Recently, I have been exploring serial television via Netflix. It is something of an indulgence; I do not usually watch television. But I like finding shows that have unusual themes or that place a deeper or philosophical spin on things. My compulsion to pattern identification and co-relation tends to dig up some interesting things when I find such shows.
Tonight, it is a comparison of the concept of micro-expressions as an example of impermanence and, more granularly, the parallel/analogy of them in relation to a human’s life experiences and more pointedly, their memory of those experiences, and specifically, that I think that (contrary to current precedential thought) all experiences are recorded and remembered…. but only “acceptable” ones are stored in conscious memory.
A micro-expression is an involuntary reaction of human physiology that expresses one or more hidden elements. They may be hidden due to conscious effort or anything from sublimation to pathological denial. They are generally associated with facial expressions, but are also found in vocalizations and speech patterns, the greater non-verbal “lexicon” of body language, and even in the written or artistically expressed communications.
For reasons I do not fully know or understand, I am keenly adept at recognizing them and interpreting them. If I had to assign a reason, it would most likely be due to the conditions and environments in which I spent my early and formative years and, later, to the experiences encompassed in pulling myself up and out of those places and circumstances.
It doesn’t really matter “how” or “why” except perhaps to those who study such things at a level of academic or technical expertise that I do not possess. I mention it both as background and preface to this bit of a ramble and the presentation of the (admittedly scant and horribly non-academic, scientific, or otherwise “credible”) hypothesis.
Experiences are, I think, a bit like micro-expressions. Perhaps more than a bit; the overall experience of life is, to the human mind, mostly a collection of modified perceptions strung together to form a ‘story’ from which we create the sense of self, identity, meaning, purpose, and motivation to live and experience. It is clinically demonstrated, however, that the experiential mind (that which actually lives) is not the same as the remembering mind (that which stores and regurgitates the edited version of living).
The analogy in play for this is thus: those micro-expressions are the things that occur between these two: The experience and reactions that “do not get recorded”; the ones that either never reach the amygdala or are not part of recallable life experience.
I suspect (though obviously, I cannot prove) that there is a further similarity/parallel to “micro-expressions”; that, in fact, ALL experience and reaction ARE recorded, but only those that “pass muster”, so to speak, are placed by the amygdala into conscious memory. I suspect that the remainder, the “unmentionable” are stored in the one place that no one has looked – in or near the reptilian brain, specifically, in the region of the posterior column-medial lemniscus pathway (sorry folks, I know some of you are glazing at this point).
If this is correct, it means these “micro-expressions” of memory from the are actually memories stored in an entirely different location of the brain and which are processed or regurgitated in completely different ways and for unknown and unexplored reasons. I call this “basalory memory” – “basal” referring literally to “the base (of the brain)” and the suffix “-ory”; literally “kept at the base” memory.
Why do I think this? Anecdotally, because I have had many instances wherein aspects of experience remembered and documented by others is denied by someone, but their denial is accompanied by some manner of “basalory memory” that indicates it is actually remembered, somewhere. Additionally, that such instances, after occurrence, regularly seem to “appear” in conscious memory in some manner or way, and are eventually either partially or fully admitted and incorporated into conscious remembrance and then, incorporated into the “story memory”.
I am slowly plodding through research as I can spare time to try and locate information on the reptilian/lower brain to explore whether or not there are any sections of it that are currently known to house actual information. I suspect there are, what with this part of the brain being responsible for the involuntary functions. After all, the information on “how to breathe”, “how to sneeze”, how to [insert involuntary body function or response] is stored somewhere and, so far as I can see, it is not the places in the brain that are associated with “story memory”.
I am laughing because it has taken me much longer to write this than you could imagine. And I’m sitting here feeling a bit silly, foolish, ignorant, and uneducated. Likely I am all of these things. But, on the infinitesimal sliver of a chance that I am not… here it is.