Alternate History

The Attack on Memory


My friend, writer/filmmaker/publisher, Brad Linaweaver, has considered — since his days as an undergraduate at Florida State University — the most dishonest movie ever made to be the 1973 Robert Redford/Barbra Streisand movie, The Way We Were, because of what he called its missing reel: the skipping over any mention of the Hitler-Stalin Pact between August 23, 1939 and Hitler’s invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941.

During that almost two-year period members of the Communist Party of the USA — including many Jewish members — opposed the United States joining Great Britain in declaring war on Jew-oppressive Nazi Germany.

It’s ironic that Barbra Streisand’s recording of the song “The Way We Were” from that movie includes the famous lyrics

Mem’ries light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored mem’ries of the way we were

George Orwell coined the term “memory hole” in his 1949 novel Nineteen-eighty-four to describe the erasure of any history or fact inconvenient to resisting current propaganda. Eric Blair — Orwell was his pen name — gave his novel’s viewpoint character Winston Smith a job he’d had in real life as a police functionary in British India: redacting and altering archives to reflect current government propaganda needs.

Memory and the preservation of the past through documentary records is crucial to human existence. The philosopher Alfred Korzybski considered memory — he labelled it “time-binding” — to be what separates human beings from all other animals.

There can be no personal identity without memory. When through trauma humans have lost memory of their personal lives — profound amnesia where an individual does not remember one’s own job, home, spouse, family, or friends — continued life begins anew, and often the rebooted personality has different opinions, tastes, and life preferences.

Academic researchers and those teaching courses on witness testimony in criminal cases have often repeated in classroom settings an experiment where during a routine class an actor rushes into the classroom, does something dramatic, then abruptly leaves. The class members are then quizzed about what they just witnessed, and the class witness results vary wildly from the actual performance.

After-action interviews of participants in military combat and police actions often find direct inconsistencies between firm memories testified to about the events and what physical evidence or even visual and audio recordings of the events later show. The formation of a memory while adrenalized can create an inaccurate recollection that convinces a witness to recount a false narrative thereafter.

Emphasizing this artifact of human memory malformation and mal-retention is of great value to those who wish to manipulate people through propaganda that erases inconvenient facts.

But now we see propagandists extending memory studies regarding fleeting events to memory in general, conflating eyewitness inability to remember what a bank robber looked like with witnesses testifying to their names, current home addresses, employment, and their family’s names.

If human beings can be infantalized to the point where court testimony is worthless, why have trials at all? The totalitarian impulse to go from arrest to imprisonment has eliminated the barrier of overcoming a presumption of innocence with proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

A few days ago the celebrated actor Martin Landau died.

Again.

Martin Landau
Martin Landau, 2010

I — and half a dozen others I’ve discussed this with — have firm and detailed memories of repeated television, newspaper, magazine, and website reports of Martin Landau dying between two and three years ago.

One of those who remember as I do is a Facebook friend, Chris Bobak, who published on a Facebook discussion I started on this topic the following screencap from 2015 referencing Martin Landau’s death:

Bobak Imgur

In my own case my firm and detailed recollections of Martin Landau’s earlier death include not only wall-to-wall TV news reports over the first few days, but conversations with fellow friends (some fellow entertainment industry professionals who had met Martin Landau), the Academy Award telecast including Martin Landau in its “in memoriam” presentation, and in my case reading a memorial article by a friend in a cult-movie online magazine remembering Martin Landau’s performance as Bela Lugosi in director Tim Burton’s 1994 film, Ed Wood.

And our memories contradicted by this same writer friend denying any memory of Martin Landau’s prior death nor that he ever wrote such an article. But he also says that now that Martin Landau has died, this is, in fact, the article he will write.

An actress I’ve worked with also tells me she recently took a class at the Actors Studio with Martin Landau, so he could not have been dead.

This is not an isolated case. Over many years this discontinuity in memory has repeated for me numerous times — so often, in fact, that this has become the theme of my fourth novel currently in progress, The Fractal Man.

Neither is this phenomenon rare. I met during a party at writer/producer Tracy Tormé’s house a woman named Starfire Tor who moderated a Yahoo! group devoted to such discontinuties.

More recently these events have been called the Mandela Effect due to numerous people recalling that Nelson Mandela had died in prison and never became the first black president of South Africa.

I have heard and considered many different theories to what this phenomenon indicates.

UC Irvine cognitive scientist Donald D. Hoffman, PhD., posits that the human brain might simultaneously take in data from a much more complex reality, then — like computer binary data being simplified into desktop icons — present a conventionalized simple timeline.

Physicists who consider the existence of parallel universes or multidimensional realities consider that there might be slippages between or among them.

Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen contemplated what has sometimes been called Einstein-Rosen bridges between parallel universes. Later physicists have called these “black holes.”

Physics these days keeps on offering up possibilities far beyond conventional experience: dark matter and dark energy; string theories with 11 physical dimensions; laboratory creations of new forms of water beyond the usual ice, liquid water, and steam; previously unknown types of light in which photons might even create solid objects.

Then there are those who insist none of this can be real and what people like me are reporting about discontinuities are just bad memory. And they use these “studies” showing how bad witness testimony is to bolster their argument.

I quote Shakespeare: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The outright rejection, scoffing, and trolling of any report of the unconventional, extraordinary, or even unique is an artifact of the type of mind to whom order is more important than facts.

These are the people Orwell warned you about.

Note July 19, 2017:

I consider major discontinuities of memory regarding public milestones to be a problem far beyond individual psychological or neurological maladaptation. To quote Claude Lacombe in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “It is an event sociological.”

I think the reported memory discontinuities in my article “The Attack on Memory” indicate the necessity for at least a new scientific paradigm, if not a scientific breakthrough, to consider how the human brain, human consciousness, and physical reality intersect.

J. Neil Schulman

JNeil's Razor: The simplest explanation may not be the explanation that accounts for all the reported facts.

The work of UC Irvine cognitive scientist Donald D. Hoffman, PhD: http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ and http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/HoffmanPubs.html

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Liner Notes: Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed A Dream — A Career Retrospective

Susan Boyle: I Dreamed A Dream — A Career Retrospective
Audio CD (November 23, 2009)
Original Release Date: November 23, 2009
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Sony Music Entertainment
ASIN: B0026P3G12
Also Available in: Audio CD | MP3 Download
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (914 customer reviews)
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1 in Music (See Bestsellers in Music)

Popular in these categories:
#1 in Music > Broadway & Vocalists
#1 in Music > Pop > Vocal Pop

Tracks
1. Wild Horses
2. I Dreamed A Dream
3. Cry Me A River
4. How Great Thou Art
5. You’ll See
6. Daydream Believer
7. Up To The Mountain
8. Amazing Grace
9. Who I Was Born To Be
10. Proud
11. The End Of The World
12. Silent Night


Liner Notes


With the release of her 23rd album, I Dreamed A Dream — A Career Retrospective, it’s hard to remember a time when the magnificent Susan Boyle hasn’t been part of our lives.

Bursting onto the American scene at age ten when she appeared on the very last Ed Sullivan Show, June 6, 1971, with a powerful voice almost unthinkable in such a young girl — and at a time when America was still enmeshed in the Vietnam War — Susan Magdalane Boyle has often been called the “Second Wave of the British Invasion.” With the exception of the Academy Award — which she has been nominated for twice — there is almost no American entertainment award she has not taken home: eight Grammy Awards, nine solo albums that have gone platinum — in categories ranging from gospel to country to pop — eight Tony Awards, three Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globes.

There was hardly any American variety show she did not appear on as a child star in the 1970’s, including The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, The Dean Martin Show, Andy Williams, Donny and Marie, The Captain and Tennille, The Jacksons, and — of course — Saturday Night Live, which she has appeared on as a musical guest fifteen times since her first appearance in 1975 and has hosted eight times.

Susan Boyle toured with Bob Hope’s USO company seven times, including Hope’s last USO tour for Operation Desert Shield in 1991 — and frequently appeared as a featured guest on Bob Hope’s NBC comedy specials.

She was a favorite of Johnny Carson’s, appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 27 times.

As a stage artist her singing voice has often been compared to those of Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters. At age 19 she originated the role of Fantine in the London West End production of Les Misérables, and generated a scandal in 1986 when Andrew Lloyd Webber cast her in the role of Christine for the London production of The Phantom of the Opera over his own wife, Sarah Brightman, causing the couple to divorce after only two years.

She has reprised both roles in long runs on Broadway.

In 1985 she appeared on the recording of USA for Africa — “We Are The World.”

In film, she has played opposite Tom Hanks twice, in 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle and 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, and won Golden Globes for both performances.

From 1993 to 2004 she played the role of Daphne Moon in the sitcom Frasier, and picked up two of her three Emmy Awards for that role, the third Emmy going to her for her 2005 HBO Special, Susan Boyle Live at the Kennedy Center.

Since 2002 Susan Boyle has also been well-known as a spokesperson for NutriSystem.

She has made frequent appearances for causes ranging from breast cancer awareness to campaigning against California’s Proposition 8, but has denied the frequent rumors that she, herself, is gay, often quipping, “What woman would want to sleep with me when Portia de Rossi is out there?”


Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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