Ruins are not just about change and decay. They are also about the power of memory and our need to respect and honour the past; in short the lives people lived, the battles they fought and the dreams they dreamt. Ruins can be found in any culture but their message is always the same: don't forget us, we are your past, we are your inheritance but we also have a unique and subtle role in shaping your future (think about Athens and the Parthenon but also Palmyra and the now destroyed Temple of Bel).
This is a subject that has caught the imagination of a growing number of thinkers and writers, most notably Robert Ginsberg and Dylan Trigg.
Robert Ginsberg, The Aesthetics of Ruins
Dylan Trigg, The place of trauma: Memory, hauntings, and the temporality of ruins and The Aesthetics of Decay: Nothingness, Nostalgia and the Absence of Reason and The Memory of Place: A Phenomenology of the Uncanny Also this articleby Tom Leddy, responding to Ginsberg, in Aesthetics Today
The Aesthetics of Ruins
“Change and decay in all around I see” Henry Francis Lyte, Abide With Me (hymn)
“These fragments I have shored against my ruins” T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land