Practical Memory Training

'Theron Q. Dumont'William Walker Atkinson


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William Walker Atkinson

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More books by Theron Q. Dumont, below

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Memory, the Keynote of Success and Fortune. Publishing information from the 1916 edition.

Memory not a faculty, but is a peculiar attribute of the mind. All knowledge is but remembrance. Knowledge is a structure built of the bricks of memory. Every faculty has its own particular memory. The machinery for registering mental impressions. The subconscious storehouse for preserving the mental impressions. The machinery for recalling mental impressions. The cultivation of the memory is really a cultivation of the mind itself. The folly of pseudo-memory systems. Disappointments of "trick" memory systems. Education without memory is like pouring water into a sieve. All mental evolution depends upon the cement of memory. No man is greater than his memory. Man is but a combination of memories. Memory the secret of efficiency.

Memory the chief priest in the Temple of Mind. Memory the golden thread that links all the mental gifts together. Some memories like marble; others like soft sand. Shifting character the result of poor memory. The habitual "forgetter" is apt to be a social nuisance. The educated man a dunce if his memory is poor. The best memory may be improved, and the poorest rendered far above the average by scientific memory training. Marvellous results possible under the system and principles taught in this book. How science remedies nature's defects. All human efficiency depends upon memory for its basic powers. Every act of efficiency really an act of memory. Genius is the infinite capacity for taking pains—plus a good memory.

The Importance of the "why" side of things, as well as the "know how" side. The value of an understanding of the underlying philosophy of memory. You should become a thinking, reasoning individual with an efficient memory, and not a mere memory machine. A good working philosophy of memory, not technical psychological or metaphysical dogmatism. The memory is a psychological phonograph machine. It receives impressions from the senses; makes a record of the same; files away the record; indexes its records; and finally, brings forth its records when required—providing that it is kept well-oiled and cared for. How it performs these wonderful functions. The great subconscious storage room of memory records. Nothing once recorded is ever entirely lost. There is no ultimate forgetting.

Strength of memory impressions dependant upon attention. Attention dependant upon interest. You remember that which most interests you. The mechanical memory for trivial things found in uncultured persons. "Parrot memory" vs. intelligent memory. Wonderful memory of low degree manifested by idiotic persons. The futility of the "trick systems" of mechanical memory. The principle of "association" the key to memory high and low. Mechanical memory brings no real understanding. The memory of the cultured, educated man, and what it consists of. Comparison, association of similarity, and constructive imagination, all accompany true memory training. Constructive imagination really an active phase of the higher memory. Distinction between the memory of vulgar minds and cultivated minds.

Remarkable instances of memory power, normal and abnormal. Facts of extraordinary memory stranger than fiction. Historical instances, vouched for by good authority. Pascal forgot nothing that he had carefully read. Grotius remembered everything that he had ever thought out. Cardinal Mezzofanti knew over one hundred languages, and never forgot a word once learned. Leyden easily remembered long documents, and Acts of Parliament, after one reading. Bidder knew the Bible by heart, and could give any verse called for. Marvellous memory of chess-players. Startling memory of musicians. The memory of the Chinese scholars. Strange instances from Oriental lands. Memorizing the entire works of Confucius. Whole religions books, equal in length to our Bible, committed to memory by the Orientals.

Memorizing the Vedas, the Mahabarata, and the Sanskrit Grammar, a common feat for educated Hindoos. Jewish priests memorized the Kabala, or Sacred Teachings of the Hebrews. The Druids memorized their religious doctrines. The ancient laws of Iceland memorized by judges and lawyers. Memory of the Algonquin Indians for their sagas of interminable length. Cyrus knew Roman citizens after once meeting them, and called each man by his right name. Cyrus called by name every soldier in his army. Themistocles called by name each of 30,000 Athenian citizens. The Corsican who could remember 35,000 disconnected words. The librarian who could remember every book in the libraries of Florence. Esdras [Ezra the Scribe] reproduced the Hebrew Scriptures from memory. Many other instances of marvellous memory power.



