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.
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 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.
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.
The first thing I would do is have my location and some 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. Please note that in the Magnetic Memory system, 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.
Now, when I relax, the first thing that comes to mind is the Mona Lisa 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. 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 are not a visual person. Maybe you can use sound in your Memory Palace work, or tactile elements. For those willing to experiment, there are options.
And as I wrote to you before, try every new skill at least twice before deciding whether or not it works. Here’s a brief snipped from that earlier message in case you don’t have it:
The Magnetic Memory 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.
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 means that it will take you just the slightest amount of effort to walk 100% farther than the masses who give up. And you’ll do this merely by trying this new memorization skill just one more time if you don’t fall into it naturally and easily the first time.
Imagination Deficit Disorder
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.
Until next time, make sure to teach someone what you have learned about memorization. It’s the best way to deepen your own understanding and to help make the world a better – and more memorable – place. The more we remember, the more we can remember, and the more we learn, the more we can learn.
About the author: Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary in a way that is easy, elegant, effective and fun.
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