The Persistence of False Memory

“The Persistence of False Memory” by Robert Anton Wilson, published in Wake Up Down There!: The Excluded Middle Anthology, by Greg Bishop, ed., 2000.   Submitted to by R. Michael Johnson (RMJon23).

Preposterous Perception has received almost as much publicity lately as the claim by Prof. Jesus Magdalena La Puta (University of Madrid) that, via computer enhancement, he positively identified the “face an Mars” as the late Moe Howard, or possibly Moe’s brother, Shemp. Nonetheless, despite some fair-minded academic debate, PP remains the area of science most beset by emotional, and often scandalously acrimonious, controversy-even more so than La Puta’s alleged Howard Head. The doctrine of PP holds, you see, that almost all of us see crazy and “unbelievable” things most of the time – almost all the time – even when we’re not an acid. Why don’t we remember this? Because we repress the memory in order to fit into a repressive society.

Many experts – or “pseudo-experts” as their critics call them – vehe­mently deny that PP exists at all. Other experts – or “pseudo-experts” as the other side prefers to say – claim that denying PP marks one as akin to those who deny the greenhouse effect or the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

In fact, the whale PP feud has opened a “can of worms” that begins to look more like a can of cobras. We face here the almost unthinkable question: who has the objectivity to distinguish Skepticism (in the scientific sense) from Denial (in the neurotic sense)? Or even from Denial (in the legal sense)?

Perhaps the problem began with Whitley Streiber. As professor H.H. Sheissenhasen (University of Heidelberg) has written,” Maybe somewhere out in space, on a galaxy far away, same especially perverted little aliens do exist. Maybe these vicious little buggers (I speak precisely) occasionally get their hands or tentacles an same especially nefarious drug, something combining the worst of PCP and the old ‘King Kong’ or ‘White Lightning’ home-brew distilled in the American Ozarks.

Maybe after these aliens have became totally “wasted” or “stoned out of their gourds” (as our students’ argot has it) one of them cries “Hey, fellas, let’s hop in the flying saucer and buzz over to Earth and have another go at same of that sweet Whitley Strieber ass.” And maybe they whiz across billions and billions of light years just to ram the poor man’s rectum with weird instruments one more time..

Maybe. Nonetheless, some doubts arise in any dispassionate contempla­tion of this scenario.

Dr. David Jacobs (Temple University, Philadelphia), on the other hand, insists that, after careful study of extraterrestrial sexual abuse, he believes that these people have indeed literally suffered alien rape, an experience so much more traumatic than ordinary rape that most victims block out the memory entirely-until Dr. Jacobs skillfully helps them recall it.

Dr. Richard Boylan, [see interview in chapter 6] meanwhile, continually circulates an exasperated letter warning that Dr. Jacobs lacks training in psychotherapy. Boylan also urges the American Psychological Association to “denounce” Jacobs as “untrained” and “unlicensed.” Dr. Jacobs, according to Boylan and other critics of his work, has his doctorate in history and thus has no more qualification to deal with borderline mental states than a Certified Public Accountant would have.

Curiously, when Jacobs appeared on the Joan Rivers TV show, whoever writes the subtitles attributed an M.D. to him. Did he acquire an M.D. some­time, in addition to his Ph.D. in history? If so, would that” qualify” him to claim more expertise than a mere historian in judging whether hypnotic visions belong in the category of the real or the hallucinatory?

Don’t expect me to answer such questions. Maybe “the Shadow knows,” but I’m as uncertain as Hamlet after he got home from studying philosophy at college and encountered what seemed to him a possible appearance of his father’s ghost.

Budd Hopkins, a chap who doesn’t even bother to claim psychothera­peutic training, supports Dr. Jacobs. But Budd claims to have hypnotically uncovered memories of extraterrestrial sexual molestations not just in 80 people, like Jacobs; but in “hundreds.” The experts (or pseudo-experts) on the other side, of course, claim that Hopkins did not exactly unearth these memo­ries, but implanted them. .

