Article: S.A Sehreiner jr, Beston TheMemory Book
By Harry Lornyen And Jerry Lucas
How would you like to be able to remember names, birth
Days, anniversaries, phone numbers, speeches, what you’ve read in books and magazines, shopping lists, even where you left your keys or eyeglasses? Well, you can say the authors of the current best-seller The Memory Book. All you have to do, they claim, is strengthen one mental muscle, your memory-and they tell you how to do that.
There is, of course, nothing new about memory training-or mnemonics, as it is technically known. Folklore is full of such devices to trigger the memory as tying a string around your finger or repeating “Thirty days hath September. …” But what authors Harry Loraine and Jerry Lucas have done in The Memory Book is to take the basic
Concepts found in the extensive literature on mnemonics and put into simple, readable language. So readable, in fact, that the book climbed to the No. 2 spot on the best-seller lists within three months of its publication last May, and stayed there for months as sales topped 120,000 copies.
The authors of The Memory Book are themselves quite memorable. Harry Loraine got interested in memory 37 years ago in an effort to alleviate the stomachaches he suffered in school because of daily tests. He developed his memory to the point where on numerous TV talk shows he would memorize up to 500 names of people in a studio audience. Finally, he began writing books–nine in all, including How to Develop a Super-Power Memory,
THE REAL has sold more than a million copies in ten languages.
One of Lorayne’s books came to the attention of Jerry Lucas, a brilliant, six-foot, eight-inch basketball player at Ohio State University, who now credits the Lorayne systems with helping him earn a Phi Beta Kappa key. Lucas went into professional basketball and ended up with the New York Knickerbockers. Not long after he arrived in New York, he looked up Lorayne, and the two men were soon collaborating not only in writing but also in planning to make Lorayne’s memory school nationwide. Now Lucas also astonishes audiences with such stunts as memorizing a whole issue of Time magazine.
How do these men, self-admittedly of normal intelligence, accomplish such feats? Fundamentally, mnemonics rests on imagination-the ability to create mental pictures as vivid as anything the eye sees. So the first problem in memory training is to translate whatever you want to remember into a vivid image. “The trick,” Lorayne told me, “is to devise a mental image which is unusual or ridiculous-the more ridiculous the better.”
Most of us don’t actually forget something, the authors contend; we just don’t make ourselves fully aware of it, to begin with. Suppose, for example, you put your eyeglasses down on the television set and then, a few minutes later, can’t remember where they are. The cure for this is to set up a ridiculous image the moment you put your glasses down. See, the authors suggest, the TV antenna going through an eyeglass lens, shattering it. You’ll know where your glasses are hours later.
Few of us forget faces, which are visual images, but putting the proper name to a face is another matter. No mnemonic device will help unless you get the name clearly. So the authors advise that you ask a person to repeat his or her name. This shows that you’re interested enough to want to get the name right, and it also gives you time to glue your name and face together by creating a ridiculous image.
Pick out, for instance, some prominent facial features and attach to it a substitute word or words for the person’s name that can be visualized. Example: “Ordinarily, there’d be no way to picture a name like Bentavagnia (bent-a-vane-ya). But you can picture, say, a bent weathervane. If Bentavagnia has a large nose, you may see a bent weathervane where the nose should be.”
A more rigorous technique is needed to remember lists, long numbers, speeches, and the like. Providing a list of ten unrelated items airplane, tree, envelope, earring, bucket, sing, basketball, salami, star, nose — the authors demonstrate how these can be memorized in sequence by linking ridiculous pictures: an airplane growing in place of a tree, envelopes sprouting on a tree, envelopes dangling from your earlobes, a bucket wearing earrings, a bucket Singing, a basketball singing, a salami playing basketball, a salami twinkling in the sky, a face with a star for a nose. With such links you can roll the film backward or forward in your mind, remembering not only the items but the sequence.
Suppose you want to remember to pick up a lamp you ordered and also to buy typing paper. “Start a link,” the authors write. “Associate lamp to paper. Perhaps you see yourself putting a lighted lamp into your typewriter. You don’t want to forget to pick up your suit at the cleaners. Continue the link; perhaps you’re wearing sheets of typing paper instead of a suit.” And so on.
Concrete objects and actions can be pictured easily; more elaborate devices are needed to cope with abstract numbers or words. One device is the substitute word. “When you hear or see a word or phrase that seems abstract or intangible, think of something-anything–that sounds like, or reminds you of, the abstract material and can be pictured in your mind,” the authors advise.
For a state like Minnesota, you might picture a mini soda. And, if you were linking it to other states to memorize all the states in order, you might picture a Mrs. Sip-a a married lady sipping a mini soda. Again and again, however, the authors stress the value of working out your own substitute thoughts or phrases, not only because the pictures they evoke will stay in your memory but also because the act of devising a suitable substitute concentrates your mind on what you want to remember
Using the substitute-word system, it is possible, the authors contend, to memorize instantly words and meanings in any foreign language. Examples: Pamplemousse, the French word for grapefruit, can be seen as huge yellow pimples, each of them a grapefruit, all over a moose, the Thai word for August, can be imagined as a gust of wind passing over a singing comb. Lorayne boasts that, using this method during time spent on a plane getting to a foreign country, you can pick up enough of the needed language to get along Memorizing speeches combines the substitute-word system with linking. . The Memory Book recommends that you write out your speech, then substitute for each major thought a keyword or phrase that can be visualized, and finally link the keywords together in the proper sequence. Once reminded of the major thought, the average person can remember easily what he planned to say about it. .
This works also for reading. By picking up keywords or thoughts as you go along and translating them into visual images linked together, you can, with steady practice, fix in your mind whatever you are reading, almost at sight. This may slow your reading at first, but the authors argue that the greatest amount of reading time is lost by having to go back to pick up something that has already slipped the mind.
Numbers present the most form dabble problem to the mnemonic athlete. To handle them, Lorayne and Lucas advocate the use of consonants for figures, so that numbers can be expressed in words. There are only ten digits and, fortunately, only ten basic consonant phonetic sounds— but you have to crank up your memory just to keep in mind the sounds that the authors suggest to equal the various digitsஎண்கள் at mat t a t t ma t t a. They are t or d for 1; n for 2; m for 3;r for 4; I for 5: j, sh, ch or soft g for 6; k. hard c or hard g for 7; f, v or ph for 8; p or b for 9; 2, s or soft c for o.
Using consonant sounds, you can turn numbers into words or phrases. An impossible number to remember-91852719521639092112becomes easy when you visualize the sentence, “Beautiful Naked Blond Jumps Up and Down.” (Translation: b equals 9, 1 equals 1, f equals 8, and so on.)
Like everything else in The Memory Book, the endless variations on the exercise for remembering numbers have to be studied carefully and applied faithfully before the memory muscle can really be stretched. There is little doubt, however, that you will find the effort rewarding. .Lorayne has a trunkful of grateful letters from students, like Lucas, who attribute academic success to his methods; from actors and speakers who conquered stage fright by learning to memorize easily; from men and women who sold themselves to prospective employers through memory feats.
But the letter Lorayne prizes above all others came from Lt. Col. Arthur T. Ballard, Jr., USAF, a prisoner in North Vietnam for six years, who wrote: “We had no reading or writing material, so we relied solely on memory for keeping our sanity. During the first few months of captivity, I attempted to reconstruct the contents of one of your books and then taught it to hundreds of my fellow POWs. We applied your system and learned thousands of foreign words, poems, speeches (the list is endless). Just wanted to tell you how much your work meant to all of us.”