Speak, Memory

I'll never be able to forget the Pantheon, for as long as I live. And I'll never want to. I can't number the times I've been to that building. I used to stop in for 2 seconds before going to the paninoteca next door for a quick lunch on the fountain steps. My friends and I used to meet up at that fountain before nights out. I remember one, but don't remember which one time, walking into the middle and thinking how incredible it was that this space—not just these materials, but the area bounded within them—had seen so much of history. Hadrian stepped on this pavement. Brunelleschi did. Michelangelo did. Who knows who else did? 

And thus my career as an art historian was born.

But there's a problem in my sensation of space: while all of my scholarship focuses on the significant living qualities of space, my interest has always been intellectual. Spaces are vacuums, but they are entities. They have significance and their significance is a manifestation of memory, repeated over and over again.

Sunset over the Berlin Wall memorial

Sunset over the Berlin Wall memorial

And I truly believe that. But I rarely find that I can tap into that memory. I'm invigorated by space but rarely on a personal level. But that all changed at the Berlin Wall memorial. Something there clicked: a memorial showing a photograph of every person to have died while crossing the wall. One of them was just 18 months. The faces were much more effectual than the wall alone ever would have been. The memory was present.