In the April/May 1993 Fortean Times – a  magazine devoted to free and op en discussion of the most heated, and fetid, disputes in science and/or “pseudo-science”-Dennis Stacy of MUFON notes that “early” (pre-­Hopkins) UFO abduction allegations lacked the sexual element that has entered the field since Hopkins started probing the unconscious of hypnotized subjects. But since Hopkins’ books got into print, and then got picked up on TV, Stacy indicates, it now seems impossible to find an “abductee” who doesn’t claim genital or rectal molestation.

Stacy implies that this evolution in the contents of memory should give us pause, and ambiguously concludes that abduction experiences do not take place “in real space and time.”

I do not feel confident that I understand what kind of space and time Stacy thinks the abductions do occur in.

Meanwhile, reports continue to multiply. One chap, David Huggins, even sells paintings of the numerous extraterrestrial females he has had sex with. They all posed nude for him. You can find one of Huggins’ paintings on the first page of the May 15th issue of Jim Moseley’s Saucer Smear. The ladies look a lot like Playmates of the Month from the neck down, but above the chin, they have that faceless, large-eyed look typical of interplanetary sex maniacs.

Incidentally, the same issue of Saucer Smear has an impassioned letter from a female victim of this cosmic invasion, one Christa Tilton, who writes (in part): “I was outraged by Dr. Richard Neal’s offer…of a $500 pay-off for absolute proof that women abductees are becoming pregnant and losing their fetuses after an abduction experience that many of them are unaware that they experienced…I would pay $500 to any doctor that could prove to me and all other female victims…that we were not abducted and artificially inseminated …” (Italics in the original letter.)

On the other hand, perhaps the real memory mystery began not with these Alien Abductors, but with the Mc Martin Pre-School Follies in Southern California.

As you may remember, that malign fiesta broke loose in 1983 when a woman in Manhattan Beach alleged that a Satanic child abuse cult had infiltrated that part of Southern California. The same woman later alleged that an AWOL Marine had sodomized her dog. This latter detail, and the fact that the woman received welfare as a paranoid schizophrenic, led the police to doubt her story originally, but mean­while the Satanic cult rumor had galvanized parents all over the area.

At the height of the excitement, over 100 teachers at nine schools, and the minister at a local Episcopal church, had all suffered accusations of child molesta­tion, Satanism, ritual human- and animal sacrifice, and playing rock records back­wards. Small (pre-school) children claimed they could remember seeing these things – after consultation with certain psychologists. The police and D.A. could not ignore all that, and eventually placed charges against seven out of the more than a hundred teachers (and one preacher) originally accused by rumor.

Nine schools closed, due to the legal expenses and the loss of funds because parents withdrew children. The Episcopal church also closed.

Eventually, the D.A.’s office decided to release four out of the seven they had originally arrested, citing lack of substantial evidence. Later, charges were dropped against one more. Finally, two out of the hundred alleged “Satanists” stood trial-a mother and her son. (Both came from the Mc Martin Pre-School, and that name got attached to the case thereafter.) The jury refused to convict either of them. The D. A. then brought the son to trial again. The second jury also refused to convict.

The case then more or less died, although in the last two years three of the accused successfully sued some of their accusers for libel and collected over $250,000.

To many, it seems that the most significant fact about this case consists in the “authentication” of the “memories” of the children involved as real memories, not hallucinations, by a group of (youngish) psychologists who have some­what better training than Mr. Hopkins or Dr. Jacobs. Kind of makes you wonder about the “experts” and “pseudo-experts”, doesn’t it?

Sociologist Jeffrey Victor of Jamestown Community College has written that at least 33 “rumor panics” similar to the McMartin case have occurred in 24 states in the last decade. The FBI Behavioral Science Unit (which deals with seria1 killers) says that it has investigated numerous “mass graves” where victims of Satanic sacrifice allegedly lie buried, and found no bodies in any of the “graves.” Not even a shin bone.

Of course, those who have a really fervent belief in the Satanic cult’s real existence in real space-time now believe “the FBI is in on the cover-up.” Why not? Those who believe in the UFO sodomites claim that the whole damned government has conspired together in that truly cosmic cover-up.

Memory seems a kind of silly-putty as one reads deeper in this literature. (Incidentally, the L.A.Times reported, on April 23, 1991 that Radical Feminists and Protestant Fundamentalists show greater belief in the alleged Satanic child molestation cult than the majority of citizens.)

