The evolution of nostalgia

A Liana Finck cartoon from the November 30th New Yorker:


Self-awareness has evolved to such an extent that man is able to look back in regret.

On nostalgia, from NOAD2:

a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations: I was overcome with acute nostalgia for my days in college. ORIGIN late 18th cent. (in the sense ‘acute homesickness’): modern Latin (translating German Heimweh ‘homesickness’), from Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’

Then there’s the cartoon cliché on the ascent, or evolution, of man — a trope that seems endlessly malleable in the hands of artists. It has appeared 14 times on this blog already. In the order of the postings:

5/18/14, in “Five for Friday” (link): #2 by Harry Bliss

11/3/14, in “The news for penguins” (link): photographic artwork on the ascent of Fred Astaire from penguins

1/7/15, in “Mort Gerberg” (link): 3 evolution cartoons by Gerberg

2/1/15, in “Bizarro evolution” (link), with 6 cartoons: #1 Bizarro; #2 Gahan Wilson; #3-6 New Yorker cartoons (Ed Fisher, Sam Gross, Peter Steiner, and Tom Cheney)

8/1/15, in “Bizarro devolution” (link): Bizarro “Devolution”

8/21/15, in “Braidt Bralds” (link): #2 Braidt Bralds cartoon

6/19/15, in “From manure du jour to the Ascent of Man” (link): #2 Bizarro cartoons

But wait! There’s more!  Juli G. Pausas (plant ecology scientist at Centro de Investigaciones sobre Desertificación (CIDE, Valencia, Spain)) has assembled a wonderful site on the evolution of man, with 59 cartoons. #31 on his site is the Bizarro “Devolution”, but it seems that his list doesn’t include any others of the 14 cartoons above (nor the Finck in #1 above, nor the three cartoons I’m about to post about).

From the 5/14/07 New Yorker, three alternative covers for the issue by Bruce McCall, which fit together into a complex evolution cartoon:


There’s an animated short based on this cartoon, which you can view here. On the animation:

Bruce McCall’s May 14, 2007 cover of The New Yorker is about man’s obsession with progress and technology. The artwork features an ape on a rock who evolves into a cave man, an Egyptian, a soldier etc. [through 10 stages] and along with these evolutions come the technologies of each new civilization. McCall’s original art is animated by Toronto’s Smiley Guy Studios.

Then a Mike Luckovich editorial cartoon from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of 1/4/14, in which apes evolve into a sentient mitten:


Finally, yet another New Yorker cartoon, by Michael Maslin on 5/25/15:


The ascent of man, culminating with a man holding and pointing a hand gun.

Note that there are two variants here: one on the evolution of man from apes, one on the evolution of all animals (culminating in man) from sea creatures.

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