From flesh to stone: The narrative-ludic storytelling of the 11-M Memorial in Madrid, Spain
Van Etten, Michael Jared
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On March 11 th 2004 at 7:37am religious extremists from Al Qaeda detonated suicide bombs placed strategically throughout the Atocha train station in downtown Madrid. After the destruction, citizens of Spain, Europe, and the Global Community dedicated themselves to the construction of a memorial on the site of the bombings. The new memorial serves the people as a narrative space, capable of narrating the story of what happened before, during and after the bombings, and who was affected by the outcome of the bombings. Using Genette's Narrative Discourse we can identify the narrative and story elements of the memorial to precisely find how a space can effectively narrate an event in time. Through the application of order, duration, and frequency we can chart the progression of the narrative as Atocha tells the story of the bombings as people enter, exit, and interact within the memorial space. We see how Atocha narrates the story using narrative theory, and we can also see how that story is received and interpreted through ludic theory. Ludic theory is the study of all forms of play and its implications in societies. In The Ambiguity of Play by Brian Sutton-Smith the ludic rhetorics of fate, power, and identity illustrates how the visitors to the memorial space effectively "play" or interact with the space in order to receive the narrative and interpret its meaning. The combination of these two elements of narrative, the "telling" and "receiving", gives us insight into the function of memorial spaces and how that function creates catharsis for those who visit them.