Memory Craft

Memory Craft

by Lynne Kelly


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Groundbreaking anthropologist and memory champion Lynne Kelly reveals how we can use ancient and traditional mnemonic methods to enhance and expand our memory.

Our brain is a muscle. Like our bodies, it needs exercise. In the last few hundred years, we have stopped training our memories and we have lost the ability to memorize large amounts of information—something our ancestors could do with ease.

After discovering that the true purpose of monuments like Easter Island and Stonehenge were to act as memory palaces, Kelly takes this knowledge and introduces us to the best memory techniques humans have ever devised, from ancient times and the Middle Ages to methods used by today’s memory athletes. A memory champion herself, Kelly tests all these methods and demonstrate the extraordinary capacity of our brains at any age.

For anyone who needs to memorize a speech or a script, learn anatomy or a foreign language, or prepare for an exam, Memory Craft offers proven techniques and simple strategies for anyone who has trouble remembering names or dates, or for older people who want to keep their minds agile. In addition to getting in touch with our own human and anthropological foundations, Memory Craft shows how all things mnemonic can be playful, creative, and fun.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643133249
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 01/07/2020
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 264,189
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Dr. Lynne Kelly is a science writer and an Honorary Research Associate at La Trobe University. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of The Memory Code and Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies (Cambridge).

Table of Contents

List of figures xiii

Introduction 1

What you'll learn 5

Why memorise? 9

Chapter 1 A medieval starting place 11

Medieval memory arts 12

Visual alphabets 13

My visual alphabet 17

Memorising anything, from a shopping list to a speech 19

Medieval bestiaries 23

My bestiary for memorising names 25

Chapter 2 Creating a memory palace 31

The first written record of memory palaces 32

Australian Aboriginal songlines 34

Creating a memory palace for the countries of the world 36

Memory palaces in history 40

The modern tale of Solomon Shereshevsky and Alexander Luria 44

Virtual memory palaces 46

Continuous memory palaces-my History Journey 47

Why absolutely everywhere needs a name 51

My History Journey 52

Mnemonic verses 56

Dominic's Rule of Five 58

Chapter 3 Stories, imagination and the way your brain works 61

Indigenous knowledge systems 62

Memory and the human brain 66

Exceptional memorisers are made, not born 69

Putting it all together-learning foreign languages 71

Learning French 72

Songs reworded 76

Memory palaces everywhere 77

Memorising vocabulary isn't enough 78

Online courses 79

A very different language: Chinese 80

Chinese and me 83

I chose my hook, the radicals 85

A final realisation 87

Chapter 4 Characters, characters everywhere 88

Maori ancestors 90

Introducing rapscallions 91

My cultural ancestors 92

Ancestors in the History Journey 95

The Dominic System for numbers 97

Characters in the stars 103

Chapter 5 Weired and wonderful portable memory aids 106

The lukasa of the Luba people 108

Encoding the birds 110

Adapting for change 114

Memory boards galore 117

Ceremonial cycle balls 119

Genealogies in wood 121

My genealogy staves 125

Objects acting on a tiny stage 126

The memory device that never leaves: your body 130

Astronomy in the palm of my hands 132

Wearing your memory aids as jewellery 136

Knot your strings into a personal khipu 139

Chapter 6 When art becomes writing 143

When and what was the first writing? 144

The start of the art-to-writing story 145

Tibetan mandalas as a memory palace 147

My mandalas for science and law 149

Are they mnemonic symbols or are they writing? 151

From art to writing in China 155

My narrative scroll: the story of timekeeping 159

From Sumer to the world 159

Lessons from Greco-Roman times 162

Chapter 7 Lessons from the Middle Ages 168

The art changes purpose 169

Medieval lesson 1 Make every part of your page look different 172

Medieval lesson 2 Add emotion to everything 172

Medieval lesson 3 Lay your information out in grids 173

Medieval lesson 4 Give character to abstract concepts 175

Medieval lesson 5 Break it down into small portions 176

Medieval lesson 6 Separate those short portions on the page 177

Medieval lesson 7 As always, use memory palaces 178

Medieval lesson 8 Meditate upon your memory palaces 179

Medieval lesson 9 Decorate your walls, but do it systematically 181

Medieval lesson 10 Leave room on your notes for additions 182

Medieval lesson 11 Add playful little drawings 183

My medieval manuscript on musical instruments 184

Memory treatises of the Renaissance 185

Chapter 8 Learning in school and throughout life 187

Permanent memory palaces for all students 190

Using the same memory palace for science and fine arts 192

Using song, stories and the wonderful rapscallions 197

Let's sing, dance and make musical memories 199

Memorising word for word 206

Memorising in mathematics 210

Memorising equations 214

So much to memorise: medicine and law 215

Chapter 9 Does memory have to decline when you age? 219

Is memory loss normal? 220

What is dementia? 222

Memory palaces and dementia 223

The power of music and memories 226

Prevention is better than a cure (which doesn't yet exist anyway) 227

Dementia and identity 228

A winter count for your life 229

Chapter 10 Memory athletes battle it out 236

The disciplines 237

Memorising a shuffled deck of cards 239

Adding an action and object to your person 241

A haunting fear of ghosts 243

Memorising numbers 244

Sidetracking to memorising pi 248

Memorising strings of 1 and 0 250

Fictional Dates 252

Names and Faces 252

Random Images 253

Random Words 253

The glamour event: Speed Cards 254

Australian Memory Champion, Anastasia Woolmer 255

The impact of training on concentration 258

Appendix A Table of memory methods 261

Appendix B Bestiary 267

Appendix C Prehistory Journey 271

Appendix D My chosen ancestors 283

Acknowledgements 289

About the author 293

Notes 295

Index 297

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