Moonwalking with Einstein

Finished Joshua Foer’s adventure in memory palaces.

Books purchased while reading it:

  • Mind Map Handbook – Tony Buzman’s techniques for learning, speed reading, and memorizing intrigue me. I like learning hacks.
  • Rhetorica ad Herennium – Source material for the memorizers.

YouTubes I found as a result of reading it:

  • How to Learn A Language in Six Months, Chris Lonsdale. He provides rules of the road for learning a language. He stresses understanding what is being said and making yourself understood. Not quite like Duolingo, which stresses proper spelling and conjugation up-front. They definitely do not take baby steps. Also, he suggests having a language parent.
  • The Power of A Mind to Map, Tony Buzan. Slick as shit presenter. He’s a showman, but that doesn’t make him bad or his information poor. He’s a proponent of the limitless mind. His illustration of a small child demonstrating the scientific method naturally sticks with me.
  • Ed Cooke at TEDxObserver. Where Buzan is slick, Ed is energetic and raw. Main take-away was being playful and having fun with one’s memory. Childlike. Ed’s book, Remember, Remember.

The book gave me confidence that with diligence, discipline, and technique that I could accomplish my goal of learning Spanish. I’m tossing in memorizing Strunk & White’s book as another goal because I’ve been weak with explaining style and grammar. While the goals seem lofty for an old man with a bad memory, I think they are possible with the right techniques.

Yes, the techniques. The hacks. While I understand the concepts of memorization, I have not grasped the how of it. It isn’t quite gelling for me.

Back to Foer. He was able to accomplish a lot of memorization by practicing less than an hour a day. Duolingo suggests that frequent short sessions is more effective than fasting and binging. I don’t recall where, but this has been tested in several studies that came to the same conclusion. Cal Newport practically screamed from the pulpit that cramming is ineffective — it’s what ‘C’ students do. ‘A’ students schedule their work and play, and figure out the minimum effective dose (h/t Tim Ferriss) of material to cover.

Once again, stretching and pain come up when discussing learning.

Ed sent me a quote from the venerable martial artist Bruce Lee, which he hoped would serve as inspiration: “There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you.” I copied that thought onto a Post-it note and stuck it on my wall. Then I tore it down and memorized it.

Foer, Joshua (2011-03-03). Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (p. 185). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


Moonwalking with Einstein

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