A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.

This is quote from Edward de Bono. I can understand the first part. 'what is left when something happens', but I can't understand latter part. I thought 'unhappen' means opposite of happen, but it doesn't seem like fitting here.

It seems to me 'A memory is what is left when something happens and something happens'. and I don't think it is the meaning of that sentence.

Could it be 'does not cease to happen' or 'you can not forget' something? I googled it but all I got is exact quote, not the explanation.

  • 4
    The writer has invented the word "unhappen". What he meant by that creative act depends on the context. It doesn't have an established meaning in English, as far as I know. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 19:52
  • [doesn't seem fitting OR doesn't seem to fit.]
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


It means once a memory is formed, it may fade away, but it is never completely gone.

"A memory is what is left when something happens," means when something happens, that something isn’t left behind, is it? Rather what is left behind is the memory of that thing/event.

"... and does not completely unhappen," should be rephrased as "A memory is what is left when something happens and it does not completely unhappen." "Unhappen" means "something has already happened, and now it is reverting to its original state." "Unhappen" is a made-up word.

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