Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 2: Memory Palaces (Sun 3/20)

Even though I am almost a week behind on this blog I figured that I would go ahead and break out each day by the day instead of doing one big summary. Hopefully, I can get all caught up in here. In case you were wondering, I am still sick along with the kiddos and the hubby seems to be getting sick too :( The baby seems to be getting better, which has allowed me more time to do other things including this. Knowing my luck he will probably wake-up in the middle of me typing this! I will go knock on some wood right now!

On the second day I read from page 89-162 (73 pages). The first part of this section Joshua Foer describes how the MA's are able to remember all that they do and it is by their Memory Palaces. Memory Palaces are places (usually buildings) created in a person's mind that the person is very familiar with and when they are trying to remember something they put that image in their memory palace so that when they visually take a walk through their palace they see the image and remember what it was they wanted to remember. To get a better example I will describe a scene in the book. Ed, Joshua's mentor, tells Josh to remember his childhood home and picture it really well. Then he tells Josh that he wants him to remember Ed's to do list by putting mental pictures in his childhood home. Ed says that the pictures have to be something related to the object to be remembered, but there has to be something about them that is really exaggerated so that your brain will remember them. The first thing on Ed's list was pickled garlic. He had Josh imagine a BIG jar of pickled garlic out by the garage. The next item was cottage cheese. Ed had Josh imagine a pool of cottage cheese with Claudia Schiffer in it by the front door. Smoked Peat Salmon was next on the list and it was to be imagined in Josh's piano. The next item was six bottles of white wine. Josh was to imagine the six bottles of white wine talking to one another in another part of his house. After Josh went through the whole list and placed them in different parts of the house Josh took a mental walk through his house and was able to remember all of the items! It is a pretty cool trick, but one that would take a lot of work. Just trying to come up with ideas of what to make things so that they will be memorable is tough! I tried this exercise and did half of the items on Ed's list and I can still remember all of them and the images of them that I put in my memory palace! When you get really good at this you start to create many memory palaces to store all of the information that you need. You have many memory palaces because you don't want to mix any images up.

Here is a quote that I liked that goes with the above, "The general idea with most memory techniques is to change whatever boring thing is being inputted into your memory into something that is so colorful, so exciting, and so different from anything you've seen before that you can't possibly forget it." That is why many of the images for everything they want to remember are usually sexual!

Josh starts practicing his memory techniques and takes a trip to England where they are having the world memory championship. He is hoping that he can learn more tricks and talk to some of the people that are big names in his "sport." After reading about some of these people I googled them to see what they looked like and they looked more "geeky" then I imagined them, but I guess that I should have expected them to look this way!

The rest of the section that I read was about memory and remembering and where it all started from (first records of remembering something on purpose). He delves into how things were passed down before there was any written word of them. Then what happened once stuff started being written down and how that effected everything. It was interesting to read that most of the texts were written without spaces, so it was really hard to read those and one had to be really familiar with the work to be able to read it. It made me realize that I take spaces for granted and I am very grateful that we have them becausetryingtoreadasentencewithnospacesisreallyhard (trying to type that was hard because my hands were automatically hitting the space bar). This section was kind of boring and my least favorite part in the book.

I was still really enjoying the book and it is a fascinating and easy read. He described the techniques in this section and frankly it doesn't seem like it is something that I would have time to do. It sounds really time consuming coming up with images for things to put into your memory palaces!

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