Meaningful pasts: Post #9

1. What objects from the past do you particularly treasure?

Objects from the past that I treasure are architecture/infrastructure and nature. A lot of what I treasure from the past are memories of events and not necessarily objects. The Women’s World Cup 2015, for instance, created a shared moment of sport, identity, culture and inclusivity for thousands of traditionally different participants.

2. Do you think that some objects from the past are best forgotten?

The objects from my past that are best forgotten are those that I’ve lost. These objects are usually things I have assigned value to by way of attaching a memory or significance to their purchase or acquisition. For example, I lent a pair of shoes, my first and only ever pair of Doc Martins, (soft leather in mat black!) to a friend/acquaintance who was travelling through town and on to other destinations but had forgotten to bring ‘good’ shoes. After the week was up and she was back at home, I had to ask for the return and my prized Docs and that’s when all versions of the story began: one was lost, they were never borrowed, both shoes were left behind. To this day I still think about those shoes and that strange woman who ‘stole’ them.

I don’t think historical or archaeological objects should be forgotten but I don’t know that all discoveries need to be preserved. Perhaps documented with a supporting narrative or an explanation of the narrative it created during its era but necessarily preserved and displayed. Keep good records and they in turn will become the artifacts of the future.

Case in point, Stephen Harper needs to leave the Franklin Expedition boats in the frozen North! We know they’re there, it is a source of pride (for some), mystery and history for others, but why do the sited need to be picked apart and raised? Keep it an intangible tangible, and foster the preservation of existing intangible pasts such as the language and customs of living people in the area, they have something worth keeping.

3. What intangible pasts (e.g. customs and languages) are meaningful to you?

Stories from my Grandfather.

4. How is it best to preserve these intangible pasts?

By remembering the stories and honouring his memory by telling those stories. The stories create a view into the past but also provide a lens to be applied in the present. Preserving these intangible pasts, for me, is a feeling, a way of interpreting or appreciating things/situations in the world and living in a way that is reflective of those stories and intrinsic lessons. A lifetime of experiences was often shared through the recitation of a poem, a verse or a joke which gives you the idea of the feeling behind the situation being recounting and offers a model of how one can react. It’s almost as if intangible pasts provide opportunities to learn emotional intelligence.

5. If we save more and more objects and intangible pasts, is there a danger that there will be too much past in the future?

I think there should be an institutional and cultural focus on saving, fostering intangible pasts e.g. World Cup, Hiroshima Lantern Ceremony, Pow Wows etc. and creating new ‘intangibles’ through shared experiences.

Female, 40s, public servant


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