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Sunday, 10 July 2016
But Cultural Memory is Different

Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page 24-25

The position, Jan Assmann asserts, with cultural memory is different - but no less facinating ...

Needless to say, here, too, much is remembered, that is to say, handed down, learned, taught, researched, interpreted and practiced, becuase it is needed, because it belongs to us and sustains us and for that reason has to be sustained and perpetuated by us.

Memory is processed or handled in so many ways!

But is it only in "oral" societies. socities without writing, that the stock of what is needed coincides with the totality of cultural memory. In written cultures, handed-down meaning, translated into symbolic form, swells into vast archives of which only more or less limited, albeit central parts are really needed, inhabited and tended, while all around hoards of knowledge that are no longer needed languish in a state that at the margins comes close to disappearance and oblivion.

Aleida Assmann proposes a distinction between functional memory and stored memory: that which we can use with access to long-term storage and that which although not lost will always need to be retrieved from an off-line storage facility.

The concept of stored memory moves towards the cultural forms of the unconscious ... The frontier between stored and functional memory is constantly shifting.

And here we have one of the best quotes I have found this week: Culture is a palimpsest and in this respect resembles individual memory. Culture, while appearing permanent, is in fact, only semi-permanent and can be rubbed out and rewritten!

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0