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Since Paul MM Cooper was a child, he has had a fascination with ruined places. He would stare at pictures of mossy, overgrown churches and castles with crumbling walls, and feel them transport him to another time. The images felt like a portal, not just into another time, but into the stories of the souls that once lived in these romantic, haunted places. Many years later, this fascination fed into his doctoral thesis at the University of East Anglia, in which Cooper explored how artists and writers used ruins as “actively politicized spaces to explore the troubled relationship between past and present.” Despite writing that 100,000-word thesis, after so many years of rigorous research, he felt like he still had so much more to say.
So, one day in October 2017, he went on Twitter and started spontaneously sharing his ruin-related thoughts and feelings. Across several nested threads, he spoke about the Nazi obsession with ruins, the embarrassing badness of a Hollywood recreation of Babylon, visits to Saddam Hussein’s ruined palace in Iraq, and a relocated ruined Libyan city that ended up in an English park. A [...]
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