I used to harbor a continuous worry that I’d forget what had happened, that I’d fail to notice what was happening. I worried that something terrible would happen because I’d forgotten what had already happened. Perhaps all anxiety might derive from a fixation – on moments – an inability to accept life as ongoing.

– Sarah Manguso, from Ongoingness: The End of a Diary


Forgetting: non-presence, non-absence.

To open to forgetting as accord with what hides. Forgetting, with each event forgotten, is the event of forgetting. To forget a word is to encounter the possibility that all speech could be forgotten, to remain close to all speech as though it  were forgotten, and close also to forgetting as speech. Forgetting causes language to rise up in its entirety by gathering it around the forgotten word.

In forgetting there is what turns away from us and there is the detour that comes from forgetting itself. There is a relation between the detour of speech and the detour of forgetting. From this it follows that, even saying the thing forgotten, speech does not fail forgetting but speaks on its behalf. The movement of forgetting.

When we are missing a forgotten word it still indicates itself through this lack; we have the word as something forgotten, and thus reaffirm it in the absence it seemed made to fill and whose place it seemed made to dissimulate. We seize in the word forgotten the space out of which it speaks, and that now refers us back to its silent, unavailable, interdicted and still latent meaning.

In forgetting a word, we sense that the capacity to forget is essential to speech. We speak because we have the power to forget, and all speech that works in a utilitarian manner against forgetting (all speech of recall, encyclopedic knowledge) runs the risk – risk nonetheless necessary – of rendering speech less telling.

Speech ought therefore never forget its secret relation to forgetting; which means that it ought to forget more profoundly, hold itself, in forgetting, in relation to the sliding that belongs to forgetfulness.

Maurice Blanchot, from The Infinite Conversation


Memory’s a funny thing, isn’t it. You don’t agree? I don’t agree either. Memory has never amused me much, and I find its tricks more and more wearisome as I grow older. Perhaps memory simply stays the same but has less work to do as the days fill out. My memory’s in good shape, I think. It’s just that my life is getting less memorable all the time. Can you remember where you left those keys? Why should you? Lying in the tub some slow afternoon, can you remember if you’ve washed your toes? (Taking a leak is boring, isn’t it, after the first few thousand times? Whew, isn’t that a drag?) I can’t remember half the stuff I do any more. But then I don’t much want to.

– Martin Amis, Money


Did y’all forget that this happened last time the boys were on a yacht?

I remember forgetting to write 2005 on my math book in school. Where did the years go?

2043: five great sci-fi novels to make you forget Star Wars.

We can’t forget about the senior pets who need a lifeline more than ever at shelters.

Forget nice dinner reservations, let’s go on an adventure.

Don’t forget that a new year doesn’t guarantee a new you. Growth won’t be any easier this year. We still need grace and grind!

Gen Sharif reportedly said in DC that normalizing relations with India would mean forgetting Kashmir, which he won’t do.

Our polite maknae, not forgetting to bow after the end of the performance.

Data scientists keep forgetting the one rule every researcher should know by heart.

I became middle-class without forgetting that once I’d been poor. Shameful, I know.

Finding oneself nostalgic for Badiou?

It’s like I’m starting YouTube for the first time, OMG so nostalgic and weird.

Elliott Smith Pandora is making me all kinds of nostalgic heading into the New Year.

Pure nostalgic beauty wrapped around the modern power of a high output twin cam 103B engine.

How did nostalgic literature become an agent in American racism?

Why do these snooty, homogeneous, class-obsessed white dudes nostalgic for a dead empire have British accents?

What kind of nostalgic moment is this!

Feeling nostalgic today. Wondering about the “what ifs.”

Does anyone ever listen to music and feel nostalgic? Not because you’ve heard it before, more like your blood remembers?

Been missing that nostalgic feeling that ’90s fashion had? It’s back!


I must somehow have drunk of the waters of Lethe, Korin explained, and while disconsolately wagging his head as if to convey to them that the understanding of the manner and consequence of events would probably always lie beyond him, he brought out a box of Marlboros: Anyone got a light?

