Recently on my jaunts through Scotland and London, I was in awe at various statues. Yes – I said statues – what’s the problem? You read it correctly the first time around. But it’s something that I become preoccupied with intermittently over the last 4 years whenever I travel. Just so your wild imagination doesn’t take off into orbit, I need to reassure you that I don’t spend much of my waking hours thinking about statues. When I visit cities, I tend to take notice of statues of various types and I’m put in awe by the meaning of them. Oh – just to be clear, I’m talking about statues of people – not monuments etc (though similar ideas expressed here, in part, may be applicable).
Yes – no doubt it’s about the memory of persons who have made an important difference to ‘people’ or the ‘world’, being immortalised. But suddenly this morning I’ve had a rush of thoughts on this. At first I’m thinking that to be immortalised in ‘stone’, there is a requirement for the minds of others to exist, else the universe couldn’t really care much about a piece of stone or metal (or whatever) fashioned into some particular human form. Well, I’m not into arguments about what ‘God’ thinks etc. My point is that being immortalised, relies heavily on the sentience of other minds that can appreciate what the form (of the statue) and what it’s brief descriptions mean. Of course that doesn’t bring the person back to life – I feel a need to say (just in case some idiot out there reading this, is tempted to go in the usual sing-song voice, “But that doesn’t bring back people to life.”)
So – then I began thinking about why especially in Scotland there seemed to be so many statues. Well, I don’t think I’ve gotten the ‘right’ answer but here’s my theory. The ‘rise’ of statues over the centuries, is about that need to immortalise memories, in the minds of people to come. That’s not specific to Scotland – and I’m not here to ‘analyse’ Scottish history – give me a break! Leave it there.
But I’m thinking – the very brief writings that are put on plaques accompanying these statues, are the barest of summaries about what these people stood for (what they did or thought etc). Wind forward to the ‘Information Era’ – 21st Century etc – and certainly since the ability to easily produce and record thoughts in text-based form. But hang on, the human race has now – especially in the last 20 years – the ability to record in other ways, for near eternity, what they are about as groups or individuals. If you don’t know about the internet, or YouTube, or Google plus – then tough! But the latter and similar are new ways of immortalising individuals and groups.
At this point – I have to distract myself to say – expectant of some insult or gibe – that I’m not narcissistically driven to ‘immortalise’ myself on the internet; it just happens. It happens for me equally as for anybody else who makes Blogs or Websites (or similar electronic recordings). I almost forgot to say – I’m not interested in the statue or photograph of a statue. I don’t pre-occupy myself with statues. Blast! I thought I said that at the outset. Ho hum.. repetition helps..like a jack-hammer – yes it’s ability to burst through some extremely hard surface depends on rapidly repeating blows.
Moving on – we will always live on in the memories of those who survive us and keep us in their memories. But now with the internet, with books, video, photographs, hard drives, and other similar ‘etchings’ there is the potential (read that word again), for anybody to be immortalised forever. Yes – I know they still make statues today – and that’s absolutely fine. I’m not saying there is no need for them. I’m simply saying that they came into existence when we did not have all the varied forms of ‘media’ to etch us into eternity. Statues are still important (stone or metal or whatever) – I’m not discounting their importance in the public domain. I’m only saying that as far as being immortalised is concerned, it’s there, it’s happening, and we all can be immortalised in different ways – and we don’t need to wait to be set in stone! Got it? No. Tough. And finally, this is not an oblique or covert suggestion that you – who’s reading this – needs to immortalised yourself. Now off you go, back to whatever you were doing.