You’re right, the “i” is indeed missing in the title of the book. (If you missed it, take another look at the word Forgetting.) It has been missing for a long time. Ever since Adam named the animals and “annihilated them in their existence as beings.” Thus spoke Hegel following in the footsteps of Plotinus.
I refer to the creation of Adam’s wall: mankind on one side, beasts on the other. The so-called biblical fall is the fall from the grace of shared consciousness and being—not the grace of a fake, emotionally unbalanced sky god named Jehovah. As I say, the third century A.D. Neoplatonist philosopher, Plotinus, understood this perfectly.
There was indeed an original sin. It was not Eve’s trespass into the fraught realm of good and evil. It was the linguistic sleight-of-hand that ignited the Big Bang of the radical, wholesale agrarian and pastoral proposition: the sin of naming the gift of animal beings. All there was and all there is throughout the universe is the gift. Grace. I invite you to read Plotinus’s Enneads for a crash course on the subject.
another way to define this fateful is to think of it as the creation of the subject/object dichotomy. Descartes would express this as res cogitans and res extensa.
The moment he named them, Adam forgot who he was—tumbling, like Alice, into a brave new self-consciousness where the original, pan-species “I” was no more.
It falls to us to remember what Adam, that day, forgot.
Is not the real business of the artist to seek for man’s salvation, and by understanding his ingredients to make him less of an outlaw to himself, civilize him, in fact, back into that titanic otherness, that star’s substance from which he had arisen? (Loren Eiseley)