Beginner’s Guide To Overcoming The Ugly Sister Effect

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Image of a tongue on fire to express a concept in this Beginner's Guide To Overcoming The Ugly Sister EffectHave you ever had a fact you know like the back of your hand stick on the tip of your tongue?


And has your presque vu (as the French call it) ever been so bad that a completely different thought came to mind?

And not only did that other thought come to mind in place of the one you were looking for …


It Completely Took Over The Show!


Never fear, dear Memorizers. You’ve been suffering something known as “the ugly sister effect.”

It’s closely related to what mnemonists and memory champions call “ghosting.” I prefer to call it “Magnetic fossilization.”

These problems happen when people try to re-use their Memory Palaces.

But when you re-use a Memory Palace… none of these effects should ever pose a problem.  Here’s why:

But if you still consider this issue and struggle to reuse a Memory Palace, here’s the good news:

In this post, you’re going to learn …


How To Turn That Interfering Ugly Sister Into Prince Charming


The Ugly Sister Effect gets its name from the Cinderella fairy tale. In many versions of the story, every time Prince Charming tries to get hold of Cinderella for a smooching session (and perhaps a little more), her ugly sisters intervene.

Not very cool of those ugly sisters, is it?

The reason the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon gets this name is because when this happens with your memory, there’s a competition going on. It’s a struggle between the cue that causes you to look for the memory in the first place and the target information encoded somewhere in your mind.

Worse, these ugly sisters are other information that comes to mind. So, for example, let’s say the song Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell comes to mind, but you keep coming up with Joan Baez’s Diamonds and Rust instead.

Annoying, isn’t it? Well, as great a song as Diamonds and Rust is, in this case, it’s an ugly sister.


Good News: There’s A Well-Known Way To Deal With This Problem


The method has two parts:

1) Don’t make a big deal out of it.

2) Carry on with the discussion or change topics. The target information will probably pop into mind shortly after, or at some point in the future when it’s no longer relevant.

The important thing to realize is that these …


Ugly Sisters Are Perfectly Normal!


Now, when it comes to the world of mnemonics, we use Memory Palaces to store information.

We do this by using crazy, weird and exaggerated imagery to encode the information we want to memorize. No information exists that you can’t work with using these procedures.

This fact isn’t to say that you can achieve a state of perfection in which your mind instantly creates the best possible associative imagery and snaps everything you want to memorize flawlessly into place in your Memory Palaces.

Rather, you’ll find that you need to massage different kinds of information differently. Sometimes you’ll use a Bridging Figure, other times you’ll use a cartoonish stream of images across several stations. You need to be flexible, which is why the Magnetic Memory Method is a method, rather than a system. It teaches you to respond to information in an inviting way, to cradle it, to kindly Magnetize it in a way that makes it willing to stay.

But here’s the thing:


Some People Want To Memorize Oodles And Oodles Of Information …


… but they only have a limited set of resources upon which they can base their Memory Palaces.

Well, no problem. On the How to Find Memory Palaces episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, we talked about your endless fountain of Memory Palaces just waiting for you to claim them.

And in the episodes about virtual Memory Palaces you can find here and here, you can learn about making Memory Palaces based on nothing more than your imagination.

Or, dear Memorizers, you can experiment with reusing the same Memory Palaces over and over again.

But watch out …


Some Of Your Memory Palaces Might Be Haunted!


That’s right.

And when that happens, you might find yourself running into some Ghosts of Memory Past.

Memory champs and mnemonists call this phenomenon “ghosting.” But normal people use this term too.

For example, here’s part of a letter I received a few days ago regarding “images too vivid leaving ‘ghost images’”.

Here’s what she wrote:

There are Memory Palaces I reuse like an etch-a-sketch, such as the cars for phone numbers (I use the Dominic number system) or my office to remember a grocery list or even the walk to the local shops to remember a speech.

The Dominic System Visualized on a Graph

The Dominic Number system on a graph

My problem is that the images from the last time I used that Memory Palace are often very vivid still.

