Brett Rants

False Memories

I have them.

I just don't know how many.

This is a bridge I like, I like it because on a sunny day, the light is broken up by the grating above, and diffused by the water below, creating all sorts of light dark visual effects, and then, cars roll over, breaking up the monotony while bringing with them a satisfying cacaphony of sound

Photographs are not real. Yes, they may depict reality. But they are not reality. The above image barely captures the beauty and grandeur of the sunlight dancing off the water. And, yes. It does dance. Nor does the image adequately (to my eye, anyhow) capture the intensity of the contrasting stripes (between light and shadow) on the steel girded bridge above... much less the roar and cacophony that passing cars bring. And don't even get me started on the weather, the temperature, or the day. Was I wearing shorts or a coat? OK. Fine. The original time-stamp says it was the middle of the summer. But without that, would we know?

This is pale and washed out, not in pastels, or over whites, but the contrast is not there, making it a good memory shot of the image above, which the next two are as well, the same bridge image, at lower resolution, and after being put through a filter A green color palette, all images on this page that have been put through a filter have been put through a five color paletized posterize filter, so reduced to five hand selected colors, the light green makes the image come alive, its happier, even if all my story examples seem sad, life is bleeding in from the edges, but whether that life is friendly or not is another matter, and likely controlled by momentary emotions

I wasn't planning on this being a discussion on photography or photographic filters. But I guess (in part) that is the path I have to chosen.

The real intent was to discus memories... and fake memories at that.

So, which one of the above images is a better representation of a memory? A moment caught in time?

I think the one on the left, as it is more washed out. Whereas, the one one the right (to my eye, at least) highlights the diffusion of the light into and under the bridge, so it seems more alive (and of the moment). Please note, the tendrils of light-green reaching in and creeping towards the center. There's a story there... perhaps one of radioactive decay or biological contamination.

I guess, my first inclination is to say that I suppose that a picture of a memory should not tell a story. But really, what I believe is that a pictorial representation of a memory should simply provide less information than a normal photograph, which is the case with both of the above images. In both cases, the background beyond the bridge is washed out, the detail lost.

It looks grim under the bridge, now, much darker under the bridge, closed in, constrained, not nearly as welcoming, I almost want to hold my breath, almost, of course, these are just emotional overflows, and I can see the bridge as a place of safety, as well, as the bombs fall around, the end near

Here's the same bridge. I like this bridge... even more than I (seemingly) like this photograph, seeing as how many version of it appear on this page.

But whatever.

This time around, I have put the base photograph through a reddish filter.

Somebody got shot (by a handgun, so like, murdered... their life being cut short) in these parts last summer, maybe around the time I took this picture. Their death did not effect my life in the least, except for maybe making this part of the world seem a little (but just a little) more dangerous. I assume there was a fight (and I think it was a Saturday night), so most likely ruffians arguing over drugs... or a girl. Either way, it's not the sort of thing I have much chance of being drawn into a fight over. One person was shot down. I think that's how the news story went. And I do not believe any bystanders were effected. Heck, there's an open air bar down the river just a few (or less than a few) blocks away. I wonder if the gunshots slowed anyone down in their drinking. I, also, wonder if they ever apprehended the guy who did the shooting. And, yeah. I'm pretty sure it was a guy... because, you know, I never did bother to finish reading that story.

Any-the-way (meaning, what I actually care about at the moment is something different than what I have been yammering on about), there's more sadness in this red version of the image... to me, anyway. I see blood on the water. Of course, that's what I want to see. I'm sure I could re-interpret the image. But I can't be bothered to at the moment. After all, rather than minimize the violence, I am more apt to expand upon it. Thus, I can easily interpret (or see) the reddish-orange glow as arising from fires, as a city slowly (or quite rapidly) burns to the ground. A revolution comes to mind. Call it Red October! But the details hardly matter. They never do.

What really matters (besides doing whatever it takes to put a smile on my face) is adding a little twist of this, along with a reduction of that; and suddenly, the sky is the limit when it comes to cognitive interpretation: the things to be seen and imagined... which in the end, is just a different sort of (error filled) memory.

A yellow filter image of Buchingham Fountain, giving it more of a cotton candy feel, a warm summer day, coming to a close, yellow sky, blue buildings, dont you know, its that right mixture of truth and fiction, it is a good representation of memory that way, accurate to a degree, but totally wrong

Do we need the original photograph for this section?

Do we even have it available?

