What is your view of Derren Brown’s “Memory”?
I came upon an offer: A free audiobook, an introduction to Derren Brown’s “Memory”, read by Derren Brown himself. He claims that his readers will be able to recite a list of up to 50 words ‘in real-time’, and “have it memorised by the end of it”.
His ways are limited to just three*
1) vivid visual link to picture
2) interaction with visuals
3) use of unusual, exaggerated, imagery
* though actually he does also briefly say that grouping (telephone numbers)
is also useful, which leads me to my next point, that of linguistic characteristics:
1) alliteration ( letters at initial position same but also closeby, eg. S before T )
2) rhythmic (tonic stresses)
To take his first example, of a set of randomly selected words, not only does he go on to making us link every single word to the next, but he also assumes that already the first two words (telephone and sausage) should have to be linked, when this needn’t be done. For one, he says that memorising the first 7 ‘clock chimes’ can already be memorised (and even this he claims is the max, though my musical ear can reach 11). So he begins by contradicting himself, really.
Anyway, starting with the first two words, ‘telephone’ should act as a quantifier for ‘sausage’, a kind of sausage in the shape of a telephone. But he goes on to describe it as if it were a present participle: ‘telephoning’ using a limp sausage, is the image which he suggests. This assumes our minds would have to alter or do what is known to linguists as simplification.
He then wants us to link ‘sausage’ and ‘monkey’, which is fair enough. But one might just as easily forget the sausage because we’re thinking ‘banana’…
The next pair, a ‘button book’ is easier to combine, and then ‘cabbage’ could be left on its own.
So rather than link glass to cabbage, why not link the next two: glass and mouse, and cardboard to stomach, etc. (In other words, why not have, now and then, only one word on its own, say ‘cabage’).
A ‘cardboard ferry’ is fair enough but ‘Ferry Christmas’ sounds like someone with a speech problem trying to say Merry Christmas! (My point being that some people might be better at remembering by sounds and word play).
Then again, you can’t help wondering when and why you would really need to actually remember ‘random’ strings of words in the first place, save perhaps your own shopping list. (Though I have found that writing things down is really much more effective). So it’s like giving guidelines instructions to people who don’t (and should?) be on the autistic spectrum, with ASD. (I’m sure this particular technique for memorising is pointless for memorising, say, Shakespeare’s Sonnets—and who can remember how many of them there are?)
Which brings me to my next question: What if we were all potentially, to one degree or another, on the autistic spectrum?
I say I’d would rather be coached by someone who has been diagnosed with a degree of autism, and who is capable enough of sharing his techniques more adequately, in exchange for illustrating to them ways of understanding the more idiomatic expressions, as ‘showing someone the ropes’.