Remembering, Recollection, Reminiscence, Remembrances, Memories
Reflections, Forgetting, Nostalgia, The Past, History, Personal Identity

Quotations, Sayings, Aphorisms, Ideas, Clichés, Quips, Quotes, Poetry

Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo

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"Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory."
-  Albert Schweitzer


"Memory is the mother of all wisdom."
-  Aeschylus


"Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory."
-  Leonardo da Vinci


"A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen."
-  Edward de Bono


"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it."
-  Michel de Montaigne


"There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory."
-  Josh Billings


"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us."
-  Oscar Wilde


"A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness."
-  Elbert Hubbard


"Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream."
-  Khalil Gibran


"Recalling days of sadness, memories haunt me.  Recalling days of happiness, I haunt my memories."
-  Robert Brault


"A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it.  It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction."
-  Carol Shields 


"We do not remember days; we remember moments."
-  Cesare Pavese


"Nothing is more memorable than a smell.  One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town.  Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years.  Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.  A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth."
-  Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses


"I am a miser of my memories of you
And will not spend them."
-  Witter Bynner 


"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life."
-  P.D. James


"Every man's memory is his private literature."
-  Aldous Huxley


"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know.  It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't."
-  Anatole France


"Things that were hard to bear are sweet to remember."
-  Seneca


"The happiest memories are of moments that ended when they should have."
-  Robert Brault  


"Memory is therefore, neither Perception nor Conception, but a state or affection of one of these, conditioned by lapse of time.  As already observed, there is no such thing as memory of the present while present, for the present is object only of perception, and the future, of expectation, but the object of memory is the past.  All memory, therefore, implies a time elapsed; consequently only those animals which perceive time remember, and the organ whereby they perceive time is also that whereby they remember."
-  Aristotle, Memory and Reminiscence, Line 24. 


"Intelligence is the wife, imagination is the mistress, memory is the servant."
-  Victor Hugo


"It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us.  A year impairs, a luster obliterates.  There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment - but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer?"
-  Lord Byron 


"The past is never dead, it is not even past."
-  William Faulkner


"We each need to make peace with our own memories. We have all done things that make us flinch."
-  Lama Surya Das






Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything  By Joshua Foer, 2012. 

The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play  By Harry Lorayne, 1996. 

Your Memory : How It Works and How to Improve It  By Kenneth L. Higbee, 2001 



"Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory it too good."
-  Friedrich Nietzsche


"The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living."
-  Marcus Tullius Cicero


"In summary, therefore, while in a normal waking mode of consciousness, our perceived present rarely lasts longer than five seconds, and frequently it lasts less than a second.  On the average, the time-span of the perceived present persist for two to three seconds."
-  James L. Christian, Philosophy, 1973, p.196


"There is no refuge from memory and remorse in this world. The spirits of our foolish deeds haunt us, with or without repentance."
-  Gilbert Parker


"Memory is what tells a man that his wife's birthday was yesterday."
-  Mario Rocco


"Living in memories is an empty gesture."
-  Osho, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh


“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.
Latin: Vita enim mortuorum in memoria vivorum est posita."
-  Cicero


"In speculating about the evolution of memory, it is helpful to consider what would happen if memories failed to fade. Forgetting clearly aids orientation in time; since old memories weaken and new ones tend to be vivid, clues are provided for inferring duration. Without forgetting, adaptive ability would suffer; for example, learned behaviour that might have been correct a decade ago may no longer be appropriate or safe. Indeed, cases are recorded of people who (by ordinary standards) forget so little that their everyday activities are full of confusion. Thus, forgetting seems to serve the survival not only of the individual but of the entire human species.  Additional speculation posits a memory-storage system of limited capacity that provides adaptive flexibility specifically through forgetting. According to this view, continual adjustments are made between learning or memory storage (input) and forgetting (output). There is evidence in fact that the rate at which individuals forget is directly related to how much they have learned. Such data offer gross support for models of memory that assume an input-output balance."
Memory - Encylopedia Britannica


"Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today's events."
-  Albert Einstein   


"The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark."
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


"The man with a clear conscience probably has a poor memory."
-  Anonymous 


"The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind."
-  Thalassa Cruso


"Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume."
-  Jean de Boufflers


"No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar."
-  Abraham Lincoln 


"Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape!"
-  Henry David Thoreau





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"Memory is a child walking along a seashore.  You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things."
-  Pierce Harris


"Everybody needs his memories.  They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door."
-  Saul Bellow


"Memory itself is an internal rumour."
-  George Santayana, The Life of Reason


"Life is a rough biography.  Memories smooth out the edges."
-  Terri Guillemets


"The faintest waft is sometimes enough to induce feelings of hunger or anticipation, or to transport you back through time and space to a long-forgotten moment in your childhood.  It can overwhelm you in an instant or simply tease you, creeping into your consciousness slowly and evaporating almost the moment it is detected."
-  Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden 


"And even if you were in some prison, the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses - would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possession, that treasure-house of memories?"
-  Rainer Maria Rilke


"The existence of forgetting has never been proved.  We only know that some things don't come to mind when we want them."
-  Friedrich Nietzsche


"All our lives we are engaged in preserving our experiences and keeping them fresh by artificially sprinkling the water of memory over them. They have ceased to retain their original smell and fragrance. Do you call it life— this effort at the preservation of a phantom freshness in something that is withered and gone?"
-  Vimala Thakar


"In memory's telephoto lens, far objects are magnified."
-  John Updike


"The two offices of memory are collection and distribution."
-  Samuel Johnson


"The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory."
-  Tim O'Brien  


"Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories.  Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart."
-  Thomas Fuller


"She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes."
-  Frank Deford


"The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time."
-  Friedrich Nietzsche


"  ‘Memory’ labels a diverse set of cognitive capacities by which we retain information and reconstruct past experiences, usually for present purposes. Memory is one of the most important ways by which our histories animate our current actions and experiences. Most notably, the human ability to conjure up long-gone but specific episodes of our lives is both familiar and puzzling, and is a key aspect of personal identity. Memory seems to be a source of knowledge. We remember experiences and events which are not happening now, so memory differs from perception. We remember events which really happened, so memory is unlike pure imagination. Yet, in practice, there can be close interactions between remembering, perceiving, and imagining. Remembering is often suffused with emotion, and is closely involved in both extended affective states such as love and grief, and socially significant practices such as promising and commemorating. It is essential for much reasoning and decision-making, both individual and collective. It is connected in obscure ways with dreaming. Some memories are shaped by language, others by imagery. Much of our moral and social life depends on the peculiar ways in which we are embedded in time. Memory goes wrong in mundane and minor, or in dramatic and disastrous ways."
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


"One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place."
-  Emily Dickinson


"I have memories - but only a fool stores his past in the future."
-  David Gerrold


"It is commonly seen by experience that excellent memories do often accompany weak judgements."
-  Michel de Montaigne


"Living in the past has one thing in its favour - it's cheaper."
-  Anonymous 


"Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened"
-  T.S. Eliot


"Hmmm, how to "can a day?"  You know, those days that seem just perfect you want access to them whenever the need arises."
-  Jeb Dickerson 


"The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels:  it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant."
-  Salvador Dali


"What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen."
-  Cynthia Ozick




Bibliography, References, Resources, Readings 

Remembering, Recollection, Remembrances, Forgetting, Nostalgia, Forgetting, History, Memories


The Anatomy of Memory: An Anthology  Edited by James McConkey.  Oxford University Press, 1996.  528 pages.  ISBN: 9780195078411. 

Aristotle, On Memory and Reminiscence (De Memoria Et Reminiscentia).  The Basic Works of Aristotle.  Edited with an Introduction by Richard McKeon.  New York, Random House, 1941.  On Memory: pp. 607- 617. 

Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates  Edited by Susannah Radstone and Bill Schwarz.  Fordham University Press, Third Edition, c 2010.  500 pages.  ISBN: 9780823232604. 

Memory - Wikipedia 

Ricoeur, Paul.  Memory, History, Forgetting.  Translated by Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer.  University of Chicago Press, 2006.  624 pages.  ISBN: 9780226713427. 














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Compiled by Mike Garofalo

This webpage was last modified or updated on March 24, 2013.

This webpage was first published on the Internet on January 28, 2013.     

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