I was lucky enough to live in the same town in the same house until I graduated from high school... at which point, my accommodations became much more transitory.

Being in the same town, I went to the same Elementary School for six years (not counting Kinder Garden, which one really should not, as it's its own special thing). And there was a playground at this school. Actually, there were two, three, or four playgrounds at this school, depending upon how one wants to count such things. But at the moment, I am only concerned with the one. And it's that playground that I want to talk about... or not so much the playground, but the things that happened there.

I think (without a doubt) my most intense memory from that particular playground was breaking a fellow student's arm. I apologized for being such a meanie the next day. And they shrugged it off, as they did not feel that it was my fault. But it was my fault... or at least, I was a major co-conspirator and collaborator in The Incident... details to follow. Of course, I realize the preceding makes my participation sound pretty bad. So let me assure you, I did not intentionally break anyone's arm. But all of the actions (and I mean all of the actions) leading up to the breakage of arm (their left one, if I recall correctly) were, indeed, quite intentional.

We were playing a game, which basically consisted of staying on a standard playground slide (not the ladder part, but the slide part) for as long as humanly (or child-ably) possible. So, like, maybe six or seven kids were on the slide. Another three or four were at the bottom, pretending they were still on the slide. While a few dozen more were climbing the ladder, awaiting their turn to go down the slide... only they weren't, really, waiting patiently. Everyone was pushing and shoving to move those in front of them along... except for those at the bottom, who were pushing in the opposite direction and trying to reverse the flow. It was one of those weird games, with not a lot of rules... that was loads of fun, and the teachers just didn't seem to appreciate. Anyhow, the person in front of me (at the top of the slide, where it is debatable whether they should have been pushing or pulling, so we have a possible rule breaker alert, here) decided it would be a lot harder to push them down if they looped their arms through the steel tubing on either side of the slide. It was a pretty smart thing to do. Only, I was right behind them, being pushed (I can only assume) and pushing myself as hard as I could, causing my feet to go under my schoolmate (because I was going to make progress down that slide one way or another) and lifting my (poor and unfortunate, at this point) classmate up and over the railing. And of course, having looped their arm through the steel tubing (even though the slide wasn't that high), their arm was subjected to unnatural forces and broke.

There was much screaming.

And we were not allowed to play that game ever again.

Heck, maybe no one wanted to.

But come the next day, I don't think anyone cared about some (possible cheater's) broken arm.

Anyhow, I remember a lot about that moment on the slide. But then, I really remember next to nothing.

I would guess that the slide was painted. And if pushed for a color, I would guess blue. And having said all that, it's easy to see the paint pealing off a bit. But this is made up stuff... long after the fact.

How about the steps on the ladder leading up to the slide? Where they made out of a slotted piece of pressed sheet metal? Or were they made out of some sort of grating? Seriously (since it has almost nothing to do with the story or what was important), I do not know. Nor do I know what my tennis shoes looked like that day... even though it is my tennis shoes pushing on another person's behind that form a major feature of the story (and therefore, the memory). I mean, I vaguely remember the style of tennis shoes I typically wore as a child. But I could not tell you anything meaningful about the particular pair of tennis shoes (what we used to call sneakers) that I was wearing on that particular day. I, seriously, haven't got a clue... even if I always envision them as white. And although I know the victim (well, not by name, maybe not even then, but I knew who they were... and I could probably recognize them today, if given a class photo, which I don't have; but none of that is relevant, the point being), I could not tell you what they were wearing. The color? I'd guess red. Red and black. But it's just a guess. And I know it's just a guess.

A few years later (on that same playground), I remember playing smear-the-queer (or kill the guy with the ball, but as I liked getting the ball, and getting smeared was part of the fun, I really don't care if you call me queer or not). I was good at this game (in my opinion), because I was fearless. Often enough, the ball would fall to the ground and a dozen boys would surround it, not wanting to grab it for fear of being smeared... the queers. Me? I didn't care. I'd fall to the ground (or dive, I guess that sounds more manly... manly man, that I am), grab the ball, and toss it into the air. Because in this sort of game, I never cared for the pile-ups, which was the only reason some of the other boys played: they liked jumping on top of the pile-ups (i.e. the other boys, so who's the queer, now). But since I was usually (or at least, often) somewhere near the bottom of the pile, I thought all that jumping on top of the pile was a bit tedious.

