Fleeting Associations

"How many fleeting associations combine to make up a life? How many rusty pipes do we mistake for owls? A vast majority of our waking hours are filled not with witty jokes or brilliant thoughts or epic feelings but with tiny, private mind-motions — thoughts that are hardly even thoughts at all, that don’t rise to the level of sharing with another human being. That millisecond when — again and again — a rusty pipe looks like an owl, or a newscaster’s voice reminds you of a long-gone uncle, or a daily routine sets off a small chain of involuntary associations. These things are almost nothing, and yet they are who we are."

Sam Anderson, writing for NYT New Sentences


Anonymous said…
A very good description of how unconscious mind works. Also, the more memory you accumulate, the more complex this web of association becomes.
A 40 plus man is governed entirely by his memory you might say. So they don't 'do' very many things, they just 'say' things. And in a 60 or 70 plus man this web is already breaking down and a gradual return to a more childlike state ensues, but the more poignant associations are retained. This is what makes up the peculiar contemplative mood of the old man who has 'seen much.'