Why the “Memory Hollow”?

Sink hole

(Photo credit: Brave Heart, Flickr Creative Commons)

Why? Well, “The Memory Hole” was a name already taken—being used to refer to a web site “devoted to preserving and publishing material that is in danger of being lost, is hard to find, or is not widely known” (wikipedia). That’s not quite what I had in mind, but I liked the name, so I came up with a roughly synonymous term. In relation to monuments, memorials, museums, public space, and all-round remembering, the term “hollow,” like “hole,” connotes a gap or void in people’s memory—not caused by a lack of public access to documents in this case, but rather a lack of public understanding or even caring about why all these monuments, memorials and museums exist and were originally given such prominent places in our cultural sphere. It’s not a complete loss of understanding, of course: In some ways, museums and monuments are more popular now than they’ve ever been. But in our increasingly fragmented world, deeper comprehension of the totality of our supposedly shared cultural and historical experience is being degraded in the minds of more and more people. Not gone completely. More like hollowed out. That’s not a good thing, IMHO.

 

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