I can still see Einstein on his surfboard for example (Einstein being number 15 as you know) so the next time I picture Einstein in the drivers seat I can still see him surfing then it all gets muddled up with a previous set of information.

I have tried using the alphabet or months of the year as placeholders, but the abstract letters are not as memorable as locations. Could I have your advice?

Thanks and kind regards.


The first thing I would say is that using the alphabet raw for Memory Palaces is a good idea, but it’s going to take lots of practice. Better – or at least less abstract – would be to use playing cards.

For example, you could have an Ace of Spades Memory Palace, a 2 of Spades Memory Palace and so forth.

The linear order of the cards in this manner would serve as an organizational device similar to the alphabet. The advantage is that you can rest more on an Ace of Spades than on the letter A. This ease happens because the Ace of Spades and cards in general are more palpable.

If you’re going to monkey around with this approach, start small. Create a row of five to ten Ace of Spades and let them hover like flying carpets. Or if you prefer, lay them out on an imaginary forest path, a corridor, or whatever else feels right for you.

It will help too if you can somehow bolt these flying carpet cards to a distinct journey. So, using a process I teach in more detail in the Masterclass called the “Telesynoptic Memory Palace”, you can “bolt” the cards onto a preexisting Memory Palace station.

This procedure is more challenging than others. When you travel the journey, you now need to reconstruct both the original Memory Palace and the added feature of an Ace of Spades at every station to differentiate it from the original version of the Memory Palace.

As ever …


Practice Makes For Magnetic Perfection!


Using a deck of cards like this with your Memory Palaces is one way to deal with ghosting. But I believe that, for most of us who just want to get in with things and skip the radical experimentation, there’s an easier way.


Almost all issues with memory work using mnemonics arise from tension in the body and mind. Or, worse, what you might call your “monkey mind.” These monkey mind meditation tips will help.

Worse, people like to get worried about future skills when they haven’t conquered the basics yet. Let’s discuss that together here:



So … how do you overcome the fears of danger you might be experiencing?

It’s easy! …


Just Relax!

Never, ever memorize if you haven’t spent a bit of time meditating, doing some progressive muscle relaxation and ideally, Pendulum Breathing.

Next, stop thinking about those intrusive images as ghosts or ugly sisters or any other negative term. That simply does not and cannot help.

Rather, think of them as wonderful, beautiful and thoroughly Magnetic fossils. They should be treated with love and respect at all times.

And without fear, as we discuss in this video:


Because they’re living proof that …


You Can Learn And Memorize Anything Using Nothing More Than The Elegant Powers Of Your Natural Imagination!


Use those preexisting images to practice what we call in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass, “compounding.”

So instead of rejecting these glorious proofs that your imagination is happily assisting your memory by coding and decoding information, get that associative-imagery on the side of the new information you want to memorize. In other words, work on letting the old memories support the new ones. If Einstein comes up with old information, invite him to help you with the new. 

Compounding is especially powerful if you’re using and reusing Memory Palaces for language learning. For example, when I study and memorize Spanish words and phrases, I don’t have to rely on English alone to benefit from compounding and homophonic transliteration. I can also use, for example, the German words and sounds I know.

In fact, at least in my experience, German is especially helpful for creating powerful associative-imagery for Greek.

Now, all of the magic Magnetic Compounding creates assumes that you’ve correctly used Recall Rehearsal to get the target information from your previous pass through the Memory Palace into long-term memory.

If not, do that first before you use the power and the glory of Magnetic Memory Method compounding.

If, failing all these techniques, you still struggle with ghosting, ugly sisters, fossils or whatever you want to call them …


Get Down On Your Hands And Knees And Scrub Your Memory Palaces Clean As If You Were Cinderella



The same way you can use your imagination to create Memory Palaces based on real or imagined locations, you can imagine yourself with Pine-Sol or Mr. Clean and a mop. See yourself doing the work of getting your Memory Palaces fresh and clean for new uses.

Again, relax. Warm up with a bit of card memorization or the childhood memory exercises I gave you a few weeks back.

And then get busy. In fact, try everything I’ve talked about in this issue of the podcast. Memory athlete and memory expert Idriz Zogaj and I have discussed this too for your benefit.


Because nothing will help you more than one simple little skill. To practice it, all you have to do is …


Harness The Value Of Practice


That’s right.

Even if you struggle …

Even if you sweat …

Even if you strain …

And, yes, even if it causes you pain …

Practice is the only way to improve …


Even If You’re The Best Memorizer In The World!


There’s no turnkey, set-and-forget engine that keeps running once you learn and use memory techniques as part of your daily life.

No. What you’re doing is learning to play your memory like a musical instrument.

Leave that guitar or flute or tuba or whatever you want to play in its case for a week, a month or a year and you’re going to feel your talent slipping.

But practice every day and run your scales, arpeggios and chord studies every day with a few new challenges thrown in and you will always grow.

At the very least, you’ll maintain your state and have the potential to push the limits of what you can do now.

Doesn’t that sound fair?

Of course it does.

So now that our exorcism of all those evil memory spirits and ugly sisters is through, I’m going to go watch Ghostbusters.

What are you going to do?

Further Resources

The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci

The Memory Code: Prehistoric Memory Techniques You Can Use Now

How to Keep A Memory Journal And Remember More

Older and still useful videos on re-using your Memory Palaces:

26 Responses to " Beginner’s Guide To Overcoming The Ugly Sister Effect "

  1. dinob says:

    I just tried getting my ghosts to help and it works. Finally i have a way to re use favorite journeys without finding i bought last weeks groceries again.

  2. Steven says:

    Great read — thanks! Some fine tips in here. Usually I just let go of the thought and have it come back to me when it’s ready.

    • Thanks for this, Steven. One thing I think happens to us is that we feel that the time we spend looking for the lost thought takes longer than it really does. So it’s good to just move on as you do. 🙂

  3. Sritharan says:

    Hi thanks a lot. It’s useful. But I want to know which is the best way whether to reuse a few palaces or to build hundreds of palaces.

    • Great question, Sritharan. I appreciate it very much and would like to know more about what you’re memorizing.

      This is because a lot depends on the kind of information you want to memorize and your personal experimentation.

      For example, if it’s foreign language learning, then I would not recommend using the same Memory Palaces over and over again unless you’re advanced. And even then.

      That said, some people have great success using the same Memory Palaces several times for memorizing vocabulary from different languages. This works when the language is sufficiently different enough. For example, French and Spanish, or Spanish or Italian would be difficult, due to similarities. But Spanish and Russian would not create the Ugly Sister Effect and in fact you could use the images for one set of vocabulary to assist greatly with the other.

      As for hundreds of Memory Palaces, depending on how you organize the information, this may or may not be necessary. Many people tend to “overmemorize,” when in reality, by focusing on memorizing key points of information, your memory will fill in a lot of the blanks where you haven’t memorized particular information. But when you’ve got too much stuff going on, you can wind up having a negative effect.

      Hope this helps and I look forward to hearing more about your memory project. 🙂

  4. Sritharan says:

    Thanks for the reply. It’s really useful. I am a surgical PG trainee. Need to prepare for different type of assessment; both written and orals. Have to remember a vast variety of informations but should be decoded instantly. I’m using mind mapping. Still I’m trying to introduce memory palaces to my system. Hope it’ll enhance my memory.

    • It takes only a short while to get really good at Memory Palaces if you follow some fundamental principles. Feel free to poke around here and take my free memory course you can register up at the top of the page for guidance on how to create well-functioning Memory Palaces that will serve you for life. 🙂

  5. Sritharan says:

    Thanks for ur instant replies with concern. Watched the video answering a medical student from a hotel room …late night. It’s very useful and was answering many of my questions too. I’m working on its interesting. I’ve a question. What’s is ur opinion on creating visuals to remember more than 1 point to be placed on one location. Say for instance create a visual to represent 5 points of an essay introducing to place on my studying table.

    • Great question!

      You can experiment with compounding a number of images together in order to memorize multiple points.

      Or, perhaps more effectively, you can turn your desk into a 5-station Memory Palace. For example, you can use all 4 corners and the center. I would actually start at the center and them move diagonally to one of the corners and then move around clockwise or counter-clockwise so you can cleanly consider the journey to a bookshelf or some other feature in the room.

      Give it a try and please let us know how you do! 🙂

  6. Brandon says:

    Hi Anthony Metivier,
    I recently finished reading “Moonwalking with Einstein” and I’m working on “A Sheep Fell Out of The Tree” exercises. I’m a big fan of your podcast and blog and I really like your textbook method. Right now I’m trying to memorize at least 3 points per chapter of “War and Peace” and there are 363 chapters. What kind of memory palace would I have to build that would include 1,089 loci and would be able to accommodate all of the different settings, characters, and plot elements?

    • Thanks for your great question, Brandon!

      The answer to your question would be to come up with multiple Memory Palaces based on a number you’re comfortable with. I would probably go for a 10x10x10 model: 10 Memory Palaces with 10 stations per room with 10 rooms per Memory Palace.

      Uni Saarland where I once taught would be perfect for me because I can easily rattle off 10 buildings and start creating the Memory Palaces.

      Do you have something similar in your past, or could you visit a library or university campus? If not, check out How To Find Memory Palaces if you haven’t already gone through that episode.

      In the meantime, thanks for being a podcast listener. I appreciate it and look forward to your next question and a progress update! 🙂

      • Brandon says:

        Thank you so much for the info! I was going to respond earlier, but I decided to do some more reading on memory palaces and other memory techniques. I decided that since I am a beginner at mnemonics, I should do simpler tasks to build up strength for memorizing “War and Peace.” I think that until then, I will simply use the recall technique that Barbara Oakley mentioned for reading. I will continue to find new memory palaces and email you my first drawn out memory palace.

  7. John Schwartz says:

    Great info and warnings. Very useful, Anthony. I recently decided to give “modifiers” a try on my 10×10 home memory palace for learning German. So, I turn these 100 stations into 2,600 stations using a 26-alphabet-modifier journey as a backbone to both learn and remember the modifiers in order without having to think. I wanted to test and see how prevalent the ugly sister effect was for me, and overall, I’m able to kill that issue if I set up the process well ― using many of your suggestions from multiple podcasts. (For anyone not familiar, each modifier completely changes the environment (sounds, smells, action, lighting, etc) as you move through and re-use your palace.)

    Some things I learned along the way that set this up for success:
    1. Set up a separate, dedicated 26-station memory palace for the sole use of creating and remembering the palace modifiers. In order (and from memory), mine are: aurora, banjo, cave, dahlias, earthquake, fog, forest, lava, lavender, lightning, mosquitoes, mud, piano, prairie, sand, seaweed, smoke, snow, milky way, violin, waves, wind
    2. Don’t start using modifiers until they are 100% rock-solid memorized
    3. Each station memory *must* make use of the modifier ― even in some very small subtle way
    4. Test and learn how to use the modifiers over a 3-4 day period with review to see how it works for you and what adjustments need to be made
    5. Use modifiers that you have past history/experience with from a spatial/event perspective ― this gives you a lot of creative fodder for quickly associating the memory with some aspect of the modifier

    Overall, I’m finding the memories stick as good as any IF I follow the above process. Simply recalling the particular modifier to be used (example: “Aurora” for German words that start with “A”) turns on the lights for that particular journey and nothing else comes through.

    • Interesting and valuable insights, John – thanks for sharing them!

      Do you have modifiers for r, t, x, y, z, etc. as well?

      In any case, this falls quite in line with the MMM Telesynoptic Memory Palace technique and there are many historical precedents. How deep have you gone into a single Memory Palace from aurora to wind?

      Great pointer about having these modifiers align with something you’re deeply familiar with. Back during my university days, I spent a lot of time in Aurora, Ontario and am thinking now about another variation on this approach … it’s not fully formed, but once it bubbles through, I’ll report on it.

      In the meantime, thanks for this contribution. Hoping once we’re more settled in here in Oz that we can hop on a call and record a podcast episode to give voice to your many great ideas for using memory techniques. Things are going more slowly than I was hoping, but we’re getting there! 🙂

      • John Schwartz says:

        I typed too fast! I missed a few… complete list is: aurora, banjo, cave, coffee, dahlias, earthquake, flames, fog, forest, lava, lavender, lightning, moonlight, mosquitoes, moss, mud, piano, prairie, sand, seaweed, smoke, snow, stars, violin, waves, wind.

        This particular palace is kind of a “swiss army knife” for me. I spent a weekend a week ago getting this down and rock-solid in memory. I’m doing other things with each peg I didn’t mention, such as the major method and an alphabetical adjective for each peg to help me with other kinds of lists. I sorted the above modifiers in alpha just to help me initially remember, but not needed now.

        Here’s how I see and use each peg in this journey (from memory… let’s see how i do!). I’ve created one complete image with action in my mind tying all these things together which I can use for several things:

        1. Absurd Tie, Aurora
        2. Baffled Noah, Banjoes
        3. Catchy Meow, Cave
        4. Deluxe Rye, Coffee
        5. Edible Law, Dahlias
        6. Flashy Shoe, Earthquake
        7. Gaunt Cow, Flames
        8. Hardy Ivy, Fog
        9. Idling Bee, Forest
        10. Jeweled Toes, Lava
        11. Korean Tot, Lavender
        12. Lonely Dune, Lightning
        13. Marxist Dime, Moonlight
        14. Nonstick Door, Mosquitoes
        15. Offended Doll, Moss
        16. Peppery Dish, Mud
        17. Quacking Duck, Piano
        18. Resting Dove, Prairie
        19. Stupid Dope, Sand
        20. Tribal Nose, Seaweed
        21. Upraised Net, Smoke
        22. Vatican Nun, Snow
        23. Wayward Nemo, Stars
        24. Xrayed Nero, Violin
        25. Yellow Nail, Waves
        26. Zambian Notch, Wind

        So, far, I’ve only stored 30 German words through six days of use, but I’m not having issues with recall after reviewing 2 times (same day, next day). I, of course, will want to use your suggestions to review the day’s corresponding letters and add others as I move through each month. On to January 7: “G”! 🙂 Interestingly, the more complex the German word, the easier it is for me to store and remember them.

        Would love to have a call sometime. Enjoy that sun down under!

        • Lovely to see the whole list – thanks for posting it!

          Interesting to see some of the elements of the Major Method in here. It’s one of those things that should be so obvious, but isn’t visible until you point it out.

          Really brilliant choices too and always interesting to see what people use. I never would have thought of “Notch” in a million years – I use John Nash. Nero and Nemo are all amazing too … have you looked at paintings of them for reference, invented a look for them or just gone with them on a conceptual basis?

          I ask because a lot of people ask about aphantasia, and I’m gathering data and preparing a post now about just how unnecessary it is to actually “see” things in your mind so long as the concept is visual. So for example, one mistake I’ve sometimes made is to use the concept of God, which is too vague because it’s not visual enough. But when I make it Michelangelo’s God from the Sistine Chapel, I don’t have to “see” it like HD TV, but making it specific suddenly makes it “real” and gives it way more “pop” in the Memory Palace I’m using and the stream of associative-imagery.

          Thanks again and look forward to further discussion! 🙂

          • John Schwartz says:

            I’m only into this a few months, but I’m with you on the aphantasia idea. At first, I thought the memories would fade because, try as I might, I couldn’t get a really clear image of them in my head… only a ghost or a subtle idea. But, that’s proved to be enough.

