100 Days of Homer – An Experiment in Memorizing Literature

The book I’m reading at the moment is a translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. I thought that I would try using memory techniques to store the main elements, details, and characters of the story.

I’m adding this project to Mnemotechnics.org as a memory challenge in case anyone would like to join me. I’m going to go through the books over about 100 days, which allows about two days to read each of the 48 short books within the Iliad and Odyssey. Read more

A Brief Description of My Mnemonic System for Sounds

In a few previous blog posts I’ve mentioned my mnemonic system for sounds. I’ve posted the mnemonic key online before, but the chart isn’t really self-explanatory.

The basic idea is that my mnemonic system for numbers and cards has a strict pronunciation method. Each one of the 2800+ images has a one syllable pronunciation. If I encounter nonvisual sounds in words or poetry, I have an large vocabulary of images that can be hooked onto the sounds. Read more

Memorizing Poetry (Shakespeare) Using the Method of Loci

I’ve been experimenting with methods for memorizing poetry. Here are examples of the mnemonic images I used to memorize Hamlet’s famous soliloquy.

The Method of Loci

The method of loci is a mnemonic technique that goes back at least 2,500 years to the ancient Greeks. If you aren’t familiar with the method of loci yet, this post might not make a lot of sense. I recommend reading one of the memory books on my reading list or asking questions about it in the memory forum. A great book to start with is Dominic O’Brien’s How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week by Week.

To quickly summarize the method: a mental journey is created, and the data to be memorized is converted into bizarre, exaggerated, visual images that are then placed along the imaginary journey, fooling the mind into believing that it has traveled along the journey. To recall the information, one mentally walks back through the journey, converting the visual images back into the original information that was memorized.

If you’ve never tried the method of loci, it may sound strange, but it’s the same basic concept that people use to memorize thousands of random digits. The key is to convert everything to visual images. Visual memory is incredibly powerful.

The Text to Be Memorized (from Hamlet)

Here is the text to be memorized as written in the book, By Heart: 101 Poems to Remember: Read more

Tips for Memorizing Poetry?

Does anyone have special techniques for memorizing poetry? Do you assign lines to a specific number of loci?  One word per locus?

I don’t know much about poetry, so I spent a little time today reading about the basic structures. I’m hoping that basic knowledge of poetry structure will provide a few memorization hooks. Read more

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