"Aura" and the "Wasa" Story by Charles Francois

IFSR Newsletter 1996 Vol. 15 No. 1
“Aura” and the “Wasa” Story
Charles Francois
Libertad 742, 1640 Martinez
Republica Argentina
In 1625, Gustavus II Adolfus, King of Sweden, ordered the building of a flagship for his fleet. The ship, named “Wasa” in honor of the royal patronym, was very large for those times: her overall length was some 200 feet and she displaced about 1300 tons. The ship was launched in 1628 and, on August 10th of that year, fully equipped, she solemnly sailed for her maiden trip from Stockholm harbor. Unfortunately, there was some error in her construction and due to a powerful squall of wind, she capsized and sunk under the horrified gaze of the king himself and a multitude of people. After some few years, the event became slowly forgotten and so was also the exact place where the wreck lay at rest.
It was however located again by a diver in 1956 and the Swedish navy rescued it between 1959 and 1961. She was towed back into a Stockholm dock, mounted on a specially built concrete pontoon and carefully cleaned and restored. Since 1962, she can be visited as part of the Swedish National Marine Museum, thus beginning a new and unexpected “life” after 334 years of oblivion.
This is a perfect illustration of the concept of “aura”, i.e. “the set of the traces and/or constraints left over by a system after the end of its functional existence”. Given favorable conditions and/or circumstances, such a system may maintain or even recuperate itself as a functional entity, eventually of a quite different kind.
The aura concept corresponds to a kind of fossil field, i.e. to a certain degree of survival of some material or abstract structure. The concept applies to a fossil, as well as to a sunken ship, a destroyed empire, or the teachings of a great disappeared mystic or philosopher.

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