The philosophical ramifications of the title question are profound. For memorial or commemoration committees, the question is deeply pragmatic. Is a person the sum of their achievements? Should they be recognized for their personalities or behavioral characteristics? How do you physically manifest those ephemeral concepts?
I don’t envy the task of a memorial designer or artist. Summarizing a person’s essence must be daunting. Great memorials do evoke the emotion surrounding the person or event being memorialized. Last fall, I read about the proposed Frank Gehry design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. I am neutral about Gehry. Some of his designs are overwrought; some fulfill their aesthetic parameters. I found the Eisenhower design exceptionally overwrought and completely lacking any sense of Eisenhower. While I am not an Eisenhower fanatic (I do respect him and his achievements), I think a person should be appropriately memorialized. The memorial should invoke the person’s essence, not the artist’s personal aesthetic. Continue reading “Who Are You?”