Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Where are they now, pt. 2 (or, the point I was trying to get to...)

All that stuff about Miller and Bolton was a roundabout way of commenting on the way my brain, and possibly your brain, works.

I've read recently about a theory that each time a thing, a person, an event, whatever, changes in your brain from an anonymous collection of sensations you've experienced into something concrete you actually recall as a "thing" -- in short, whenever that amalgam of random inputs congeals into "something recognizeable out there, outside my head" -- well, that's when one of your brain's neurons gets dedicated to representing just that thing.

Think about that. Your brain has, at last count, some several zillion neurons. Each is connected by oodles of synapses to great gobs of other neurons. You possess a big pile of neurons when you're quite young, and then the brain starts pruning them away, perhaps to make more efficient use of the rest of them. Supposedly this continues all your life.

That means your brain has an ever-decreasing number of neurons, straining to represent the ever-increasing torrent of experiences of things in your daily life.

Is it any wonder you can't remember where you left your keys?

Which brings me back to Miller and Bolton. For years there was no neuron in my brain dedicated to Bolton, and the Miller neuron was very small and poorly connected -- although I recognized her byline, I certainly spent no time thinking about her and her work and her influence on the state of the world.

No more! Their names now set off chain reactions of thoughts and memories. Both of them are now represented in my head by large, healthy, well-synapsed neurons -- neurons that otherwise might have been available to represent those changes to "When Sunny Gets Blue" that I forgot last night, or the name of that lady I met again for the fourth time, the name that still comes up blank when I see her face.

I somehow doubt such famous and important actors in our political life appreciate the sacrifices my brain has made in response to their dubious celebrity.


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