The propagation of memetic artifacts

The propagation of historical information through memetic artifacts

The propagation of interstitial historical information through mimesis

Mixtape of the Lost Decade

Rob Beschizza, University of Rockall

The Phantom Time Hypothesis, developed by Heribert Illig, proposes that error and falsification have radically distorted the historical record. In his analysis, we have dilated the course of true events, so that they appear to cover far greater lengths of time than in fact passed. The so-called dark ages, for example, only appear that way because those centuries were mere decades.

Respectable historians give this idea no credence. Rightly so, because the truth is even stranger. It is not the case that we have invented historical periods that do not exist. In truth, there are ages which we have so completely forgotten that modern textbooks exclude them entirely. In our research, we have identified at least three such periods.

Firstly, there appear to be several decades unaccounted for during the fifth century A.D., which may reveal the true circumstances of the Western Empire's final decline. Secondly, it is clear to us that the Mongols invaded northern Europe and conquered the Holy Roman Empire in the 13th century. The astounding deathtoll, and that of the crusades that subsequently dislodged the invaders, is now attributed to the plague.

Finally, evidence is mounting that points to a "lost decade" between what we now remember as the 1970s and 1980s, a time whose full cultural trauma and resulting suppression from memory was so complete as to effect itself even on the living.

Some of those who have recovered seek to reveal the secret history through unusual media such as fashionable tumblogs and private filesharing forums. By sharing elements of an intricate and rigorous symbology drawn from this interstitial history, this cabal works quietly to prepare us to learn the truth and its astonishing consequences.

Here for the first time we believe we can tentatively identify but a few of them.

Röyksopp of Norway presents itself as a successful electronic music duo, releasing a string of international hits, often in collaboration with other artists. Just as arab scientists carried the torch of classical knowledge during Europe's early medieval period, scandinavian electronica—especially that produced on home computers—offers the most durable thread linking our modern dark age with the lost secrets of disco.

Close readings of videos such as Eple help us trace the outlines of events that occured between February 28, 1978 and December 15, 19831, the time span at hand (i.e. it is currently 2017 -- not 2012 -- if for the sake of illustration this period is taken to be the only "lost" span of years).

Their achievement here is more than mere technique. There is no greater vantage point than the cultural periphery, where one may absorb and reflect the character of the larger society upon whose fringes one stands. Just as Kasuo Ishiguro's insight into the English psyche offered Remains of the Day an incisive simplicity sharper than any native text's, Röyksopp's Epie is both medium and method, illustrating a pattern of rediscovery, of moving between moments in search of all that we have lost and missed. It embodies the intermediary nature of memory.

The artwork of James White, all neon boldness and sharp contrasts, has a powerful appeal to those already drawn to the past. A fastidious draughtsman, his intent goes beyond mere appearance; the work, once fully understood, will yield a trove of detailed information. White's secret history is encoded as complex crypographic patterns of colors, shapes and vectors, and is yet to be completely deciphered. That said, he is more than willing to hide stark truth in in plain sight. One series, for example, openly references well-known events of 2005 under their true date.

Perhaps the most surprising and instructive work is the footage referred to as DVNO, which purports to be an ironic meditation on classic logo design. It is in fact nothing less than a systematic catalogue of suppressed psuedo-corporate indicia. This roadmap to the past reveals not just the dramatis personae of the "lost decade", but the nature of their attack on the status quo.

It hints at a greater picture: the rapid growth of a revolutionary-semiotic front which explicitly mirrored the plutocracy that it sought to replace. But why? Though surely funded by foreign interests--the Soviet Union's "precipitous" economic decline corresponds intriguingly with the lost years--the movement and its offshoots display an ineluctably homegrown character. Moreoever, the utter completeness of the establishment counterrevolution is testament to the power of vested interests. But for whom did DVNO act? Who, indeed, was Printed in Gold?


Unlike the chan network's conversation-driven culture,'s impetus to remix or the intracontextual nature of services such as mlkshk and imgur, the contemplative landscape of FFFFound is not fertile ground for action. It is instead a place to explore, imposing an almost numinous quality upon the act of looking at stuff on the Internet. Thumbnails offered beneath each image guide the consumer through a garden of forking clicks. Carefully arranged to encourage an awareness of its secrets, all click-paths at FFFFound lead eventually to a final, astounding revelation that makes sense only after repeated failed expeditions. A stopping point on every route, however, is Vincent Viriot's 3 wolves with laser background, a critical memetic staging point on the road to enlightenment.

The space: do we not all feel it? The space. It may be said that the consumer cultures of the 1980s and 1990s, successively exhorting us to embrace artifice and then soul-crushing blandness, were manufactured to "cure" the residual confusion and cultural inconsistency that resulted from the methods used to effect mankind's collective psychic displacement. The hidden "space," however, manifests itself in curious ways -- the obsession with youth and physical condition in those born in the 1960s and 1970s; oddities in climate change data; the apparently freakish pace of economic change in what we believe now to be the 1980s; and so forth.

