of Richard Dyer´s ‘Entertainment and Utopia’, how in the musical places are made to feel intense and joyful, so how does that fit into the cities themselves? The book brings genre studies into dialogue with urban studies, geography and the history of how those concrete material places are being transformed. It correlates the history of those material transformations to a history of their representation.


We talk about the concept of nostalgia and its relation to time and place. the influence of the work of David Harvey and Fredric Jameson to the methodology of the study and the significance of the choices that structure the study (Urban Space and the Origins of the Musical, The Neighbourhood Musical, The Nostalgia Musical, Broadway and Times Square etc.) Finally, we end with a discussion of Martin Scorsese´s New York, New York; how the conflict between the leads are also conflicts between different forms of entertainment: De Niro, Art; Minnelli, showbiz. Jazz is pure, masculine, art. She´s pop culture. Those two positions, the forms of urbanism associated with those kinds of styles becoming irreconcilable.

An interesting and wide-ranging talk which I hope will whet your appetite for the book.


José Arroyo