Bion spent his lifetime trying to make sense of human experiences. He could be said to be driven by considerable desire. Not only that, but it seems fair to say he was driven by memories he could not lay to rest. Not least were the experiences he suffered in 1917 in the First World War, when he commanded a unit in a tank battle at Amiens. He spent his lifetime trying to make sense of human experiences. And moreover, he struggled endlessly to understand the actual process of making the sense. In a paper to the British Psychoanalytical Society, titled ‘Negative capability’ (not published under that title) in 1967, Bion (1967b) developed his idea of memory and desire being an interference to understanding others, an interference to reverie. This was responded to in a letter by Winnicott, saying
When I got home Clare reminded me again that the phrase memory and desire, which you have used before, is a quotation from T.S. Eliot, and she was able to give me the whole poem, and for some reason or other I accept memory and desire as naturally interrelated in the poem. At the same time in the application of the same idea to psycho-analytic work I cannot help ﬁnding myself using the word intention and not feeling desire to be correct. As you said, we each have to ﬁnd the word that ﬁts for oneself.