The Good, The Bad & The Wicked Charlatans of Vocabulary Memorization

Archery_target-150x1501Dear Memorizers,

I read this great article yesterday that talks about the importance of practice when it comes to learning languages (learning anything, really):

Practicing without a goal is a pretty cool concept and there’s nothing I love more than the smell of Zen in the morning.

However, the notion of practicing without a goal is foreign to me. A lot of people talk about the practice of simply letting things emerge without pointing them in any particular direction.

I suppose that can work for some people.

But even in this archery example, where the mystic says that the goal is to have no goal … there is a goal.

If the archer didn’t have the goal to shoot an arrow at a target, after all, why would the archer pick up the bow?

No, the archer wants to fire the arrow, and moreover, wants to hit the target. Otherwise, the archer could shoot the arrow into the sky (and maybe or maybe not run away as it returns to earth, depending on whether or not the archer has the goal to not get hit!)

I’m not saying I don’t understand the Zen principle at work in the example, but it’s misleading.

Even not having a goal is goal.

And as they say, not having a plan is essentially planning to fail.

Anyhow, I really like this article a lot because it reminds me of the relationship between memorization and archery.


Because there are numerous little parts involved that, when put together in a fluid motion, sends the vocabulary you want to learn directly to the target area in your brain.

And the preparation and predetermination process I teach in the Magnetic Memory books is essentially the process of setting up those targets in the right way so that when you fire your vocabulary arrows, the tips not only stick, but they sink in permanently.

The other thing to note about this article is the use of the word “charlatan.”

With all due respect to the author of this article, Tim Ferris ain’t teaching easy techniques and neither am I.

We’re teaching rigorous processes of preparation that, once completed and maintained (there is always maintenance), are the closest thing to magic you can imagine.

So if you want in on the magic, crack open your vocabulary memorization book, build some Memory Palaces and start shooting vocabulary arrows. If you need more help, Volumes I, II, III and IV of this newsletter are available to be your guide.

Until next time, teach someone else what you’ve learned about Memory Palaces. Teaching a skill is one of the best ways to learn it and helping people improve their memory is one of the best ways we can make the world a better place. The more we remember, the more we can remember. And the more we learn, the more we can learn

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