Damnatio memoriae

When the Commons of England sentenced King Charles I to death in 1649, they sat upon his own seat of judgment ; and after they had executed him, they broke the seat and buried it under the floor so that no king could ever sit there again. When, in 1789, the revolutionaries violated the secret boudoir of Marie-Antoinette, they stole the locks and smashed the mirrors in which the queen used to gaze at her reflection. When the Great Exhibition came to an end in 1851, all of its contents, including the Crystal Palace itself, were sold on the very open market the exhibition had been designated to celebrate. Damnatio memoriae, the Romans called it — “the damnation of memory”. They used to bury the houses of men whose memory they wished to condemn, insuring, inadvertently, their preservation for posterity. Even the act of deliberate destruction is a memorial to the thing it is designed to destroy.

Edward Hollis, The Memory Palace. A Book of Lost Interiors.
Portobello Books, 2013.

Jeudi 22 août 2019 | Grappilles |

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