MNEMOSOPHY – an essay on the science of public memory
Updated: Feb 3
A PREFACE TO THE RUSSIAN EDITION
Thinking outside of the box is either a pose of ambitious mainstreamers or the pursue of creative obsessions, - hopefully based upon deeper understanding of the matter. In 1981 I have enthusiastically stepped into world's museums community (ICOM) and only a year after I exposed myself to the scorn of my colleagues by claiming that there could be no science based upon a practice of an institution. Therefore, the ambitions of museology seemed more logical if named heritology, - based on a concept. In following decades, I have been writing and lecturing internationally, explaining opportunities the new vantage point offers. I doubt I did much to change the fascination with the comfortable theorizing the museology still keeps offering. However, an advance did happen because, as it goes with practice and theory, - practice pushed theoretical considerations ahead. The omnipotent ICT demonstrated that the convergence of memory institutions is the only logical development. It implicitly suggested that we face formation of an integrated sector of public memory. In the meantime, the world has gone from bad to worse. The old dream of cybernetic action that may fight the threats of the contemporary society seemed more than actual, but the new conservative and liberal post-democratic society did all to erase the dreams of the sixties. The protagonists of Great Greed are crushing professions to assure dominance over the social project and overtly impose their frightening vision of the world. It may well be the last chance to affirm a new profession of public memory as response to the unprecedented challenges. We know that the narratives formed in the transfer of the collective experience ultimately govern all the societal processes. The creating of professions was the way a responsible society cared for the survival of its values and its generative qualities that assure bearable development. Museums and other memory institutions must provide us with responsible knowledge that could help us to adopt the inevitable changes, to adjust some to our real needs and to fight those that threat humanitas and further ruin the human condition. Diversity is richness to be retained. So, we should refuse the world that would regard it only as manipulable romanticism and tourism industry product. Russian heritage curators may find this book inspiring in realising their mission. I wish them to be not just an occupation among many, but a real profession, - able to represent their users as a partner to the state, to the corporative sector, the one capable of opposing anything that harms the noble, unique experience of their community. This profession has to fight for wisdom in society. To become important, we shall have to exit from the comfort zone of servile occupation. I salute any benevolent reader and declare that I take any translation into Russian as a deep professional and personal privilege.