Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page 81
Picking up why culture is important, Assmann introduces a chapter about writing, memory and identity. He starts with a remarkable piece of prose:
All culture is a struggle with oblivion ... Can we not regard this enture unceasing labour on forms of culture, this constant process of making visible and articulating, of presentation and preservation, as one long mnemotechnical project in which memory creates markers in the struggle against the furies of disappearance and forgetting, and builds stopping places in the river of change and disintegration?
That is why it so important to keep swimming upstream. Even treading water, while it may keep our heads above the water-line, allows the current to sweep us away downstream. Just to maintain the status quo takes constant effort to swim against the current!