In the comments stream for a previous article — A Semiotic History of Playing with Brains — I revealed the following:

I am sort of cursed with the ability to exactly remember experiences and conversations in images going all the way back to childhood.  They are sort of branded in my brain and I relive them in quiet moments and it can make one slightly uncomfortable when those moments are unpleasing — so I visualize that repetitive image and then I use a giant pink eraser in my visual mind and literally erase the image, or parts of it, from my view.

That sort of proactive action from the immediate me in the instant now is enough, it seems, to cancel out the ghost images of the past from re-appearing.

When you try to live in the now, how do you deal with the hauntings of your past — do you repress them, express them, or try to re-form them into a fresher context?


  1. Just this morning, possibly thanks to the fact that I have been reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the visual image of a man falling from the WTC has been replaying in my mind at odd times. I try to think of a horse, with its blinders, and focus on what I am trying to do. Never mind you, haunting image! I have something to do here! Usually works. ūüôā

  2. The only way to deal with the past I think is to reshape them in to present context David. Repression breeds grudge, expression might be tricky – so the only option left os to redesign it I guess.

  3. The WTC is rife with images that still enslave us. Gordon. The giant hole in the ground we still have seven years later doesn’t help us with the moving on…
    I remember a video shot of people running in the street as the first tower fell and the cloud of black, acrid, smoke from the tower gave way to the face of the devil churning out from the fiery mask. It was terrifying.
    Do presentations like this —
    — help or hurt us in the forgetting?

  4. I believe you’re right about the repression, Katha. That only pushes the memory deeper to erupt from different places with unpredictable results.
    I like the idea of reshaping and redefining the context.

  5. Yes, David – repression doesn’t help, it always backfires.
    Redifining is the only option…

  6. I agree, Gordon. Tastelessness pretending to be outrageous art. Remember the statue celebrating the WTC fallen that was a person falling on their head?

  7. It is also important, Katha, for the tortured to do the re-defining. If the task is handled by someone else, then the meaning is lost and the original haunting remains.

  8. Hi David,
    Yes, if I am the “haunted” one, no way other can reshape the expereince for me, unless I choose to share it with my closed ones – at the most they might help me showing various way out – but deciding”the context” is my task alone.

  9. Hi Katha!
    Yes, there are people that have these terrible experiences, repress them, and are unwilling to proactively change them because they are used to — comfortable with — the terror.

  10. I actually do not remember the statue at all. Hmm. Google tells me nothing.

  11. I may have to make into a post for Memeingful, Gordon! I think I still have an image of that terrible piece of “art” somewhere around here.

  12. David!
    Where does one get that magic eraser?
    I’ve found that to express them in a different context often opens us to different views of the experiences that helps in understanding them better.

  13. The magic eraser is inside your mind. Mine is a red rubber eraser that I use to wipe away people and images that disturb me. I have to brush away the rubber bits afterward, but that’s the great satisfaction of it all.

  14. Sounds good, David! Though I’d have to wonder what we would be like without the memories we’d rather not remember.

  15. I believe so, David. Once the negative charge is removed from the memory it grows into our understanding.

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