Lethe is the river that cleanses Dante in Purgatory, the one that wipes memories of the dead as they drink from it or bathe in it. The poet Sylvia Plath steps up from 'the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby'. It is an escape, a relief from our own physical limitations. 'The soul that has been rash enough to drink from the fount of Lethe... is reincarnated and again cast into the cycle of becoming', according to Mircea Eliade.
As important recollections slip from our memory, this loss brings its own kind of grief. The past becomes a vast, blank territory where even the most important memories from childhood are erased - if we do not remember them, perhaps these might as well not have happened in the first place.
'Lethe' wins in PDN Photo Annual 2016 'Personal' category and is now shortlisted for The Renaissance Photography Prize with the accompanying exhibition at Getty Images Gallery, just off Oxford Street in Central London from 7th September 2016.