Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I was walking the dog today, mostly going with the flow of ideas in my head. At one point, I thought of something that had turned out in a disappointing way. Brain scans show that the parts of our brains that light up when we experience something also light up when we recall it vividly.Whether the light show in the brain reflects the thoughts, the strong feeling of disappointment that I did indeed generate by that thought persisted as my mind wandered on. 

Once I realized that the disappointment still echoed in my brain though the sound that produced the echo was silent, I thought to go back and deal with the disappointment, assess its validity. However, I could not remember what it was that had sparked the emotion. I have always been capable of this kind of forgetting, though now that I am aging, I am better at it, especially when I am not paying attention to my thoughts.

I felt a twinge of horror: here I was stuck with a rogue effect that I could not analyze because it no longer had a cause. Thoughts leave their emotional echoes behind to mingle sometimes with other thoughts to which they bear no significant causal relationship. An associational link is possible but there is no guarantee that the point of linkage bears on the emotion that persists. This phenomenon suggest a landscape of memory littered with the emotional ruins of buildings that never actually existed, a confused geography that never did make any sense and for which no historical map exists. A wilderness.

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