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Posts Tagged ‘memory

“It’s a memory technique, a sort of mental map”*…

 

The “Memory Palace,” a form of the method of loci, is a technique by which the user memorizes a physical space (often, a palace), then– when desiring to remember something– walks to a location and “deposits” that memory… which can be retrieved simply be “revisiting” that location.  It dates back to ancient Greek and Roman rhetoricians, and, as Frances Yates explains in The Art of Memory, was in broad use all the way until the Enlightenment.

But while the technique fell out of the spotlight with the advent of wide-spread printing and the emergence of the Scientific Revolution, it didn’t disappear altogether…

This “Chronographer of Ancient History,” published by American educator Emma Willard in 1851, is one in a series of prints Willard designed to teach students about the shape of historical time. Her “Temples of Time” were (she wrote) a way to tap into the power of visual comprehension, so that the historical information conveyed would “by frequent inspection, be formed within, and forever remain, wrought into the living texture of the mind.”

This Chronographer is a more specialized offshoot of Willard’s master Temple of Time, which tackled all of history. (She also produced an American version, with a map of the United States on its faraway back wall.) Willard’s Temples, writes historian Barry Joyce, were “possibly inspired by her study of ancient Greek commentaries on history and memory.” The structure’s reliance on perspective was intended to help chronology take on a physical dimension…

More at “A 19th-Century Memory Palace Containing All of Ancient History“: and see a zoomable version of the Temple here or at the Library of Congress.

* Dr. John Watson, describing a “tool” used by his friend Sherlock Holmes

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As we tidy up, we might send carefully-calculated birthday greetings to Gabrielle-Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet, the French mathematician and physicist who is probably better known as Voltaire’s mistress; she was born on this date in 1706.  Fascinated by the work of Newton and Leibniz, she dressed as a man to frequent the cafes where the scientific discussions of the time were held. Her major work was a translation of Newton’s Principia, for which Voltaire wrote the preface; it was published a decade after her death, and was for many years the only translation of the Principia into French.

Judge me for my own merits, or lack of them, but do not look upon me as a mere appendage to this great general or that great scholar, this star that shines at the court of France or that famed author. I am in my own right a whole person, responsible to myself alone for all that I am, all that I say, all that I do. it may be that there are metaphysicians and philosophers whose learning is greater than mine, although I have not met them. Yet, they are but frail humans, too, and have their faults; so, when I add the sum total of my graces, I confess I am inferior to no one.
– Mme du Châtelet to Frederick the Great of Prussia

source

Written by LW

December 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

Cold, Cold, Cold…

 

xkcd‘s wise Randall Munroe on the tricks that memory can play… and the havoc they can wreak on rational discussion of climate change…

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As we tie strings around our fingers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1896 the the first speeding ticket was issued: to Walter Arnold in Peckham in Kent. He was caught doing 8 mph in a 2 mph zone, and was fined one shilling.

The first traffic ticket in the U.S. was issued three years later, to a New York City taxi driver caught doing 12 mph down Lexington Avenue.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

January 28, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another”*…

 source: xkcd

* William Gibson

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As we Dance to the Music of Time, we might spare a thought for Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.  An accomplished writer (her poems and her letters home from Turkey, where her husband was Ambassador, were widely influential), Lady Mary was perhaps as importantly a health-care pioneer: she was instrumental in establishing the practice of vaccination against smallpox.

Her last words, uttered on this date in 1762, were– appropriately enough– “It has all been most interesting.”

 Lady Mary, with her son Edward (source)

Written by LW

August 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

We can remember it for you wholesale…

source: James Madison University

The good folks at EU Design, a web hosting and design firm, maintain a compendium of mnemonics

Mnemonics (pronounced “ne-mon’-ics”) is the art of assisting the memory by using a system of artificial aids – rhymes, rules, phrases, diagrams, acronyms and other devices – all to help in the recall of names, dates, facts and figures.

From English monarchs to the world’s longest rivers, from the periodic elements to the Bond films of Sean Connery, Mnemonics offers over 120 helpful formulae…  as the site suggests, “you never know what might just be useful to remember.”

As we prepare to put our answer in the form of a question, we might raise a celebratory cup of tea to the incomparable Jane Austen, born this date in 1775.

Watercolor portrait of Jane Austen believed to be by her sister, Cassandra

Merry Melodies…

source

For Proust, it was a sugary cookie; but for many, music is the gateway to memories deep and rich…  a song from years ago can catapult one directly back to the time and place– and into the feelings– of those by-gone days.

Lest one forget, Songs You Used to Love… a “time machine” that can transport one back into moods and memories past.

As we look for those old yearbooks, we might note that this was a big date for broadcast music:  on this date in 1948, CBS telecast a concert by the Philadelphia Philharmonic;  *and on the same day, the NBC Orchestra also performed on the televsion airwaves– the first symphony telecasts in the U.S.  Indeed, the NBC concert was also carried on a several AM and FM radio stations, making it also the first ever simulcast.

Written by LW

March 20, 2009 at 1:01 am

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