Seen in glimpses between the lines of works by Sakke Soini, patterns of light and shadow reveal themselves as mere reflection and void. Though the affect of his work exalts the presumptively geometric nature of space-time, the closer one approaches, the less tangible it becomes: surface becomes light, form becomes space, and intricate structures fall away to a tantalizing illusion of self-similarity.

Though he may present himself as a crass, arrogant, self-indulgent, pompous, vain, irritating, clueless, and profoundly daft pop star, Kanye West's video productions present the cabal's most subtle critical structures. Most intriguing is the Welcome to Heartbreak video presentation, in which our easily-corruptible apprehension of history is illustrated as a tangle of shifting and decaying visual impressions, an insight into the mutability of knowledge itself. The inherently lossy character of compressed data is seen to become its own essential nature, transforming from defect to design as it is destroyed and remade in increasingly confusing and hypnotic patterns. Likewise, no-one familiar with the Lost Decade hypothesis can fail to grasp the religious significance of shutter shades.


The pyramid is the movement's central motif, represented in both its shorthand name -- the 19A0s2 -- and in countless examples of cryptic artwork. In this collaborative rendering by Jonathan Mitchell and James White, mankind's greatest symbol of historical permanence is captured at a moment of explosive self-reproduction. At first blush a statement on the crude reproductive character of mass culture, it also serves as a warning about what allowed the lost decade's final psychohistorical destruction: stagnation after revolution, the failure to remix. The now-supernumerary pyramid no longer changes, even as it iterates uncontrollably, embodying the destiny of fractal cultural artifacts insulated from the need to mutate. Crushed by its own infinite potential, all that is left is to utter a desperate paradox: "Stop the monuments." Until, finally, they are gone completely.

It is true, however, that the suppression is incomplete. Cultural product strongly flavored by the 19A0s lurk either side of it within the realm of permitted history. This may be due to the necessary rapidity with which the suppression was accomplished, but is more likely a considered effort at "smoothing out the meat" with a sufficient quantum of 19A0s culture. It is all too easy to inoculate collective memory from digging too deep into the spaces between sanity, madness, and radically bad taste.


1. The terminus ad quem of the interstitial history is identified by the earliest-dated reference to it the esoterica: footage broadcast in the early hours of the morning on an obscure television station to commemorate (in the 'new' timeline) the date that the "lost decade" was brought to an end.

2. Finally revealed, terms such as "19A0s" can now be searched for and uncovered in countless seemingly innocuous documents archived online, exposing them as critical ciphertexts of the movement.

Space Dust by Maggie Koerth-Baker
My Morning Jacket by Scott Compton
Recipes for the New Class Warfare by Anonymous

125 Responses to “Mixtape of the Lost Decade”

  1. Jody Durkacs says:


  2. Aaron Brown says:

    wat indeed

  3. matt perkins says:

    Are the wolves the dolphins of the forest or are the dolphins the wolves of the sea?

  4. zombienietzsche says:

    My head is full of FUCK

  5. bo1n6bo1n6 says:

    This one is out there…drink plenty of water.

  6. matt perkins says:

    This is clearly research funded by the Pataphyics Research Laboratory.  Where is Dr Faustroll?  Are you my sister?  Chan?

  7. papyromancer says:

    I was hoping that this kind of research was being funded.

  8. Keith Tyler says:

    what is this i dont even

  9. Hosidax says:

    So that means I never actually EXPERIENCED high school?   hmmm…   I thought it was something else.

  10. Duncan Fisher says:

    Dude, I got high from just reading this.

  11. Aram Jahn says:

    The intracontextual comparative psychogeography of cultural landscapes and its effect on human memory and the sham of history textbooks certainly seems worth addressing. 

    And I think it was, here. Although I’m still recovering from that synthesizer music.

    This stuff is superior to Situationism, innit?

  12. So, I think it’s important to understand that it’s not that the 19A0s were erased from history, but that the memory of them were erased from our collective minds. That said, this is one hypothesis I am having trouble wrapping my head around if it’s serious or not. I think I can accept that we might have a few forgotten years, but who was the entity doing the cultural erasing?

    What if these artists just like triangles and psychedelics?

  13. Aloisius says:

    Was this post intelligible to anyone? It reads like a conspiracy theory written by a sleep deprived teenager.

  14. ookluh says:

    I’m afraid you lost me at puffball.

  15. Rev. Benjamin says:

    TL(and weird);DR

  16. jeremy slawson says:

    I facebooked this as : wonderful mashup, special treat for my generation and to others – lets boogie. Packaged in the sort of pretensious crap we had perfeccted in the NME by about 1983 here is a collection of beautiful music, thats Music for you. Enjoy! We are and allways have been the frikin sharks with laser beam eyes. In 1980 we saw now with the Alan Parsons Project (google for him) and a blunt.

