An hour ago, I received "The Great Forgetting" in the mail. I am awed by its truth and beauty. I have been asking what the Literature of Restoration might be even as I (humbly, I hope) teach a class with that title. The Great Forgetting is a work of restoration.

Thank you for remembering.

Deena Metzger


Thanks so much for the stunning new book, "The Great Forgetting."
It has a way of bringing me to a non-verbal place, or beyond-verbal, where I feel welcomed.

Jonathan Pierpont
    Lamy, NM


Just a note to say I read "The Great Forgetting" over the holidays and enjoyed it very much. Reading it reminded me of an experience I had in 1995, while camping at Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies.

One day, my companion and I decided to hike from base camp up to the spot where Robson Glacier reaches its lowest point and melts into the snowfield. As we walked up the valley toward the foot of the glacier, the rock walls on either side seemed to become more and more imposing, growing higher, looming bigger and bigger, the subtle color in the rock coming into sharper focus, the quiet becoming ever more quiet with every step we took.

We could hear the hum of the glacier moving all the time, maybe we even felt the rumbling through the soles of our boots, and there was the constant, though intermittent, thunder of avalanches on the higher slopes of Mount Robson.

It was a generally clear day, with blue sky and strong sun, although big fluffy white clouds were floating through the sky, but with enough space between them so as not to obscure the sunshine for more than several moments at a time.

We were probably within 500 yards of the glacier when I had to stop and sit down beside the trail. My friend kept on, his goal being to reach the top of the narrow valley and touch the glacier itself, as though it was a trophy to be collected upon completing the hike.

I simply could not continue. I was in awe—in shock, actually. My senses, indeed, my soul, could not take in any more of such beauty.

I felt that I might burst if I continued to collect any more of this wild landscape without taking the time to absorb it—to respect it, really.

I sat there on the rock, shaking, nearly in tears, knowing that I was seeing god and understanding, not intellectually but viscerally, what wilderness is.

I knew, not in a metaphoric way but with certainty, that this place was real, and that the city, and the life, I'd left behind were not.

Tim Sullivan


I find the elements of beautiful writing to include crispness, clarity and brevity of language; and it must be provocative in some way. It must emote a passion of thinking or feeling that capture my attention and spiral me deeper into Life, into my own being.

A new book, The Great Forgetting by Calvin Luther Martin, accomplishes all these. Each sentence is potent with power and is presented in a beautiful artistic format that supports the drive of the writing.

I first encountered Martin’s writing in his book, The Way of the Human Being (Yale University Press, 1999). That reading of years ago led me enthusiastically to agree to review a copy of The Great Forgetting. This question, of "What is it to be human?" runs through both books and is as critical to and as shaping of our future as is the question, "Who am I?"

It is this question of identity that Martin continues to write to in this new book, not toward an answer of resolution but toward a mystery worth living into: What does it mean to be human?

He invites us to consider breakdowns or turning points in the lives of greats such as Nietzsche, Descartes, Jung, Melville, Thoreau, Faulkner and even Jesus. Like Moses before them, encountering a burning bush in the desert and discovering he already stood on holy ground, each of these too were changed and responded in their own way to an encounter with mystery, with primal ‘First World’ life forces.

Only after a primal encounter, lasting 40 days and nights in the desert alone, did Jesus say, "I and the Father are one."

I, and Life! For this heretical story of identity Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, so the telling goes. Such a story and identity were theological and cultural blasphemy. His words announced him as ‘undomesticated’. Yes, he was Wild!

In meditative brevity he provocatively invites us to consider and witness what it is to be human, fully and wholly human, absent the wall of separation from Life. He is playing with our identity, with our awareness of what it means to be human. He would have us remember our wholeness, to live into its unanswerable mystery.

Read it at your own risk. And read it again, and again. It is the kind of participatory reading that deepens with each contact. Give it as a gift to yourself, or a loved one.

Larry Glover
    Founding Director of Wild Resiliency Institute


It’s less a book and more a meditation or prayer or poem, a collage of classical references and original thought, images and words, ideas and dreams.

Schuyler Brown


A beautiful visual and articulated poem.

Pat Schneider
    Founder and Director Emerita of Amherst Writers & Artists
    Author, "Writing Alone and with Others" (Oxford)


The Great Forgetting is a beautiful book, bearing a profound message. It has been like a prayer book for me.

Florence Shepard, PhD
    Professor Emerita of Educational Studies
    University of Utah
    Essayist and author of Ecotone (1994)


I have just read (for the first of what will be many times) “The Great Forgetting.” It's a stunning and beautiful creation, a wise guide that threads us back to a place we have indeed forgotten.

—William P. Sisler, Director
    Harvard University Press


When it arrived yesterday, I put aside the rest of the mail, sat down, and read “The Great Forgetting” front to back. It is nothing less than splendid, truly—visually as well as in content.

Now I shall go back and re-read the book several times more, for it requires pondering. (In fact, I've already read it three times.)

It is a poem and it is magical. And it is pure Calvin Luther Martin. I hope the book gets wide recognition, for it surely deserves it.

—Jack Goellner, Director Emeritus
    The Johns Hopkins University Press


Anyone who has come within the arc of one of those I–to–eye moments, even if it was subsequently buried, may be called to a remembrance by this book, a book that is stunning in its beauty, wisdom, message—and hope.

—Virginia J. Renner,
    Head of Reader Services (retired)
    Henry E. Huntington Library


I have followed Dr. Martin's work for some time and have always been impressed with the depth of his intellectual and (dare I say it?) spiritual expression. This small, beautiful, and very important book transcends not only his own previous work but most philosophic/social expressions of our time. I am not given to breaking down, but after less than a dozen pages of this book I was on my knees having a breakdown for which I am ever grateful to Martin and his entirely engaged and talented artist. This is a book everyone, every person, ought to read.

—Susan Tixier (Embudo, NM)
    Friends of Chaco Canyon Advisory Counsil; Co-Chair, Wilderness Act 50th Anniv. Celebration


For an astonishing look at the fracturing of the modern mind, you would be blessed to order and read Calvin Luther Martin's new book: THE GREAT FORGETTING. It will leave you stunned —your mind opened to new (and past) realities.

—Melissa Heckler (Cross River, NY)
Librarian and The Teachers’ Loft


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