The content the word “forget” designates is not adequately known. Our daily encounters with forgetting have no taught us enough about how much power it exercises over our lives, what reflections and feelings it evokes in different individuals, how even art and science presuppose – with sympathy or antipathy – forgetting, and finally what political and cultural barriers can be erected against forgetting when it cannot be reconciled with what is right and moral.

Since the semantic element -leth-, negated by the alpha privative, also occurs in the name of Lethe, the mythical river of forgetting, on the basis of the construction of the word aletheia one can also conceive truth as the “unforgotten: or the “not-to-be-forgotten.” In fact, for hundreds of years Western philosophical though, following the Greeks, sought truth on the side of not-forgetting and thus of memory and remembrance; only in modern times has it more or less hesitantly attempted to grant forgetting a certain truth as well.

– Harald Weinrich, Lethe: the Art and Critique of Forgetting

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