Tuesday, 19 February 2013

But what was he really like?

For the best part of four years, I’ve been sharing my thoughts and observations on this blog. Just another grandparent offering personal perspectives, on one social media platform or other.


As I revisit some of the 750+ entries I’ve written, I wonder how much of an impression these digitised musings might offer to generations beyond our grandchildren, should they be remotely interested. Will anything I write, help them to form an impression of who the old chap was? They won’t have heard my voice, won’t have ridden on my shoulders or noticed how my expression changes when I’m listening to music or viewing works of art. They will have photographs, but more of those taken by me, than of me.

They might hear tales or episodes of my life, and they may even get to have and hold some little ‘something’ on the end of a time-stretched thread.

This may all sound a bit strange and, if it does, put it down to a combination of a short Philosophy course (yes, I couldn’t resist it in the end) and this thought-provoking article by Rebecca Ley.
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10 comments:

  1. No time to go into deep philosophising here Martin, but I wonder why we can't be satisfied with all the things you and Rebecca mention. We are doing what we can to ensure that our loved ones 'descend digitally down the decades' (as I put it in my Dad's eulogy). Some will not even have that.

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  2. You're so right, Marilyn. I would say, take the time to talk to children about those they've missed. Do your best to fill in the blanks with photos and stories. Share the memories, when others have the time to listen. We can do no more than that.

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  3. I think you are leaving a rich legacy, Martin. I've reconstructed personas for several of my ancestors based on far less evidence than this that you are sharing.

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    1. I think there's a little in all of us that would like to be remembered in some small way. As Nell points out, so many people pass this way almost anonymously.

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  4. Sometimes it is so difficult to predict what future generations will find revealing. Looking back at old photographs it is so often the bits in the background or the un-posed snapshots that tell us most about times gone by. In the same way, your observations will, I am sure, be fascinating to generations still to come, your posts always are literate snapshots. Just make sure they are preserved Martin - and at the moment that still means paper.

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    1. Alan, it's funny you should mention preservation. I'm currently working to import selected posts into a Blurb book, and it's shaping up quite nicely.

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  5. Martin.Its a question I have asked myself.....but do you not think that any memory is partial & any "under construction" in some way.Even after our death, the memories others have of us will develop & still be partial?A blog might not add a lot but it adds something extra Maybe...?
    No doubt,at this very minute, someone is beavering away in China inventing a "Digital Headstone" where.....{at the click of a button! } Our ancestors can stand and view our facebook status updates!

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    1. Tony, I think you're spot on with your analysis. And of course, it's the incomplete nature of most memories that accounts for their fragility. I'm sure the written word will still count for something in the centuries ahead. And with that in mind, you really should register a patent for the digital headstone!

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  7. (I've tried a few times to leave a comment here - will try again now!) I found this post very interesting, as someone who's published her great-grandmother's diaries without having met her in person. I wonder how much we actually know people that we "know" in person? I think your descendants are very lucky to have your blog posts. What a good idea to make them into a book. In the end, paper is the most durable medium. (Or vellum!)

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