The title come from the last section of a novel titled The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugrešić. Ugrešić is a Croatian author I had the pleasure of reading back in my junior year of college in a Eastern European literature class. (See the bottom for the exact citation of the book I used).
The opening pages retell the last stomach items of the late walrus Roland who passed in the Berlin Zoo in 1961. Among the odd items include things like sunglasses, plastic toys, coins, and a compass. These items remain on display well past Roland’s death and Ugrešić writes:
The visitor [. . .] cannot resist the poetic thought that with time the object have acquired some subtler, secret connects. Caught up in this thought, the visitor then tries to establish semantic coordinates, to reconstruct the historical context (it occurs to him, for instance, that Roland died one week after the Berlin Wall was erected), and so on and so forth. (xi).
The novel follows an exile and discusses themes of nostalgia and memory and the importance simple objects can have, like a photography and retelling a story or memory. This became and still is one of my favorite novels.
Why did I just pull a blockquote and reference some obscure Eastern European literature reference. Well, the importance of objects and memories
Recently, I have been going through my things…old clothes, toys, books, my parents’ old things, mementos from my childhood. Objects tell stories. I have a very bad habit of when I go through things of taking forever. What should be quick and easy day task usually takes me hours. I get caught up in nostalgia, remembering people and events that I thought I had forgotten. When I am able to recall one random moment from my life, I always find myself wondering how it figured out in the grand scheme of things, bringing us to this current moment in our life.
Authors and various people have always wondered how things could have been different. Two things that come to mind is It’s a Wonderful Life and the concept known as the butterfly effect.
But objects tell stories, they tell memories, and they tell us who we are and remind us where we come from and where we might end up.
In case you are interested in the novel (MLA citation)
Ugrešić, Dubravka. The Museum of Unconditonal Surrender. Trans. Celia Hawkesworth. New Directions: New York. 1996. Print.
Also cross posted at MyTrendingStories