By Niall McArdle
F is for Forgetting
Winston Churchill was a poor student at school despite being blessed with a remarkable memory. He memorised – and recited – all 1200 lines of Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome, and decades later could still recall them perfectly.
Memory is a tricky thing. We can’t always trust it as our brains very often play tricks on us.
Ancient poets – and Hannibal Lecter – constructed Memory Palaces to help them remember.
Some things of course should never be forgotten. This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.
Mind you, maybe remembering everything isn’t so good. Some people are
blessed cursed with an inability to forget. This is called Hyperthymesia, and people who have it remember everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.
In the otherwise so-so Liam Neeson action flick Unknown (it’s like the diet version of Taken), the late great Bruno Ganz delivers this wonderful truth: “We Germans are experts at forgetting. We forgot we were Nazis. Now we have forgotten 40 years of Communism – all gone.”
In Germany they don’t want anyone to forget the awful legacy of the Nazis. But in trying to make everyone remember, they’ve stirred up a controversy: are they just marking a shameful period of their history or might they be glorifying Hitler?