  17. Googling “19A0s” will not get you as many relevant results as this article would have you believe.

  18. dr.hypercube says:

    White noise in/A white room.

    I’m assuming that the above is the U of R’s alma mater.

  19. BoingBoing: When you can’t get crazy straight from the tap, there’s BoingBoing.

  20. BrianOman says:

    It finally makes sense! We’re channeling, from our subconscious, all the repressed symbols and memories of the lost decade. As if, during the 19A0’s, we drifted through our cultural experiences like shoppers in the supermarket, dazed, blind, acting the motions without the conscious will to do so. Now, those influences are welling up having fermented for 3 decades, finally about to metastasize.

    Ah, I love it.

  21. Astrid Phillips says:

    Sounds like Rob has a serious case of saudade, — and so do I, for the same era discussed.  I was born in 1977, and throughout the 80s I always had the sense that there was a giant party going on without me.  It didn’t help to see A-ha cavorting about on MTV in a comic book world where I desperately hoped to join them, and knew I never could; Jem made me hunger for a brave new holographic world I knew didn’t exist, no matter how hard I wished it did.  Even today, I harbor some regret that my life doesn’t look like a John Foxx video, but somehow life goes on.

    Assuming we’re roughly the same age, I think Rob is trying to catch the phantoms of a pop culture that both he and I were too young to understand yet still desperately wanted to internalize; this nostalgia pops up these days as music by Royksopp, Air, and Goldfrapp, and as design by James White and Mat Maitland.  Blade Runner nicely captures the saudade of a cybernetic culture, and I suggest every work by Ray Bradbury for those who want to explore the sensation further.  But all that aside, I say TIME TO GENERATE OUR OWN NEW POP CULTURE for 20A0 instead of lazily updating/remixing everything from another century!  Dang.

    • kmoser says:

      The last time somebody even came close to generating their own pop culture was the Dada movement, and even they were hopelessly limited by their source media (film, print). Nothing is 100% new. If you crave that which is new, you will always be disappointed.

      • Astrid Phillips says:

        There’s a difference between building on what came before, and doing a glorified cut-and-paste project.  For example, I would classify the DVNO video as a cut-and-paste project, since it’s VERY clear what it’s referencing.  Overall, though, I do agree with you…I guess I just want to see a bit less cutting and pasting.

  22. Ian Wood says:

    Well, I’m off to Sparganapani’s coffee shoppe.

  23. Shibi_SF says:

    Well, I’ll have to devote more time to reading this later, at home… and not sneaking snippets as I try to work.  But I have to admit that I came to read this because of the image of Rutger Hauer shutting down in the rain.  And, as you end the post with that image… I love it!  Blade Runner (director’s cut, of course) is one of my all time favorite movies.  

  24. Halloween_Jack says:

    I will fully, unconditionally and enthusiastically support your thesis upon receipt of proof that I got crazy laid during the 19A0s. 

  25. UncaScrooge says:

    What?  No James Ferraro or John Maus?  Don’t these people remember the 19A0s at all?

  26. Mike Baker says:

    Reads as thoughtful stream of consciousness. I oddly, er, grok it. I often feel a nostalgia for that Lost Decade myself. Röyksopp and Air certainly does cut it for me. There was disco and punk, then new wave and metal, but there was something in between. Kaftwerk, Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, and the like – a new aesthetic that rose over the 60s and 70s and faded in the 80s, yet lingered and influenced art and music since – still there but not fully acknowledged, not defined by a decade – not 70s, not 80s. 

  27. Nathaniel says:

    Wow. That was beautiful. Put me rather in mind of Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius ( ). Only in reverse, of course.

    • HairySammoth says:

      Brilliant, thank you Nathaniel. I couldn’t put my finger on it and it was driving me crazy, but it’s the wonderful short fiction of Borges, of course it is. You’ve scratched a brain itch for me! That would have bothered me all morning.

      And yes, this is lovely stuff. I am gently surprised at the number of comments in the “Pshaw, drugs, eh?” camp though (not to mention the even funnier “What, no, we didn’t all forget five years!” camp).

  28. someToast says:

    Finally revealed, terms such as “19A0s” can now be searched for and uncovered in countless seemingly innocuous documents archived online, exposing them as critical ciphertexts of the movement.

    Countless seemingly-innocuous documents that are victims of poor OCR (not that a search was necessary to figure that out).

  29. LeSinge says:

    You’re assuming that the lost decade is a result of some sort of self-inflicted pop-culture amnesia, but what if someone or something were deployed to erase some human cataclysm? Say, events which began in 1978 led to an event in 1983 which was so devastating that time had to be folded over, like a Mad Magazine fold-in, joining what was 1983 to 1978? And everything that occurred in between was erased, but only partially. Like a redubbed VHS tape, with the lost years occasionally poking through.

