forgetting is at least as important as remembering - sometimes more so. Without it, we are all bound to lead the miserable life of A. R. Luria's patient Solomon Shereshevsky, who was crippled by his boundless, indelible memory, or his fictional counterpart, Jorge Luis Borges's Funes. No forgetting implies no generalisation, no real present time, no amelioration of trauma, and no weaving of meaningful life narratives.This is right enough, but as Dudai acknowledges, societies as a whole -- and on occasions individuals within them -- may benefit from the ability to recall everything about some things. The question, then, is who controls access to supra-individual memory and how?
27 October 2009
For the human condition, writes Yadin Dudai: