Let’s go back to Douwe Draaisma. Why does he describe our inability to recall the sense impressions of a few seconds before as “forgetting”? That would imply that I had “possessed” those impressions or wanted to possess them. The underlying implication is that life has less worth, less dignity, if it just, as it were, slips by. Yet even as I write now I am aware of scores of sense impressions. The position of papers, teacups, pens, phone, and books on the glass surface of my living-room table, which is also reflecting the opposite wall with its shelves and bric-a-brac and, as it happens, fresh white paint; the hum of the fridge and a distant siren, a dog barking and the sunlight bouncing off the façade across the street yellowing the cream color of my curtains. I will never be able to recall a fraction of all this tomorrow, or a year hence. Yet such perceptions are very much part of the pleasure of being here in the present as I write and without them life would be poor indeed. […] We do not possess the past, even that of a few moments ago, and this is hardly a cause for regret, since to do so would severely obstruct our experience of the present.

Tim Parks – Reading is Forgetting (NY Review of Books)


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