            So, no, I don’t try and find images or paintings to shore up pictures in my head but rely on the myriad connections surrounding the object my brain already has stored to maintain the association. I also don’t worry now if I really can’t “see” it but rely on the fact my brain can readily access it after a review or two.

            I think also, this makes a case for using the first one or two ideas that come to mind when coming up with an association, as I think it’s likely a good indication the brain has enough stored info surrounding the idea.

            Also, interestingly, it is amazing to see how eventually (I’d say after 10-20 reviews) that your brain begins to jump past the associative image and goes right the data… I guess that’s the point! 😉

          • Great follow-up!

            Yes, it’s amazing what happens when we persist with these techniques. I also often have the experience of the brain “jumping” past the associative-imagery directly to the concept.

            I hear from some people who find that disheartening, especially since at beginning stages it can take a bit more time and effort to create the images. However, I always think that wanting to preserve the mnemonic imagery is kind of like wanting eggshells in your omelet. Eggshells truly are beautiful things to behold, but totally unnecessary once you’ve got the yolk and egg white on the griddle.

            Not the perfect metaphor, but memory techniques truly are strange in the sense that you want to forget what you used to remember information so that you are left only with the information.

            Then again … it’s not so weird. Much amazing metal work destroys the mold as a matter of course …

        • David Sanz says:


          I´m not sure if I completely understand the way how you use these modifiers to extend the capacity of your memory palace.

          Are you storing different things in the same locations inside your palace and differentiate them with the according modifier? So, for example, for “B” words all the markers (potentially up to 100) include either a phisical Banjo or Banjo music, etc. while, in the very same locations, you store “G” words with Flames around, or burning or something like that?

          Thank you for your insights!

          • Thanks for your question, David. It is kind of a difficult concept to wrap one’s mind around, and I haven’t tried exactly what John is describing. Hopefully he’ll see your post and expand on it for you.

            The closest thing I’ve done to this is the Magnetic Memory Method Telesynoptic Memory Palace technique. This allows you to add features to Memory Palaces so you can re-use them simultaneously without disruption between them. In other words, Memory Palace 1 of a particular Memory Palace system is just as I remember it and have strategized its path along the Magnetic Stations.

            Memory Palace 2, however, is the same Memory Palace but with an added feature. Memory Palace 3 is again the same Memory Palace, but with the feature of Memory Palace 3 switched out for yet another.

            Colors is a strong contender for this, meaning that:

            Memory Palace V1 is normal
            Memory Palace V2 is black
            Memory Palace V3 is blue
            Memory Palace V4 is green
            Memory Palace V5 is red
            Memory Palace V6 is yellow

            There’s a reason those colors appear in that order: alphabetization makes it easier to remember what comes next in the sequence.

            Once you have this operating method set up, then you memorize information. It helps your mind avoid “ghosting” or the Ugly Sister Effect because whatever you’ve placed on Magnetic Station 6 of Memory Palace V5 Red is not and cannot be the same item as Magnetic Station 6 of Memory Palace V4 Green.

            That said, if you’re storing information that is too similar, these definitive features will not necessarily create the managerial distinction you’re looking for.

            You also need a more practice with this technique than is often warranted in many respects. In the full Masterclass I teach people how to take the Telesynoptic Memory Palace technique to some exponential extremes that most of us won’t have enough time in our lives to use. But they are useful to practice with in order to really push your memory and just thinking through and taking action is powerful and transformative.

            There’s a lot you can do and conceive of doing, but the important thing is to take action with the simplest stuff first. Get results and then challenge yourself to go further with techniques like these. We only grow when we stretch. 🙂

          • Alastair says:

            Thanks a lot for this, it has been really helpful.

