I received an interesting book review from someone disappointed by the visual nature of the Magnetic Memorization Method for memorizing foreign language vocabulary. This person is not particularly visual, so feels that the techniques will not work.
I understand this concern all too well, since I am not a particularly visual person myself. However, there are some solutions.
The Solution For Imagination Deficit Disorder
Even without being visual, a person can borrow visual elements from other parts of the world. If you close your eyes, you can probably “see” the Mona Lisa’s face in your mind, even if you aren’t visual.
If you can see the Mona Lisa’s face, then you can place the Mona Lisa at a Magnetic Station in a Memory Palace.
But you don’t even necessarily have to “see” the painting in order to benefit from using it. The concept alone can carry great power. You can mix the concept of the Mona Lisa doing all kinds of strange things to help create associations without seeing them at all.
Some of those things will invoke what is sometimes called hyperphantasia. This guided meditation can help you experience it:
An Unusual Mnemonic Example
Now that you’ve experienced some levels of multi-sensory association, let’s say that you want to memorize the English word “ecmnesia.” This word means:
“The loss of recent memory with the retention of earlier memories.”
In other words, the person forgets what happened five minutes ago, but not five years ago.
To memorize this word, here’s the first thing I would do:
Have the location for my Memory Palace and at least a few Magnetic Stations worked out.
For the sake of argument, we’ll use my fallback Memory Palace for the letter ‘E,’ which is my brother’s home (his name is Eric, which keeps things logical).
Please note that in the Magnetic Memory Method, it’s important to use a location even if you are only memorizing one word or item.
My belief is that we fear losing things, and this creates anxiety. However, if we know where they are mentally, we have no fear and this makes material easier to memorize. It’s a subtle point, but I think an effective one.
Next, I would place the Mona Lisa in the first station, or if I had already been using the Palace, the next station in line. In this case, I’ll use the guest bedroom. It has now become host to the Mona Lisa.
Why E=MC Relax…
Now, when I relax, the first thing that comes to mind is the Mona Lisa.
But not just the famous painting.
In this mental version, she’s writing E = MC2 squared on her knees.
I don’t even need to see this visually in order for it to immediately start sticking in my mind, because it’s almost entirely conceptual.
In truth, it’s a bit convoluted, because E= MC2 gets an “emc” sound when what I really need is a “ecm” sound.
Nonetheless, I’m better off than where I started, which was without any method of association whatsoever.
Why Some Creativity Struggles Are Better Than Others
As far as I’m concerned, it’s better to struggle with how an association can be made to produce the word I am looking for than it is to struggle with finding a word out of thin air.
The point is that the Mona Lisa, although visual in nature, doesn’t need to be seen in order to be useful. I also don’t need to see her writing E=MC2 on her knees. I just need to conceptually exaggerate the idea.
The Mona Lisa has no knees, after all, so there’s nothing to see. Yet, the concept is so bizarre that it has staying power.
In sum, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t a visual person!
Maybe you can use sound in your Memory Palace work, or tactile elements. For those willing to experiment with these sensory memory and visualization exercises, there are options.
And this is very important:
Try every new skill at least twice before deciding whether or not it works.
That’s how Rose memorized the Hindi alphabet and Kevin Richardson built up to memorizing 30 Kanji a day in Japanese.
Likewise, Marno Hermann used the Magnetic Memory Method to memorize 1200 digits of Pi after he struggled to do so with rote learning.
How To Follow The Two Most Important Magnetic Memory Method Rules
There are two rules that apply to the process of acquiring almost any new skill.
Rule #1: The first attempt is almost always sloppy and frustrating.
Rule #2: The second attempt is always easier than the first attempt. And it’s usually a lot less sloppy and a lot much more fun.
The problem is that most people quit after their first attempt just because things haven’t gone so well the first time. But we shouldn’t be frustrated. It’s perfectly normal for that to be the case.
The truth is that you will always get a better sense of how a skill works on the second attempt. And you’ll know it even better on the third, and so on.
Why People Give Up With Memory Techniques
But 95% of people, if not more, give up after their first try. They decide whether or not they like a new technique based only on that first experience.
Here’s the good news:
As a member of the Magnetic Memory Family who always gives a new skill at least one more try, this fact means that it will take you just the slightest amount of effort to walk 100% farther than the masses who give up.
You’ll accomplish more than you think might be possible merely by trying this new memorization skill just one more time. And that’s assuming you don’t experience easy success the first time.
Yes, even if you have aphantasia.
Imagination Deficit Disorder Begone
One last point: In the Magnetic Memory series books I talk about what I call my “Imagination Deficit Disorder.” I rarely see pictures in my mind when I read and constantly have to monitor myself that I am indeed using exaggerated images when working in my Palaces, because I do tend to fall back on conceptualizations.
What I don’t talk about in the book is how I helped myself overcome IDD by taking some drawing classes.
Of course, taking up drawing may not be for everyone, but I mention it as a way forward if you want to train your mind to be more visual.
It truly helps, and I am now not only more visual in my imagination, but have a much stronger appreciation for art overall. I also have more appreciation for my childhood and personal experience of autobiographical memory.
Speaking of art appreciation, here are 17 reasons going to an art gallery will improve your memory.
To that training, add these 3 Memory Palace Training Exercises.
Then check in with your Wise Advocate. Although it might seem a bit disconnected to dealing with IDD, I’m sure you’ll see exactly why I’m mentioning it after you go through the material on that page.
Well, uhh, no. I cannot mentally picture Mona Lisa, or anything for that matter. So how would we go about finding a solution to that?
Thanks for this, Kevin.
What happens in your mind when you just think about the Mona Lisa? Analyzing that process is the start of developing a personal sense of what it means to think visually.
Let me know and we can move on from there. 🙂