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We live in a culture that prizes memory how much we can store the uality of what's preserved how we might better document and retain the moments of our life while fighting off the nightmare of losing all that we have experienced But what if forgetfulness were seen not as something to fear but rather as a blessing a balm a path to peace and forgiveness? A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship autobiography and social criticism It forges a new vision of forgetfulness by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a philosophical and political force It also turns inward using the author's own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical A Primer for Forgetting is a uniue and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have producedWe live in a culture that prizes memory how much we can store the uality of what's preserved how we might better document and retain the moments of our life while fighting off the nightmare of losing all that we have experienced But what if forgetfulness were seen not as something to fear but rather as a blessing a balm a path to peace and forgiveness? A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship autobiography and social criticism It forges a new vision of forgetfulness by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a philosophical and political force It also turns inward using the author's own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical A Primer for Forgetting is a uniue and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have producedWe live in a culture that prizes memory how much we can store the uality of what's preserved how we might better document and retain the moments of our life while fighting off the nightmare of losing all that we have experienced But what if forgetfulness were seen not as something to fear but rather as a blessing a balm a path to peace and forgiveness? A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship autobiography and social criticism It forges a new vision of forgetfulness by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a philosophical and political force It also turns inward using the author's own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical A Primer for Forgetting is a uniue and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have produced


5 thoughts on “A Primer for Forgetting: Getting Past the Past

  1. says:

    A wonderfully gentle and thoughtful book


  2. says:

    Try this While these stories out of Latin rhetoric are of interest in their own right I offer them in the context of Marcel Detienne's sketch of the archaic Lethe Aletheia mythology for it is Detienne's argument that in the history of memory and forgetting it was especially the sixth century Simonides of Ceos sic who took these twisted matters away from their archaic masters the bard the diviner the divine king and gave them over to the sophists and rhetoricians Got it? If so this book is for you


  3. says:

    it provokes It's not the writer thinking on paper with you the passive bystander It's the writer goading you to think take issue The images the texts invoke in the reader are subtle The prose is crafted than composed I found myself reading slowly; mulling writing down my own thoughts This book is a feast Mathematicians speak of elegant euations being beautiful and in that precise sense of the word this is a beautiful book


  4. says:

    I have mixed feelings about this book There are many good insights about memory and forgetting but one must hunt to find them I learned some useful things such as forgetting is a lack of action not a lack of thought; nothing can be forgotten that was not first in mind; art exists that we may recover the sensation of life The book works with the theme letting go of the past proves to be at least as useful as preserving it Many thought provoking examples are givenThe uality of the writing is very good; it is careful with some playful prose interspersed throughout There are many references from the humanities some interesting some not Too many historical references were not of interest and seemed generally off topic and too long Topics are mixed and do not seem to be in the right order – even if the author says that juxtaposition encourages free association and free forgetting All in all the book provokes thought


  5. says:

    The book is well written It's filled with information It's thought provokingIt's also implicitly self righteous Hyde is alway on the right side of events or issues he visits from being a freedom fighter who went South during struggles for civil rights to casting as villains whites usually males in numerous historical scenariosMy point is not to claim that the behavior he cites was not villainous in some sense of the word but that there are other examples of this kind of villainous behavior that was not perpetrated by white males There are examples in Asia and in the Middle East of winners in war trying to wipe out the losers' memories of their culture Native American tribes tried to do that to one another before the white man arrived on the continent Not only did we win win but there will be no you before we subjugated the now you The defeated were stripped of all hereditary symbolism Colonel Lawrence discovered that Arab tribes practiced internecine conflict so bloodily that his efforts to unify them into an Arabic World were fruitlessIn fact what Hyde condemns as virtually exclusive to white people has been commonplace throughout historyI recommend that people read this book But the reader will soon see that the moral indignation though subdued and assignment of culpability are highly selective