Memory is redundant: it repeats signs so that the city can begin to exist. (Calvino, 1997, p. 16).
Looking backward can so easily be cast as sickly sentimentality or self-involved navel gazing. Somehow the word ‘memory’ has come to imply a romanticising of the past. We forget that it’s not synonymous with nostalgia.
Some revisiting of the past is like sticking a finger into an old wound. Memory also consists of those things we long to forget, but somehow can’t quite. Sometimes I think I prefer other people’s memories.
Despite that, memory is the backbone of the cities we build for ourselves. It is what it is, a set of signifiers that we choose to interpret sometimes this way, sometimes that. Like sand it shifts, it can sift through fingers, and it can settle, pack tight and form a foundation.
Memories themselves are smokescreens. They don’t matter. They are the things on which we construct our stories.