can you help me improve my memory

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hippocampae
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can you help me improve my memory

Post by hippocampae » Thu Mar 03, 2005 4:30 pm

there must be someone in this ether who can refer me to history of the subject of memory training...of course I need not translate.

Do you have any knowledge of the latin word "nomenclator".

Is there any truth that Atilla set the nomenclators free, gave them a good salary and expenses, and sent them to Vienna,
Last edited by hippocampae on Sat Mar 12, 2005 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Turpissimus
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Post by Turpissimus » Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:10 pm

there must be someone in this ether who can refer me to history of the subject of memory training...of course I need not translate.
If you're talking modern day sources then Dame Francis Yates' The Art of Memory is the usual book on the subject. I believe Ad Herrenium by Cicero also covers mnemonic techniques.

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Post by Misopogon » Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:43 pm

I would also add Quintilianus, Institutio Oratoria. Martianus Capella, de Nuptiis Philologia et Mercuri but I never found this book
Many works about memory were written during the renaissaince, easy to find translated into English might be the Umbra Idearum by Giordano Bruno. Other rarer works are the Congestorium artificiosae Memoriae by Johannes Romberch and the Thesaurus artificiosae Memoriae by Cosimo Rosselli. The Yates' book should have much more details (it's on my wishing list)

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Post by whiteoctave » Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:51 pm

her name is Frances, the work is called ad Herennium and no one seriously believes it to be by Cicero (a false attribution of a later age).

Capella's work is called de nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, which you can find in Willis' 1983 Teubner.

No one has yet mentioned the tracts on memory in Cicero's de oratore.

~D

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Post by Jeff Tirey » Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:02 pm

this topic brings up something about the Ancient Greek and Romans that I envy. It seems, and perhaps this is myth I don't know, that Greek and Romans had better memories than we most of moderns.

There's that lesson I read somewhere about how Roman orators would remember speaches. They would walk through the city and related different parts of the speach to different buildings the passed by. Then all they had to do was recall their journey to remember the different portions of the speach.

So does anyone else think that they had better day to day memory skills. I have planners, email, palm pilot and I'm still helpless at remembering things.
Last edited by Jeff Tirey on Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Skylax » Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:17 pm

But what about this (Cicero, de Finibus, 104):

Themistocles quidem, cum ei Simonides an quis alius artem memoriae polliceretur, 'Oblivionis', inquit, 'mallem. Nam memini etiam quae nolo, oblivisci non possum quae volo."

As Simonides, or someone else, promised him a treatise about memory, Themistocles said "I would prefer a treatise about forgetting, because I remember even what I don't want to, whilst I cannot forget what I want to."

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Post by Skylax » Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:25 pm

jeff wrote: There's that lesson I read somewhere about how Roman orators would remember speaches. They would walk through the city and related different parts of the speach to different buildings the passed by. Then all they had to do was recall their journey to remember the different portions of the speach.
The author ad Herennium recommends to imagine and perfectly memorize the plan of a big building, then to "place" mentally each part of the speech into certain rooms, so that it would suffice to visit the building again to find back the different parts in the desired order. This building is evidently reusable...

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Post by Turpissimus » Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:57 pm

her name is Frances, the work is called ad Herennium and no one seriously believes it to be by Cicero (a false attribution of a later age).
Excuse my sleep deprivation.

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Post by Jeff Tirey » Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:40 pm

Skylax wrote:
jeff wrote: There's that lesson I read somewhere about how Roman orators would remember speaches. They would walk through the city and related different parts of the speach to different buildings the passed by. Then all they had to do was recall their journey to remember the different portions of the speach.
The author ad Herennium recommends to imagine and perfectly memorize the plan of a big building, then to "place" mentally each part of the speech into certain rooms, so that it would suffice to visit the building again to find back the different parts in the desired order. This building is evidently reusable...
yes, that's where I got that idea. It's a nice memory trick that really works. I just wish I could get in the habit of doing it more often.
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Post by hippocampae » Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:22 am

hey guys ... memorex a building fist ... then the rest ids easy? Have you got it backwards or am I missing something?

Now off to find a big buiding ... my vocab can wait

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Post by Bert » Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:25 am

jeff wrote:this topic brings up something about the Ancient Greek and Romans that I envy. It seems, and perhaps this is myth I don't know, that Greek and Romans had better memories than we most of moderns.
I'm sure that some of you have read the book 'Roots' by Alex Haley.
It is a facinating book about the author's ancestors starting in 1750 when the first one arrive in America as a slave.
The author tracked down the tribe of origin in western Africa.
There an old griot recited centuries worth of lineage, including time references, names of spouses, number and names of children, and various points of interest. All of this for one family name. I assume he had the same information for the other families of the tribe.
He did not tell a story but recited from memory.
Incredible.
If you have not read this book, I highly recommend you do.
It is facinating and at times heart breaking.

