- Fizzy Thoughts: Memory Palaces

Memory Palaces

Monday, May 28, 2007

Earlier this month I read The Madonnas of Leningrad. While the book didn't exactly knock my socks off, there was a concept mentioned that stuck with me. The main character used a memory palace to remember the location and description of artwork in the Hermitage. A memory palace is like a mnemonic device, only it seems infinately more appealing. I remember that old standby, ROY G. BIV. What a stick-in-the-mud he was. Or how about She Made Him Eat Onions (Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario). Gross! Or a local favorite...Kiss Paige Conn Or Forget Going Steady (Kingdom Phylum something Order something Genus Species). Paige was homecoming queen sometime prior to my high school years. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know she's immortalized as a mnemonic device that doesn't even really help me remember some classification system I've never had a use for (obviously, science isn't my thing).

Anyway, doesn't a memory palace sound such much more, oh...romantic? I picture my palace as one of those grand old English monstrosities. I like a good old fashioned stone keep (with a modernized interior, of course. No way am I using a garderobe...as either a toilet or a closet, thank you very much). Here's a good rendition of the entrance to my memory palace. I need to hire a better gardener, though.

Actually, I'll take the gorgeous landscaping from Leeds Castle. For those times when you don't want to remember, but would rather stare out the window or go for a walk in the sunshine.

And let's not forget the portcullis and moat. Very important for keeping the bad guys out of the memories.

Who knows, maybe I would have been a little more into science if I'd had these palaces, instead of Paige, to help me study.

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In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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