By Edmund Connolly, on 24 April 2013
Guest Blogger: Chris Webb
The 18th April saw another fascinating event in the Petrie Museum’s popular timekeeper series, hosted by our own timekeeper in residence, Cathy Haynes. We were asked; how easy do you find it to remember the details and order of past events? Many people through history have pondered on this… Indeed, when Mark Twain wanted to teach his children history he invented a new kind of 3-D timeline by plotting out historical events in his garden and walking them through it, oddly, this was based on the monarchs of England!
The Petrie welcomed leading memory expert Ed Cooke, author of Remember, Remember: Learn the Stuff You Thought You Never Could, who explored how objects and images hold our memories. Ed spend the evening demonstrating how we remember things and with a little audience interaction, how to improve our recollection techniques. The session included exercises to help you invent memory maps to capture what you do not want to forget.
The evening started with Cathy Haynes taking us through a history of memory, which included the history of the monument at Charing Cross and why the statue of William Gladstone has a red hand. An interesting paradox was brought up; the idea of permanently reminders of forgetting. We were then treated to a veritable banquet of remembrance and visualisation methods. Although Ed started with the immortal line “Nothing I am about to say should be taken too seriously”, his guidance though memory palaces enabled some of us to ‘see’ a memory and even recall something thought lost in the haze of one’s own sub-conscious. A clearer idea of perception and thought, interwoven in the linear fabric of memory, was now our quarry. Under the direction of the memory master, we were guided to plum the very depths of our remembrance.
Different cultures have their own thoughts of memory and recollection, and we examined an offbeat selection of different contexts and patterns throughout our evening. Putting various methods into practice the audience responded brilliantly to the challenge of remembering their fellow members’ names and an arrangement of animal evolution. Visualisation, internalising, spatial association and sensory metaphor were all reined in to assist our memory mapping adventure. The formation of images using association of animals and spaces was my personal favourite technique, although I am currently working on a system with its structure firmly planted in the visualisation of cakes to assist remembering. The final point Ed left us with was a great idea. An email to the future you. What would it say? What do you think you will need reminding of in 1 month? 1 year? 10 years? What would you have forgotten? The audience were great sports and we all thoroughly enjoyed our evening and adventure into the world of recollection and memory.
Now, where are my car keys…?