On the one hand, no agreed-on figural style can any longer represent a society so plural and so quick to take offense at “partial” representations; a sublime minimalist reticence seems the best we can do. On the other hand, the pressures of lives require feeling, and so the minimal isn’t good enough; we bring American relics and personal scraps, the roadside folk-memorial style, to the temples of sublime simplicity. The American memorial style is powerful as an engine of pathos, but is obviously limited as a language of representation. It feels, but it cannot show.
Adam Gopnik, “Stones and Bones”, The New Yorker (7 & 14 July 2014), 44.