Forgetting the forgotten.
The forgotten is, in the experience of the Greeks, what has sunk away into concealedness, specifically in such a fashion that the sinking away, i.e., the concealing, remains concealed to the very one who has forgotten More precisely and more in the Greek vein, the forgetter is concealed to himself in his relation to what is happening here to that which we then call, on account of this happening, the forgotten. The forgetter not only forgets the forgotten, but along with that he forgets himself as the one for whom the forgotten has disappeared. A concealment takes place here that at once befalls the forgotten and the forgetter, without, however, obliterating them.
This concealment displays a special radiation. For the event of such concealment we have only the word "oblivion"-which actually names that into which the forgotten sinks-as the occurrence excluding man from the forgotten. In general we conceive forgetting in terms of the behavior of a "subject," as a not-retaining, and we then speak of "forgetfulness" as that by which something "escapes" us, when, because of one thing, we forget another. Here forgetfulness is poor attention. In addition, there is the forgetting explained as a consequence of "memory-disturbances." Psychopathology calls this "amnesia." But the word "forgetfulness" is too weak to name the forgetting that can befall man; for forgetfulness is only the inclination toward distraction. If it happens that we forget what is essential and do not pay heed to it, lose it and strike it from our minds, then we may no longer speak of "forgetfulness" but of "oblivion." The latter is a realm something may arrive at and come to and fall into, but oblivion also befalls us and we ourselves permit it in a certain way. A more appropriate name for the event of oblivion is the obsolete word "obliviation" [Vergessung]: something falls into oblivion. We are always in such a hurry that we can scarcely pause a moment to inquire into "oblivion." Is oblivion, into which "something" falls and sinks, only a consequence of the fact that a number of people no longer think of this "something"? Or is the latter, that people no longer think of something, already for its part only a consequence of the fact that people themselves are thrust into an oblivion and can therefore no longer know either what they possess or what they have lost? What then is oblivion? It is not just a human product and it is not simply human negligence.