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  1. #11
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    I don't normally have to work at forgetting. It's remembering that is a chore. :)
    That's right. You don't normally have to work at forgetting. But if you, for example, went through a traumatic event, you would have to work hard at bringing out the latent ability of your memory, which is the art of casting the traumatic event away from your mind. The skill is usually latent. That's why the author advises us to learn how to forget in order to utilize the full potential of our memory.

    That's the message, I think.

  2. #12
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    It depends- politicians have to work hard at selective memory.

  3. #13
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    So, do you think now it's possible that the "it"s are both pronouns referring to "memory", tdol?

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    The sentences:

    Memory is one of the greatest of our faculties. The ability to retain information and experience is of vital importance. But it is a more subtle art to be able to cast out of the mind --or at least from a commanding place in it--failures, events, unhappy things that should be forgotten. It is a great skill to be able to be selective and say: "I will hold this in cherished memory. The other I will cast from me." To be efficient, to be happy, to have full control of your powers, and to go ahead successfully, you must learn how to forget.

    What are "it"s in there? Are they pronouns referring to "memory"? Or are they so-called "preparatory subjects" referring to the following infinitives (i.e, to be able to cast out of the mind/ to be able to be selective and say)?

    To me, they are both pronouns referring to "memory" because I think the author is talking about another function of memory which enables us to delete something we want to forget from our mind. But my text (written by a Japanese) says they are both preparatory subjects (like "It's easy to read the book=To read the book is easy)...

    I would like to have your comments, teachers.

    Taka
    When you have a sentence that is structured "It is a XXXX to be able to yyyy", the "it" refers to the following infinitive. In this case, it is "to be able to yyyy".

    It is great to be able to swim = To be able to swim is great.
    It is advisable to study before exams = To study before exams is advisable.

    This is a delayed subject construction (cleft sentence). "It" stands in for the subject until you find it later in the sentence. :wink:

  5. #15
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    When you have a sentence that is structured "It is a XXXX to be able to yyyy", the "it" refers to the following infinitive. In this case, it is "to be able to yyyy".

    It is great to be able to swim = To be able to swim is great.
    It is advisable to study before exams = To study before exams is advisable.

    This is a delayed subject construction (cleft sentence). "It" stands in for the subject until you find it later in the sentence. :wink:
    Yes, I would usually take them in the same way as yours. Then, however, the sentences should be equivalent to " To be able to cast out of the mind...is a more subtle art" "To able to be selective and say...is a great skill". Considering the whole context and what is actually believed in psychology, which I mentioned in the previous messages, don't you think using infinitives as their subjects in this case is weird? I mean, if the "it"s are not pronouns but words referring to the following infinitives, then it follows that memory doesn't naturally have the filtering-function in it, which is quite opposite to what is believed in psychology. That doesn't make any sense, IMO.

  6. #16
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    When you have a sentence that is structured "It is a XXXX to be able to yyyy", the "it" refers to the following infinitive. In this case, it is "to be able to yyyy".

    It is great to be able to swim = To be able to swim is great.
    It is advisable to study before exams = To study before exams is advisable.

    This is a delayed subject construction (cleft sentence). "It" stands in for the subject until you find it later in the sentence. :wink:
    Mike, take this one for instance:

    The women who organized the first mother's days believed that motherhood was a political force that should be set in motion on behalf of the entire community; it was not merely an expression of a fundamental instinct to lead them devote all their time and attention to their children.

    The "it" has "to lead..." behind, but "it" is obviously a pronoun referring to "motherhood".

    I think that is a proof of the fact that "It...to..." construction is not necessarily a "cleft".

  7. #17
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    So, do you think now it's possible that the "it"s are both pronouns referring to "memory", tdol?
    Given that memeory is the general topic of the sentence there is a kind of link, but I still see the first examples as preparatory.

  8. #18
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    When you have a sentence that is structured "It is a XXXX to be able to yyyy", the "it" refers to the following infinitive. In this case, it is "to be able to yyyy".

    It is great to be able to swim = To be able to swim is great.
    It is advisable to study before exams = To study before exams is advisable.

    This is a delayed subject construction (cleft sentence). "It" stands in for the subject until you find it later in the sentence. :wink:
    Yes, I would usually take them in the same way as yours. Then, however, the sentences should be equivalent to " To be able to cast out of the mind...is a more subtle art" "To able to be selective and say...is a great skill". Considering the whole context and what is actually believed in psychology, which I mentioned in the previous messages, don't you think using infinitives as their subjects in this case is weird? I mean, if the "it"s are not pronouns but words referring to the following infinitives, then it follows that memory doesn't naturally have the filtering-function in it, which is quite opposite to what is believed in psychology. That doesn't make any sense, IMO.
    I don't know about the psychology. The use of infinitives, in general, puts the action in the potential category. It is more abstract than the gerund form. I don't think that this use rules out a natural filtering mecahnaism. It simply comments that the ability to do it is a good thing.

  9. #19
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Help me out of this confusion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    When you have a sentence that is structured "It is a XXXX to be able to yyyy", the "it" refers to the following infinitive. In this case, it is "to be able to yyyy".

    It is great to be able to swim = To be able to swim is great.
    It is advisable to study before exams = To study before exams is advisable.

    This is a delayed subject construction (cleft sentence). "It" stands in for the subject until you find it later in the sentence. :wink:
    Mike, take this one for instance:

    The women who organized the first mother's days believed that motherhood was a political force that should be set in motion on behalf of the entire community; it was not merely an expression of a fundamental instinct to lead them devote all their time and attention to their children.

    The "it" has "to lead..." behind, but "it" is obviously a pronoun referring to "motherhood".

    I think that is a proof of the fact that "It...to..." construction is not necessarily a "cleft".
    I agree with you here, but it is a different construction. In this case, the infinitive phrase is not a noun, so it can't be the subject. This infinitive phrase is a modifier of "instinct". :wink:

  10. #20
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Given that memeory is the general topic of the sentence there is a kind of link, but I still see the first examples as preparatory.
    There is a link from the topic stated in front, but it also seems like preparatory referring to the following infinitive...

    Hmm...maybe the "it"s stand somewhere between a "pronoun" and a "preparatory subject" and the borderline is not clear-cut .

    Is that what you mean, tdol?

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