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The mind, perception and the reflexivity of forgetting in Alfred's Pastoral Care

  • Benjamin A. Saltzman (a1)

The verb forgytan is used reflexively six times in the extant Old English corpus, and all six instances are found in King Alfred's translation of Gregory the Great's Regula pastoralis. As the translation adopts from its Latin source the concept of what I call ‘completely reflexive forgetting’ (the forgetting of one's self), it adjusts the concept for an Anglo-Saxon audience by reimagining and reconfiguring the logistics of the mind and its mechanisms of perception. Completely reflexive forgetting is thus imagined as the process by which a ruler ceases to perceive himself from within (as God always does) and begins perceiving himself from without (from the perspective of his subjects), thereby slipping into a perpetually totalizing state of self-concealment.

When we forget, something doesn't just slip away from us. Forgetting itself slips into a concealing, and indeed in such a way that we ourselves, along with our relation to what is forgotten, fall into concealment.

Martin Heidegger, ‘Aletheia (Heraclitus, Fragment B 16)’

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Anglo-Saxon England
  • ISSN: 0263-6751
  • EISSN: 1474-0532
  • URL: /core/journals/anglo-saxon-england
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