Memory without attention is like a phonograph without a needle. Without attention there is no impression on the record of memory. Attention the most marked manifestation of will. Attention closely allied to consciousness. Attention dependant upon concentration. Concentrated attention focuses the consciousness. How clear, sharp, intense, and vivid impressions are received. Instances of concentrated attention. Concentrated attention magnifies the power of impressions. Concentration like the power of the sunglass. Highly developed attention the secret of genius. Attention is the eye of the mind, and must be directed to an object in order for the mind to perceive it. Vivid consciousness, long memory; faint consciousness, short memory; no consciousness, no memory. Power of voluntary attention.

Retention in consciousness, an act of voluntary attention. Retention the secret of strong memory records, and efficient memory-indexing. The data of voluntary attention. Voluntary attention the mark of a trained mind; and lacking in case of illiterate persons, and those lacking mental training. Difference between voluntary and involuntary attention. Most persons lack voluntary attention, and manifest only involuntary attention. Training of the voluntary attention of the first step in mental development. Testimony of eminent authorities. The five great laws of attention. The secret of developing voluntary attention. How to render interesting, things which are originally uninteresting. How to study a thing by piecemeal. How to rest the overtired attention. The effect of varying stimulus. General principles.

The modern discovery of the great subconscious planes of mind has revolutionized all former conceptions of memory. Every student of memory should be familiar with the laws of the subconscious mentality. The great region of mind outside the field of consciousness—the greater part of mental activity performed there. The subconscious mind is the great storehouse of memory. All records of mental impressions stored there. Everything remembered is recalled from the subconscious mind. The depths and heights of the mind. All true systems of memory based upon storing away, indexing, and cross-indexing the records of the subconscious. The subconscious and the mechanism of memory. Where the impressions of memory rest when not brought into the field of consciousness. Opinion of eminent authorities.

The mind much greater than we generally suppose. The conscious area but a tiny speck on the entire body of mind. The subconscious mind like the invisible rays of light on the spectrum. Above and below the waterline of consciousness. How the subconscious mind solves problems for us. The three layers of conscious thought. The "genii" in each one's mind, which works for him when bidden. Eighty per cent of all mental work performed subconsciously. How the subconscious works while we sleep. How a forgotten idea is recalled after having been given up. How the subconscious works out difficult problems for us. The stream of thought flowing from the subconscious regions into consciousness. What starts it flowing and keeps it flowing. The logical processes of the subconscious mentality. Interesting facts.

[This paragraph is nearly illegible in the scan, and some pages in the chapter are missing.] The subconscious never forgets anything received by it. The subconscious memory is infallible. Association furnishes the key to its records. The "loose end" of subconscious memory; how it ... the ... of recollection. How apparently long forgotten things are recovered through memory. Interesting cases within the personal experience of the author. Forgotten things recalled after fifty years, by scientific methods. Truth stranger than fiction. Wonderful recovery of forgotten facts in somambulism, dreams, etc. ... ... events from subconscious records. Some very interesting cases of this kind ... from the works of eminent psychologists and ... . When science unlocks the doors of the subconscious memory, every thing will be found there.

The association of ideas. ... the great psychological laws ... Association of ideas is to psychology what the law of gravitation is to astronomy. ... Without associations there can be no thinking. [The rest of this paragraph is hopelessly smudged in the scan.] ... Thought flows to ... and ... ... . The greater part of the memory of ... ... . The stream of ... is composed of of ... ... . How trains of thought are ... from ....... REST IS UNREADABLE

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... Memory Training." The "Topical System" of later teachers. How to remember things by associating them with places, location, or other position in space. The "eye memory" employed.

Association by contiguity in consciousness. Close association of two ideas which have been thought of at the same time, in connection with each other. Remembering such ideas together, and why this is easy. We remember many ideas in connection with certain othar ones, without effort on our part. Napoleon and Josephine; Adam and Eve; Jack and Jill; Uncle Tom and Little Eva. Ideas and objects which have been associated in consciousness, tend afterward to suggest each other. Suggestion and associations of this type. Pleasant and unpleasant associations and their consequencs. A very useful principle in memorizing and remembering. How to weld together in memory two separated ideas or facts. Preference in association, and its part in memorizing. Repeated association an aid to memory.

