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Forgetting written by Robert Lynd is an amusing, satirical and simple essay. In this essay, Robert Lynd has pointed out various professions like that of a politician, sportsman, philosophers, chemists etc. to highlight the most common nature of forgetting things.
He mentions the fact that the tendency of forgetting things is more common in the young people rather than the adults. Besides appreciating the people with good memory, he even describes that how Absent- Mindedness becomes a virtue. He did not even spare the Poets, Philosophers and the Great thinkers to justify his philosophy of “Forgetting”
Efficiency and Inefficiency of Human Memory
The essay begins with the list of articles which are lost by the travellers at a railway station in London and the people are astonished at the absent mindedness of their fellows. On this Robert Lynd comments about the efficiency and the inefficiency of human memory that compels his wonder.
He continues to exemplify his philosophy by stating that modern man remembers the telephone numbers, the addresses of his friends, the dates of good vintages, appointments for lunch and dinner, the names of actors, actresses, cricketers, footballers, murderers, the weather in the long past August, the name of provincial hotel at which he had a vile meal during the summer etc.
He remembers almost everything that he is expected to remember. He even remembers to wear every item of clothing while dressing in the morning, and to shut the front door while leaving the house. Despite such brilliant memories, Robert Lynd points out some important matters in regard to which the memory works with less than its usual perfection.
What Modern Man Forgets
Modern man forgets the most common things like – consuming medicines on the advised time, posting letters in a letter box, carrying his walking sticks, books, spectacles, umbrellas and many other essential goods and commodities. Robert Lynd himself is no exception to this habit as he often forgets his walking sticks, pens and umbrellas.
He continues his statement by stating that according to Psychologists, we forget those things that we hate, which is obviously true in cases of medicines because despite the rule that it is supposed to be taken before, during or after meals, people forgets to consume their prescribed medicines may be because they don’t want their health to be dependent on a medicine.
Robert sarcastically remarks that chemists earn a lot of money because of the patient’s forgetting habits of consuming the medicines as this leads to their long treatment and their illness is not cured. As a result the patients end up buying more and more medicines.
He playfully points out the most common type of forgetfulness which is posting letters. He remarks that any person who asks him to post a letter, is of a poor character, because he never posts his letters despite keeping it in his pocket for many days.
Young Sportsmen & Others
Robert Lynd then targets the young sportsmen, who forgets their cricket bats and footballs before travelling. He calls them the citizens of dreamland as both the defeated party and the victorious party are lost in their imaginations. The defeated players are saddened with the thought of losing the game while the winning players have their heads among the stars thinking about their achievements.
In the same way, he calls the Anglers as the citizens of dreamland as they also forget to take their fishing rods when they go home in the Evening because their mind is filled with matter more glorious.
In Appreciation of Absent-mindedness
Robert Lynd suddenly starts appreciating Absent-mindedness of this kind and calls it a virtue. Forgetfulness has its own merits as it has the capability of making a man happy and enables him to accomplish the targeted goal. The moment of forgetfulness is a moment of great joy, and such a man lives in the world of imagination.
Failures and disappointment leads a man into a world of trauma and depression. So, one can conclude that it is forgetful people who are able to create something authentic, new and genuine.
He then talks about the advantages of a good memory and exemplifies by stating that many great writers, poets and music composers have fantastically great memories and Memories is half the substance of their art.
On the other hand, statesmen seems to have extraordinary bad memories. The frequency with which the facts are challenged in their autobiographies and speeches indicates that the world has not yet begun to produce ideal statesmen.
Robert Lynd then ends his essay by narrating a very amusing story of a father, who left his baby out in a perambulator outside in the street. After discovering her sleeping baby uncared and alone, the mother of the child decided to teach her husband a lesson and to apologise for his careless act. In order to make her husband frightened, she wheeled away the perambulator, expecting her husband to be filled with terror on finding his baby lost.
But in contrast to her expectations, her husband came with a smiling face and asking for the lunch having forgotten all about the baby and the fact he had taken it out with him.
He was born on 20th April 1879 and died on 6th October 1949.Besides being an Irish writer, he was also an editor of poetry, urban literary essayist, socialist and an Irish nationalist.
His works were mostly written in English and Irish languages. Some of his famous works include “Irish and English”, “Rambles in Ireland”, “The book of this and that”, “The arts of letters” etc. In his essay” Forgetting”, he takes an amusing look at the nature and effects of forgetfulness.