Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Used to Know that!

It appears as if my brain has reached capacity. It has adopted the new "Zen" rule of organization - "One in - One out". Where once my brain was a hive of fractal-like activity, my brain's new mantra is minimalism. I was not consulted.

Whenever a new nugget of information enters, an old one is automatically jettisoned into some "trash" file from which there is no retrieval. Unfortunately, I don't get to choose which items to jettison.

This automatic editing is a dreadful nuisance, especially when something that has been jettisoned is later needed. There are few things as frustrating as being aware that you used to know something, and now you don't.

Words, I find myself searching for words. Now this is a damned nuisance when you're a writer and have been for 50 years. I once had an editor estimate my vocabulary at 50,000 of the suckers - he was in a fit of pique because he had to constantly edit my submissions to that 7th grade reading level newspapers and magazines sought to maintain.

But despite my editor's irritation, whatever I wanted to say, whatever nuance I wished to convey, I had a word, (sometimes half a dozen words) at my disposal to serve the purpose. Now there are times I feel as if I'm writing texts for beginning readers. "Look Jane! See Spot! See Spot run! Run Spot run! Run to Dick!" (I blame Dick and Jane to my over-fondness for the exclamation point to this very day!)

I'm reading papers on Complex Adaptive Systems, very exciting, but when I go to try to explain the workings of the immune system to a patient who is genuinely confused about the differences between inherited and autoimmune conditions I find I have to look up the immune system. I knew that information by heart a few years back, now I scratch my head and have to read about T-cell activation three times before my light bulb fires.

I don't know if this is age, too much going on up there to pack neatly into one small round head or my fondness for cholesterol-laden poutine, but for now I'm following the lead of a poster called "pinkfreud" on a forum I ran across and calling it "hardening of the smarteries."

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