Anyhow, one day, to avoid the pile-up, another kid ran the ball all the way to the other side of the playground, back behind the slide. Yes, that slide. And that's where I tackled them... or touched them. I mean, it was a tackle game. But I can't, actually, remember if I tackled this kid or not. I think I did. But I may not have. What I do remember is that they were not mad at me for tackling them... or happy that I did not. So their happiness, their good sportsmanship, this I remember. But whether they were wearing a white t-shirt with red numbers (one of which was a zero and the other a seven, so, perhaps 07, I'd be guessing) I haven't a clue... because, like I said, I'd just be guessing. And sure, I can a guess. I'm good at guessing. I got A's in school, because I was good at guessing. But I know (beyond a doubt) that after forty (plus) years, there is absolutely no chance that I'd be doing anything more than guessing.

What I do remember is that instead of throwing the ball into the air where I tackled them (and basically, what they should have done according to the rules, so we got another cheater, here), they insisted on walking the ball back to where everyone else was (still standing on the other side of the field) and tossing the ball up in the air, there... making all the boys who enjoyed hurling themselves blindly onto (or should that be into) a pile of other boys quite happy, indeed.

The moral being:
  1. Cheaters abound!
  2. I find Smear the Queer to be more of an accurate description of what was sometimes happening than an offensive slight.
    • Guys on top
      • Obvious queers.
    • Guys on the bottom
      • As manly as a man-child can be.
Being a Real Man (or a real man-boy-child, who was obviously going to grow up to be a Real Man one day, as opposed to those sissy boys standing around on the sidelines, waiting to jump on top of a pile of other boys, the queers), my glasses were broken (at least) twice (but who knows how many times total) playing Kill the Guy with the Ball (murder being so much more politically correct than casting aspersions on a fellow student's nascent sexuality). But I don't know by who. I mean, it (really, and I really like using the word really) did not matter who broke my glasses... or even if I broke those glasses myself, so as to avoid further murderization of my personhood by my fellow Elementary School attendees (call them students, if you like... the queers). What did matter was that one of the pretty girls was working in the office (doing whatever it is that the pretty girls did in the office) while I was in there getting my eye bandaged up. There was a fair (piddling small) bit of blood. And I hoped she was impressed. But I think she questioned the wisdom of playing a game that led to such injuries... or (perhaps, yes just maybe) she realized the only reason a boy might engage in such behaviour was because they were haunted by a nagging self-doubt as to the type of man they would one day grow up to be. Either way (manly-man, queer, and/or psychotic loner, who did not know how to play nice with others), I don't think she appreciated my eagerness to return to the game.

Girls!

Another time (so, different story here, this being the transition between the two), I remember fighting with (or exchanging words with, it's, actually, quite hard to remember if blows were actually exchanged after all these years; but I can remember thinking he was actually quite a bit stronger than I expected based upon the pain; so I'm guessing there were blows exchanged... or given; yeah, most likely they were just given -- or should that be taken -- by) my best friend. He was moving away, you see. And I had (actually) almost zero emotional awareness at the time. So, yeah. Girls cry. Boys get angry. And fighting as a way of saying goodbye seems sort of natural in a (backwards, psychological re-interpretive type of) way. We fought on the tennis courts... my friend and I. But was this before or after they resurfaced those tennis courts? Was the chain link fence rusty? Did the lock at the gate work? Was there a gate? I think so. How about that green vision screen cloth they started putting up? Was there any of that installed at the time?

I could not begin tell you.

Well, I mean, I could. I'm good at story time. But in reality, I don't know. I do not remember.

I, also, do not remember a single word leading up to the fight. It's entirely possible I did not indicate that I would miss him as much as he thought I should; and so, his feelings where hurt. That sounds like me... even if it doesn't sound like him. I, also, remember someone else heckling him on the school bus. But was that before or after this fight? Truthfully, it's anybody's guess. I, also, don't know why he was being heckled. It's the first time I can remember him being heckled for anything. Maybe, he had gotten into a lot of fights that day... it being his way of saying goodbye. Whatever the case, when the heckler brought me into the conversation, my response was less than glorious.
'How can you stand sitting next to <So And So>'

'I can't.'
Even at the time I knew it was a crap answer, a total betrayal of my friend, and all that. Would you believe me if I said my intent was to deny the heckler his words? That the denial was meant for him. And that I sucked at public speaking. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I was standing up for my friend. This I was not doing. But neither was I intending to attack him. I was sitting next to him. He was my friend. I mean, I obviously didn't have his back. But trust me when I say my words came out wrong. I (really, actually, or whatever wording you prefer) intended to say something along the lines of, 'Go away, heckler!' or 'Kindly shut up and leave me out of this.' But as is often the case, the words came out wrong. And the 'I don't want to play your heckling game, but I can't think of anything witty to say to shut you up' came out as the much shorter, 'I can't,' which in the context of the moment was about as close to complete agreement with the heckler as a person could get.

