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The Great Forgetting


“The Real is what will strike you as really absurd,” warned Auden.  Absurd, as in the statement, “I am a puffin.”  Yet “I am puffin” lies at the heart of this book, with the caveat, of course, that it was not in the least absurd to the Eskimo who confided it to me.

We stand in the presence of Huxley’s Mind at Large.  Uncomfortable, yes, especially given the “self-aggravated separateness” of modern man.

This thin book confronts our self-aggravated separateness (the phrase is Huxley’s) and the terrifying effort of a handful of courageous intellectuals to abolish it—find, as it were, a door in the wall.  (Ironically, I include Jesus of Nazareth, unedited by St. Paul, among them.)

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning

— T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Is this the reality we have forgotten? (By we, I refer of course to modern man. Mankind since the beginning of agrarian civilizations and their domestication-enabling sky gods.)  I believe it is.  It is  the Great Forgetting, a phrase I borrow from Daniel Quinn and his extraordinary Ishmael series. Modern man’s separation from Mind at Large.  Adam’s wall: Homo on one side, brute on the other. The Adamic wall we scrupulously maintain through language (a subject I explore at length in “Eskimos Won’t Talk about Bears: Language as Physics“).

I wrote this book as a door in the wall.

As long as the apple had not been entirely digested, as long as there remained the least understanding between Adam and the stars, rivers and horses with whom he had once known complete intimacy, as long as Eve could share in any way with the moods of the rose or the ambitions of the swallow, there was still a hope that the effects of the poison would wear off, that the exile from Paradise was only a bad dream, that the Fall had not occurred in fact (W. H. Auden).




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)


Book Specifications

Dimensions [7.5″ high x 7.5″ wide x 0.25″ thick]  [19 cm high x 19 cm wide x 0.6 cm thick]

Weight [7.7 oz]  [218 gms]

ISBN:  978-0-9841827-1-8

Publication Date:  2010

Read Sample Pages

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About the Author & Designer

Calvin Luther Martin lives on the northern edge of the Adirondack Park, with his unfortunate name, a featherweight cedarstrip canoe, a paddle, and a wife named (thank God) after a boat.

Cecilia Sorochin designed books, petal by petal, from her garden by the sea in her native Argentina.