Herodotus admits that he was obsessed with memory, fearful on its behalf. He felt that memory is something defective, fragile, impermanent—illusory, even. That whatever it contains, whatever it is storing, can evaporate, simply vanish without a trace. His whole generation, everyone living on earth at that time [5th century B.C.E.], was possessed by that same fear. Without memory, one cannot live, for it is what elevates man above beasts, determines the contours of the human soul; and yet it is at the same time so unreliable, elusive, treacherous. It is precisely what makes man so unsure of himself . . . . We do not know, and stretching beyond that "we do not know" is the vast realm of ignorance; in other words—of nonexistence.
—Ryszard Kapuściński, Travels with Herodotus