Friday, April 23, 2010

On roving memorials

There is an odd trend that I've noticed since being back in the so-called "Inland Empire." I'm not sure if it is because I am driving a lot more (as opposed to spacing out on public transit for my commutes) or because I have left the shores of heathen-ville, but I am seeing more and more cars with decals proclaiming their remembrance of deceased individuals. In case you haven't seen these things, here's a picture that I found that represents this trend.

Of course my perplexity here is with the living, not the dead. I do not understand the impetus to turn one's vehicle into some sort of roving memorial. It also brings up an issue of scope. What exactly is in loving memory of said dead person? The car itself? Why dedicate a car to a dead person? Did you build it specifically for them? I doubt it. I know this is a semantic question for the phrase "in memory of X" overall, and not just on cars. But when you put it on a car, that's what I think of. I do not think this is an unreasonable assessment. My second quandary is why one would want to be constantly reminded that someone you love has suffered, in many cases it seems to be untimely, death? How many times a day do you head out to the car? At least two, I would guess. I feel like it would be hard to cope to be constantly reminded.

To be frank, I suppose the heart of this issue is that our society is largely uncomfortable with the dead and dying. The dead are generally sent to cemeteries to be buried, where we may choose to visit them on our own schedules, rather than be jarred out of the business of day-to-day rigmarole to contemplate the ephemeral nature of life, perhaps acutely felt while driving.

Unfortunately, there is no way to broach this topic with society at large without sounding like an insensitive asshole.


  1. I've never noticed these before... To me, this raises the question: Did they cut off the dead person's hands and dip them in paint to make the design?

  2. Haha, a wonderful question. The hands are just one of many varieties though. I see a lot of semi-circles or religious symbols with it too.