At the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul, named after his novel of the same title, author Orhan Pamuk proposes a manifesto. Here’s an excerpt:
“I am against these precious monumental institutions being used as blueprints for future museums. Museums should explore and uncover the universe and humanity of the new and modern man emerging from increasingly wealthy non-Western nations. The aim of big, state-sponsored museums, on the other hand, is to represent the state. This is neither a good nor innocent objective.”
It reminds me of author Susan Sontag writing in the The Volcano Lover (via Taking Note Now), “I’m checking on what’s in the world. What’s left. What’s discarded. What’s no longer cherished. What had to be sacrificed. What someone thought might interest someone else … there may be something valuable, there. Not valuable, exactly. But something I would want. Want to rescue. Something that speaks to me. To my longings.” For her (or her characters), “collecting expresses a free-floating desire that attaches and re-attaches itself—it is a succession of desires. The true collector is not in the grip of what is collected but of collecting.”
The best way to pay homage is to bring it back—to set up our own blogs that we control, to preserve our own libraries of content in multiple places so they don’t disappear with social media, to actively document our lives the way we miss and the way we would want to be remembered. We can choose a responsibility, every day, to collect the best of what came before us, to embody it, and to preserve it by sharing its charms with other people.
In an interview with Special Ed for Virgin Radio, screenwriter, actor, and recording artist Donald Glover says, “We’re unique. We remember a time before the Internet. That’s our responsibility, that’s what we have to do… Take the best things from before the Internet with us. That’s our job.”
This prompt is meant in a personal context, though it can also certainly be applied to groups like organizations and businesses.