Kirk, Spock And The Master Narrative Of Memorization

Star Trek Memory PalaceDear Memorizers,

Star Trek II was the first movie I ever saw at home. I must have been about five years old on Halloween and it was too cold that year to go out collecting candy that year, so my dad rented a VCR the size of a small car and Star Trek II was the movie he chose.

I remember the movie in exquisite detail, and the death of Spock gave me nightmares for a long time. I really liked that guy.

Today I saw the new Star Trek: Into Darkness, and of course it brought back all kinds of memories and anticipations, especially since the screenwriters went out of their way to include echoes from the narrative world of Captain Kirk and co. that even the most casual fans would pick up on.

And, of course, I was thinking about how the film connects to memorization, particularly Magnetic Memorization.

Without giving any of the plot points away, here are some of the lessons the film offers.

1) Always maintain an awareness of where you are in the proceedings.

Basically, we’ve all seen this before. Either Kirk or Spock (or both) are one step ahead of the game and use their foresight to outwit the enemy.

How to apply this to memorization? Well, they say that the things we measure grow, so it’s important to take stock of where we are in our memorization journey. Obviously, using the Excel files and the training I made for you on YouTube will help you do that:

… but have you ever thought about listing all the words you already know in your target language or area of expertise?

I haven’t done it myself, but it occurred to me that an interesting experiment would be to read the dictionary of a target-language from cover to cover and list all the words I know in order to see just how many words I’ve accumulated. This list could be partitioned into words I recognize upon sight, but don’t understand and words that I understand very well.

It would also be an interesting way to familiarize myself with all the words to come and get a sense of proportion.

Now, I would never say that the dictionary is an enemy, but that doesn’t mean one couldn’t play Kirk and outwit the darn thing by consuming it whole.

Which leads to …

2) Know where you want to go.

The success of every Star Trek mission relies upon a clearly defined goal. When these characters surrender themselves to the transporter beam, they’re not tossing themselves into the void.

They have a plan.

I have developed a set of principles specifically geared towards helping you plan for memorization success in Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Magnetic Memory newsletter, but even without glancing through those issues, I can tell you that all you need to do is come up with a goal and write it down on a piece of paper. Write it down every day if you’re serious about conditioning your mind to helping you achieve it. Repetition is a form of direction, so long as it isn’t employed in the service of rote learning.

Anyhow, I know it’s a bit of an overused cliche, but failing to plan really is planning to fail, and that’s why Kirk and Spock (usually) never leap without a jet pack. Their success depends upon a seriously considered outcome.

3) Create the plan in real-time.

Now of course having a plan doesn’t mean you carve it into stone and carry the slab on your back. Kirk and Spock are responsive, always changing things around as new elements come into play.

That’s one good reason to write down your memorization goals (and goals in general) every day.

When it comes to fluency, new subjects and areas of vocabulary come up all the time, so you can easily incorporate these as you go along, taking care to also have a larger goal, or what I like to call a “master narrative.” In this case, fluency is the guiding, master narrative, and the steps you take using the Magnetic Memory system is the plot.

Not doing what it takes is the only enemy.

And failing to plan is his only weapon.

Until next time, teach someone else what you’ve learned about memorization. Helping people improve their memory skills is one of the best ways we can make the world a better place. And the more we remember, the more we can remember. And the more we learn, the more we can learn.

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