All this led to the formation of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, funded by skeptical psychotherapists-and 3,700 families who had experienced some or all of the trauma of accusation, hatred, public disgrace, and (sometimes) actual arrest and trial when a therapist “helps” a patient “remember” these fiendish doings. Many of these families have passed lie detector tests, won acquit­tals in court, or later had the accusing “adult child” recant the accusation after consulting with a different therapist with a different orientation.

The FMFS attempts to educate the public about the simple fact that many “memories” – even (or some would say especially) those activated under hypnosis-do not always correspond with real events in real space-time. That is, “memories” can derive from hallucinations, from hypnotic suggestion, or even (as in one famous exper­iment) from simply hearing about an alleged event from many sources one trusts.

Dr. Jean Piaget, generally considered the world’s leading authority on developmental psychology, relates how he “remembered” an alleged (non­violent and non-sexual) event in his childhood all his life-until he learned that he had only heard about it from his parents, who heard it from a maid, who had invented it .to avoid admitting a minor malfeasance.

At this point, Preposterous Perception appeared in the literature, thanks to Professor Timothy F.X. Finnegan of Trinity College, Dublin. I should mention at once that Prof. Finnegan serves as president of CSICON -The Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal-and has developed, in several books, the system known as Patapsychology (not Parapsychology, although that error seems ubiquitous). Scholars trace Patapsychology to Alfred Jarry’s Pataphysics and Jacques Derrida’ Deconstructionism, but Prof. Finnegan has always insisted he got his basic inspiration from one Sean Murphy of Dalkey (a suburb on the southern coast of Dublin Bay). Murphy’s first fundamental finding (as Finnegan always called it) states succinctly, “I have never met a normal man or woman; I have never experienced an average day.”

Nothing else definitive appears on the record about this Sean Murphy of DaIkey, except a remark attributed to one Nora Dolan: “Sure, the only hard work that Murphy fellow ever did was picking himself up off the floor and getting back on the bar stool, once a night.”

As developed by Prof. Finnegan and his associates in CSICON, Murphy’s principle holds that the “normal” and “average” exist only in mathematics – i.e. “in pure fiction,” Finnegan always adds – and that daily life in ordinary space-time (Marx’s sensory-sensual reality) consists of nothing but enormities, aberrations, eccentricities, oddities, weirdities, anomalies, and a few occasional “approxima­tions to the normal.” In the last sentence of his Golden Hours Finnegan concludes: “The ‘normal’ labels that fictitious abstraction which nobody and no event ever exactly exemplifies.”

Finnegan’s work has won great acceptance among general Semanticists, surrealists, militant gays, sci-fi writers, libertarians, acid-heads, the Vertically Challenged Liberation Front (those we used to call midgets), and some really strange people, such as iguanaphiliacs, necrophiles, and lycanthromaniacs. On the other hand, Finnegan has become persona non grata with most academic philoso­phers, with the Fundamentalist Materialist wing of orthodox science and, espe­cially, with the religious of all sects.

The Finneganoid or Patapsychological “school” (which includes such writers as De Selby, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, S. Moon, Wildeblood and as a posthu­mous recruit, Foucault) holds that Preposterous Memories do not have any less “validity” than any other memories, since (in De Selby’s words), “All that we know derives from A) our own perceptions, which a thousand well-known experiments have proven fallible and uncertain, and from B) the instinct to gossip; sometimes called Public Opinion, which sociologists now consider equally unreliable.” (The “instinct to gossip” plays the same panchrestonal role in De Selby as the “will to power” in Nietzche, or “the id” in Freud.)

La Tourneur of the University of Paris has argued (Finnegan: Homme ou Dieu?) that the enigmatic Murphy played a larger role in Finnegan’s intellectual development than the mere statement of the First Fundamental Finding implies. Attempting a sketchy translation (I cannot capture La Tourneur’s crisp­ness), the French savant speculates:

“The more time the overly-analytical pedant Finnegan spent in the same pub with the unsophisticated ‘naive realist’ Murphy, and the more pints of Guinness they consumed, the easier it became for the philosopher to perceive what Murphy had discovered first: that nobody in Ireland looked like a normal Irishman, that no room in any house formed a precise 90° rectangle, that nobody’s life story made sense in any dramatic, novelistic, or even logical way and, most noteworthy, after leaving the pub, that every street contained myste­rious and vaguely inhuman shadows, especially after a 14-pint evening.”

