Carrying Retrospect Forward by
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I think we could write this retro Retro piece in synchronous serendipity, so I won’t dwell on a nostalgic past. But Retrospect fills an enormous need and has created a deep and profound community where none had existed before.

The timing could not have been better. I joined Retrospect on the eve of the 2016 election, an inflection point for all of us. Within months, the fat, incontinent child descended the escalator in his gilded cage, the sphinxlike Svetlana by his side. “I don’t really care. Do you?”

A manipulated national election slid The Loser into power despite a 3,000,000-vote majority in favor of the popular winner.

Covid carried its mystical terror into our households and our respiratory systems, its handling bungled by hubris.

Through all the hubris, mendacity, and corruption, we built a community based on reflection, recollection, deep thought, the hard work and pleasure of revisiting our past and shaping our jumbled thoughts into articulate clarity.

I hope we don’t let this community fall. It will rise and fall, wax and wane, but any living organism — and I do catch a glimpse of Retrospect as a large, amorphous, but purposeful organism — goes through metamorphosis.

Carrying Retrospect forward in oxymoronic fashion will require revamping. Our leaders have operated mightily to maintain Retro’s impressive momentum, but the burn-out phase of any self-starting effort can be wearing and ultimately conclusive. But I do hope we will continue. I would miss you terribly. We’ve all suffered enough loss.

Until we meet again…

Profile photo of Charles Degelman Charles Degelman
Writer, editor, and educator based in Los Angeles. He's also played a lot of music. Degelman teaches writing at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Degelman lives in the hills of Hollywood with his companion on the road of life, four cats, assorted dogs, and a coterie of communard brothers and sisters.

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Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. Thanx Charlie, your impassioned words speak for us all. Happy New Year!

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Hear hear! Your mention of our jumbled thoughts reminded me of one of my favorite cartoons—“writing is nature’s way of the letting you how jumbled your thoughts are”. But seriously—I hope we find a way not to lose a good thing.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Per usual, your thoughts are expertly conveyed (I particularly like the metaphor of our community as a large, amorphous organism; a living thing, which waxes and wanes). But I agree, we have something special here, even if we are a bit burnt out.

    Yes, we came together at a momentous time in our nation’s history and sought refuge with one another (Svetlana, indeed; I think of her more as the cartoonish Natasha from “Rocky and Bullwinkle”, but I’ll take yours). Our voices comforted one another, and our memories from the past reminded us, not necessarily of simpler times, but when we younger. It was fun and interesting to compare notes.

    Thank you, always, for your golden words. I’ve cherished them.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Whatever happens here, Charles, I have so enjoyed hearing your stories and getting to know about your amazing life, albeit virtually. And I still have your latest book sitting on my bed table waiting to be read. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us!

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    You have perfectly captured how life has felt for me during the T**** era and pandemic isolation and anxiety. I like your message that maybe it is time to reflect forward. I want to feel hopeful again.

  6. Suzy says:

    I remember your first story, Digger Bread, dated Dec. 14, 2015, which I read and commented on in February 2016. That was the beginning of exploring our common experiences of the ’60s and ’70s. As you said in your reply to my comment, “degrees of separation often converged during those times.” Glad we have had these 7 years together on Retro, and let’s see what the future brings.

  7. Dave Ventre says:

    So you think of Retrospect as sort a brain SAVING amoeba?

    The day after Election Night 2016 is one I have desperately tried to erase from my memory, thanks.

    • A passing analog. Pay it no mind. Election night 2016 did it for me. I was at the office of the Feminist Majority, the publisher of Ms magazine and a women’s rights organization. They had been breaking their collective asses for Hillary Clinton and women candidates in general for decades. How does a feminist cry? With a broken heart.

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