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[Xmca-l] The Importance of Forgetting: Jorge Luis Borges (Funes el memorioso) and Luria (The Mind of a Mnemonist)
Speaking of the importance of forgetting in ethnographic field work (an
important lesson for all budding ethnographers), a colleague just pointed
me to an essay by Jorge Luis Borges titled Funes the Memorious (sp: *Funes
el memorioso*). In this story, a young man Ireneo Funes suffers a fall off
a horse and as a result is able to have perfect memory of everything he
sees. As a result, Funes is unable to engage in generalizing. His world is
merely full of detail after detail after detail. He even finds it difficult
to sleep at night because he is busy remembering what he has remembered.
I thought this was a fascinating account and looking it up, I saw that
there is a chance that this story was inspired by an account by A. Luria of
Solomon Shereshevskii in Luria's book The Mind of a Mnemonist (that this
was an influence of Borges is suggested by T. Verberne (and btw, I'm
getting all of this off of Wikipedia in case you're wondering).
Anyway, I thought this was an interesting connection to the importance of
forgetting, and one of which I was not aware (but will likely soon
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602