    • BrianOman says:

      We call this MAD Travel. The humor and cynicism of culture creating a flux time disaster that, somehow, seemlessly integrates it’s self into the prevailing culture of a time before.

    • Fnordius says:

      I have never heard of the years between the end of the German Autumn (the RAF attacks in 1977) until the third year of Reagan’s term when we seemed closest to nuclear war better described. The missing Olympic Games that were supposed to happen in Moscow, the creeping sense that 1984 was almost here. The feud between Atari and Commodore owners foreshadowing the Mac/Windows wars.

      Ah, when plastic was still cool and futuristic. The era of the original Star Wars trilogy.

    • gehringer says:

      Reminds me of the ending of ‘The Lathe of Heaven’…

      Metaphysical cataclysm, ending with a rewriting of reality to undo it,  no one can quite remember what happened and what were originally separate timelines are now one, and mostly consistent, but everyone knows there’s something a bit off…

  30. fnc says:

    I thought that was just a glitch in the matrix.

  31. jsd says:

    There’s a cool movie in here somewhere.

  32. jsd says:

    This is a pretty sweet throwback to the weirdness of Boing Boing. It’s just…weird. And weird is good.

    We are all happy mutants.

  33. StevelImages says:

    I don’t get it. The article reads as satire but it’s not very funny. 

  34. rtresco says:

    Now tie this to the larger conversation going on regarding originality, or the loss thereof in a remix culture. Especially since the prevailing philosphy still looks down upon ‘nostalgia’ or ‘sentimentalism’ as a dirty word in the creative arts. In a hypertextual society quick to consume and discard in a “been there done that” malaise, where it’s fashionalble to declare a scene “over” in the middle of gestation, like a race to post “first” in a message thread, how can that be reconciled against the coolness of the “look at this referecne to an old thing I found on the intenet, and by calling attention to it, I’m kinda cool too wink-wink-nudge-nudge because whether or not you think it’s ironic or sincere doesn’t matter – all I had to do was bring it to your attention.”

  35. xtian says:

    “There is no greater vantage point than the cultural periphery, where one may absorb and reflect the character of the larger society upon whose fringes one stands.”

    I just realized, I’m white.

  36. Peter Turpin says:

    What we subjectively consider the 80s culturally, bled into the 90s and past 2000. Then in the west time was stopped. The 9/11 attack has been an emotional wound that has never been allowed to heal through reinforcement of it’s trauma. Emotionally it’s still the year 2001. If any decade’s been lost, it’s the one just gone. The decades before seem warped and distant memories because they occurred just before time was traumatically stopped.

    This mixtape has a sort of mental “flavour” that recalls certain intense sparks of those years.

    • Dylan Ogden says:

      The title hints at a 00s retrospective.  Most of the tracks are from that decade, and for a post purporting to be about the 70s-x-80s, that’s something above an accident.  It’s jarring to look back at this fictional decade and realize that you’re looking at your own recent past.

      Have we really been asleep for a decade?

      What do we do now?

  37. John Ohno says:

    Clearly, the mechanism by which the 19A0s were erased was the Polybius machine.

  38. Guest says:

    ‘Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it?  That’s what it is to be a slave.’

    ”I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.  Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.  I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.’

    ‘All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.’

    ‘Time to die.’

  39. millie fink says:

    I see Alan Sokal is still writing! And just as well/badly as ever.

    With a clever nom de plume and faux positionality, too–“Rob Beschizza, University of Rockall,” the latter being publisher of the giveaway-titled Journal of Spurious Research. (And we also note, of course, the euphonic giveaway in the “university” name–Rockall. Sokal. Fuck all. And so on.)

    • ” clever nom de plume”

      While it’s apparently true that Beschizza may be pronounced homophonously to both “shitfaced” and “bullshit” in German, it is also actually my real, on-the-birth-certificate name. Nominative determinism at work!

  40. OK, is it wrong that I actually got this? (I think).

  41. Joshua Snyder says:

    Is this what happens when you do or when you don’t finish your PhD dissertation?

  42. alex w says:

    This was supposed to be the 19A0s

    Where is my Golden Submarine
    Why hasn’t the automobile been superceded
    Where is my vote-via-text-message Gubmint 2.oWhere is my Rockall University varsity jacket/hoodie

  43. Verse says:

    They said they were repressed memories but, clearly, I am a child of the 19A0’s.

    All I really want to know now is where I can get a 3-wolves-with-frikin’-lazer-beams-coming-out-of-their-eyes T-Shirt, because 3-wolves-howling-at-the-moon is so Beta compared to that.

