On “Historical Amnesias: An Interview with Paul Connerton”

2 Feb

I think Collerton presents a clear distinction between memory and history. The point I agreed with most is the fact that historians can reject something explicitly told to them in their evidence and substitute their own interpretation of events in its place. To me, this is the biggest difference between historical studies and authentic memory studies. The latter is unbiased and pure while historians have no guaranteed recollection of what might have occurred. As Collerton put it, “history is autonomous with regard to social memory.” Another interesting point I found in this piece was the idea of characterizing the idea of forgetting in a positive context. Collerton talks about the recommendation of forgetting. “To think too closely about their previous attachment would bring about too much cognitive dissonance in terms of how their memories of the past related to their ongoing practices in the present.” This quote is further reflected in the ideas of Nietzsche, who I had a chance to explore more in the book “Theories of Memory.” Nietzsche believed that happiness consists of the ability to forget, or what one might refer to as the ability to “feel unhistorically.” We as high-order animals possess the ability to heal wounds and replace what has been lost. Nietzsche refers to this as “plastic power.” Those who have little plastic power can perish after one painful  event. The infamous saying goes “forgive, but don’t forget”, but I actually think a better variation might be “let’s forgive and forget.”

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