Emilia Van Hauen, cultural sociologist

Collected Memory can contain this vulnerability, by containing all the stories that people all over the world can tell.

Without the others, we’re nobody. So concisely can mankind’s history be penned. For without the community, the individual does not exist. What we all knew instinctively, COVID-19, and our tackling of its world-encompassing outbreak have managed to corroborate. Suddenly, we’ve been robbed of many of the groups that we – on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis – took for granted. Some people have experienced isolation, while others gathered even more closely together. But nobody remained unaffected. And now we’re in the process of assembling the narrative about what happened and about who we are. Today.

We’ve chosen, in our modern society, to organize ourselves according to efficiency, optimization, maximization, and measurability, rather than according to friendliness, closeness, presence, and love. Despite the fact that countless studies (among these being the Harvard Study of Adult Development) bear out that good relationships are those that give rise to healthy and happy lives, results remain our primary yardstick of success: measurable results that can be set into formulas and can be used to generate graphs. Ostensibly as part of an attempt to control the uncontrollable: namely, life. And this is supposedly why it appears so that never before have we seen so insanely many cases of anxiety, stress, depression, and insomnia, running across the different generations, while younger people, particularly, are grappling with self-inflicted injuries and loneliness.

For us, as human beings, rarely understand ourselves best through Excel spreadsheets. Narratives are the currency that can be exchanged for meaning and accumulation. So that we can obtain ontological security, a sense of certainty about our own being, which our relationships and our contributions ought to furnish us with, as a matter of course, but which today has become a volatile capacity. 

And we’re suffering. And longing.

After feeling ourselves to be a part of a meaningful, a larger, and a stable context. Once upon a time, we were eminently qualified members of the latently bound communities into which we were born, where the hierarchy, the rules, and status were givens from the moment of our birth. This provided peace, a shared sense of strength, and social and creative constraints. Today, we’re floating around in free neo-tribal communities, with rules that we are obliged to adopt on our own, with tasks that we have to create ourselves, and all this must be borne forth by a common trust in each other. This is beautiful. Wonderful. Creatively explosive. However, it’s also so very vulnerable and transitory.

Collected Memory can contain this vulnerability, by containing all the stories that people all over the world can tell.
If we want to, it can become the domicile of the modern ritual, which spins all of our stories together into a common narrative about humanity, thereby becoming a library of compassion. A portal leading into the greatest longings, the most comprehensive rendition of this incarnation, and maybe even the next, so that the work is not only of this world but also spans across timelessness, because we humans are always, first and foremost, our relationships. 

Without the others, our energy would simply disappear forever, out into the darkness. Here, however, it becomes placed inside, with love in the friable pages, and preserved for all times by the golden metal. Because relationships are the first thing we meet and the last thing we leave behind.

It would be fabulous to be afforded the chance to perform a sociological curating of the work, Collected Minds. On so many levels, it not only tells the story of modern people but also gathers together the whole history of wo/mankind, in a single work. And to be afforded the chance to articulate this in words – both by making use of the work itself and by making use of its words – in the context of the knowledge we possess about human communities would be something utterly special.