I would add that collective memory often also functions as an escape and an idyll, providing a moral warrant for nostalgia — an extremely problematic emotion ethically, not least because, to reverse Freud’s conclusion about mourning, deference to reality never gains the day. The Cuban-American writer Orlando Ricardo Menes was making a related point when he wrote, “Idyllic memories are a jeweled noose.” He knew what he was talking about: the Cuban exile community in the United States to which Menes belongs provides a textbook case of the way nostalgia and self-absorption (the other cardinal vice of the exiled and the scorned), however understandable a community’s resorting to them may be, also often serve as a prophylactic against common sense, political or otherwise.
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