In Finnegan’s own words (Archaeology of Cognition, p. 23), “A world where most men prefer sex with little children to sex with grown women, most allegedly Christian parents secretly engage in bloody Satanic rituals, and every third person has suffered anal, genital, and other harassments by demonic dwarfs from Outer Space makes just as much sense – and just as little sense – where the world is run by the ghost of a crucified Jew, George Bush had rational reasons (which nobody can now remember) for Bombing Iraq again two days before leaving the White House, and the barbaric, bloody-handed English Army still occupies six of Ireland’s 32 counties without Mr. Bush or any other American Policeman-of-the-World ever threatening to bomb them back to the Stone Age.”

On the other hand, La Puta (of the Moe Howard computer enhancements) argues (La Estupidez de la Tourneur) that Finnegan had merely rediscovered the proto-existentialism of Edmund Husserl, which does not accord any superiority in “realness” to any kind of perception over any other kind of perception. The letter bomb sent to La Puta from Paris shortly after this has never been traced to La Tourneur, despite the scandalous polemics of Prof. Ferguson (Alabama Creation Science University and Four Square Tabernacle) – who also claims to have seen the Moe Howard head on Mars with his own computer “enhancement.”

Ferguson’s later writings, with their unsubstantiated attempts to link Finnegan with Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army, merely illustrate mindless madness, a strange cultish submission to the doctrines of La Puta and a Presbyterian inability to understand robust Irish humor. However, this does not mean we should naively accept de Selby’s counter-claims, attempting to find “sinister and signifi­cant” links between Ferguson, the late Clay Shaw, and the Bilderbergers.

Meanwhile, Prof. Finnegan continues to champion the Linda Napolitano case, on the grounds that “since this sounds on the surface like the most absurd UFO story of all, it has the greatest probability of proving true eventually.” Under hypnosis by the egregious Budd Hopkins, Ms. Napolitano remembered (or thought she “remembered”-as you will) ‘an abduction in which she got teleported or schlurped, out of her New York apartment, into a UFO, and then the Little Grey Bastards performed their usual molestations. She also remembered (or ‘remembered”) two CIA agents who later kidnapped her and attempted to drown her – part of the Cover Up, you know.

On the other hand, Jerome Clark, one of America’s leading UFO investiga­tors, lately sends out tons of mail, (or so it seems) denying that he ever endorsed the Napolitano case-although others claim to have documentary evidence that lark did endorse the whole Napolitano yarn less than a year ago. Clark now says that all this alleged documentation-circulated by rival UFO investigators – amounts to malicious libel perpetuated just to make him look like a fool.

I don’t know what it all means, but, like Ms. Tilton, I’ll gladly pay $500.00 to anybody who can prove that none of this weird shit ever happened, since I feel sure every bit of it did happen, although not necessarily in ordinary space-time.

A shocking photo, recently produced by Prof. Ferguson, shows Clark, Oliver Stone, La Tourneur, and Jim Moseley (editor of Saucer Smear) standing with G. Gordon Liddy on the Grassy Knoll as the Kennedy death car pulls near. Moseley holds a Confederate flag, La Tourneur appears to have some hood on his lead – whether Satanic black or Ku Klux white does not appear clearly, due to shadows – and Liddy, of course, has a Smoking Gun in his hand.

Almost all the “experts” have denounced this photo as an obvious scissors­-and-paste forgery. The one dissident voice belongs to Professor H.H. Hanfkopf, who in his book, The CIA: Pawn of the Interstellar Bankers attempts to demonstrate hat all the conspiracy theories of this century served only as misdirections to conceal the fact that paper money contains highly addictive drugs to make us Hopeless slaves of the Green Slime Entities of Algol.

That’s why you never feel you have enough money, Hanfkopf says, and continually need to increase the dose a little bit more than you could survive on last month. In reality, not in metaphor, the Green Stuff has addicted us.

As the more restrained Sheissenhosen would say, “Maybe.”


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