Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World
Edited By Zoltan Somhegyi and Max Ryynänen
1 Collective Memorials in the Face of Loss: The Multiple Roles of the Aesthetic (Kathleen Higgins)
AbstractMemorializing (whether through monuments or through performance) is as important for collectives as for individuals in the wake of loss. I will argue that one of the reasons memorials are so important is that they are inherently aesthetic, and their aesthetic means are conducive to healing and to integrating elements in tension. They help the community to absorb loss that may be barely imaginable and conjoin its awareness of this loss with a sense that it remains a community still, integral enough to face the future intact. In this respect, memorials serve communities much as commemorative practices serve individuals.
However, the diversity of perspectives within collectives can make it difficult to structure memorials that are perceived as speaking for everyone. The motivations for memorializing themselves can provoke disagreement. The desire to defy the loss, in the sense of not giving it the last word, can operate in tension with the need to make some peace with it, and a certain amount of contention may occur because different people give different weights to these respective goals. Those most moved by the former motivation, for example, might favour commemorations that stress indomitability in the face of suffering and resist gestures that encourage calm and offer consolation.
There are limits to how much a community can experience unity when it is beset with disagreement over how a loss should be remembered. However, because the aesthetic has the capacity to absorb tendencies that conflict, at least...
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