  44. foxbatfangs says:

    Where is Daft Punk on this mixtape? I think they were among the first to remember. ∆∆∆

  45. Evil Paul says:

    I can’t shake the feeling that the ghost decade has something to do with the strange events that took place in Ong’s Hat, New Jersey.

  46. craum says:

    Needs more Max Headroom…

  47. angstrom says:

    I am one of the few people that still remember the solar intervention. I’m just thankful it worked.

  48. KludgeGrrl says:

    You know, I would have a lot more tolerance for this sort of thing if it didn’t start by making asinine comments about the European Middle Ages.  I’m a medievalist. I’ve had to teach university students about the Middle Ages and, believe me, people already believe enough spurious bullshit about the time period. 

    Moreover, this pseudo lit-crit style (which is admittedly endemic in many academic areas of study) is one that medievalists generally have little patience for,  I know I am meant to smile, but really this brings out the pedantic grinch in me (obviously).

  49. Jack Daniel says:

    Oh god. You just unearthed some long-suppressed, fructose-induced fantasies of professional lasertag earnings, oversized truck rampages, and feasts of round toastable waffles. Meet me at the food court, Tiffany. I’ve found the way home.

  50. zebbart says:

     How are we supposed to take this seriously when it contradicts what Terrence McKenna and the Mayans said about 2012? Unless, I guess, if the Dark Ages were only a couple decades then this year is not properly 2011 OR 2016. So then how many years have we lost? Which century are we even in? Time to consult the machine elves…

  51. anansi133 says:

    My own lost decade began in 1997. This is the first time it’s even occurred to me that other people out there might have also blinked and missed some of it.

     It might not even be a bad thing. In _The_Moon_is_a_Harsh_Mistress_, Robert Heinlein compares a successful revolution to a fancy multi-course meal;  a complex series of recipes that have to be coordinated so they all come out done at a carefully synchronized time.

    Perhaps what we experience as lost time, is just a cosmic finger on the pause/rewind button of history.

  52. Lou Fancy says:

    Word salad.  The words and sentences mean nothing.  Our brains try to look for patterns in gibberish, try to seek a deeper meaning but it’s not there.  The emperor has no clothes.  The meaning behind those words is just like the lost decade, non-existent.  However, the idea and the notion of this piece such a void we can’t help but fill it with ourselves, it’s like staring into complete darkness for a few minutes, eventually your brain will create patterns that aren’t there.  Saudade indeed.

    • Mike Baker says:

      I was thinking about this article last night and I came up with the same conclusion that Lou Fancy did. In my previous comment I called this “thoughtful stream of consciousness.” I still think it is but I also think Lou is right – this article is up for as many interpretations as there are those that read it. One could call “bullshit” and be right – that first link for Phantom Time Hypothesis sends up alarms. Total crock. But if interpreted as a metaphor, I accept it readily. I think Rob is pulling one over on us, but he’s also revealing a personal truth, something he might think is a funny way to think but he thinks it none the less. The music and art he describes here is so easily associated with what he describes as the Lost Decade. So, maybe Lou’s assertion that “the emperor has no clothes” is right – and maybe Rob is in on this joke – but I think Rob really does see those clothes. I do too. But the clothes I see are no doubt an entirely different wardrobe than what anyone else sees. So, as Lou said, we stare into the void and fill it in. What we come away with is what we have made. Doesn’t that make this good writing?

      • zebbart says:

        It’s like all good mythology. It’s what Jung found in alchemy, it’s what value is to be found in ancient scriptures. It’s not literally, empirically true, but it touches on myriad truths that are open for exploration through this gateway.

  53. I tell you what:  that Pilotpriest song is sheeeeeit-hot!

  54. Tonweight says:

    sage goes in every field.

    not really, though.  hat’s off to the ‘schizza.

    sweet Roy .GIF, too.

  55. OK, just to be clear, the emperor has no clothes — i’m in-character writing meaningless nonsense about cherrypicked ‘proof’ of a crazy conspiracy, in that clunky pseudo-academic prose that cranks adore. 

    Fortunately for you lot, his insanity coincides with great taste in space disco and other products of the void — such as the nostalgia we have for things that were around before we were born, but seem to be always right at-hand. And … other things besides.

    • Yanno, after a few days of really being frustrated with BB commenters, I’m actually pretty proud of us for mostly letting ourselves in on the joke. I loved this, Rob. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

    • Guest Of JL says:

      Scathing assessment. Exactly what the 19A0’s looks like in everybody’s minds.. still, today. Nice job image-izing / music-fying the dark ages. Guess your in-char-character is exactly the elitist you’re gunning for here eh?

  56. madopal says:

    I’ve always thought that the line that best describes the 80s (and perhaps, this lost decade) was from Men At Work’s “Overkill”

    “Ghosts appear and fade away.”

    Love it, Rob.  Just needed some Black Iron Prison in there and something about a root canal & a pink light.  It was all worth it for the Roy Batty gif, though.

