Saturday, March 10, 2012

Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

I will never again see Claudia Schiffer’s name without instantly imagining her swimming in a vat of cottage cheese. I’ll let you ponder that while I tell you about Foer’s book Moonwalking With Einstein, which is about mnemonics (one of my favorite words).

Joshua Foer, a journalist in the process of researching “the smartest person in the world,” ends up at the US Memory Championships and discovers that people who can memorize the order of 27 decks of cards in an hour are not geniuses, but have learned and mastered a memory trick used primarily in memory competitions called “memory palaces.” Although it is very tempting to tell you how memory palaces work (believe me, they do), instead I suggest that you read Foer’s book, which is well worth the money, time and effort.

Foer ends up becoming fascinated with the memory competition world to the point that he seeks out and trains with a professional memory expert, then enters the US and International memory competition – all of which is pretty fascinating. Know what country is famous for their memory experts? Germany. Click On Read More Below...

Foer (pictured) also goes into the historical aspect of memory, or use of memory, which demonstrates that before written text, memory was everything and considered an art, as all knowledge was passed via word of mouth. The more things became recorded in stone, on paper, and now in computers and smart phones, the less important and agile our memory has become. We don’t even have to memorize our phone numbers anymore. Of course a technical glitch can ruin your day. Two words: Back Up!

Moonwalking With Einstein drags in a few places, but learning the memory palaces trick was well worth slogging through some of the slower parts of Foer’s book. Don’t go into it thinking you’ll learn a skill that will change your life though. You won’t, unless you want to become a competitive mnemonic. But you will be entertained and learn some fun and interesting stuff.

Oh, and the Claudia Schiffer in a vat of cottage cheese thing – well, she’s a character in Foer’s first memory palace, and in mine as well. Same thing with the moonwalking with Einstein reference. Just try and forget those visuals!

No comments:

Post a Comment