Academic journal article Social Alternatives

The Curve of Forgetting (for Wilfred Owen)

Academic journal article Social Alternatives

The Curve of Forgetting (for Wilfred Owen)

Article excerpt

We escaped down a dull tunnel, down the curve of forgetting.

We slid a hundred years In the mud of amnesia and re-remembering

the war that chlorined our nerves to shreds,

the war In the air and the scientific production of the Inglorious dead.

Now we celebrate the centenary of Its unfolding

with abundant sentiment for the longevity, the accumulation, the bodies: numberless as stars.

It's sales time In the department store of history. Bring your flags, your wallets, your tears

all airbrushed In nostalgic sepia, not unlike mustard gas In the sunrise,

as noted In the diaries from the trenches; funny how the stench of death sharpens the senses.

Or we can map It on the curve of forgetting.

R = E - t/s where R Is memory retention, S the strength of memory and T Is Time.

But what Is E? E Is the event, the birth

of the world, the big bang, God, the uncertainty, the big E.

And what when E means wars? Real soldiers do not speak of them, lost for words, still getting home.

But the war museums know all about them, their causes, the archives of the perpetrators,

the campaigns meticulously researched, the laser displays and public monuments;

and the book publishers love them, so many editions could pave a battlefield;

and the moviemakers keep bums on seats with the deeds and damage of heroes. …

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