  57. RobDobbs says:

    I think I saw this hand written on a sandwich-board a homeless guy was wearing. Also, the end is neigh.

  58. origilla says:

    Nice work Rob.  A refreshing break from the Occupy-heavy front page.  Putting the bOING back in it, you might say.

    • Ashen Victor says:

       We are occupying the lost decade of the 19A0s! We whant it back! Now!
      Get out of it you time stealer one percenter!


    I enjoyed this a lot.  Especially the well chosen music clips, familiar and unfamiliar.
    And it did remind me of Borges in a good way.

  60. Boomer says:

    “It is all too easy to inoculate collective memory from digging too deep
    into the spaces between sanity, madness, and radically bad taste.”

    Not really.  Sanity and madness are self-indulgent and meaningful only to those who wish to participate and require little or no scrutiny while radically bad taste is a marketable commodity.   The worse it is, the higher the price tag.  One has the personal right to decide depending on his level of reality and the depth of his pocketbook. 

  61. scifijazznik says:

    I’ve read this twice now, coming back to it again after letting it soak in for a few hours.  I had a shower and cooked some fish in between.  I disagree with those who would call it word salad or otherwise dismiss it.  In fact, I wish there was A LOT more stuff like this on Boing2 these days.

    I was born in 1971, so I remember quite a bit from this allegedly missing era.  Or at least I think I do.  It was a particularly bad time in my young life and the ways it shaped me are still evident today.

    I remember, after my parents divorced, my father remarried and bought a black Trans Am, just like Michael Knight’s.  He had that Alan Parsons tape and we must have listened to “Mammagamma” a thousand times.  With the t-top removed and safely stowed in the trunk, Alan Parsons Project blasting as we cruised down the highway, I distinctly remember feeling really fucking cool.

    He also had the Blade Runner soundtrack– the orchestral abomination that, to this day, because I heard it so many times, somehow sounds better than the original Vangelis score.  He actually wore that out and bought a new one.  There was also Oxygene and Les Chants de Magnetiques by Jean-Michel Jarre which I still think are excellent.  

    So, thanks, Rob.  I enjoyed it.  It made me think of things sweet and sour.  Fuck man, it just made me think.  More like this, please.

  62. perchecreek says:


  63. Jason Smallwood says:

    even though i support free expression and even though i love weird humour, i cringe when i think of how much of the internet is filled with this kind of gibberish.  language is a tool of communication.  this is merely masturbation.

  64. dagfooyo says:

    My favorite glimpse into the 19A0s comes from Boards of Canada, a pair of  historians who have released several hours of recovered audio from the lost decade.

  65. Jensen Peoples says:

    Cool article.  A lot of your examples and points made me think of Drive and it’s marketing/soundtrack. The hot pink script, the stunt jacket, the electronic soundtrack with pieces like Nightcall.
    Thanks for waking me up this morning. 

  66. hab says:

    Fnord, indeed. Bob Dobbs concurs.

  67. Can you feel your ideas touching the brains of the people around you? Do you feel your presence in the collective? Can you sense the difference between your ideas and the ideas of others becoming less and less distinct? This is just the beginning of the evolution, and you exist with me inside my giant cellular walls. I’m enjoying the absorption.

  68. mwiik says:

    No, there’s something here, and I can recall, for example, my initial horror at first hearing Heart of Glass, I was like, WTF happened to Blondie? Surely there must have been some evolution there, some ‘time’ that’s now lost. The late 70’s thru early 80’s went way too quick.

    Time (or at least, myself and some friend’s subjective time experience) slowed to a crawl in the mid to late 90’s, we were all making websites, and some past technologies/softwares/websites seemed to belong to the long-long ago, though when checked against the calendar, only a month or two had passed. Remember when a Mozilla beta actually *expired* without a replacement, there was one long night of the soul when none of us had a working browser? And who remembers the placeholder text for some famous site which accidentally went live, endless lines of ‘the internet is very cool. it is also very, very complicated’.

    The fuzzy edges of the late 70’s to late 90’s timelines are (to me) Iggy’s post-The Idiot albums on the one end and Slipknot/NetCrusier on the other, and by Slipknot I mean the browser, not the band. Do you remember?

  69. Nick Gold says:

    The 19A0s is clearly the “present” represented in Watchmen.  Maybe Doctor Manhattan had to tweak the collective consciousness/subconscious, and erase it from memory (and possibly actual existence as well).

  70. Rob Gehrke says:

    It’s like feeling nostalgia for something that you never really knew, which makes it all the more nostalgic. Like something on the tip of your tongue that you can’t fully realize, and makes you sad.

  71. silus says:

    You meant it!  You meant it all!