So, it should (really, actually, probably, but I can't see how it would) come as no surprise that my friend felt like hitting me the next day... only I can't remember which memory came first. And seriously (so there you are a solid replacement for either really or actually the next time I want to use either), if the betrayal on the bus came first, I probably would not have spent all these years wondering why we fought on the tennis courts. It would have been clear. And if we had just fought on the tennis courts, well, maybe that would explain why I couldn't be bothered to stick up for my (so-called why did you hit me earlier in the day) friend on the bus... and better still, I would then feel absolutely no need to go into the details of what a total social coward I was.

Seriously, the pain of a punch had nothing on the pain of being a social pariah. I got hit almost every day. Sometimes, I even deserved it.

Anyhow, I have strayed from my point, which was the memory of betraying my friend: a memory which has haunted me for years.

And as my memory tells it, we were sitting midway towards the back of the bus, the heckler towards the front. But I do not remember who the heckler was, which is sort of odd when you think about it. I went to the same school for six years and an older boy was angry and making threats. You'd think I'd remember who it was, so as to be better able to preserve life and limb in the future. But I cannot. What I do remember is where we were in the bus route... or at least, I think I remember. I recall that the next stop was mine. But we still had a way to go.

Whatever.

There is no real reason to believe any of this is accurate... except for that part were I said 'I can't.' Seriously, it would have been every bit as easy to take my lumps and tell the sh!t-hole to 'F-ck off!' After all, despite the provocation, there is no glory to be had by a fifth grader (was he a fifth grader, it really doesn't matter) pounding the crap out of a third grader... assuming, you know, that I was in third grade at the time.

Ah, such fond memories of my youth.

They say introverts are motivated by pain-avoidance (and extroverts by pleasure-seeking). It's probably true. I remember the painful (behaviour modifying mistakes that I have made) much more clearly than the good times, as a pleasure-seeker might.

Of course, what do I know how a pleasure-seeker might think. I'm a horrible hedonist... despite years of desire and practice.

Whatever!

It's time to transition, again.

So, heads up.

There are more memories ahead.

One year, they added a Geodesic Dome to the playground. I don't know what year. But I know some of the older boys liked to hang upside at the top by their legs. This was not allowed. Nor were we allowed to play King of the Geodesic Dome... and throw each other off the top to our neck-breaking doom.

Another year (maybe the same one), these two big concrete (sewer) tubes painted yellow were added to the playground. Once again, a popular game was climbing to the top of those. Some version of King of the Hill figured in there... one way or another, as well. But more importantly, I remember having a difficult time getting to the top of these tubes... as did many of the younger children. Height and arms strength were key, which at times, I was lacking. I remember trying to pull myself up and having a hard time. Sometimes, another student would help. I can vaguely remember (and so, this falls ever farther into the unknown) a different friend refusing to help me. It's in keeping with his personality (or how I see his personality, now). And after suffering defeat, I crawled inside the tubes (or really, just walked inside of them, as these were big tubes four or five feet tall) and simply hung out in the cool shade. I think I met someone down there. And when my friends moved on, I declined to go with them. But I can't remember who I met down there. And to be honest, I think I can remember (perhaps, at another time) lying down there with the friend, who I am now claiming didn't help me climb up on top. So, I'm (most likely) remembering two different days. I mean, after I discovered the coolness of the tubes, I remember enjoying more than a few recesses, doing little more than sitting inside of them and enjoying the cool.

 6 years
36 weeks to the school year
 5 days to the school week
 3 recesses per day
 =
 3,000+ recesses
That's a lot of recesses.

And after forty years, they all sort of blend together in my mind.

