Essay on The Art Of Forgetting by Adrian Forty

Essay on The Art Of Forgetting by Adrian Forty

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The introduction to Adrian Forty’s “The Art of Forgetting” discusses the uncertain relationship between memory and material objects, particularly regarding societal/ collective memory. Forty builds upon three distinctive points concerning objects and memory to illustrate the doubts in the Aristotelian tradition. He suggests that objects are agents to forgetting and that there is a process to remembering. With this argument Forty establishes a means of further understanding collective memory.

For Aristotle objects are “material enactments of mental decay. […] If objects are made to stand for memory, the decay or destruction of the object implies forgetting” (Forty 4). The issue here is that memory does not lend to a physical description and physical objects endure a different decaying process than that of mental material (Forty 6). This leads to doubts in the relationship between memory and material objects.

These doubts appear through the assumption that objects can replace mental memory. The first of the three is ephemeral monuments, which suggests that “collective memory doesn’t dwell on material objects,” and we get rid of what we don’t want to remember (Forty 5). Then there is Freud with his theory of mental process stating that repression of the ego is similar to forgetting, which is often intentional and desired (Forty 5). The third doubt is the Holocaust memorials, as they both desire to simultaneously remember and forget, challenged by the commemoration of the event without lessoning its severity (Forty 6). These problems illustrate how Western thought assumes forgetting to be more straightforward than it actually is.

Forty states that there are four principle categories that identify objects as agents to forgetting. ...

... middle of paper ... take its’ take place. This could allow for a larger audience and formation of collective memory on a global scale accessible form anywhere in the world with accommodating technology. The down side to advancements like this would be the loss of tactility and greater form of disconnection. Perhaps removing the shared experience with strangers at a site specific location may create a new issue with collective memory.

Aware of the lack of research on the topic, the introduction sets the footing to begin to understand how artistic practice and other methods of object making attend to issues related to collective memory. That said, what sorts of impact or influence does individual memory have on collective memory and its relationship with objects?

Works Cited

Forty, Adrian, and Susanne Küchler. "Introduction." The Art of Forgetting. Oxford: Berg, 1999. 1-18. Print.

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