Today I had an instance of immense Déjà vu. I was standing in the kitchen of my current job looking at the face of the Keurig machine. I had a dream ages ago, a few years now, about decaf coffee. I remember seeing the white cups, the black lids, and I remember tossing the K-cup that was already in the machine into a round trash bin with a round hole in the top.
At the time I thought the dream was strange for a number of reasons. I had thrown away the lid of my coffee cup in the dream and I remember staring at it in the dream and wondering why I would have done that? Why not wash it off?
I threw one of those black lids in the trash and that thought crossed my mind. My eyes grew wide and my lips parted ever so slightly. I looked around and began to pinpoint all the little bits of that dream. In a sudden moment I was experience intense levels of nostalgia and Déjà vu. Every little quirk about that dream came rushing back to me after it being in the depths of my subconscious for years.
Then I got to thinking about it. Naturally I can’t be clairvoyant, that’s just silly. There are possibilities here. One involving perhaps some strange connection brains have with the passage of time, but that one requires a post of its own with a nice cup of tea to fuel it.
Today I want to talk about wildcards. I suspect that our brains are dealing with wildcards more than we realize. When I say wildcard I specifically mean an entry that could be filled in with any relevant data. For instance if you have a memory about a room, your brain might make the color of the walls in that room a wildcard. Basically think of it as this mirage paint that shifts to fit whatever your new stimuli make it.
For you that memory is still perfect and unchanged. You see a brown wall today, even though it might have been a green wall. Since your brain is both supplying the data and supplying the integrity check you are left without any errors firing off.
You might think “Well what if my brain thinks the wall was colored squid? Or manatee?” These fall outside of the relevant classification (or category) sector. Imagine if you were playing poker (or anything with a joker card) and someone puts it down and tells you that it represents shovel. Shovel is not an acceptable answer within the classification of Poker. They have 4 suits, 3 face cards, ace, and 1-10. Similarly your brain must pull from a pool that doesn’t cause dissonance.
Basically those checks happen in your subconscious. You rebuild the memory in a matter of milliseconds and any section of the code that tries to fire an unacceptable filler will get rerun until it flags something solid. Perhaps infinite loops are what cause the tip of the tongue phenomena?
Our brain tries to find the name of that one guy from that one show and makes the wrong connection to a pool of answers that aren’t deemed relevant. Since its pulling from the wrong data pool it keeps failing until you completely reboot the process (try again much later after the program has been closed).
This feels to me like one of the more reasonable explanations for what happened in the kitchen today. My brain had a memory stored with a series of “*” values that each had a category that they needed to pass before they would be accepted. Once each value was set the memory fired and I was hit with a wave of Déjà vu.
Regardless it was a startlingly powerful feeling.