If historical amnesia is a serious threat, then so is its opposite. I don’t know the technical term for it, but surely the condition of interpreting too much of the present through a filter of past memory has a catchy scientific label. Maybe “overmnensia?”

Those who are ignorant of the past may be doomed to repeat it, but those who are only able to experience the present as a reanimation of the past are doomed in a different way. They can’t account for the uniqueness of this moment. They are forced to exaggerate some threats, but also to underestimate others.

The present is not the past. It’s much better. It is also, in it’s own way, worse.

4 thoughts on “Overmnesia

  1. I think you’ve coined a great new word there, Rocky. Overmnesia is a problem that’s tough to escape. I find myself thinking of getting a gift and immediately comparing it to something else I have: Not “Oh, that’s beautiful,” but “Oh, that’s just like (something else).” I think the first reaction is the one I want as the giver.

  2. Thank you, Rocky, for a great new word. It seems to me that “It’s beautiful” (or, if necessary, it isn’t) is the reaction that givers are looking for — not “Oh, it’s just like (whatever else I have).” Overmnesia is worth fighting.

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