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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Listening to the Past, Sound (Paul Whitty)

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paul whitty

Composer and phonographer Paul Whitty considers the memories of sounds (and the sounds of memories) and the potential of playback for dissident commemoration (and commemorative dissidence).

Make an effort to exhaust the subject, even if that seems grotesque, or pointless, or stupid. You still haven’t looked at anything, you’ve merely picked out what you’ve long ago picked out.

— Georges Perec, Species of Spaces (1974)

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

— T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton (1936)

The sounding past and the sounding present intersect; they are both present in the spaces that we inhabit. I sit in my kitchen and listen to the dishwasher cycle, to the kettle boiling – sounding in the space, resounding, now. I look across to the back door and remember the sound of the key in the lock, I look at a candle on the table and remember the sound of the match that I struck to light it, the crackle and hiss of the wick as the flame caught hold. These sounds resound in memory.

On 14 March 2004 phonographer Patrick McGinley visited White Hart Lane, London, to attend his first-ever football match as Tottenham Hotspur took on West Ham United. What he didn’t know when he set out was that he ←287 | 288→would be witness to 36,083 spectators wrestling...

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