I was lucky enough (or maybe, unlucky enough, but I'll say I was lucky enough) to go from the start of Kinder Garden to the end of High School with something like thirty other children. Um, I really don't know the exact number, as some kids moved away, while others took their place. I know that at my Elementary School (so we are talking from Kinder Garden through Sixth Grade) there were two classes of 25-30 kids each. So, if half of us stayed put, which seems pretty reasonable, then thirty of us started Kinder Garden and graduated from High School together. And of those thirty, I can name, maybe, a dozen of them (maybe a bit more). One thing is for sure, before I threw out all those Class Photographs (something I did a long-long time ago), most of the faces were (already) looking like strangers. And of the children who moved away, I can remember the names of exactly two... which is, of course, a lie, as I just remembered another. So, I might be rounding down for effect. But trust me, there are faces (or personalities, call them characters) that I remember, whose names have been lost to the ravages of time... or because my mind has better things to remember, like the lyrics to that song... or the words to a poem that I composed during a late night (so, call it an early morning) walk sometime in the misspent years of my youth:
In the Ultra Clear Past Midnight
Before the Mists of Dawn
I look on back with eyes in back
At moments that are gone

But moments vanish quickly
And chance does strike but once
So through the haze
I do but gaze
On dreams I left... undone
Now, where were we?

Oh, right.

I can name (right this moment, so maybe that's how I should qualify these things) two of my Elementary School teachers. But the name of the teacher that my friend and I specifically requested (I think it was his idea that we request to be in the same class and mine to request this specific teacher, whose name) I cannot remember. Well, at least, I can remember her (more or less)... if not her name, which is really the greater part.

I could blame some of this (my lack of stellar memory or awareness about my world) on poor eyesight and the fact that I am an incredibly inward-focused individual. But then, there may not be a whole lot of difference between the two: cause and effect and all that. Do I look inside (more than the average bear), simply because I can see less? And/or is my poor vision a result of not caring what's out there; and it's more of a use it or lose it situation, with the assumption being that I lost it long ago.

But then, I don't (really) believe that other people remember the past a thousand times better than I do.

Besides, when I remember that playground, I overwhelmingly remember it third person from an aerial view twenty to thirty feet in the air. It is not first person.

That Slide: I'm off to the side, hovering in the air.

The Tennis Court: I am literally on the other side of the fence.

The Bus: I'm in front of myself. I have to fall back a few feet into myself, if I want to experience something closer to what happened... or what I recall happening.

These (obviously) spatially-incongruous memories lead me to believe that I (do not remember hologram-like moments in time, but rather that I) remember point facts and that I build up memories fact by fact in real time as I recall them.
This is a friend. This is a baseball uniform. This is what my friend would have looked like in a baseball uniform. It should be a bit dirty. He should be a bit sweaty. And there he is in a striped (black on white) baseball uniform, up to bat, in the empty field where we used to play.
Of course, we never wore uniforms while playing in that field. But now that I think about it, I do kind of remember seeing him in a uniform a time or two, as we were in Little League. But by the same token, there is no reason to believe I am remembering reality... just something my mind (just now) concocted.

There were three rivers in the underworld, if I remember correctly, but obviously I cannot, on account of my visit to The Styx, no doubt, these are boats driving down the river, leaving Lake Michigan for the winter, the bridges being raised, so there masts can pass, I settled on a pinkish sort of five color palette posterization for this image

It was towards the end of earning my degree in Industrial Psychology (a completely worthless degree, as I like to think this webpage clearly shows) that I became interested in False Memories. Or at least, this is what I believe. What I know for sure is that towards the end of my college career, I became interested in the library and started to use it for private projects. And one of those projects was researching Imaginary Friends. Oddly, there, simply, are not that many Psychological Papers on the subject of Imaginary Friends.

