Of Memory, Reminiscence, and Writing

On the Verge

by David Farrell Krell

Memory, reminiscence, and writing have been a central issue throughout the history of Western philosophy. Socrates' wax tablet of the soul, Aristotle's signet ring impressing memories in the mind, Descartes' ceraceous pineal gland, Hobbes' and Locke's tabula rasa, Freud's "mystic writing pad" of the psyche, and the contemporary neurophysiologist's computer storage depot—all are variations on the theme of how we remember. Identifying typography, iconography, and engrammatology as the basic characteristics of these models, in Part One David Farrell Krell traces the history of memory from Plato to the present. Turning in Part Two to the deconstruction of the metaphysics of presence by Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida, Krell finds that the traditional models of memory and reminiscence, which promised to recollect and restore the past to full presence, have broken down. Emerging from their writings, he concludes, is a new and more modest appreciation of memory as being always on the verge of a never present past. Readers in philosophy, cognitive psychology, and literary theory will be challenged by this provocative book.


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    Indiana University Press
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    Bloomington, Indiana USA
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    Copyright © Trustees of Indiana University
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    Indiana University Press
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