Some fragments from a pile of news, research and links about social and physical decay, ruins and remnants...
In Paris, part of the roof of Charles de Gaulle airport's new Terminal 2E collapses, dropping the entire tube through the pylons it was elevated on, killing five, and turning CDG into a modern ruin. Construction methods or material more likely to be the cause of the collapse than design, and authorities may scrap the entire terminal, less than a year old. In London, Momart's warehouse is destroyed in a blaze - some of the YBA generation's art will now only exist in postcards, catalogues and documentaries.
Umberto Eco, from The Name of the Rose, 500-501. On losing and finding books in a time before printing technology, and the (inevitable? necessary?) reinscription of the meaning of remnants:
I found at times scraps of parchment that had drifted down from the scriptorium and the library and had survived like treasures buried in the earth. [...] I spent a whole day reaping it, as if from those disiecta membra of the library a message might reach me. [...] Ghosts of books, apparently intact on the outside but consumed within; yet sometimes a half page had been saved, an incipit was discernable, a title. [...]
Often from a word or a surviving image I could recognize what the work had been. When I found, in time, other copies of those books, I studied them with love, as if destiny had left me this bequest, as if having identified the destroyed copy were a clear sign from heaven that said to me: Tolle et lege. At the end of my patient reconstruction, I had before me a kind of lesser library, a symbol of the greater, vanished one: a library made up of fragments, quotations, unfinished sentences, amputated stumps of words.
The more I read this list the more I am convinced it is the result of chance and contains no message. But [...] I have often consulted them like an oracle, and I have almost had the impression that what I have written on these pages, which you will now read, unknown reader, is only a cento, a figured hymn, an immense acrostic that says and repeats nothing but what those fragments have suggested to me, nor do I know whether thus far I have been speaking of them or they have spoken through my mouth.
Robert Hughes on De Kooning's art, which can't be moved because it is now so delicate (and neither can that of other modernist material-experimenters).
De Kooning's early technique - which, despite his orthodox Dutch academic training, entailed layering commercial house paint over implausible supports such as New York newsprint - was as much a recipe for long-term disaster as Picasso's newspaper collages, bound to darken and disintegrate beyond repair. [...] The subject of the fragility, indeed the evanescence, of so many "canonical" modernist images is a fascinating and depressing one, not yet fully broached. Restoring a Titian may be hell, but try restoring a Dubuffet collage of butterflies whose wings, alas poor Morpho, disintegrated into turquoise dust 20 years ago.
It is the most ironic ruin of Detroit: "Nowhere is the automobile more triumphant than here. Yet this site contains a double irony for it here that Henry Ford created his first car in a tiny shop that once stood on this site." ... Abandoned places ... Urban Exploration, Japanese-style ... New England Ruins ... Art in ruins (Rhode Island) ... New England ruins ... Urbex (UK) ... Exploration Station (UK) ... Modern ruins ... Derelict London, etc ... Brittania moribundia ... Subterranea Britannica ... World War II fortifications still present on O'ahu ... Michael Ashkin's Notes toward desolation ... Place names are fossilised language
[Via Metafilter, Things, and many other plundered-but-now-long forgotten libraries]