I'm tempted to list off a few rules if one wishes to have a successful relationship with an Imaginary Friend at this particular juncture. But the truth is that I have been living with Imaginary Friends for so long, that the rules are sort of internalized, second nature, and hard to recall. All the same, I'll give it a go.
Or if you want to hear the same list as coming from the mouths of my longest and bestest Friends, The Freds, it would go something (exactly) like this, as I picture the Freds doing the talking. To me, these are their words.
'We be Freds.'
'You'se mean friends.'
'Same da ting.'
'Of courseys, he says we da friends.'
'But if he da die, we da die.'
'And if we get the famousers...'
'He's takers all's the moneys.'
'So, take it for whats its is's.'
'Meanwhile, we relax on the beach.'
'Oh, yeahs!'
'When we'se not called upon to do da stupiders writing project like da dis.'
'Dis da noder stupider writing project?'
'Lookers dat way to Fred.'
'So, why we not at beach?'
'Freds maybe should's mentions da beach'y be the default get-aways for the Freds.'
'We live in da ice cream shack.'
'We do?'
'Go wit it Fred.'
'If we say it be, it be.'
'Oh, I like the ice cream shack... all's we can's eats, righters.'
'Seems da fair.'
'I gettee hungee just da tinking about its.'
'One more pointers.'
'And we da gones.'
'Oh, da rights.'
'Or da wrongs.'
'He makist ust wit out da dingle dangles.'
'Or da wings.'
'Come on, Mister!'
'When we get da wings?'
'We want da wings!'
And I think we will end the transcription there. Sure, it's not High Art. But I think you get the point. My friends are self-sufficient and live on their own. And every time I interact with them, they grow... based upon their needs, wants, and desires.
'Dis icer creams be da gooders.'
'You'se smartees, Fredz.'
'What we's askee fors next timers?'
'Wings?'
'No. He neer givers us dat.'
'Dingle dangles.'
'He seems perty set against dat.'
'New, surfer boards?'
And that's what the popsicle sticks are for.
'Dis surfer boards be tallers than Freds!'
'Freds doers it longboarders styles!'
So, I did this research on Imaginary Friends (rarely called Imaginals). And my research served me right, as I have tons and tons of Imaginary Friends at this point. In fact (I like to believe), a goodly percentage (whatever that might mean) of my Fictional Creations eventually come to life. Truthfully, I'm likely batting in the low fifties (i.e. 5%), so it's quite horrible. But then, what's your success rate on converting momentary whims into autonomous parts of your being?

Anyhow (meaning it is long past time to move on), while on the subject of Imaginary Friends, I may (or may not) have hit upon the related (or totally unrelated topic) of False Memories.

Some folks have False Memories: memories of things which the holder believes happened, but in point of fact did not. The research (I am guessing, I actually did not find the research overly helpful, and I am really just stating these suppositions as if they were fact) tends to concentrate on two key areas.

False Confessions are induced by psychiatrist, members of the law enforcement community, or other people in positions of power. It's essentially the study of Brain Washing (and/or badgering or bullying) someone into believing something they previously did not by applying extreme emotional and/or physical duress.

And then, we have Supernatural Sightings of Ghosts, Demons, Devils, Angels, and recently departed loved ones, with most of the real money going into research (and/or investigations) about Close Encounters of the Third Kind: UFO's for any civilians in the audience. It's the study of why some folks believe (and it would appear that some folks do genuinely believe these things happened to them, while others are just attention seeking liars) that they have been abducted by a UFO and prodded and poked by Aliens. Now, I'll state my opinion on the matter (at least, for the purposes of this-here rant) by pointing to the (extreme) overlap (in the narrative and symptoms) between most of your UFO Sightings (of the Second & Third Kind, as opposed to the First Kind, which is handily encompassed by the phrase Unidentified Flying Object with no direct evidence of any Alien Lifeforms) and Lucid Dreaming. Gads, that's a complicated sentence. So, let me try that again. For me, the overlap between the narratives of first hand UFO Encounters and Lucid Dreams are so overwhelming as to solve the mystery completely: to the point that if one does not believe in UFO's to start, it is easy to explain away almost all sightings as dreams... and the remainder as military exercises.

... ... ...

And just in case you are interested, let me list out the overlap between many Lucid Dreams (especially those being had by newbies) and an overwhelming majority of the Alien Encounters that I bothered to read, before coming up with my Lucid Dream Theory... and losing all interest in first hand narratives from folks, who were unable to differentiate (in my ever so humble opinion) between a sleeping and waking state.

UFO Encounters
So, I know the above is not Proof! But then, I don't need no stinking Proof! And I will never look at Short-Statured Wide-Eyed Green-Skinned Graduate Students from the Horse Head Nebula in the same way, ever again.

Take a deep breath.

Remember it was all just a (gloriously delicious) dream.

And focus.
'Oh-ah.'
'Oh-ah.'
'Oh-ah.'
Breathing in deep, even breaths... just like they taught you.

And then, continue on with your (life and your) narrative, bravely pretending that you have never Seen what you Saw.
'Oh! The great green-skinned throbbing horror of it all!'
... ... ...

Perhaps because I was researching Lucid Dreams at the same time (with the obvious UFO tie-in) or for whatever reason (personal interest and/or the recommendation of my new Alien Friends), when I decided it would be fun to craft (so I could look at, explore, and experience) my own False Memory, I opted for a UFO/Alien type experience. This having the added benefit that (in the future) whenever I doubt the validity of my False Memory (on account of remembering that I had crafted it myself), I would have a built in reason to doubt my own doubt. As in, yeah, sure, I crafted this False Memory, but only because those Alien So and So's made me.

