The Burden of the Past: Why Humans Can’t Forget

Please take a look at the herds grazing and passing by your side: they don’t know what was yesterday and what is today, they jump back and forth, eat, rest, digest, and jump again, just like this from morning Evening, day after day, unceremoniously happy and unhappy, that is, happy and unhappy with the things in front of me, so that I am neither depressed nor bored.
Seeing this, it is cruel to man, who, complacent with his humanity in the presence of animals, looks jealously at the animal’s happiness—that’s all he wants, and like animals neither tires nor He lives in pain, but he thinks in vain, because he doesn’t want to be like an animal.
Man may one day ask the animal: why don’t you talk to me about your happiness, but just look at me? The animal was willing to answer, too, and said: This is because I always immediately forget what I have to say—but this time he too has forgotten the answer and remains silent, so that people are surprised at this.
But he also marveled at himself that he couldn’t learn to forget, and went on clinging to the past: no matter how far or how fast he ran, the chain ran with him.
This is a miracle: at that moment, Hu Yi is here, Hu Yi is gone, there was a nothing before, and there was still a nothing after that, but it came again as a ghost, and disturbed the tranquility of the next moment.

A page keeps falling from the scroll of time, falls off, and flutters away——suddenly flutters back, and floats into the arms of people. In this case one says, “I am remembering,” and envies the animal, which forgets at once, and watches each moment literally die, falling back into the fog and night, and disappearing forever.
In this way animals live ahistorically. For it is like a number being divided by the present without leaving a strange fraction; it does not know how to disguise itself, hides nothing, and is at every moment exactly what it is, and therefore cannot be more honest .
Man, on the contrary, bears the great and growing burden of the past: the past oppresses him, bends him, stifles his steps, an invisibility which he seems to be able to repudiate one day. a vague, vague load that he is willing to deny in dealing with his own kind, in order to arouse their envy.
So the sight of a herd grazing, or, in a more familiar vicinity, a child who has not yet been able to abandon anything of the past, playing blindly and blissfully between the hedges of the past and the future, moves him, It was as if he was nostalgic for a lost paradise.
However, the child’s play is necessarily disturbed: he is prematurely called out of oblivion.

In this context, he learns to understand the word “has been,” the catchphrase with which battle, suffering, and weariness approach man and remind him of what his own Dasein really is – a never-ending past tense.
All actions require forgetting, just as all organic life requires not only light but also darkness. A man who comes to feel only historically will be like a man who has been forced to give up sleep, or an animal who lives only by ruminating his cud and regurgitating it over and over again.
Sleeplessness, rumination, and a sense of history all have a certain degree. Once this degree is reached, the survivors will be hurt and eventually go to destruction, no matter it is a person, a nation, or a culture.

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