You wouldn’t think that programming languages could provoke a feeling of nostalgia. After all, programming code is the epitome of machine-like expression. Its coldly logical construction is in some ways the very opposite of natural language’s focus on mood, feeling, human connection and frailty.
Yet today I found myself looking at some code written in a computer language I had not encountered since college, and was swept back in time to an earlier era of my life, remembering people, places, sounds, smells and feelings that had long been dormant.
I suppose that on some level the mind treats code like any other textural experience — like the intricate veins of a leaf, the sunlight that glistens through a snow frosted window, the smell of fresh mown grass on a summer morning. Anything you’ve experienced can be a trigger for deep memories.
It just seems strangely ironic when that trigger turns out to be, of all things, computer code.