Forgetting enables us to remember. If we cannot forget, we may soon run out of capacity to remember as well as the ability to experience the world through sensory stimulations. Forgetting is a human experience of existing in the world. Although much technology, especially since the Memex, has focused on enhancing human ability to remember, perhaps we need to secure our ability to forget. Perhaps this ability to forget is not our flaw, but our bliss; that which essentially makes us human.
Perhaps we are starting to get a sense of what is at stake in the comparisons made between the computer and brain. It’s important to resist overstating the similarities between the way the brain and computer work because we may mistakenly project lack where there is none, or project a desire for some kind of totality that has no real applications in our life. We will further explore those themes in a future lecture on forgetting in relation to the archive. For now, I turn to an essential and distinguishing characteristic of the human brain.