May. 28th, 2011


There was a great throw-away line from tonight's "Better Off Ted" about Linda's erstwhile moonwalking crush. I wonder for how long I will remember that without using any of the techniques Joshua Foer generously shared with us...
  • Simonides opened his eyes. He took each of the hysterical relatives by the hand and, carefully stepping over the debris, guided them, one by one, to the spots in the rubble where their loved ones had been sitting. At that moment, according to legend, the art of memory was born.
  • The techniques of the memory palace—also known as the journey method or the method of loci.
  • And since the series was fairly long, he had to find some way of distributing these images of his in a mental row or sequence.
  • On another occasion, he forgot the word “egg.” “I had put it up against a white wall and it blended in with the background,”
  • Chunking is a way to decrease the number of items you have to remember by increasing the size of each item.
  • Chunking is extremely relevant to the question of why experts so often have such exceptional memories.
  • What we already know determines what we’re able to learn.
  • The person who was told the man’s profession is much more likely to remember it than the person who was given his surname.
  • To take the kinds of memories our brains aren’t good at holding on to and transform them into the kinds of memories our brains were built for.
  • In his De Oratore, he suggests that an orator delivering a speech should make one image for each major topic he wants to cover, and place each of those images at a locus. Indeed, the word “topic” comes from the Greek word topos, or place. (The phrase “in the first place” is a vestige from the art of memory.)
  • In a culture dependent on memory, it’s critical, in the words of Walter Ong, that people “think memorable thoughts.” The brain best remembers things that are repeated, rhythmic, rhyming, structured, and above all easily visualized.
  • Many actors will tell you that they break their lines into units they call “beats,” each of which involves some specific intention or goal on the character’s part, which they train themselves to empathize with.
  • In the PAO system, every two-digit number from 00 to 99 is represented by a single image of a person performing an action on an object. {The author should have come out and tell us this is memorized purely by rote. }

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