as life proceeds it changes, because parts of it that may have once seemed to have sunk into oblivion rise to the surface and others vanish without a trace because they have come to have such slight importance. The present conducts the past in the way a conductor conducts an orchestra. It wants these particular sounds, or those – and no others. That explains why the past may at times seem very long and at times very short... The only part of it that is highlighted is the part that has been summoned up to illumine, and to distract us from, the present.
-Italian author Italo Svevo in the 1920's. Quoted in Khaled El-Rouyaheb, Islamic Intellectual History in the Seventeenth Century: Scholarly Currents in the Ottoman Empire and the Maghreb, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 202-3, who quotes it from A. Assmann, Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 7–8.