writings of a personal documentarian

school had just ended that june, 2011, while I sat out on the back deck, basking in the bright beams, reading the memory techniques book that I had found in the basement. In retrospect, I should have been partying or going out but I was overly excited ingesting more information within these tattered '60's leaves.

A couple years later, I learned about one of my favorite mnemonic tools; the “Magnetic Memory Method” from the writings of Anthony Metivier. Then I read “Moonwalking with Einstein” which taught me about the “Memory-Palace” device or “loci-method” [where the person stores mental images in places in their mind using familiar, remembered locations]. Sharing the simple strategy to my former classmate at a little liberal arts college, inside the small town bookstore on the Lander Main Street was an enjoyable experience. I used the strategy for myself, with the French vocabulary that I had learned from listening to a French podcast. Since he expressed interest, I was sharing it with him.

Fast forward, walking my dog around the suburbs of Virginia, I was listening to an episode of the “Magnetic Memory Method” podcast, the guest being the “super-learner” and accelerated-learning expert, Jonathon Levi. Dashing with my dog, I remember him talking about how he accelerated his study of golf [by employing these rapid learning strategies], even after one lesson and the teacher thought he had been playing for a while! I even remember the place where I learned this [reinforcing that our brain really does store location-based memories]. Timothy Moser, another mnemonist from the podcast, was a case-study, for me, in utilizing these techniques successfully, as he talked about his acceleration of his Spanish comprehension.

In 2016, I decided to learn the russian language and I knew that I would just utilise the memory palace template for new words. I even used it for grammatical tables but learned that I had complicated it. Keeping a simplistic system, with plenty of “white space,” & allowing my multiple memory palaces “stations” to be spaced out, has been a constant process.

In conjunction with applying these techniques to russian, because I was in school again, I wanted to learn how to study effectively. I came across Cal Newport and Scott Young's blogs, specifically about rapid learning and effective study techniques for students. It wasn't just about memory, or accelerated-learning, but also about how to take sparse, personalized notes and acing exams. I introduced myself to the concepts of “deliberate-practice” “active recall” “practice-loops” and “retrieval practice” [which I was never taught within the walls of the stifled school system].

In 2020, I read more of Scott Young's blog posts on how to learn specific subjects and the science of learning [as I was going through a course on coding and a list of russian words at the same time, something I do not recommend]. Standing at my standing desk, I would spend three hours there, learning 50 minutes at a time and taking breaks.

I've experienced frustration numerous times with the current system. All of these exposures about new methods of recalling information and inputting it for long-term retention [which are actually ancient] came about because of this emotion. I was frustrated with the snail-pace progress I was making in French, so I used the mnemonic tool of the “Memory Palace.” I was frustrated that when I went about to learn something new, that it was taking such a long time. So I learned about accelerated-learning and Jonathon Levi's “superlearning” in order to apply them. College didn't share with me how to study well. Raised on rote-memorization, I was frustrated that I kept forgetting french and russian words, so I just stored them in a memory palace.