Cultural Amnesia



Pronunciation: ‘k&lch-r&l, ‘k&l-ch&-
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1864
1 : of or relating to culture or culturing
2 : concerned with the fostering of plant or animal growth
– cul•tur•al•ly /-r&-lE/ adverb


Pronunciation: am-‘nE-zh&
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek amnEsia forgetfulness, alteration of amnEstia
Date: 1786
1 : loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness
2 : a gap in one’s memory
3 : the selective overlooking or ignoring of those events or acts that are not favorable or useful to one’s purpose or position
– am•ne•si•ac /-zhE-“ak, -zE-/ or am•ne•sic /-zik, -sik/ adjective or noun


… strange sound squiggles & forceful rhythms … Sounds, 1983


‘CULTURAL AMNESIA: Having appeared on several compilation tapes – Cause For Concern and Sterile – there are plans afoot this year to release a vinyl representation of their strange sound squiggles and forceful rhythms.’
Dave Henderson, Sounds, 7 May 1983. Reproduced in Brian Duguid, ‘Prehistory of Industrial Music‘ (1995), EST magazine.

The name came from a fictional story in a magazine about a group of placid ‘savages’ who appeared to be suffering ‘a kind of collective cultural amnesia‘… I think I recall the line though I don’t remember anything more about the story or the magazine. Some famous placid savages and cultural amnesiacs are the Eloi of H.G. Wells, but it wasn’t that which I read. The term (quite widely used) was perhaps first brought into currency by the catastrophe theorist Velikovsky, though I don’t think any of us had any knowledge of him at the time. (Gerard)

(Taken from the ca website)