Friday, June 19, 2009

Digital Monuments to Freedom

Monuments mostly capture ideas, lives and events in frozen gestures and forms. The Statue of Liberty steadily holds the torch of freedom aloft; Lincoln sits stonily in his temple; bronze Marines stand in mind-hoist, about to plant a rigid bronze flag, replicating the flag raised at Iwo Jima. In these digital times, however, vivid monuments to the human drama are elusive and fleeting. The powerful images beaming from Iran are today's monuments, vital this morning and gone by night.

The beauty of these digital monuments is that they are made of flowing energy and shifting imagination. For thousands of years memorials and shrines, made of stone and rigid belief, were intended to capture life in mental amber. They preserved the false image of the perfect instant, the unblemished gesture. Now, digital monuments honor the dynamism of actual life. The heros and gods don't dwell on the granite peak of Mount Olympus, they live in the shifting pictures and sounds reflecting messy real time heroics in the streets halfway round the globe.
Certainly democracy can be made real in honestly counted votes. In the streets of Tehran, it is being born and finding new life through the monumental the gestures of the people.

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