The sentence “we all have bad memories” can be interpreted in two ways: “we all have memories of things that we found horrible or embarrassing” or “our memory is intrinsically weak, leading us to forget or misremember.” The two may be connected. We have a bad memory for bad memories.
Evoking German attitudes to war and the Nazi period, James Fenton wrote:
How comforting it is, once or twice a year,
to get together and forget the old times.
In our post-Freudian English, this is called “repression,” thus encouraging further word play: “after suffering under a repressive dictatorship, people…
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