Forget it

I really enjoy forgetting. When I first come to a place, I notice all the little details. I notice the way the sky looks. The color of white paper. The way people walk. Doorknobs. Everything. Then I get used to the place and I don’t notice those things anymore. So only by forgetting can I see the place again as it really is.

— David Byrne, True Stories (1986)

Looking back through my old notebooks, I find that many of the thoughts sketched in them are forgotten for years, and then revived and reworked as new. I suspect that such forgettings occur for everyone, and they may be especially common in those who write or paint or compose, for creativity may require such forgettings, in order that one’s memories and ideas can be born again and seen in new contexts and perspectives.

— Oliver Sacks, The River of Consciousness (Kindle Locations 1243-1246)

3 thoughts on “Forget it”

  1. I have a bad memory for everything except music.

    “The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”

    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    1. I hear you, Gary!
      Sometimes i wish i had a bad memory for music, when i’m plagued by an “earworm” (some bit of a song or tune that keeps looping through my head). This happens almost daily and the only way i can get rid of it is to put something else on. (and then some bit of it becomes the next earworm.) I like to keep my music memory off balance by playing a large selection of tracks on “random” or “shuffle.” Or listening to pieces that are remarkably nonmemorable, like Morton Feldman’s.

      1. I sometimes have a musical theme inhabit my brain for even several days, coming and going, and sometimes arriving out of nowhere. But what I really meant was that since my music school days I’ve observed that I tend to remember entire symphonies, concertos, string quartets, etc. (I was classically trained). The theme begins, say on Sirius radio in our car, and I happily could sing along through the, say 40 minute work (well, I only sing bits and pieces of it so as not to drive my spouse nuts). There are other examples of how this functions.

        But I forget almost everything else. I recall very little from my childhood (a few either wholly joyous or traumatic incidents), and not much more from my HS or college days (both undergraduate and graduate) and virtually none of it in any detail. The good thing about this is that I am anything but “stuck in the past.” There are some downsides to this of course (I won’t lay them out, but you can imagine. . .), but I attribute my generally good spirits and optimism to my bad memory–everything is still open and possible for me, not held back by my past. Another good feature is that I tend to grieve intensely, but not for very long–and then I’m done with that.

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