Every week, there’s something that repeats in the conversations around me or in the material I come across, until it’s on the level of a cosmic joke (or message–I can never decide if it’s a joke or a message).
The theme of last week was screen memory.
It’s a Freudian term.
A screen memory (like forgetting and amnesia) is a compromise between repressed elements and defense against them. A paradoxical feature of recollections of this kind is they are less childhood memories than memories about childhood, characterized typically by their singular clarity and the apparent insignificance of their content. Important facts are not retained; instead, their psychic significance is displaced onto closely associated but less important details. Displacement is indeed the main mechanism here, as it is in the case of mnemic symbols or in the forgetting of a proper name, although to some degree condensation may also be present.
From the International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, online. <
So, to give an example, my memory of myself standing on the platform at the Broadway/Lafayette subway station, worrying about all of the micronized rat poison in the air (a real threat) is a screen memory for me, where I displace all of my anxiety about my real experiences with rats in New York, and which stands in the way of my remembering those experiences. Until I see something like Ratatouille.