Tuesday, May 11, 2010

remembering Karl

Highgate Cemetery is a very quiet place to wander around - full of quasi-gothic tombstones and ivy, and - I am thinking ahead to my course in the fall on Memory - with plenty of objects of memorialization to ponder. Consider the monstrously large bust to Karl Marx - the only tomb that seemed to be attracting any visitors (a rather earnest Eastern European couple, photographing themselves against the tomb). In fact, he used to be buried in a more modest plot a little further back, but so many visitors trampled their worshipful way to it that he was dug up and relocated in 1956, together with a huge head by Laurence Bradshaw.

I was much intrigued by the little offerings to Marx - pebbles, a dead rose, a Japanese toy on a black ribbon reading Bad Attitude, the notes left in Chinese and in English script. My favorite is the one on the left that reads "One day, friend, one day the sun will no longer be eclipsed by the moon." Which sounds like the kind of thing that I might have written as graffiti around 1974, but I can't quite puzzle it through. [You should click on the - composite - photo for full detailed effect, if you haven't done so already]. Overall, it wasn't much of a cemetery for flowers on graves, apart from the planted ones - bluebells, and thyme, and forget-me-nots (it should have been sunny, but was grey and lowering - I'm sure Marx would have approved of this, on the day that a Tory Old Etonian walked through the door of No. 10.). Douglas Adams had a lot of pencils stuck in the ground, presumably by admirers, around his grave, and then I came, quite suddenly, upon Malcolm McClaren's new resting place, decorated by pots of geraniums. The little note here - for it's gathering them already - reads "PUNK NOT DEATH."

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