…by the ’70s and ’80s, we were just as interested in gazing longingly behind us toward a sentimentally reconstructed version of a simpler past as we were in peering ahead toward the dystopian future that was most likely headed our way. We were awash in nostalgia. We yearned for a little house on the prairie or a Baltimore diner or a doo-wop reboot or a drag race by the Fonz down a suburban Milwaukee street.
But in addition to our retreat into wishfulness, something else was brewing: a sense that the past was not only better than the present, but that the past’s predictions for the future were also better than what had actually become the present. No longer content to live in (or through) our memories of the past, we also yearned to live in the past’s vision of the future. We were nostalgic for yesterday’s prognostications: You could say that we succumbed to prognostalgia.
For example, the atomic-age architecture and populuxe designs of the ’50s and ’60s were reclaimed as artifacts from a future that never was — all part of a retrofuturist aesthetic that a character from a 1981 William Gibson short story termed “raygun Gothic.”
Eric Schulmiller, “Future Tense”, The New York Times Magazine (13 July 2014), 44-45.