REMAINING UNFORGETTABLE

Despite the efforts of historians, scribes, and all sorts of archivists, the quantity of what is irretrievably lost in the history of society and in the history of individuals is infinitely greater than what can be stored in the archives of memory. In every instant, the measure of forgetting and ruin, the ontological squandering that we bear within ourselves far exceeds the piety of the memories and consciences. But the shapeless chaos of the forgotten is neither inert nor ineffective. To the contrary, it is at work within us with a force equal to that of the mass of conscious memories, but in a different way. Forgetting has a force and a way of operating that cannot be measured in the same terms as those of conscious memory, nor can it be accumulated like knowledge. Its persistence determines the status of all knowledge and understanding. The exigency of the lost does not entail being remembered and commemorated; rather, it entails remaining in us and with us as forgotten, and in this way and only in this way, remaining unforgettable.

 – Giorgio Agamben, “The Unforgettable” in The Time That Remains

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Passage found on The Great Leap Sideways

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