Stealing the declaration of independence


Categories: Personal Autism

Tumblr is full of jokes about “steal the declaration of independence”, which are (Jesse informs me) references to a move called National Treasure in which Nicholas Cage intends to do this.

So, the thing is. It strikes me as really weird that people would care. We know what it says. It’s not as though, if someone steals it, we suddenly owe the UK 235 years of back taxes. We have really really good pictures, we have detailed records… It’s just a thing.

So there’s this sort of disconnect where the huge emotional weighting seems crazy to me. Yeah, it’s all old and valuable and stuff, but so what? This is like those religious people who wouldn’t burn a copy of their holy book to keep someone alive in the cold. Dude, it’s just a thing. Turn off your symbolism processing for a few seconds and think like a rational animal.

Living on this planet is like being surrounded by people who absolutely must run away if they see a hawk silhouette, and if you ask them why they do that, there’s a 50% chance they run away because they thought about one.

Comments [archived]

From: AshtaraSilunar
Date: 2012-02-01 00:22:53 -0600

It is indeed just a thing, and the attachment is symbolic. It is seen as a literal Piece of History, with more importance than old chairs because it relates to what was a pivotal moment in the history of America. (Sort of. Moment is perhaps a bad choice of word.)

My weakness? The shuttles, the old Saturn 5s, the Gemini capsules and the like. Because here is a Thing that left the planet and came back. Symbolic, historically noteworthy, and immeasurably cool to me.

The emotional weight of objects makes the most sense to me when I have memories linked with an item. I have a book that a friend gave me, that I read in a park on a bad day that made me feel better, and it reminds me of those moments. I have a book that belonged to a dead friend, that reminds me of him. Things that remind me of people or moments in time, that I bring out as physical reminders.

I wonder if perhaps the veneration of old things comes from those more personal moments. Most families pass down china and jewelry, because initially there’s an emotional connection to those objects.