Justice for All
 Church in Decline
 Striking Similarity
 The Efficacy of Prayer
 Are You Ready for Change?
 A Question of Vocation
 The Challenge of Change
 Elul 24
 Elul 23
 Elul 22

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 Elul 5777 (9)
 Exploring Translation Theories (25)
 Live Like You Give a Damn
 Memory and Identity
 The Creative Word (19)
 The Cross-Cultural Process (7)
 The Old Testament is Dying
 The Oral Gospel Tradition (4)
 We the People (8)


Thursday, 14 July 2016


Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page 29

How many memories are there? How many still exist in writing? And what can we do with them?

The stock of memories stored up in the medium of writing quickly transcends the horizons of a knowledge of the past that can be put to immediate use, and transforms the bonding memory through a cultural memory that operates on a much larger scale.

Ok, so if there are all these written (and presumably, shaped and edited) memories, where are they?

The palace library at Nineveh is the earliest example of a comprehensive cultural collection that aimed to assemble the entire knowledge of past and present, the most famous of which is the library of Alexandria. Cultural memory is complex, pluralistic and labyrinthine; it encompasses a quantity of bonding memories and group identities that differ in time and place and draws its dynamism from these tensions and contradictions.

So is this why each successive group of 'victors' destroys the writing and libraries of the people they defeat? Is this why the UK switched from the centuries old monetary system to the new decimal system in 1971 - so that memories of the past become unavailable and its values and symbols become inaccessible without (official, of course) interpretation? Ask people today, and they have almost no idea what a half-crown is and the value it used to have - a whole week's pocket money!

Posted By Jonathan, 8:06am Comment Comments: