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In this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, learn how to make sure that your associative-imagery is doing the work it needs to do: recall the information that you need to succeed when using a Memory Palace strategy (I recommend the Magnetic Memory Method).
This episode is a response to emails that I often receive like this one:
I am new to memorization as detailed as you propose and am trying to justify learning it. I have bought and read two of your books, the one about Memory Palaces and am currently reading Magnetic Memory Mondays. I am 76 years old and have set a goal to reteach myself Classical Latin and from their progress to other Roman languages. I want to use your Memory Palace idea but am not a very visual person and thinking of a preposterous image for each vocabulary word seems over-whelming. I like the idea of using current and past homes or places but want the right one to begin with. Any suggestions? Can you send me a list of your other books on this topic?
Listen, it was hard for me in the beginning too.
If you look through all of the newsletters starting with Volume 1, you’ll encounter dozens of ideas in addition to those in the book. It basically boils down to getting relaxed and getting started. Surrendering to the feeling of overwhelm is very dangerous, but taking action is always a benefit.
Also, you can experiment with not actually seeing the images but just thinking about them. I’ve done this for years until I started to develop my imagination by drawing, looking at lots of art, paying attention to the visual aspects of movies I was watching and doing creative memory exercises like looking at an apple and then trying to “rebuild” it in my mind.
One of my most difficult challenges right now as a primarily non-visual person is the Hiragana for Japanese. If you’re not familiar with the Hiragana , they are these crazy little images that indicate sounds.
As I teach in the book, to ease the “cognitive load,” I use “bridging figures,” characters that go along the journey. Because they can be used for more than one word or letter or piece of information at a time, that’s one less aspect of the crazy image that I’ve got to come up with (or that you’ve got to come up with).
Here’s just three images with Ezra Pound as my bridging figure that I’ve created to help me both “see” and “hear” what these symbols mean:
あ (a) Ezra Pound standing in Jesus Christ pose with a Christian fish symbol attacking his legs. He shouts Ah!
い (i) Pound with two eels in his mouth, squirming, one long like an upside down seven, one short. They are squealing eee eee eee.
う (u) Pound leaning on a stick with a beret cooing ooh as the weight is relieved by the stick.
This process works great and by “leaning” on Ezra Pound throughout the journey, I was able to do fifteen in fifteen minutes. I’ll soon be making more time from Japanese and expect that I can do between 40-60 characters in 1.5 hours with reliable recall. As I talk about in the book, there will need to be corrections and there will be the need to rehearse the material.
But hey: it beats fussing around with index cards when you can turn the stations of your Memory Palace into amazing and vibrant indexes for silly little images to remind you of the sound and meaning of words, or in the case of the example I just gave you, the sound of certain typographical images and how they look.
I really wish you the best with the experience and want you to know that I’m here to help as best I can, affording that I get lots of questions so can take up to a week to answer. But that’s why the Magnetic Memory Newsletters are available from Kindle. I’m 100% confident that after writing 1000+ pages answering questions just like these that you’ll find all the answers you need. My Amazon page is easy to find.
I’ve also got some video courses if you like to learn by that medium.
But really I think in this email you have all that you need, which in sum is:
1) Mindset. Toss worry aside and get started. Fear is the mindkiller.
2) Create a bridging figure when ever possible to reduce the cognitive load. If it’s someone that you care about, all the better. I’m deeply fascinated by Ezra Pound and he also had a connection to Chinese and Japanese, so he works really well in this connection. In Latin, you could use Derek Jacobi or some actor you like who you’ve seen prancing around in a toga to keep things interesting. (Or an actor you’ve never seen in a toga, for that matter, to keep things extra memorable). The point is that it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with zany images if you take familiar things and put them in unfamiliar situations.
3) Make sure to rehearse the work that you do in order to ease the material into long term memory .
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions or if there is anything more I can do for you.
About the author: Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, dreams, names, music, poetry and much more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.