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Publisher's Summary

“One of our true superstars of nonfiction” (David Foster Wallace), Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift and Trickster Makes the World, offers a playful and melancholy defense of forgetfulness by exploring the healing effect it can have on the human psyche.

We live in a culture that prizes memory - how much we can store, the quality of what’s preserved, how we might better document and retain the moments of our life while fighting off the nightmare of losing all that we have experienced. But what if forgetfulness were seen not as something to fear - be it in the form of illness or simple absentmindedness - but rather as a blessing, a balm, a path to peace and forgiveness? 

A Primer for Forgetting is a remarkable experiment in scholarship, autobiography, and social criticism by the author of the classics The Gift and Trickster Makes This World. It forges a new “history of forgetfulness” by assembling fragments of art and writing from the ancient world to the modern, weighing the potential boons forgetfulness might offer the present moment as a philosophical and political force. It also turns inward, using the author’s own life and memory as a canvas upon which to extol the virtues of a concept too long taken as an evil. 

Drawing material from Hesiod to Jorge Luis Borges to Elizabeth Bishop to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from myths and legends to very real and recent traumas both personal and historical, A Primer for Forgetting is a unique and remarkable synthesis that only Lewis Hyde could have produced.

©2019 by Lewis Hyde. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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Helpful about importance of forgetting

Lewis Hyde was head writing instructor at Harvard and a MacArthur "genius grant" writer. This book is an interesting set of notebooks (mostly quotes from interesting sources) about the under-appreciated importance of forgetting the right things at the right times. Sort of like the under-appreciated importance of sleep (which Crick says is designed to aid forgetting, which is essential to organizing working memory). Getting good at forgetting (and good at sleeping) is probably performance and happiness enhancing. Sorry to say Hyde is not saying he has all the answers, but he brings up important points. Just like a greed or hunger for physical possessions can harm performance and happiness, so too a refusal to be tactical and strategic about what to remember and when can be a hindrance and unskillful. Thankfully, this book may help one sort out a set of useful personal guidelines about what to forget and when, to maximize personal happiness and effectiveness. (Based on 1/4 of the book - still working my way through it.)

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Unfortunately ruined by bell ringing after every few sentences.

Content of book and narration were excellent. However, after every few sentences a deep bell or gong sounds. I can understand using this device at the end or beginning of a chapter. However, it was so disruptive and overwhelming. I returned the audiobook after developing a headache. This is only time I returned an audiobook and bought the hardback!

1 person found this helpful