– László Krasznahorkai, War & War


Amazing how many people think Russia is the only guilty party when it comes to distorting, misremembering, and actively forgetting the past.

Forgetting to get glittered.

I hope I am not forgetting to worry about something that is very important to worry about today. Also, I hope I find some moss. I am a bear.

I keep forgetting Mike Tyson’s face tattoo is real outside of The Hangover movie.

Fuel your team between soccer, baseball, dance, and whatever it is you know you’re forgetting.

Most American thing ever? Forgetting May Day, which is about workers rights, but adopting Cinco de Mayo just for more tacos & tequila.

Giving up a base hit when you’re up 0-2 is like having a thesis paper done early then forgetting to turn it in on time.

The Oubliette is not a place of forgetting. It’s not a privacy heaven. It’s a panopticon.

Forgive your muscles and your joints for not forgetting, for keeping that imprint alive.

Forgetting about this drama, I’m really happy that Cameron is more active and interacting with us and posting on Snapchat more.

The first bar built for forgetting still stands.

Tumblr will have you forgetting racists are the majority in your country, LOL.

People keep forgetting that God “wrote the Constitution.”

Fingers crossed that I wake up forgetting tonight.

I’m seriously debating dedicating my life to religion and forgetting about everything else.

Forgetting is a privilege.


This is a place where memories get terribly distorted: people in their fifties now say that the government was right to crack down in 1989. And many people forget that 1989-92 was an ice age, before China began marching towards the market. I don’t think ordinary people should have to concentrate on remembering – it’s not good for them, and it’s not their job. It’s intellectuals who shouldn’t forget. These days, they can’t say anything, though. They know the risks of speaking out: that there’s a huge difference between having government approval and losing it, in terms of the housing you’ll get, access to international funding, and so on.

– Chan Koonchung, in the preface to The Fat Years


One day Eco is having a few glasses of wine with some friends and they think up a parlor game the point of which is to imagine disciplines that not only do not exist . . . but also cannot exist because they are impossible, for history or logical-epistemological reasons. Among these the art of forgetting, which he calls ars oblivionalis, occurs to him. Immediately he writes a conference paper – thoroughly serious, moreover – in which, using a strict semiotic method, that is, one based on the theory of signs, he seeks to prove that there can be no art of forgetting as the counterpart of the art of memory because all signs produce presences, not absences. Eco is willing at most to assign this art of forgetting a small place on the margin of semiotics, suggesting that an inordinately industrious mnemotechnics, by an exceptional success in “multiplying presences,” can eventually produce a critical befuddlement of memory that in turn has forgetfulness as its consequence. This would be an art of forgetting connected with the art of remembering only as a sort of overload relief valve … My curiosity was aroused by Eco’s suggestion that we should forget the ars oblivionalis almost as soon as he had so cleverly drawn clues that indicate that this art of forgetting, even though it should not exist, according to Eco’s argument, exists nonetheless and is encountered where we go, from Homer up to our own day.

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


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


In the first instance and on the whole, forgetting is experienced as an attack on the reliability of memory. An attack, a weakness, a lacuna. In this regard memory defines itself, at least in the first instance, as a struggle against forgetting. And our celebrated duty of memory is proclaimed in the form of an exhortation not to forget. But at the same time and in the same fell swoop, we shun the specter of a memory that would never forget anything. We even consider it to be monstrous. Could there then be a measure in the use of human memory, a “never in excess” in accordance with the dictum of ancient wisdom? Could forgetting then no longer be in every respect an enemy of memory, and could memory have to negotiate with forgetting, groping to find the right measure in its balance with forgetting? And could this appropriate memory have something in common with the renunciation of total reflection? Could a memory lacking forgetting be the ultimate phantasm, the ultimate figure of this total reflection that we have been combatting in all of the ranges of the hermeneutics of the human condition?

– Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting