Kirk, Spock And The Master Narrative Of Memorization

Image of a Swedish boat nautical device to highlight a concept related to using Star Trek imagery for a Memory PalaceStar Trek II was the first movie I ever saw at home. I must have been about five years old.

I remember that is was Halloween and too cold that year to go out collecting candy.

So, to avoid disappointing his two sons, 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.

Of course it brought back all kinds of memories. All the more so since the screenwriters went out of their way to include echoes from the narrative world of Captain Kirk. They did it very well because I’m sure even the most casual fans would pick up on them.

In fact, it was kind of like a recovered memory exercise, especially since the film connects to memorization in several ways.

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 principle 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.

Next, list all the words in order and see just how many words you’ve accumulated. This list could be partitioned into words you recognize upon sight, but don’t understand. Another section would contain all the words that you understand well.

It would also be an interesting way to familiarize yourself 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 this:

Come up with a goal and write it down on a piece of paper.

Write that goal 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 here it is anyway:

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. When you’re prepared, you can easily incorporate these as you go along. Just always take care to have a larger goal, or what I like to call a “master narrative.”

In the case of language learning, 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. But if you want to know how to study fast, then planning is exactly what you’re going to want to do.

For more on using popular culture to improve your memory, please see How to Increase Memory By Watching Movies and TV Series.

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