Oblivion
by Marc Auge
 
A renowned social thinker considers the nature and necessity of forgetting.

“Remembering or forgetting is doing gardener’s work, selecting, pruning. Memories are like plants: there are those that need to be quickly eliminated in order to help the others burgeon, transform, flower.”

For the health of the psyche and the culture, for the individual and the whole society, oblivion is as necessary as memory. One must know how to forget, Marc Augé suggests, not just to live fully in the present but also to comprehend the past. 

Renowned as an anthropologist and an innovative social thinker, Augé’s meditation moves from how forgetting the present or recent past enables us to return to earlier pasts, to how forgetting propels us into the present, and finally to how forgetting becomes a necessary part of survival. Oblivion moves with authority and ease among a wide variety of sources—literature, common experience, psychoanalysis, philosophy, ethnography—to illustrate the interplay of memory and forgetting in the stories of life and death told across many cultures and many times. Memory and oblivion, he concludes, cannot be separated: “Memories are crafted by oblivion as the outlines of the shore are created by the sea.”. 


Oblivion
by Marc Auge
University of Minnesota Press, 2004
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