“…for those who come from the “other Europe,” wherever they find themselves, notice to what extent their experiences isolate them from their new milieu -and this may become the source of a new obsession. Our planet that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic proliferation of mass media, is witnessing a process that escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember. Certainly, the illiterates of past centuries, then an enormous majority of mankind, knew little of the history of their respective countries and of their civilization. In the minds of modern illiterates, however, who know how to read and write and even teach in schools and at universities, history is present but blurred, in a state of strange confusion. Molière becomes a contemporary of Napoleon, Voltaire a contemporary of Lenin.
Moreover, events of the last decades, of such primary importance that knowledge or ignorance of them will be decisive for the future of mankind, move away, grow pale, lose all consistency, as if Friedrich Nietzsche’s prediction of European nihilism found a literal fulfillment. “The eye of a nihilist,” he wrote in 1887, “is unfaithful to his memories: it allows them to drop, to lose their leaves. . . . And what he does not do for himself, he also does not do for the whole past of mankind: he lets it drop.”