Memory Inventory and Hebrew Origins

So far, we have techniques for memorizing

  • lists of up to ten arbitrary items
  • sequences of any length of digits

With the second layer of the basic peg system, we will move to lists of up to 100 items. We’ve already seen how to build mental picture words and stories from digits taken two-at-a-time by substituting their associated consonant sounds for the digits. You already know the basics of the second layer, then. All we will do is pick ONE particular, two-consonant word for each number from 10 to 99 and make it THE permanent, preferred mental picture word. That will enable us to memorize lists up to 100 in length.

In the offing, I’ll teach you how to memorize the order of cards in a standard pack after shuffling and a couple of party tricks you can do with this. It’s a good way to practice the second layer, and I will sneak in the beginnings of the third layer, just as I snuck in the second layer while we were learning the first layer.

We still need techniques for memorizing prose and people’s names. These are less systematic, less automatic than the numerical methods and take work, similar to the work of building picture-word-stories for digit sequences. I will bring that in for relief from the steady rain of numbers.

I will also show you rain-man’s technique for calculating the day-of-the-week from any date in your head without writing anything down. If you practice this, you can get really fast at it.

Now a word on the Hebrew origins of this system. If you read Hebrew, I recommend Eran Katz’s novel סוד המוח היהודי, Secret of the Jewish Brain, which presents the Hebrew version of the system in an amusing tale of a secular Israeli boy who finds the secret to business success in an ultra-orthodox Yeshiva! But, if you know Hebrew, you’ve already amazed yourself by realizing that the system I’ve learned from childhood is nothing more than an Anglicized version of Gematria, the ancient Hebrew numeric system that assigns numbers to consonants (because that’s all there are in Hebrew). Katz has recently published a book in English, which I plan to read as soon as I can get my hands on it. I will be looking for how similar or dissimilar his system is to the ones I have learned from my Dad and my uncle and from Furst and Krill.


~ by rebcabin on December 5, 2010.

3 Responses to “Memory Inventory and Hebrew Origins”

  1. Hello Brian,
    It’s Antal from Channel 9 fandom. 🙂 These memory tricks are really interesting. Some years ago I read an article about a Russian magician who used a slightly different method to memorize lists. He used a very detailed mental picture of a street he knew well, like Tverskaya Ulitsa, the main street of Moscow. He selected 50 or more waypoints along the street, like a unique lamppost, a window of his fave café, a fountain, etc. And when he was given a list of objects to memorize, he simply imagined placing the objects one by one at these waypoints. He could retrieve the list in normal order, backwards and starting from any point by simply imaging walking back and forth along the street. Nice, uh? Something else… I am non-Jewish, but I would like to learn more about Jewish culture and religion. What do you think are the best books on these topics?
    Have a nice day,

  2. […] have to be comfortable with Hebrew. One motivation for my learning Hebrew was my recognition the Hebrew origins of my beloved memory system. Here are my automatic Hebrew word […]

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