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
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.
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.