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Post by chad » Fri Mar 04, 2005 2:57 am

hi, for what it's worth, i tried all the classical memory techniques to get through law at uni with as little work as possible. of the visual techniques (e.g. the building and the walking-to-the-rostrum techniques in de oratore and in ad Herennium and i think in quintilian as well) i found the modern 'major system' much more useful than the ancient techniques. it requires the least effort. if you google it you'll probably find it online. but if you want to use the ancient techniques for something to do, i found it much easier to use places you remember perfectly when you were a kid, e.g. walking to school, rather than thinking up a new place :)

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Post by klewlis » Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:09 am

I don't think today's memories are "worse" or "better", but rather we use it in very different ways. We do a lot less rote memory work and a lot more practical memory work--mastering a computer game, for example.

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Post by hippocampae » Fri Mar 04, 2005 5:04 am

I have ordered some books, and am putting things in some of the building I have experienced. It still seems awfully difficult and it only works sometimes. Without a computer, I seem to sense that something is missing, and that this memory discipline must be easier than these short notes from all of you have explained.

I used to be a good college hockey player. However, I learn to skate at 40 can play defense at 43. It all had to do with coaching. Because of the above experience, I have learned there is always an easier way if you find the good mentor.

I would hope that somewhere in the ether you might hear my plea for additional advice.

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Post by swiftnicholas » Fri Mar 04, 2005 2:13 pm

This reminded me of a substitute teacher that I frequently had in high school. It was well known that if you mentioned something about memory, he would spend the entire class period demonstrating mnemonic techniques. He was very talented: he could memorize large lists on the first time through, and recite the items back in order. I wish I had his number; I'm sure he'd love to help you....in fact, maybe I should look him up too....

In college I had a blind professor who had an incredible memory. He came to class alone, without any notes, and would deliver wonderful lectures with mastery. It was most impressive in a class like abnormal psychology, where he had memorized classifications, and the generic and scientific names of medicines. I suppose that memory is improved by necessity: losing the ability to write and reference written notes must have demanded that he exercise his memory. I imagine if the tribesman that Bert mentioned had had a notebook in which to write things down, his memory wouldn't be in such good shape.

Memorizing must have been considered highly important in oral societies. The Yupik Eskimos had a long oral tradition because of the lack of writing materials. The Yupik language is the only Eskimo language that is still the primary language of its people, but now that's slowly changing with the introduction of satellite TV into the villages. There is an effort to record the oral tradition before it dies out completely. When I was staying in a small Eskimo village in Alaska, I had intended to learn some of the Yupik language, but was quickly discouraged. This maxim is the only bit of the language that I learned, and it hints at the high value placed on memory (and why I quit so quickly):

Yuk eliskuni, qanruyutni-llu maligtaqukuniki nalluyagutevkenaki, tauna yuk umguartuarkauguq. If a person learns and follows what he is taught, and does not forget it, that person will be wise. (Though I'm not inclined to agree.)

Has anybody seen the movie Memento?

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we've found the subject ... next is discovery ...

Post by hippocampae » Sat Mar 05, 2005 6:27 pm

I appreciate the feedbacks. There is no doubt that memory helps many. Now I believe there are many that have a super memory gift. The question now is whether it can be taught. As I watch people there are some who have learned a difficult craft. Why not memory. Let me know of your searches. Education certainly won't suffer...but the teachers might.

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Post by Emma_85 » Sat Mar 05, 2005 8:17 pm

jeff wrote:this topic brings up something about the Ancient Greek and Romans that I envy. It seems, and perhaps this is myth I don't know, that Greek and Romans had better memories than we most of moderns.

There's that lesson I read somewhere about how Roman orators would remember speaches. They would walk through the city and related different parts of the speach to different buildings the passed by. Then all they had to do was recall their journey to remember the different portions of the speach.

So does anyone else think that they had better day to day memory skills. I have planners, email, palm pilot and I'm still helpless at remembering things.
I have no doubt that people back then were better at memorising things than we are now. Just think off all those bards who used to know Homer off by heart - I don't think anyone nowadays can claim to have taken the time to remember something like that off by heart. We have loads of things to do in our free time other than learn poems or songs off by heart like people used to do. Or stories, we no longer learn them off by heart, we just buy a video. Plus we rely on calendars and diaries to keep track of things, back then people just remembered all that, so their memories were just better trained. If you were listening to your master explaining something you had to pay attention and remember it, you didn't get handed a full set of notes afterwards. People paid attention and learned to remember things, we've just forgotten how to because we don't have to use our memories that much anymore.
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Re: we've found the subject ... next is discovery ...

Post by klewlis » Sun Mar 06, 2005 4:04 pm

hippocampae wrote:I appreciate the feedbacks. There is no doubt that memory helps many. Now I believe there are many that have a super memory gift. The question now is whether it can be taught. As I watch people there are some who have learned a difficult craft. Why not memory. Let me know of your searches. Education certainly won't suffer...but the teachers might.
Well, practice counts for much. Pick something and start memorizing! The exercise will carry over to other things you need to remember.

