Pegs, Hooks, Chains
Now that we have a general scheme for mapping numbers to easily visualizable words, let’s review what we do with them:
1. PEGS. This is the technique that enables us to remember lists of unrelated things. “The first thing on your list corresponds to ‘tea,’ the second to ‘Noah,” and so on. In this technique, each number corresponds to a fixed, permanent mental picture-word, a PEG. A historical variation of this method, called the “Roman-Room Method,” uses a sequence of places you can visualize to associate with your list. The key is it’s a fixed sequence.
2. HOOKS. We haven’t used this technique much, but it’s the key to remembering people’s names, birthdays, where you left your keys or parked your car, and so on. In this technique, we look for some distinguishing feature of the person or thing that we can associate with a strong mental visualization, usually by exaggeration: “The guy with the prominent beard is Mr. BAIRD.” It’s not usually that obvious and often takes some real work with the imagination The visualization may be numerical, as with a birthday, or may not, as with a name. If numerical, we have, at our disposal, the entire number-memory library.
3. CHAINS. We use this to remember sequences of numbers by phantasmagorias: 2112 = “wiNe wiTH whiTe hoNey” or “kNighT DuNe.” Phantasmagorias do not necessarily, or even usually, use the permanent peg words, but does use the mapping from numbers to consonant sounds to build new mental-picture words from digits. Chains that use the pegs, however, are the key to the card tricks, and we will use a combination of Hooks and Chains to memorize prose verbatim.
In the future, in addition to building up the pegs all the way to 999, we will build up on all these methods.