Augustine once referred to memory as a “large and boundless chamber,” and we now know that the mind can be assaulted by forms of forgetfulness, whether it be dementia or structural amnesia. We must also not forget to mention about public memory discourse in forms of societal rituals that can include commemorations and historical self-reflections.
Historically, Remembering is often viewed as the hero while Forgetting becomes the villain in this ancient struggle for knowledge and truth. Anamnesis (recollection) suggests that memory is an intellectual and spiritual truth while those who drank from the waters of Lethe (forgetfulness) were condemned to mundane lives that were unable to fulfil their highest spiritual and divine natures.
At the heart of modernity, however, traditions and societies are continuously broken down and dissolved through changes that include a simultaneous union and interplay of remembering and forgetting, which has caused many artists and scholars to point to a “memory crises” because as cultures change so do the practices of what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget.
This memory crises and the existential need to remember has been represented in the arts and in literature, with such acclaimed novels by Proust, Joyce, and Mann, among others. Even so, remembering leads to a reconfiguring that can include distortions, gaps, omissions, contradictions. In short, whether we are dealing with the processes of individual or social memories, reflection or reconstruction, the remembering can create the forgetting.
A Time to Forget in East Berlin seeks to explore and to challenge the dialectics of remembering and forgetting in a symbolic space where time orders of past and present are constantly recombined. The book also seeks to question individual and social memory as part of a cultural quest and discourse that includes cultural memory and cultural symbol systems as forms of meaning construction.
Several months after the ending to A Time to Love in Tehran (the first book of the trilogy), we find our hero John Lockwood (a former CIA officer) living a new life with a new identity in East Berlin, where he is dating the young Antonina “Nina” Rosenberg while the Ministry for State Security, known as the Stasi, recruit John for another mission.
A Time to Forget in East Berlin is the second of three interconnected novels. The first novel A Time to Love in Tehran is set in Iran in 1974, the second novel A Time to Forget in East Berlin is set in East Germany in 1975-1976, and the third novel A Time to Remember in Moscow is set in the Soviet Union in 1977-1979.
If a reader wishes to go deeper into the trilogy’s overarching meanings and metaphors, A Time to Love in Tehran connects to the Garden of Eden, A Time to Forget in East Berlin connects to the Great Flood, and A Time to Remember in Moscow connects to the Redemption.
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The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s been a member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020), and A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022).
Forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.