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In memory of no one
Beautiful plaque on a monumental pedestal with no names or inscription on it.
Note: An English translation of the Jewish terms
One Shabbat morning on the way to shul, I noticed a
new monument at the roundabout on the main road of
my neighborhood. It was a beautiful wood and rock
monument with a large plaque at its center, but with
inscribed on it. I stopped and stared at it for a
few minutes. Within a few minutes some other
passing by stopped and joined me looking at the
monument. Then a group of teenagers passed by and
I think its a work of genius, I said. Its a monument in
remembrance of no one, coming to say that we hope
one ever gets killed again in war or car accidents.
I don't think its that deep, said a lady. It looks to me
like one of those abstract works of art scattered in
rest of the city and mean nothing, like "the rotten
tooth" over there, that was supposed to look nice
the water running down it, but the fountain was
because of the drought.
I think it has to do with shapes. The square slab is not
plaque but rather a football field in an aerial picture. -
said one of the teenagers.
There was an old couple that had just stopped when
discussion started and the man said: They simply didn't
finish it on time for Shabbat, and will continue the
inscription on Sunday.
Everybody turned to the guy and said: Naaaah!
Shabbat: Saturday. The Biblical Sabbath day. In Israel,
the national day off, and according to law no public
work is allowed. Pronounced Shabboss or Shabboth in
original Hebrew accents.
Shul: The Jewish ("orthodox") synagogue. People walk
to the shul, since it is prohibited by religious decree
to drive on Shabbat.
||When somebody collides with it and dies, will they
then inscribe his name on it?
||That's the humorous possibility of this idea. This monument placed perhaps somewhat hazardously with not just a blank but open inscription area with a futile and purposeless intention of preventing something inevitable from happening by increasing attention to it, however if nothing was placed there would be an even greater dearth of meaning.
||It raises a question: what is more meaningful something that has no message, something that defies its own message, or to have nothing there?
||That simple existential question that we direct towards ourselves and others (people and things) is the function of all art: what does this mean? Whether it is a word or symbol on a page, or anything. Everything starts out absurd, starting with the illiterate person, and meaning is slowly built into everything.
||On Sunday they put up the names of a driving teacher
named if I remember correctly Emil, and his wife who
perished in a car accident.
||Someday, we are going to hit a point where every
inch of real estate will be some kind of memorial to
something and every day will become some holy
observance. And then it will just start over.
||Just as long as when people ask who the monument is for, a sinister old man tells them not to ask, because it is for them.
||The plaque won't stay blank; graffiti artists with battery-powered scribers will quickly find opportunities to leave messages.