Japanese folding screen depicting a scene from the Tale of the Heike, seventeenth century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mary Griggs Burke Collection, gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015.


Volume XIII, Number 1 | winter 2020


In 1927 Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik identified a phenomenon that came to be known as the Zeigarnik effect, which states that waiters are good at remembering particulars of a restaurant bill—until the bill is paid. “Unfinished tasks are remembered approx­imately twice as well as completed ones,” concluded Zeigarnik.

Memories are like corks left out of bottles. They swell. They no longer fit.

—Harriet Doerr, 1978