[-empyre-] language, reporting the virtually true

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Wed Nov 5 10:34:44 EST 2014

On 04/Nov/14 15:47, Daniel O'Donnell wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> You know, I've been wondering about this: since the Taliban blew up the Buddhas
> and then with the destruction of the domed mosques and manuscripts in Mali and
> environs, and now this.

It was painful to watch the video of the Buddha sculptures, especially knowing 
why it happened. It's always painful to see what we might consider unchanging 
reality suddenly lose its persistent form and ... change. It acts as a bitter 
reminder of mortality.

But isn't it such that cultural accession over time is doing essentially similar 
things all the time, over the vast reaches of history. And our contemporary 
focus on, literally, digging up the past and preserving it has limits. (We 
probably only do so because we have such a glut of energy flowing around our 
'developed' world, because re-organizing the past in any form (from library to 
archive to buildings) definitely takes energy!).

While the Buddhas were obliterated rapidly, using modern weapons (explosives), 
time via entropy continually devolves the detritus of the yesterday, and it is 
only the socio-cultural context (or even 'fashion') that dictates what is saved 
and what is allowed to slip away into chaos. Contexts change, and what was 
important in one context becomes passé in another.

> I wonder if there shouldn't be an emergency scanning fund that would help pay
> for capture of threatened built heritage. Maybe some kind of Unesco thing.

This is where the question of choice of what to preserve and what to let go 
surfaces. We are witnessing the procession of history and it seems we are in the 
moment as powerless as others in the past, watching accepted heritage be ground 
to dust. It's a strange process to witness. (and interesting that Johannes 
suggests that "archaeologists and anthropologists will surely confirm that the 
past cannot be lost" -- once humans have interjected their changes into the 
world, the change will persist (though it gradually dissipates, never quite to 
zero, until the universe resets itself...)

And maybe it's the same as watching a national 'infrastructure' collapse slowly 
when the national treasury is sapped of resources through war...

So it goes...

Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
grounded on a granite batholith
twitter: @neoscenes

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