This dialogue is from the movie: Waking Life (2001)

Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration. This is where, I think, language came from. I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. It had to be easy when it was just simple survival. “Water.” We came up with a sound for that. “Sabretooth tiger right behind you!” We came up with a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting, I think, is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we’re experiencing. What is “frustration”? Or, what is “anger” or “love”? When I say “love” - the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person’s ear, travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain, through their memories of love or lack of love, and they register what I'm saying... and they say yes they understand, but how do I know? Because words are inert. They’re just symbols. They’re dead - you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed, it’s unspeakable. And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another and we feel that we have connected - and we think we’re understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion... and that feeling may be transient, but I think it’s what we live for.

I don't understand the meaning of "byzantine conduit" in the given context. Initial, I thought it means brain. But, it already says "byzantine conduit in their brain", obviously, it does not mean brain.

According to Oxford Dictionary Entry 2 byzantine means

(of a system or situation) excessively complicated, and typically involving a great deal of administrative detail.

And, conduit means

A channel for conveying water or other fluid.

So, what is the figurative contextual meaning of byzantine conduit.

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    I don’t understand what’s unclear here – your dictionary definitions show the meaning quite plainly, don’t they? The word hits the other person’s ear and travels through the complex channels/tracks/conductors in their brain. I mean, it’s not clear what these ‘conduits’ are, but I don’t think they’re meant to be taken literally. It’s just all those complex neural pathways and synapses in our brains that register and process anything our ears pick up. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 14 at 11:10
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    I don’t understand what you mean. It says that the byzantine conduits are in the brain, which they are. They are indeed an integral part of the brain, and that’s what the text describes them as. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 14 at 11:16
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    I agree with what Janus has been saying. – Dan Bron Apr 14 at 11:39
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    It's perfectly ordinary English. Consider: "I traveled through a long tunnel in Labyrinthine Cave" — the tunnel is clearly part of the cave, but it can also be thought of as being in the cave. The same for the byzantine conduits in the brain. Maybe whatever word means in can't be used for parts of things in your first language, but it can in English. – Peter Shor Apr 14 at 11:44
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    @JanusBahsJacquet okay! I'll accept your explanation. To me, it sounds more or less like, a chaos in our brain or a life experience stored in our brain. Entire discussion is psychological rather than psychiatric. Neural network/paths are psychiatric terminology. – Ubi hatt Apr 14 at 11:44

"Byzantine conduit" is a colorful description of the pathway of brain cell processing from the ear onwards.

It is a conduit for information. Information starts at the ear and ends up in the thinking part of the brain, wherever that may be! Although the conduit is composed of nerve cells, which have electrical and chemical workings, as far as the passage of text is concerned what is being conducted is information.

The conduit is Byzantine, i.e. extremely complicated to the extent that it is virtually impossible to comprehend the workings. The term arose from the Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) Empire, centred on Byzantium and which is considered now to have had a notably complicated hierarchy of management and control. Byzantine Empire on Wikipedia

The writer is simply saying that the process by which words heard are converted into thoughts is immensely complicated, and takes place in an extremely intricate network of connections inside the head.

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    You might like to edit your first sentence, as it could be easily interpreted as suggesting that the particular neural pathways involved in hearing are actually called "Byzantine conduits". :-) – Chappo Apr 15 at 1:55
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    OMG I just realised! Although I would have been proud to have originated such a neologism! I've clarified, thanks 8-) – Eureka Apr 15 at 8:31
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    Keep an eye on the medical journals over the next few months, just in case some aspiring brain surgeon "adopts" your term! – Chappo Apr 15 at 8:34

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