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In a very minor way, seeing that scene in A Beautiful Mind with all the ribbons connecting papers and clippings and photo and other assorted parafernalia of the unfortunately insane reminded me of my own brain.

Sometimes I will hear or see something and I can almost feel the synapses lighting up, taking me back in my brain to where I heard or saw that thing for the first time. It’s very satisfying, like being able to find your way home from someplace you’ve never been before. As you get closer, first to the area, then to your neighborhood, and finally to your street, you can feel the familliar warmth of places you know.

In contrast, if you come upon information that is completely new, you may scan your brain for some time looking for a context, a similarity, a way to categorize this new information.

So what does it feel like to you when you see this sign?

(insert pause)

Do you think that maybe there are three brothers, whose names begin with B, and that’s why they called this botellería (bottle shop) “The Three Bs”? Does it make you think of the three Rs? (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic). Is your brain looking for where to make this information fit?

Not me. I saw this sign on the street in the grey area between Barrio Brasil and Barrio Yunguay and immediately tiny pulses of electricity traced their way back to my brain to when I heard it the first time. A friend of mine was recommending a hotel for me and my mother to stay at in Valparaíso. She said, “Y lo mejor de todo, tiene los tres b, bueno, bonito y barato.” (And best of all, it’s got the three Bs, good, attractive and cheap.)

If you think about it, it’s a good thing this sign is in Spanish. Because the three Bs isn’t a bad name for a bottle shop. But GAC doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

As you were.

Edited to add… I think I might be prescient, because look at this article from the NYT that talks about tracing neural pathways for memories. Might be time to make that tinfoil hat.