After re-rewatching 24 Hour Party People I’ve become obsessed with the idea of being in a place at a particular point in time—the moment that a place, a culture and a people come into sharp focus. So just for exercise, let’s assume that in the next 20 years time travel becomes freely available and cost-effective to the point that we are forced to decide between vacationing to a place now or then. What time and place would you choose to spend your two weeks per year on?
I find that most of my friends choose a moment in history when a particular culture or subculture is on the brink of being recognized. For me it’s Manchester in either the late 70’s or the late 80’s, and for other’s it’s Soho in the 60’s or Athens at the height of the Greek empire. The thing that strikes me about these time-places is that we all seem to be excited by the prospect of visiting a moment that defines us, but we were unable to experience.
The irony of this experiment is that if we really did travel to these historic venues, I’m sure we’d be much more excited about being there than the people involved. Of course they don’t know how important their moment is, and how could they, they’re living in it. I’m sure there’s thousands of moments right now that people of the future would be willing to pay a year’s salary to be a part of, but we won’t know for years exactly what we should be jealous of.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish time travel was ubiquitous and cost-effective so that I can visit all of my favorite places in time. Or maybe all of the most influential pieces of history were actually footnotes in the textbooks until future time travellers went back and made them popular. Damn the time travellers.