'One remembers what hurt,' writes C. Milosz in his diary of the year 1987, A Year of the Hunter.
Milosz is pondering remembering and forgetting and the education of American students, who, it seems, have very short memories.
A few weeks ago I was at an afternoon meeting of a group of local women writers, where a woman read us excerpts from her recently published book about the Holocaust. There was a lively discussion after. I remembered how French pupils are taught about the Holocaust and each year at about the age of 14 may make a visit to a Camp, the way British pupils of about the same age study World War 1, and--in the British school I was teaching in--go to visit the battlefields in the north of France. A day trip for us, from Paris.
But I also read once, in Le Monde, France's newspaper of reference, an article about a Jesuit in, I believe, Cambodia, who was trying to inculcate the idea of remembrance in Cambodians, and while they listened politely they also said that this was contrary to their own culture, which believed in forgetting, in, as we say, 'letting go, moving on.'
'One remembers what hurt.' I brood over the hurtful things, the things I feel guilty about. I often wonder whether, the day we can turn our memories off and on, I won't choose to forget a lot of things that are still painful.