The relationship between remembering and forgetting is, paradoxically, related to the relationship between memorials and ruins. Novelist Robert Musil published an essay on ‘Monuments’ in 1936, noting how much of his native city of Vienna was crowded with memorials to soldiers, statesmen and illustrious figures, forgotten ever after. ‘There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument,’ he wrote. Ruins, by contrast, are a reagent of memory, their incomplete, fractured elements demanding to be visualised or imagined whole again. Ruins invoke empathy and the free play of historical query, where memorials close the lid firmly and decisively on the past.
Ken Worpole, The New English Landscape