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Atilla and memory

Post by hippocampae » Sun Mar 06, 2005 5:03 pm

The rumor I heard must be true. Atilla saved all of Rome except the nomenclatures. They held the secrets to remembering. He set them free, gave them a salary and an expense account, and made these happy freee men to Vienna and points north. Rome without records fell and the rest is history.

I'm after those who know the nomenclatures secrets such that I don't have to memorize fore practice, but can simply use the nomenclature's tools to remember. :idea:

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Post by clicktec » Tue Mar 15, 2005 5:48 am

I'm amazed ... nobody with an idea as to how to improve one's ability to remember. I can not believe it's a god given gift... but I plan to now do mu own research

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Post by chad » Tue Mar 15, 2005 5:57 am

what do you mean, i said above the major system. i've had to use it to memorise the whole un charter in a few hours and it works because you link:

1. number -> 2. image -> 3. your fact to remember

you use the major system to link 1. to 2. see this link for how to do it:

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTIM_07.htm

and your imagination to link 2. to 3.

because you bring in numbers you can recall sequences of facts as well as facts.

the ancient techniques relied on a similar but less easy system:

1. familiar place -> 2. image -> 3. your fact to remember.

this is harder because it takes more spatial mental effort to remember sequences of facts, whereas counting from 1 up is easy.

the ancient system i found requires constantly mentally revisiting the place to keep the sequential order of topoi in mind. you don't have to do this with the major system though (if you know how to count). i still remember years later cl 24 of the un charter: the powers of the sec council: by imagining a black (noir) sceptre in the council; from the image you remember "noir" which (using the major system) links back to 24.

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Post by Emma_85 » Tue Mar 15, 2005 9:29 am

I don't think it helps you much if you can teach yourself to remember grammar and vocabulary fast. If you've taught yourself how to learn 100 words in a day then after a week you'll have forgotten those words again, whereas if it took you over week or so to learn them they'll be in your mind for much longer. So either you take a lot of time early on if you're bad at remembering vocabulary and grammar, or if you're good at it you need more time later, because you'll have to keep revising the stuff so that it sticks in your mind. How fast you learn something is not that important, what's important is that it stays in your mind and you can achieve that by working hard.
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Post by MyIlium » Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:04 am

chad wrote: 1. number -> 2. image -> 3. your fact to remember

you use the major system to link 1. to 2. see this link for how to do it:

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTIM_07.htm
I remember this! My seventh grade teacher tried to make us all learn it once, but we were either too unmotivated or he just gave up, and at any rate we all despised him and never really listened to what he had to say. -_- But from that I still have an image of my old math teacher Mrs. Harris being chased by a giant bumblebee...its supposed to tell me which number president Harris was. :lol:

Edit: Harrison, not Harris. :)
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Unus, duo, tres, ...

Post by rustymason » Thu Dec 21, 2006 1:30 pm

chad wrote:hi, for what it's worth, i tried all the classical memory techniques to get through law at uni with as little work as possible. of the visual techniques (e.g. the building and the walking-to-the-rostrum techniques in de oratore and in ad Herennium and i think in quintilian as well) i found the modern 'major system' much more useful than the ancient techniques. it requires the least effort.
Isn't the "major system" for memorizing numbers?

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Post by Democritus » Thu Dec 21, 2006 4:10 pm

The Greeks and Romans had a lot fewer distractions than we have. Imagine if you had never seen a photograph in your entire life -- not one. Nor any films or TV. And you never heard any recorded music and not a single radio news broadcast, ever. Never read a newspaper or anything printed. No magazines. The only source of news was hearsay, an occasional handwritten letter, and whatever official documents there might be, which you probably never had access to. If you had a favorite song, then you had best learn it by heart, because there were no ipods, or LPs, or radios, or even any printed sheet music. How else would you learn it, but by remembering it?

The sheer volume of information coming to these people was so much smaller. Of course they paid a lot more attention to the bits of information that they did get, and could remember them better. No surprise there.

Modern people aren't very different from people in the past, despite the lousy reputation of today's schools. People today have voluminous knowledge about all sorts of things -- not all of this information is useful, but if all you're interested in is measuring the capacity of memory, then the frivolous stuff counts, too.

Can you remember the names and faces of any actors? Probably 99% of them you only ever saw in photos and films. Did you ever remember a bus schedule, or a TV schedule? Romans and Greeks did not have buses or TVs, or clocks, for that matter.

The average person is not different from the proverbial village wise man who can recite so much -- it's just that each individual is remembering different things, and we are simply less impressed with our own personal inventory of memories. Information is not scarce and not precious to us, so of course we are sometimes careless about which sorts of information we devote our mental resources to.

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