This "daylogging" business is way too slow. I need an assistant to follow me around and write down things as they occur to me, when they make sense. Some things only make sense walking or drinking or looking at a woman at the bus stop, and it breaks my heart to record them later.

State Dependent Learning

The drunken boy remembers what
the tipsy tot was taught.

"State dependent learning" is an approach to the study of learning and recall which takes mood and biochemistry into account. A classic animal experiment (Overton, 1964) showed that rats trained with a barbituate in their bloodstream were subsequently able to perform better if they were tested while dosed with the same drug.

Human studies confirmed the effect with social drugs such as alcohol and marijuana. And internally generated biochemical states--that is, moods-- also constitute a "state" that shapes the way knowledge is stored in the brain and later recalled. These experiments are stark proof of what we already know: that our memory is a chemical construct, as is perception. Both can be altered by subtle or gross influences: a glass of grain alcohol, or the nose's reaction to the perfume of a dress.

"Every Christmas seems to follow immediately after the last one; all the months that came in between don't figure in. Christmases succeed eachother, not the falls they follow." --John Crowley, Little, Big

Breakups are like Christmas in that way. B and I break up, and presently I am remembering another scene: S saying goodbye. And feeling the sharp pangs I felt for J twelve years ago when she drifted off. I'm transported to the Goodbye Archipelago by a picoliter of sad molecules that my brain used to capture, in shorthand, the way their lips felt and their skin smelled.

going forward
So these half-learned lessons are fresh, even though I've been working on them for twenty years. Marvelous the way the mind can keep these accounts. You go away from sorrow into happiness, and the invisible assistant marks your place in the lesson book and shelves it for your return.