Unremembered

15 Jul

What we do not remember. That’s most of history, isn’t it? Most names are not remembered, most stories not inscribed on shields or written in books or displayed on walls. Yet the procession of human history depends upon these things: the lives of the unremembered, the relationships they forged, their hopes and aspirations, and their triumphs and their laments. It’s inevitable that we’ll join them one day.

Although it appeared last month, I am still pondering Stephanie Paulsell’s Christian Century column about some art friezes along the Tiber River in Rome by William Kentridge. One of them simply says (in Italian; see the photo above) “what I do not remember.”

In light of the all the deaths in the news this past week or two, Paulsell’s comments above, and more, hit home for me and my work as a historian. Yes, remembering is what we historians try to do–that is, get our audience to remember. Yet, how elusive remembering is …

Source: Unremembered: William Kentridge’s frieze of Roman history | The Christian Century

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