This is our first official hosted guest post from the great mind, Nikolai, over at Cerebral Musings. I’m lucky to be able to host his musings here @ isomKuadeJournal.com, and grateful that he would lend us his voice. He has a ton of great material so make sure to check him out as he’s delivered another great piece below. -ik
Many people wonder why they get bad grades, or why they aren’t smart. Others look for weak spots in their study and get advice on how to improve their knowledge. Some people curse their bad memory, while others ponder on ways to increase it. Everyone wonders at the intelligence of another at one point or another, and a select few develop a plan to emulate or surpass that individual.
This brings us to the link that brings about drastic improvement to the mind, the bridge between your brain – and the elite. That link is memory; not just memory, but the exercising, improvement, and technique developing strategies of the “Art of Memory”.
First of all, why is memory so important?
Memory has become an exceptionally undervalued tool in our modern culture. The reason for this can be blamed on technology. The decline of the cultivation of memory began with the Gutenberg printing press. One of the most important functions of memory at the time was the preservation of tradition, history, and knowledge through memorization and oral regurgitation. The advent of written language, printing presses, typewriters, and then computers made it more efficient to simply record information on paper or digitally. This resulted in the demotion of memory from the most vital element of human intelligence to a convenient but nearly obsolete skill (perception in this case, is far from reality).
The ancients had deep sense of respect and awe for the skill of recall:
The Grecian poet and play writer Aeschylus, said “Memory is the mother of all wisdom.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman orator and statesmen wrote: “Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.”
They viewed the learning, storing, and retention of information as an art, and employed many different techniques to hone this skill. What they understood that we seem to have forgotten is this:
Memory is the foundation of all intelligence:
- Short-term memory is vital in multitasking
- Remembering names, events, and happenings in a friends life for instance – this is essential to maintaining relationships
- Humor – one of the most enjoyable aspects of any relationship – relies completely on memory of jokes, stories, funny experiences, witty sayings, etc.
- Long-term memory serves in learning a task and completing it well over the course of time
- Think about doctors – medical procedures, terminology, and many, many other things must be committed to memory
- Lawyers have to memorize their deposition and hearings notes, and often the points they want to make during the trial.
- Psychologists and therapists rely on their memory of the human psyche to evaluate and treat their patients
This list can go on forever, but so can the opposing viewpoints:
- Why memorize a tedious list of information when it takes me 5 seconds to Google it?
- Funny commercials or moments on your favorite shows are rarely re-iterated when you can just send it over e-mail, or find it on YouTube
- I don’t need to remember how to change my oil because I can find a DIY video or instructional in less than 30 seconds online • Any housework is the same way – clean the gutters? Google here I come!
- How about cooking? “a pinch of this… then a tad of that… and don’t forget to…” -Don’t forget to google it grandma – I found your recipe in allrecipes after searching for all of a minute, and it gave me the exact measurements and times that would have taken me forever to remember
- Shopping list – smartphone app
- To do’s and weekly chores – i-calendar
While it is true that technology has made some forms of memory nearly obsolete, it is obvious that we still rely heavily on our memory, and that losing strength in this skill is detrimental to our intelligence. Referring to the first list, consider your life without memory. Pretty bleak… “what was her name again? wait… where am I?..who am I??”…
Now here is an even more important thought: Consider your life – your job, career, friendships, business relationships, etc. with a flawless memory. You remember everything that is going on in your relationships, your multitasking ability leads to fulfillment in your job instead of stress, people’s first impression of you is greatly improved because you actually remember their name, and even where and how you met, what they were wearing or what you talked about. That sounds good – but is it possible? A flawless memory is pretty hard to come by, but if you do your research you will find that it is both possible and plausible to expect hard work and discipline in the art of memory to yield returns in the form of photographic and even eidetic memory.
The function of memory is similar to this story: Two neighbors decided to build a work shed (one suggested how great it would be to have a storage place for his tools and an additional place of refuge from his nagging wife, and the other followed suite). The first made a list for the materials he needed:
After he had made his list, he spent one evening traveling to the hardware store for nails, the next evening buying paint, and the next finding deals on concrete and wood. Then he began to work. He looked over into his neighbor’s yard (expecting to see him starting or gathering materials as well) and was shocked to see a freshly painted shed in the yard, complete with tools and radio music blaring through the open door. “How on earth…” Then he remembered – his neighbor had a habit of finding, collecting, and storing materials he thought he might need for the future. He had areas on his land and in his garage neatly organized into sections of materials: wood in one, hardware in another, paint, shingles, etc – he had everything he needed before he started! So while his neighbor was busy gathering materials, he was utilizing the materials he already had to build his shed.
We use information like the second neighbor used his material. Sometimes it is not efficient to spend time memorizing information you will rarely use, or information you can easily gather on the Internet, but there are many forms of information and knowledge that you will likely use on a daily basis, and some that is good to know even if you didn’t. Most individuals in today’s society have forgotten or were never taught the importance of memory, and suffer a distinct disadvantage because of this. Don’t fall into the same downgrading mindset – your memory can be drastically improved using techniques that ancient scholars used – increasing in the art of memory heightens fluid intelligence and even physically increases the Hippo campus primarily, as well as other areas of the brain. I will leave it at that for now, but I urge you – take up a new hobby – memorization; The Art of Recall. This is the missing link between the average mind and the elite mind. It sounds tedious, but using the right techniques, it is not. It is rewarding, and in the long run a critical investment that will pay intellectual dividends.