emotions – the hallmark of mammalian evolution.. or a quick route to dante’s inferno?

we as humans seem to rationalize everything, even feelings, which, essentially, aren’t rationalizeable because of their origin, complexity and structural chaos. to not go too much into detail about the neuronal mechanisms of different emotions i shall turn to a more holistic issue of affect.

on a rainy october day while driving down riia road in a bus and passing the flickering lights of the newest mall, i remembered something random that made me smile. i cannot say, was it something i saw, heard or intentionally pondered over that made me remember the subject of my well-being – suddenly something just felt rather good.

this in mind, for me, there are two clear classes of positive emotion processing via memory. one is intentional, where the person deliberately rounds up his or her retrieval mechanisms to access the object needed, or, top-down. the other is unintentional, where the person suddenly remembers something due to an external cue (visual, auditory, somatosensory or olfactory), or bottom-up. but this is all pure textbook!

sometimes, when feeling something undiscribeably pleasant, i’ve tried to “pin it down”; something feels so good that it would be nice to prolong its’ effect – kind of like adrenaline prolongs the effect of an anesthetic by constricting blood vessels. where’s the problem, you say? if it’s neatly packed inside ones’ memory areas, then it is accessible whenever or wherever. this is true when the person knows exactly what triggered the emotion (or, as mr tulving might say, the moment of retrieval has to be maximally homologous to the moment of encoding). if not, then the perceived subject or object is easily removed from working memory and placed back into the drawers of mind. but there is something that isn’t easily and exactly duplicated – the uniqueness of emotion.

the very essence and heart of affect – pure feeling. it is unique and constructed very specifically by internal and external markers, which means that any feeling in a moment of time is one of a kind. knowing this may put the person – as in this case, me –  in a somewhat urgent position to try and crystallize the moment with its’ precise affective color. of course and unluckily, i fail.

it would be nice to understand the mechanism of such purity and uniqueness. or is my wish too rational?


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