“Those who lack faith in fixed order and stable places have a harder time building monuments that must…be monolithically stable and certain”
Those who lack faith in fixed order and stable places have a harder time building monuments that must, in their nature, be monolithically stable and certain. Happiness writes white, and pluralism builds poorly. An obelisk can never be an irony. A pyramid can never symbolize a parenthetical aside. An eighty-foot-tall monument to fair procedure would not be a fair sight. The most effective memorial in New York is the restored immigration hall at Ellis Island, and it is so effective exactly because it is a place not of enforced emotions but of unlicensed phantoms, where schoolchildren go to find the ghosts of their great-grandparents.
Adam Gopnik, “Stones and Bones”, The New Yorker (7 & 14 July 2014), 41.