Screen Memories . . .

July 11, 2009

Hi, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed my last essay, “The Others.”  I’m just getting wound up, though, and I have a lot to talk about.  While I have often not claimed to be an extreme paranormal experiencer, I am without a doubt a serious experiencer.  Some of the things I’ve witnessed are rather outrageous.  I’ll be getting to some of those events in future blogs.

Today, however, I decided to write about something a little lighter.  Owls.

I believe it was Bud Hopkins who coined the term “Screen Memories,” or false memories created to cover up other events.  Whitley Strieber in “Communion” also recounts some of his memories that he knew were fictitious.  And, we’ve all heard of abused children who block out the abuse in their memories.  This is not a new idea, and pretty well accepted in most clinical settings.

If you have a memory that you are sure is not real, where did it come from?  If you were abused, then most likely there are other hints of this in your life.  Maybe the memories came from home movies?  Maybe dreams?

Dream imagery is very powerful.  I go to sleep easily and wake up hard.  Often, for the first ten or fifteen minutes after waking, I’ll catch glimpses of things that aren’t really there.  I’m always quite aware that this is a result of my semi-conscious mind trying to come to grips with consciousness, and I know the images are a false, dream-like overlay to what I’m actually seeing..

When I mentioned home movies and implanted memories, I did so because it’s happened to me.  When I was little, say between ages 2 and 5, I saw the home movie of my parents’ wedding ceremony.  I incorporated this as actual memories, and for many years I thought I was there for the wedding, sitting in the front row.  (Well, I certainly was there at the wedding, but not in the front row!)

I mention all this because I want to show how incredibly imprecise memory is.  Long term memory can fade, and combine, and change tenor, and selectively toss portions.  I suspect we are editing and refining memories to fit our world views all the time.  The memory of your life is not your actual life!

So, screen memories.  Here in 2008 and 2009 I’ve had one very odd occurrence.  I was riding my bicycle alone on a nearby country road.  It was mid-day, and quite warm out, but I wanted to take my bike out and have a turn. Heading back towards home, I passed a small wooded plot on my left, and the perpetually open fields on my right.  Suddenly (for I should have seen such a thing from a great distance, being in an open field), I passed within a few yards of a dead animal (road kill?) and an owl.

What an owl it was!  It stood about four feet tall, from feet to crown, and it was snow white.  We have owls in Indiana, but they are rarely seen, and almost never in the daytime, and they stand about 18” to 27” tall.  The Snowy Owl, not native here but known to fly as far south as Tennessee, is 20” to 26” tall, is primarily white.  Not 4’ tall.

As I rode parallel to the owl, I was shocked, because I’d never seen such a creature like this up close.  The owl rose from its meal and flew away, its wingspan simply herculean in width.  I felt in real jeopardy around the owl, because I new a creature that big could quit easily kill me.

I don’t remember the rest of the ride home.  That part is gone, wiped clean.  Later, I told my wife and a few friends about the encounter.  Yet, every time I related this story, it felt “off” to me.  I finally came to the conclusion that this was not a real memory.  They don’t make owls that big!  Had I even gone on a bicycle ride?  I think I did, but I can’t be sure.  I was alone, after all.

In other words, I remember the encounter in some detail, and I’m pretty sure that it never happened.  The memory seems very suspect to me, and has for a while.  Had I suffered a snap-attack of momentary schizophrenia?  Was it a hallucination?  More importantly, if it was none of those, what was I doing out there, and what really happened?

The answer, of course, is that I don’t know.  I simply have no idea, and no inkling as to what really went on.  Maybe nothing happened, and this memory is a thing in and of itself.  One thing I can say is that I’m reasonably well versed in alternate states of consciousness, and this was no shamanic journey or out-of-body experience.  I was not out looks for a spirit guide animal, or whatever.

So, there you go: Screen Memories.




  1. What an incredible occurrence, Scott. I’m not sure I’d be so quick to dismiss the possibility of this being a type of visionquest. This is an instance when regression therapy might be useful If this is a screen memory, what is it masking? If a vision, what does it represent?

    Okay… a weird and interesting typo just happened. I already corrected it without thinking, but I first typed, “If a vision, what foes it represent?”.


    Yes, I realize that D and F sit side by side on my keyboard, but now I’m wondering if my subconscious or HGA is trying to comment on this.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    ~Bob Freeman

  2. I found your story when searching for “snowy owl,” for a reason similar to what you were writing about in your story. I too have a memory of a snowy owl that I have always wondered about. Actually, two memories concerning suspect birds.

    In the first, my father and I were in our living room in Boston, when I was about 13 years old. I was looking out at the house across the street, and saw a HUGE white owl sitting on the chimney. This owl had to be at least 4 feet high, as it was the same height as the chimney itself, and this was a massive brick chimney. My dad exclaimed and we both were astonished, as Boston is hardly snowy owl habitat. I distinctly recall my father saying “Boy, he’s certainly gotten confused on his migration.” What is odd is the memory stops there–we didn’t watch it fly away, I don’t remember anything else. This memory feels entirely real to me, and I have never had a sense it was a dream or anything. I have since asked my father about this, and he has no recollection of this. To be fair, though, he does have memory issues, so just because he doesn’t recall this doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    The second memory, however, is much stranger and harder to make sense of. This also happened in my early teens, I’d say I was 14 or so. This memory involved my entire family, mom, dad, and my four siblings. There was a willow tree in our back yard, and one afternoon in the summer time, a strange fat bird appeared in the tree. It was large and plump, on the size of a chicken! But what was oddest was that, rather than make a sound that was birdlike, it SAID “Tweet.” That is—it actually articulated the word clearly, as would a person stating the word. I realize how ridiculous that sounds of course, but we all were laughing hysterically and found it very funny. Moreover, this became a running joke between me and a few of my best friends at the time, as I went out that afternoon and told everyone I hung around with the story. My friends remembered the story well for years afterward, and we would often say “tweet” in a funny voice to kid one another. My point being, this happened in broad daylight, I went out that same day and shared this story, so I know it wasn’t a dream. Yet…I’ll give you one guess what happened when I brought this up recently at a family gathering (some 27 years after the event). You got it–blank stares all around, dazed expressions, and the topic was changed. I don’t know what to make of this at all. It has come back to me many times over the years, but is a mystery.

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