            I just kinda want to clarify also; what your talking about with the telesynoptic method is like putting the memory palace in different “states” or forms, kind of like your colour example I’ve been using a flame state on top of the normal palace to learn Bangla words, and could go on to use ice or water or earth or electric etc. (I’m glad to have some more ideas for these using colours). Right?

            Is what John is discussing is doing this for each station, by using the alphabet associations, going through the alphabet at each station then continuing through the palace? And you could do the same thing with playing cards deck at each station. Opposed to going through the entire palace with each station as normal then through the same palace in a different state.

            Is that kind of the distinction that’s going on??

          • Thanks for stopping by to comment, Alastair!

            Yes, you seem to understand the technique well. “States” is a good way of putting it. Others use the term “adding features.”

            For me, the key is always in organizing the order by which to proceed through the “variations” of the same Memory Palace (yet another way of terming this Magnetic activity).

            I’ll leave it for John to speak for himself, but yes, you could have 52 variations of every single station while having 52 variations of every single Memory Palace. And you can add even more exponentiality by having the cards themselves represented by different colored decks.

            But let’s be clear that there’s a huge difference between activity and accomplishment. I spent a lot of time – and had some very good times! – playing around with adding what I came to call “Telesynoptic” features to Memory Palaces. And it’s truly amazing what the mind can manage.

            But at the end of the day, in my experience, none of this beats a fresh Memory Palace dedicated to one purpose that you use in combination with Recall Rehearsal and The Big Five in order to get it into long term memory.

            Because the truth is that we do need Recall Rehearsal in order to get the information into long term memory, and if you use Magnetic Memory Method Recall Rehearsal, there are specific patterns that would take far too long to complete effectively if your Memory Palace is 52×52 elements deep (or more).

            My own experience and experience with oodles of dedicated students is that you’re better off using SCREE and small sets of information on the basis of a carefully described learning plan than you are out on the frontiers of memory.

            But once you’re happy with some real accomplishments, than rock on with the Telesynoptic stuff because it’s a great mental workout just thinking about it. And you can beef up incredibly by exploring it.

            By the way, I came up with the “Telesynoptic” term because I was using it to memorize all of the Psalms in just 15 Memory Palaces. “Synoptic” means several things that share a common view or treat a similar subject, i.e. The Gospels. “Tele” is meant to indicate “telescope,” as in extending a lens outward. Put the two together and you have a Memory Palace that can be extended in multiple directions along the time-space-color-texture-dimension continuum and reuse the Memory Palace potentially all the way to infinity.

            The cool thing that John has done is to link all this up with the Major Method and a concrete manner of instantly identifying individual stations. Often (though far from always), when you can limit the arbitrariness that so many memory techniques rely upon (such as PAO), you really give your brain a break. It releases so much cognitive load when there’s at least some reason why the images you use are the images you use – ergo why John’s use of the Major Method here is absolutely stunning.

            Hope this clears things up for you and hope to hear back with a report of all the fun you’ll be having playing around with this technique! 🙂

          • John Schwartz says:

            “Are you storing different things in the same locations inside your palace and differentiate them with the according modifier? So, for example, for “B” words all the markers (potentially up to 100) include either a phisical Banjo or Banjo music, etc. while, in the very same locations, you store “G” words with Flames around, or burning or something like that?”

            Correct. So, I’m turning 100-location MP at my home into 2,600.

            In terms of “how”, I look at it as more of a complete environment change. For “Aurora”, I’m using my life in Alaska as a guide to turning the whole 100-station journey into using Auroras and related elements. For “Banjo”, I use kind of a black-and-white “Mayberry” environment, etc etc.

          • Awesome extension! Thanks for taking a moment to answer!

            And wow – Alaska! I’ve been super-close, but haven’t had a chance to visit so far. I’ll bet there are Memory Palaces galore to be created. And come to think of my times up north (almost two years in Prince George, B.C. … and all of B.C. for 20+ years), there are certain mountain ranges distinct enough to serve as mini 3-5 station Memory Palaces. 🙂

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