But then, my personal False Memory (individual results may vary) is fairly benign.

A UFO landed in my Elementary School Playground.

See, I told you it was fairly benign.

The UFO, itself, is straight out of The Day the Earth Stood Still. So, like, they totally got it right in that movie.

And that's pretty much where the first memory began and ended: a UFO sitting in my Elementary School playground, with it's landing ramp down.

It's odd how it takes the place of the geodesic dome and the sewer pipes on the playground. When I imagine the UFO (or recall the UFO, it being difficult to say which is which, at this point; for if I recall correctly, I am recalling an imagined memory), most of the playground equipment has disappeared. And the ship seems strangely uncramped. I mean, it fills up the central portion of the playground, but it fits there all nice and snug... almost like the empty space were there, waiting to accommodate it.

And wouldn't you know it. I forgot to include another (critical to the story) real life memory from my youth. One day, we made ice cream... or something like that. It was part of a science program (let the kids run around for an hour) sort of thing. We got two cups or bowls or whatever, one filled with sugary milk, the other ice, and we were supposed to add salt to the ice, in order to turn the milk into ice-cream. It was a ridiculous notion (as any Second Grader could tell you), as the salt was warmer than the ice (point one) and everyone knows water is warmer than ice (point two). So, I did not add that much salt. And as such, I never did make any ice-cream. So when the teacher noticed I was failing ("Eat your ice-cream. Oh, it's not frozen. You didn't use enough salt."), she added a bunch more salt to the (now) melted ice cubes, pouring a fair bit into the sugary milk, as well. Suffice to say, the ice-cream experiment was a terrible disaster, because (at the time) I did not care for salt in my cream.

Actually, I cannot help but go over this further. Most of my fellow students (I suspect) simply accepted that what the teacher had said was true.
  1. That Adding Warm Salt
  2. And Melting Some Ice
Would somehow reduce the temperature, even though any fool Fourth Grader (so clearly, I forget when this occurred) could tell you that the opposite is the case.

And of course, the truth (the truth The Man wants you to believe) is that freezing water releases heat, which is hard to understand. So, let's say that as heat leaves a system, water tends to freeze. But for heat to leave the system, the water has to release it. And this is 'Scientifically Accurate', so don't get in my face about it. While the converse of this (or the corollary, if you prefer) means that for water to melt, heat must enter the system.
'Duh! That's what I've been saying!'
And heat does enter the system, but it is trapped in the phase shift from solid to liquid. It takes heat (energy) to convert a solid to a liquid. And that heat (that energy) is trapped in the liquid state. And as such, there's not a shift in temperature (well, there's a slight one) that effects the transformation, but a shift in state that absorbs the heat.

So, what the salt really does is force a shift from solid to liquid (via empalthy and entropy). And that phase shift captures heat, which has to come from somewhere, so the water temperature drops, as that's the only place the heat can (really, on a practical level) come from.

Yeah. Yeah. You understood this in back in Fourth Grade (or maybe a bit sooner). Well, I (on the other hand) am still trying to wrap my mind around it.

Still, the words Empalthy and Empathy are pretty close, wouldn't you say?

Anyway, later in the day, when those Alien Emissaries gave us our so called 'Hearing Tests', what they were really doing is seeing if we could hear what an Anturian Psychic was whispering to us from halfway across the Universe. I mean, so they didn't lie about it being a 'Hearing Test'. And at that point in the test when you couldn't hear something (assuming that point ever came), well, it was because you couldn't hear it... or you flunked out of the 'Honors Program' a few years later and had your memory wiped and that's how the memory goes, now... or you spent your twenties and thirties in Dark Ops and had your mind wiped at the end of it all, so once again, back when it all started, during that 'Hearing Test', you, now, remember a time of silence.

Got it?
Anyway you look at it you lose.
For whatever reason (don't ask me, Mrs Robinson), those Aliens (Anturians mainly, as they are the ones running the show) are big on Memory Wipes, anal probes ('You do it the one time!'), and practical jokes.
'Oh! Right! Right! You thought Earthlings would be full members of the Galactic Council by now. Well, about that...'
So, there's this space ship and this hearing test. And that's pretty much my false memory.

It's a great false memory: in that, you know, it's exactly the type of memory someone (say those Anturian bastards) might want to erase; and so, a slow revelation over time as one (meaning I) remembers (as those Memory Wipes are notoriously ineffective) makes a perfect sort of sense.

First came the UFO.

