Thursday, September 15, 2005

Lileks joins the ranks of those in mourning

Jesse is concerned it may be impossible to erect a memorial that would meet James Lileks' standards for monuments now that Lileks has joined the ranks of those decrying the peaceful Crescent of Embrace (the memorial park selected to honor those who died when fundamentalist Islamic terrorists hijacked Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001). Despite the fact that those directly affected by the crash (family members of victims) found the memorial powerful, breathtaking and life-affirming, conservative pundits find the idea of a peaceful tribute to honor the memories of those who died overtly offensive.

Some just take issue with the crescent design, as a red crescent is the symbol of the religion of Islam (perhaps they'd be satisfied if the title were changed to horse-shoe of embrace instead), which is wrong & evil because the terrorists were radical fundamental Islamacists. Some, like Lileks, are in mourning for the loss of literal-minded monuments. While many prefer to honor and celebrate those who died in war/famine/terrorist attack/natural disaster by providing a place of meditation which encourages *shudder* thinking, reflection leading to a sense of awe & a life-affirming message, some think we need to erect a more graphic monument because they feel the only way to honor an event is to provide something so people can immediately tell the story of what, exactly, happenned to those being honored. Had the literalists been in charge of memorials after WWII, perhaps we would now have statues depicting a bright & shiny US serviceman stopping a ne'er do well Nazi in an apron from gingerly placing a Jew in an oven instead of
this offensive bit of modernism.

Lileks waxes nostaligic for memorials that, instead of promoting a "remember, respect and make sure it doesn't happen again" message, is something hard, ugly and in concert with the event(s) they describe. He speculates on the type of monument that would be appropriate to ensure we remember the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Using his preference for literalism and story-telling, I suggest a life-sized diorama that includes him floating in a tank of raw sewage with statues depicting the Red Cross and FEMA sitting at a conference table nearby.

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