Bert de Muynck | movingcities publishes “Making minced meat of memory” in the MUDOT Magazine. In a series of projects dealing with ‘hutong hallucinations’ the author mixes Beijing, Rem Koolhaas, Michel Houellebecq, Ou Ning, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ai Weiwei, Simone de Beauvoir and many others into the debate on Beijing’s preservation. Prince Charles, unfortunately, launched his call to ‘save the hutongs’ too late to meet the deadline of the essay.
MUDOT (magazine for urban documentation-opinion-theory) launched near the end of 2007 its call for its ‘memory, amnesia and urbanism’-issue with following set of questions;
How are memories constructed, embedded or deleted in the city? Why and how are some preserved at high cost while others are sacrificed with nary a backward glance? Lest a city wants to become a ghost town or an open-air museum, history will constantly be layered, merged and replaced by new memories and stories. Just as the relationship between the political , economic and the existing geography is in constant flux, so too are we – our lifestyles and our stories transformed. But when does intentional forgetting develop into something close to amnesia and becomes detrimental?
The suffering of a society in rapid change, with the consequent psychological demand for people to endlessly adjust to an eternal present, is counteracted by a simple design objective and philosophy; in the eternal contemporary city happiness is essentially a thing of the past. Happiness can be built on demand. Training memory equals, as Nietzsche saw it, the beginning of a civilized morality. More and more one can witness a tendency, on a global scale, where memory becomes an active and destructive force, a remembrance of time gone, a contemplation of paradises that are lost.
Pictures by Bert de Muynck & Mónica Carriço | movingcities.org