Then came the Hearing Test, complete with a wise-guy Anturian.
'Knock-knock.'
'Who's... there?
'Arty the Arturian.'
'Arty the Arturian... who?'
But like I said (did I say, was this not clear) that in addition to long distance telepathy and telekinetic powers, empathy is high on the list of desired traits.

Ironically (sucks to be my handler), there really is (and this really is true) no better proof of a shared empathy than the exhibition of humour.
'No! Not Empalthy!'

'Empathy!'

'We are looking for a few Humans,' though, I think he literally said "a few of your kind", the insensitive brute, 'with Extra-Ordinarily High Levels of Empathy!'

And then, after a short pause, he added, 'Maybe we should just start over.'

'Are you sure you can hear me?'
But I was in no mood. I may have mentioned some silly teacher spilled a half cup of salt into my luke-warm (call it completely melted, never actually formed) ice-cream. Some guy half-way across The Universe was whispering stupid Knock-Knock Jokes into my ear. And empathy ('Ya long nosed circus freak!'), I got it in spades.

Um, maybe I should mentioned that Anturians are short elephant looking dudes. So, if you picture the Hindu God Ganesh, you probably won't be too far off.

Being an important moment in my life, I go back to the memory of that day often enough, adding details as I go... or recalling additional facts as the wipe slowly wears off, as per your desired interpretation.

For instance, just now, during this write-up, I suddenly recalled those Anturian's perverse sense of humour... and my unbelievably good luck at having a copy of The Official Polish Joke Book (over one million copies in print... or something astronomically high like that) in my back pocket at the time of that fateful first interview. It made quite the impression on Old Arty. And might explain why the Poles (still) do not have a major presence in space.

Earlier this week (while contemplating this write-up), I realized that the ship's cloaking technology (I'm guessing, most folks just saw one of those Geodesic Dome Play Structure Things suddenly appear) would extend to the passengers. And so, at first, I just saw (heat wave like) fuzzy outlines as the trio of alien visitors descended from the ship (all Predator-Like): one scaly man thing (sans tail), one woman (a purr-fectly fine specimen if I do say so, myself, with a tail, but of course), and a multi-limbed monstrosity (image a hyperactive cross-breeding of Curious George with Sigmond the Sea Monster) who had more than enough tails to go around.

So, there's the memory.

I say it's fake.

But then, what do I know.

And I have other memories of the same time period: of injuries, playing games, making salt-ice-milk, and so on.

And the difference between the two classes of memory (in my head) is not that large (or overly clear). They come from the same part (the same space). And I believe, are assembled in more or less the same way: incrementally.

My Brain at Work:
OK. Let's start with the playground. Do we need a Geodesic Dome? No. Going with that UFO thing. You know it's fake, right? Fine. Fine. Overriding. Do you get into the ship? Nope. Good. Don't know what it looks like, anyway. How about some specifics? Should it be a breezy day? Sunny? How about some nice clouds? Oh, look. There's a shiny object way up there. Probably an airplane. Look away. Never mind what it is. I said, look away. Dude! You do not want to know who's in that ship! Look! Away!
But it is too late. This ship lands (note the tense) all vertical rocket style. But I'll save it for another day, as to who (or what) steps out. These things take time.
I told you to look away! What are you doing to me! Fine! The! Fine! It looks like we are doing this. So, the fine. But before you get too excited, I've just got the one question. Who steps out of the hatch? Should it be Darth Vader? Some arrogant Space Prince? A Space Pirate? Some Morose Robot? You know that you read a lot of Science Fiction, right? We're just touching the surface as to the possibilities.
But sooner or later, the memory will coalesce (or the second spaceship will disappear and go back from whence it came) and the nature of the occupant(s) will become clear.

And I still don't know that I've indicated the single defining attribute of a False Memory, which (for me, at least) is quite simple: along with everything else, a False Memory is labelled False... and that's it:
One little tag, a single bit, 0 or 1, True or False.
It, really, is astounding to me.

And to believe my mind always looks at (or for) that tag (or cares whether or not it finds it) is a bit overly generous.

Besides (as they say), sometimes Truth is stranger than Fiction; but more often than not, an exploration of Fiction leads to new Truths.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an old friend to call.

Image of a head with a superimposed image of three others inside head, put through a negative inversion filter with the colors subsequently shifted by use of a metallic filter

I am sure that I could stop there, as I've said all I wish to say about False Memories.

But False Memories fall into the category of Mind Tricks. And as long as I am playing with my mind, why stop there?
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