  72. equilibrist says:

    I think I remember something about Fernando Poo around this time but I’m probably wrong

  73. Mark Wintle says:

    Or to put it more succinctly,  music, fashion & design from the past only exist when music, fashion & designs of today co-opt the past to re-awaken vague memories of things we don’t really remember as we were never really paying attention way back then were we?

  74. asfi235 says:

    This might seem to have been documented at the time, albeit incompletely, in the zine THE [BI]MONTHLY MONTHLY, wherein the year 1979 doesn’t exist. But this is mere numerological sleight-of-hand; 1979 was renumbered 1980, 1980 became 1980(2), and 1981 was (quelle surprise!) 1981.

  75. GrueHunter says:

    A curious side effect of the 19A0s is the mental fog concealing the dates of certain events, and in particular, the introduction of iconic technologies.  A recent example was the kerfuffle over the existence of Rubik’s Cube and the Sony Walkman personal stereo in the JJ Abrams film ‘Super 8′.  Some have argued that there was little chance a teenager in a rural town could have owned the latter in the summer of 1979, weeks after its official launch in Japan, and that there was no chance of the characters discussing the former – while the Cube had been developed in the early 1970s, it was not actually marketed to consumers until 1982.

    So powerful is this effect that we label works such as Abrams’ ‘anachronisms’, arguing that he was merely overcome by nostalgia.  This is to suppress the more interesting truth: that 19A0s technology is simultaneously available to all persons, at all times and in all places throughout the 19A0s.  There is little point arguing that a person who clearly remembers buying a Walkman for Christmas in 1978 (or a Cube for their birthday in 1980) is mistaken or a liar, because they are, in fact, telling the truth.

    • vicx says:

      That a Technological Simultaneity existed during the 19A0 era is an absolute certainty.Further, that that a post-simultaneity period  followed cannot be denied. Despite living within this post-simultaniety era, the historian William Gibson recognised that the future was no longer simultaneous and had become  “not evenly distributed’. He wrote a series of manifestos about how to live in this ugly bifurcated society. 

      In 1996 there was a short and limited  simultaneous period that pre-invoked the year 2000 by four years. Almost every person in the world received a mobile phone during this period and many people were playing Halo on Xbox despite its limited availability. In this millennial period millions of people had 5  digit ICQ numbers, as did I.

  76. as a child born just inside the replacing decade, I say what a load of pretentious horsewank this all was. Entertaining pretentious horsewank, mind you.

  77. hornos says:

    Just put together Name of the Rose ( and techno from Johannes Heil ( Actually, around 2k we were in much the same situation. Then came the false flag attack. On that afternoon we were sitting in the very same pub Max ( was also filmed.

  78. wonkadelica says:

    The last time the economy was close to being this bad, for this long, Jimmy Carter was being punished for making peace in the Middle East with an oil embargo, and I was within a year of graduating from ASU with a BFA in photography. The faculty was finally forced into admitting that we should not expect to earn a living with what we had learned. Luckily, I had a couple of years as an astronomy major before switching majors and realized I was living at ground zero for the solar energy future.

    I found my way into a prominent position with the biggest solar manufacturer in the southwest and an ideal career with limitless potential. By 1982, it was all over and I had another rude awakening when the management admitted that they had all voted for Reagan. He had eliminated subsidies for alternative energy, but not for fossil fuels.

    With a dark future of oil wars now inevitable, I abandoned the city and sought refuge in the desert. I studied metaphysics with a master, was privileged to be invited to Hopi ceremonies not open to the public, and learned the local plants and animals. For the decade of the 19A0’s I did not own a vehicle or tv.

    I had another rude awakening realizing that I was now living directly in the path of the fastest leap-frog development in the country and no amount of community action was going to stop it. Now, it has one of the worst real estate markets and no more local water.

    Yes, there definitely seems to be lost decades, but time cannot be separated from the space-time continuum and like all Native Americans, we must be able to live in at least two worlds at once. What happened to the missing time? 

    I blame video games.

  79. Nicole Lindsay says:

    This lost decade, the 19A0s covers my high school years – I remember it all! But the great things, the art, the music, the journalism, the clothes, the writing, all seemed to unwind as the actual 80s rolled on and we were left rootless. There was a glimmer of hope again in the 90s but it was not to be. The last decade has been the crappest ever. Hopefully it will disappear and the 19A0s can be remembered again. (the music wasn’t quite right. If you were on your way to being a grown up the music was a lot spikier during this period).

  80. pfooti says:

    I realize I’m late to the party here, but I’m sort of wondering if there’s an overlap between the 19A0’s and the single year 1Q84. 

  81. auzboz says:

    So shocked and awed at what had happened we built a mental block, now time has past and strange idiosyncrasy’s have set in, now  humanity loving to ask WHY, wants to get to the bottom of this strangeness,  we delve into it we ponder getting so engrossed in the question that we loose ourselves and that which is around us falls away, and once again upon gleaming that truth we revert back into shock.. and the cycle starts again less extreme but that same cycle. the wiser of choices would be to rectify these idiosyncracy’s with that which we know and have at hand rather then delving back, and risking repeating the cycle of trauma shock and stress. 

  82. I recommend Paul Morley’s Words and Music to those that liked this article. 

  83. kurtispopp says:

    Interesting premise, but much of the music here is in the digitized, Pro Tools aided style of the 2000s, which seems anachronistic for a period supposedly taking place between the 70s and 80s. The music of such an era would probably have the synths and danceable beats redolent of new wave or disco, but have a purely analog sound – The Alan Parsons Project track is certainly a good choice. I would also add Boards of Canada’s “Roygbiv,” – – which I’ve always felt sounds like it comes from some hazy dreamworld somewhere between the 70s and 80s, and Belong’s “Perfect Life” – – which also seems stuck in that same zeitgeist limbo between new wave and the more streamlined pop of the early 80s.

    Incidentally, the tv series Automan was also a huge hit during the lost decade, but only 12 episodes remain in the “official” cultural record.

  84. ChrisO says:

    It was a mashup of Tim Powers and William Gibson, all in one multimedia-rich hypercard stack.  Hearkening back to the time when, living in the 80s, we were aware that THIS WAS THE FUTURE.  What does it mean if we’re now living in the 2010s, and the 1980s are still the future?  Maybe the 80s weren’t a time period at all, but an alternate dimension in which we once lived, a primary-color, microprocessor-fueled Brigadoon, where movie superheroes could be scientist/rock stars, and a few points of light imagined a coming global computer network, but were never quite sure what it would be good for.  

    But VR goggles would be involved.  

    However, during a long camping trip, or a certain plane flight, we passed through the curtain, and upon our return we felt mystified and confused at the angst and flannel around us.  Was the goal of all that technology really just to make technology invisible?  Is cheap porn really the main driver of the global computer network?  And whatever happened to my fucking VR goggles?  

    I have a hot tip that there’s a Dactyl Nightmare game in a storage locker, and I think it might be a doorway back.

    See you there!

  85. Patrick Gant says:

    More Joy Division and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Less Spandau Ballet. That’s what would have saved the 19A0s.

  86. Slippy Lane says:

    Hehe, amused by the randomly-generated “Most successful games” list. Those probably WERE the most successful keywords of the terribly-and-inaccurately-named half-decade called the 19A0s

  87. mike scott says:

    This, i believe, is another example of the lost decade – one which shows its true side as not some golden nostalgic age but a terrifying era that at any point could consume us  in shoulder pads and Reagonomics –

  88. Nate Cull says:

    As a 70s child myself I also remember the glittering cyberpunk 80s that never quite was. Where did that phantom decade go, indeed? Some day soon we were going to
    have computers with actual MEGABYTES of data storage, and that would be
    enough to store a thousand fully sentient AIs.

    I’ve been slightly obsessed via Youtube with the period roughly 1977-1983 in music this year, enough that I made up a playlist for it:  And yes, that sweet spot, the crossover of 70s analog disco-funk with New Wave digital synth miminalism; that’s the Holy Grail for me.

     And I can’t help but point out the intriguing time-bending anomaly of the Lear Fan’s first flight, duly recorded by the British Government as December 32, 1980.

  89. jbond says:

    Oh, my! This is rich in post-punk, retromania, hauntology, New Aesthetic. Simon Reynolds and James Bridle should be all over this. I’m not sure we give enough credit to the particular 5 years of change between 1978 and 1983. ISTM they were at least as significant as 1965- 1969. And like that period in the late 60s there was enough happening to fill 15 normal years.

    I can’t help thinking though that this is the thinking of a person of a certain age, born approximately 1955-58. 1978-1983 would have been when they were waking up and consuming large quantities of memetics before settling down into being a more responsible member of society. Ignore my first para, it just feels like that was a significant period because it was personally significant to people who were in their early 20s att that time.

    “The propagation of historical information through memetic artifacts”, indeed!

  90. Omnia Sententia says:

    Ever wondered why a most band’s first album is the best – the prophet album, I like to think of it.

    The prophets turned to profit.

    I tell you this, the artists.. the musicians.. the game developers. Sometimes they have to rediscover themselves once the money is no longer an issue.

    Progress and Prophecy.

    Also, you forgot to put Elite in that list of games. Guess what is coming back ?

  91. AnthonyC says:

    I know this sin;t meant to be taken seriously, but I can’t help myself. So, of course there’s a sudden 10-15 ppm jump in atmospheric CO2 levels and an instantaneous shift in the positions of the stars and planets relative to earth. That or every piece of historical evidence – even those yet to be dug up – were all perfectly modified to reflect the missing years.

  92. DJBudSonic says:

    Rob- this would explain why I thought we had met sometime before but could not quite place it.

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