In Memorium

July 26, 2009

Dead Red

If you’ve been to Highgate Cemetery you’ll doubtless have seen Karl Marx’s headstone.  Well in fact you can’t miss it; It’s the biggest stone in the entire cemetery.  Ironic for the grandfather of communism.

To be fair to Marx himself the headstone was bought with the money of the British communist party to replace the modest stone bought by Marx’s own family.

This must mean that the British communist party was able to hold these three ideas in their noggins simultaneously:

  • “Marx taught us that all men should be treated equally.”
  • “What Marx taught us was of so much value that he deserves a much bigger headstone than everyone else.”
  • “We clearly have no idea what Marx taught us.  Have you tried reading his books?  Jeesh, what a fucking snoozefest.  Wake me up when the revolution comes.”

Tom Brown’s Ghoul Days

And here we see what goes wrong with memorials.  It’s unlikely anyone will be remembered the way they want to be.

I remember when I first walked through a local cemetery as a child.  I was horrified to find gravestones with photographs on them.  For one thing being able to see the faces of the dead is pretty haunting.  Even creepier though was the fact that the photos used for the children were their official school photographs.  No child wants to be remembered in their school uniform with a nice neat parting in their hair.  On the plus side this was the only thing that stopped me committing suicide.

War!  What is it good for?

I don’t think we really need war memorials.  Wars are pretty memorable.

“Do you remember that war where there were loads of explosions, and planes and ships blown up and loads of people got killed in lots of horrific and horrible ways and loads of soldiers came home with missing limbs and parts of their faces missing?  Do you remember that?”
“Uh, Yeah”

What I can never remember is the reason we went to war.  What we really need are War Reason Memorials.

I think it would lead to healthier attitude to war.

Compare the following:
“What’s that over there?”
“That’s a memorial that reminds us of all the soldiers who died in the Iraq war”
“Oh.  Tragic”

With this:
“What’s that over there?”
“That’s a memorial that reminds us of all the soldiers that died because Tony Blair is a coward who would say yes to anything as long it was politically expedient”
“Blair sucked!”
“Yeah!  Let’s go and buy and buy some hammers and pay him a visit”
“Sing it brother!”

I would say the latter version is preferable.

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2 Responses to “In Memorium”

  1. wendell Says:

    There are a few celebrities who appear to have gotten their grave markers right.

    Talk Show Host Merv Griffin’s says “I won’t be right back after these messages”

    Comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s says “There goes the neighborhood” (how could he expect respect when he dissed himself so often?)

    And Actor Jack Lemmon’s simply says “Jack Lemmon In”. Think about that one. Keep thinking.

  2. barkingstars Says:

    That Jack Lemmon one is pretty fantastic – but he always was a class act.

    Of course Spike Milligan’s famous grave stone says “I told you I was ill”


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