Shuffle the Diamonds . . .

And go through the 13 cards, in order, forming a linked sequence of vivid mental pictures. Here’s what I came up with yesterday

Alice in Wonderland (tot = 11 = DAce) is wiping a tears from her eyes with a

tissue (16 = D6). She is standing by a sizzling hot highway and her feet are sinking into the

tar (14 = D4). Across the highway, a six-foot tall beer

tap (19 = D9) is gushing beer onto the tarmac. The beer boils on contact, releasing a strong beer smell, and runs gently downhill into a grid of huge, multicolored

tacks (17 = D7) pushed into the tarmac. These tacks are also piercing and holding down a tiger’s

tail (15 = D5), and the tiger is roaring in pain and licking a huge lump of pink-and-green alcoholic

taffy (18 = D8) by the other side of the road from Alice to soothe his pain. In front of the tiger, a

teetotaler (111 = DJ), specially summoned from AA for the situation, is wagging his finger at the tiger and delivering a stern warning about the evils of alcoholic taffy. The other hand of the teetotaler is exposed to the hot sun and is getting quite a

tan (12 = D2). With that overtanning hand, he is holding the right hand of a steel robot

titan (112 = Q2) who is wagging his head, clicking and beeping, emitting the odor of machine oil, and, with his other hand, painting his

toenails (toes = 10 = D10) and also the toenails of the

totem (113 = DK) standing right next to him (smell the toenail polish). The top of the totem is obscured by a huge

tam-o-shanter (13 = D3), which is baking in the hot sun and emitting a strong smell of roasting wool

Now, I came up with this phantasmagoria yesterday morning in less than one minute, I did not think about it all day, the day was very, very busy with other activities, I went out for a couple of drinks after work, slept through the night, and didn’t think of this for a whole 24 hours until just now. I remembered it almost perfectly (I forgot the tacks, and all that means is that I didn’t form the mental picture vividly enough – I had the tiger’s tail threaded around the tacks, but I recommended to you to imagine the pins pushed THROUGH the tail, adding the roaring and pain to the phantasmagoria). If I had been more careful, I would have remembered it perfectly.

Think about this: by exploiting the visual imagination and dragging in all the other senses – feeling the heat, smelling the smells, hearing the sounds, I was able to remember 24 hours later, after a minute of looking, a shuffled suit of cards (and, if I had been more careful, I would have remembered it perfectly!). When I am in practice, I can memorize an entire shuffled deck in 2 minutes, while you deal them out (I’ll teach you the other suits later, while we go through the second layer of the memory system). When I am out of practice, 4 minutes is plenty. Even better, I can memorize 39 of the cards and then tell you the remaining 13 cards just by running down the suits in my mind and naming the cards that aren’t in my phantasmagoria. I can even do it tomorrow from yesterday’s shuffle.

This is a great party trick. The pros can do this really fast. The athletes in the world memory championships (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Memory_Championships) can do it in less than 30 seconds, and they can memorize the order of 8 shuffled decks in 15 minutes.

Try this. You will amaze yourself. Then, think of practical applications.

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~ by rebcabin on December 9, 2010.

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