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Screen Memory? Unlikely.

July 31, 2009

Hi, Folks!

I just wanted to tell everyone that I’ll be on a few weeks’ hiatus, because I’m getting ready for Wizard World Chicago next week.  (For those who don’t know, I co-write and do all the art on Johnny Saturn, a webcomic that you may find at  Don’t be concerned that I won’t come back, though!  I’ve got a powerful lot of stuff to talk about and examine, and doing so here, in this arena, has been very therapeutic for me.

I’ll leave you with an interesting story about memory.  I recently examined screen memories, a term I believe coined by Bud Hopkins.  Sometimes, however, a memory is not a memory at all, as I can relate in the following anecdote.

When I was about eight or nine years old, a truck parked in the field next to our house and set up tethered hot hair balloon rides.  Kids from all over came and took rides on the balloon as it went up and down, tethered to its moorings.  I could see all this from my second story bedroom window, and I determined to go out and ride the balloon too.  I don’t know if I ever did, because the memory ceases there.

I remember all this in vivid detail, yet when I told this story to my wife, I immediately sensed that this never happened.  I felt sure it was a fake memory, but was it a screen memory?  The symbolism would be clear to any abductee researcher that this was some sort of screen memory for an “alien” abduction.

First up, I know my Grandfather, who tended those fields, would never allow such a thing on his ground.  He wouldn’t want his earth compacted, and he wouldn’t want to bear any potential indemnities that could have happened from accidents.  There were no crops out, because it was autumn and the field had already been disked over.

Unable to prove all this one way or another, I called my mother.  She told me that when I was about five a balloon came down in that field.  The truck that follows the balloon swooped in, and they packed up the balloon and drove away.  This is not all that uncommon in this area, and we’ve had two balloons come down on our property in the last twenty years.

So, there you have it.  Something did happen, something that I don’t remember, and in my mind it apparently transformed over the next few years into something else entirely.  It was no screen memory, but a real one that had been mangled by time.



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.