Sherlock Holmes’ Brain-Attic


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In the BBC TV Show, Sherlock, we hear about Sherlock’s mind palace, which is a fascinating concept. However, the introduction of Sherlock Holmes was a little more ordinary in its word choice, if not in its content.

In A Study in Scarlet, the very first novel that introduced the world to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Holmes speaks about his brain-attic:

I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that the little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a  time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out of the useful ones.

Holmes of course makes a good point. I don’t know what the science has to say about brain plasticity, though of course it has been proven that humans use less than 10% of their brain capacity. The point is that we have limited time on this earth, and spend even less time being productive.

It makes sense then to not waste our brain power on stuff that we don’t need, or the stuff that doesn’t interest us. I am not talking about being a tunnel-visioned specialist. Whether you want to be a specialist, or a generalist, or anything in-between, you can still focus your energies and time in a way that makes your brain-attic full of useful rather than useless information. 

What do you think?

What is your brain-attic full of? 



Sometimes I Don’t Want to Journal


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There are times when I know I need to write things down in my journal, and a part of me wants to capture those feelings, those things that happened…but another part of me resists. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to put a pen to paper and think about it. I just want to finish crying, and go to sleep, and bury whatever happened somewhere in the back of mind. I want to ignore it, forget about it. I don’t want to relieve it. I don’t want to inspect it. I don’t want to pick it apart and try to understand it. And so, I don’t want to write it down. I don’t want to journal.

So what do I do?

I will be honest…sometimes, I do ignore it. But not forever. Maybe for a day or two. Then I will write it down – but what happens then is that your entry is diluted. Emotions are under control. You only write what you want to write, the things logical mind dictates, or perhaps out of feeling that you should write it. 

If I do it properly – as in,  I focus on the journaling, either through timed entries, just stream-of-consciousness writing, or just focus on capturing everything, then the entry would be more honest – because then I would be relieving it, or at least attempting to access my memory in detail. Many times, that’s what I try to do.

It depends on the incidents. It depends on context. It depends on what’s happening at the time.

But that’s why, for the most part, I try to write when I am actually in the middle of, or right after feeling strong emotions. Because that’s when I can write things down without thinking about them, without talking myself out of writing them.

But the point of this post is – sometimes I don’t want to journal. And sometimes, I follow that inclination and don’t do it. At other times, I push past it, and do it anyway.

It happens.

It’s normal.