Below is an excellent short piece on tangible and intangible pasts and embodied memories. In my home there are many items of worthless ephemera from my own family’s past — flotsam and jetsam that I incorporate into my daily life. I’ve always wondered why I treasure them so dearly. And here’s part of the answer; the intangible objects (my grandmother’s tin of buttons, for example) are pointers or clues to the tangible, which has somehow rubbed off on them. I warm my hands and revive my memory on these well worn objects.
1. What objects from the past do you particularly treasure?
I have things like my maternal grandmother’s telephone with her number still on the front, and a walking stick from either my great-grandmother or great-grandaunt (not too sure), and vintage clothing from my mother, and an old pillowcase with a 1970s design that seems valuable or precious for some reason (I think it’s from a set of two and my dad is still using the other one).
2. Do you think that some objects from the past are best forgotten?
No, I can’t think of an object that’s best forgotten. Even an unpleasant object (e.g. scold’s bridle) would tell us something useful about the past.
3. What intangible pasts (e.g. customs and languages) are meaningful to you?
Some old Finnish sayings that my grandparents used and my parents still use.
4. How is it best to preserve these intangible pasts?
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