The perversion of the historical accuracy of how our ancestors lived, and how we currently live, is created by preserving only expensive possessions — tokens, icons, valuables – and in the purposeful construction of indestructible architectural monuments used by the privileged few.
History is skewed by this preservation technique because it only pretends to tell future generations how people actually lived. When we visit museums we are only seeing what the powerful majority of the culture of that time deemed important enough to save and pass down.
We only get to know what they thought was worth saving and inevitably those things are the expensive, the pretty, the unique and the tokens of the wealthy. Even pioneer and Native American museum dioramas are idealized with hardy items and the most beautiful things. The ordinary is forsaken for the power of the inherent value in the preservation of the perceived best.
Only the rich could afford to be photographed. Poor and middle class cultures were not worth preserving because they lived temporary lives where none of the iconic resonances of the environment and the neighborhood were able to live on because Ghettos were gutted; middle class valuables wore out under reasonable, everyday, use and were thrown away. A disposable culture creates forgotten people.
Only monolithic buildings survive generational changes as they become living headstones to the architects who planned them and the cities that built them. This skewing of history in favor of the wealthy — because only they have things deemed worth preserving — and not what was necessary to most people, is a bright line of discrimination that avoids the truth and celebrates the facade.
When you visit antique stores you see enduring, beautiful things, because the everyday and the vital were used up over the span of a lifetime and are no longer available.
Time capsules are an arbitrary attempt to preserve the moment, but they do not preserve the actual living of the life in perspective. Time capsules are anecdotal and not universal. Think of the things, and share with us here, that were passed down to you from your relatives: an expensive pocket watch, a bejeweled brooch, a house, diamond earrings, an engraved pen.
Then consider, and share with us here, what you plan to hand down from your generation and tell us if you’re handing it down because it has cultural value or because the item itself is valuable.
Then wonder, and share with us here, what you could pass down that is not museum quality and has no resale value — but indicates your lifetime and your wishes and your wants and the resonant reality of your life. Then decide, and share with us here, what you would pass down for preservation in a museum that would inform future generations about the incidental infrastructure, the fleeting architecture and the everlasting construction of values in your life and not the shallow valuables and intentional monuments surrounding you.