Can You Really Trust Memory Palaces You’ve Made Up Entirely With Your Mind?
Of course you do.
That innocent young woman. Skipping through the Land of Oz. Meeting new friends. Tackling Wicked Witch. Reigning forever as the most beautiful Queen with Ruby Slippers who ever lived …
Oh no wait … that’s not the way it went.
And that’s exactly the point. When we use our imagination, we can change anything. We can invent things too.
Including Memory Palaces.
So if you want to know how to enhance your memory using a very special kind of Memory Palace, download the MP3 and keep reading this post all the way to the end.
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3 Kinds Of Virtual Memory Palaces And The Little Known Factors That Affect Your Success
Let’s kick this discussion off with a question I recently received:
Could you give me an example of how to create an artificial memory palace?
Thanks for this question!
There are many, many ways to create artificial Memory Palaces.
What Do We Mean When We Call A Memory Palace “Virtual”?
First off, by “artificial” we are talking about either Memory Palaces built from scratch or based on fantasy locations.
To begin with the latter, you could use the layout of Homer Simpson’s house or the house of any sitcom. Fantasy layouts like these are great because we can quickly become familiar with the living room, kitchen, dining area and the bedrooms of each character. We can then simply study the layout of these rooms with great intensity the next time we are watching the show and create a journey throughout the house.
Some people have used video games too. When I use them, I prefer simple platform games like Donkey Kong.
I find these best because you can see the entire journey and all of its stations at a single glance. You can also set rules much easier, such as that there will always be three stations per ramp, etc.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment
However, if you’re keen on first-person shooter games or games that use vast expanses of space and can remember these journeys, I encourage you by all means to experiment with them.
You might also want to check out this interview. Ten years old at the time we spoke, Alicia Crosby talked about using Minecraft for building Memory Palaces. Here’s a video showing how that might work for you:
Is Hollywood The Ultimate Untapped Resource For Foolproof Memory Palaces?
Movies sometimes have good potential for creating stations, but not always. I’ve talked about how to enhance your memory using movies before on this podcast called How to Increase Memory By Watching Movies and TV Series.
On the main, movie and TV scenes are usually too broad. Not only that, but characters constantly cross their own paths. Plus, you have to hold large parts of the narrative in your mind as part of the journey.
That said, you can experiment with a “then this happens and then this happens” structure to build a journey. For example:
Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, then …
Dorothy meets the Tin Man, then …
Dorothy meets the Lion, then …
Dorothy meets the big green head of Oz, then …
Dorothy battles the witch, then …
Dorothy meets the real Wizard of Oz, then …
Dorothy goes home.
These meeting points all serve as pseudo-stations. They might work well because the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Oz, the Witch and even Dorothy herself can easily be combined with other associative-imagery elements. Plus, Dorothy meets them at specific locations in the movie that are easy to visualize.
I’ve done a bit of experimentation with this method and for short lists of information, it works gangbusters. However, I wouldn’t expect to amass huge amounts of information using movies unless you are very, very familiar with the journey the characters take throughout the story. Again, characters often cross their own paths, or, as in the Wizard of Oz, completely double back.
Is It Worth It To Build A Mega-Memory Palace From Scratch?
Moving from Memory Palaces based on pre-made fantasy locations, you can build virtual Memory Palaces from nothing. In fact, the classic Memory Palace method, which I do not endorse, involves creating a single Memory Palace with multiple doors that lead into multiple rooms or buildings.
Using this approach, you build a Memory Palace and a long corridor with many doors. When you go through the first door, you find yourself in your childhood home. When you go through the second, you find yourself in your first school. The next door opens onto your high school, then your workplace, your sports club, etc.
I can’t fully enunciate why I don’t like this idea, but it’s never worked for me.
The Alphabetical School Of Memory Palaces 101
As readers of my books and participants in my video courses know, I prefer structuring my Memory Palaces around the alphabet. The alphabet is somewhat like a conceptual corridor in the Memory Palace of my skull, and it’s both pre-built and built by the user using the Magnetic Memory Method principles.
Because we know the alphabet so well from a young age, we don’t have to think about what comes next. We can easily know what comes before and after each and every letter of the alphabet. Therefore, if we want to leap to words that we’ve memorized that start with the letter K …
Boom! We’re There …
… and zooming along to the station where the letter K resides.
In other words, if you’re going to build virtual or imaginary Memory Palaces, I encourage you to think in advance of how you’re going to bind them together.
In the first example, I was already suggesting a chronological rather than an alphabetical spine, and that can work well depending on how long you’ve lived and how many buildings you’re familiar with. With the alphabet, you can reuse it again and again by differentiating each alphabet from the other (A1, A2, A3, etc.)
But when it comes to having an invented room behind one of those doors, be it linked by Grand Memory Palace Central or an alphabetized list, it’s really up to the user to experiment.
The Little Memory Palace Engine That Could
My greatest success with Virtual Memory Palaces has been what I call “The Locomotive Method.” I use the technique exclusively for memorizing poetry.
The Locomotive Method involves creating a train car that is linked to another train car. You add as many train cars as you need. The stations in each car are fixed. They are:
Entrance to car
Front right corner
Front left corner
Entrance to car, etc.
This works very good for poetry on a perfectly conceptual level because you don’t need a real journey for poetry in the way that you need for other kinds of information. The poetry is the journey.
This also works for song lyrics. For actors, however, I think a traditional journey through a Memory Palace based on a real location is best for remembering plays and movie scripts if you are an actor.
Plus, an actor can always use the stage or studio where the acting takes place. If that doesn’t present the perfect combination of real and invented space for figuring out how to enhance your memory with virtual Memory Palaces, I don’t know what would.
If even with all of this info tugging your train you’re still stuck in the Kansas of forgetfulness and want a Magnetic Wizard to show you the ropes, feel to join the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass.
Until next time, keep those Ruby Slippers and then teach someone else what you’ve learned about Memory Palaces. Teaching a skill is one of the best ways to learn it and helping people improve their memory is one of the best ways we can make the world a better place. The more we remember, the more we can remember. And the more we learn, the more we can learn.
The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (Inspiring!)