Thursday, 24 September 2009

Remembering and Forgetting

And yet, longing not to be chained to a traumatic past is not wrong. What is mistaken, however, is the idea that fixation on the traumatic past would somehow guarantee being set free from it. A collective past, like that of an individual, is traumatic when it is not allowed to be remembered, and is just as much so if it has to be remembered. In other words, fixation on the past is merely the flipside of repression. Detraumatisation is the process of becoming able to both remember and forget; it is leaving the past in the past, in a way that embraces remembrance as well as forgetting. (Bernhard Schlink, Guilt About the Past, p. 36.)


  1. Yes, it is what Volf calls a 'not coming to mind,' in other words, we remember the past but are no longer wounded by it. Volf supports this idea by reference to augustine's De Civitate Dei.

  2. how does this also relate to the continuing Eucharistic remembrance, to the non-believer it seems farcical and ghoulish...but we are fixated on that dead body on a tree!!!
    And what of the cries of those who say of Auschwitz that we should never forget, I sometimes feel sad that some seem to think that there will never be a time when we do not need to remember it.