The higher phase of memory-association of ideas. The difference between the trained and the untrained mind. Fundamental resemblances vs. superficial resemblances. A well-selected assortment of associated ideas; or a loose bundle of mental odds-and-ends? Thought association between ideas will result in associated recollection thereof. Correlation of ideas an aid to memory. Contrast aids in recollection. When an idea occurs to us, a host of related ideas flow into the mind. How this operates in memory training. The indexing of memory records depends entirely upon intelligent association of ideas. Multiply associations. Entangle the thing you wish to remember in the net of as many associations as possible. The steps in logical association of ideas.

The working principles of memory training. The laws underlying memory exercises, rules and methods. The three principles of memory efficiency. The art and science of efficiency. The ideal of efficiency. How to do the thing in the best way, and in the shortest time. The principle of perception. Perception the first step of memory. The relation of associations to perception. Different degrees of perception. We know only what we have perceived. We remember only that which we have perceived. The closer the observation, the higher the degree of perception. The principle of association. Stored impressions avail but little unless properly indexed. The mental letter-file. The mental concordance. The principle of recollection. Difference between remembrance and recollection.

How we receive perceptions of the outside world. The senses are the channels of impressions The mechanism of perception. How impressions reach the mind. Sense of Hearing. Sense of Smell. Sense of Taste. Sense of Touch, or Feeling. Sensation and consciousness. The telegraphic system of the mind. Sensation the raw material of knowledge. The mind is as dependent upon the nervous system, as a plant is upon the sun, rain and air. What mind would be without sensations. What new senses would mean to the mental life. How new worlds would be opened to man by new channels of sense perception. The importance of cultivating and developing correct perception. Clear perception the first requisite of rational memory training. Your memory is never clearer than your perception.

A man experiences only what he perceives; and remembers only what he has experienced. Perception a matter of education, practice and repeated effort. The evolution of the perception of the Individual. The perception may be greatly strengthened and developed by training and education. Exercise and the use of the will in perceptive development. Increased sensitiveness to desirable impressions. Sight perception. We learn to perceive by sight only by exercise and training. Sight perception to a marvellous degree of efficiency. The sight-perception in specialists. Instances of highly developed sight-perception. How Houdin, the French conjurer, developed his power of sight-perception to a marvellous degree of efflciency. The sight-perceptioa of artists. The sight-perception of women, regarding matters interesting to them. Touch, taste and smell perception.

The art of the cultivation of attention. Attention and efficient perceptlon. Attention follows Interest; attention awakens Interest. Securing deep and clear mental impressions. Attention is the mother of memory, and interest is the mother of attention. To secure memory, first secure its mother and grandmother. We easily remember interesting things; and tend to forget uninteresting ones. Boys remember scores of games; men details of business; and women, love affairs—all from the same reasons. Learn to like the things you wish to remember, and your attention will register them. The interesting story of [Louis] Agassiz, the great scientist. The principles involved in the story. The pencil is the best of eyes. Exercise to perceptive efficiency. Games developing perception. Valuable suggestions.

The art of acquiring effective perception The valuable suggestlons of Flaubert and Maupassant, the French authors. No two things exactly alike. The philosophy of observation and trained perception. Exercises in effective perception. How to develop your perception by simple practice. Analysis and synthesis. Excellent subjects for training and exercise in perception. Ear-perception. Some persons have excellent eye-memory; others, excellent ear-memory. Each form of perception requires special training. Combination of both forms of perception. Poor hearing often the result of poor perception. Practice and exercises developing ear-perception, will also improve the hearing in many cases. One-half the cases of deafness result from inattention. An amusing illustration of this principle. Exercises, etc.

Valuable points of practice regarding the principle of perception. The facility of recollection depends upon the clearness and strength of the impression. The depth and clearness of the impression depends upon the interest-attention, or attention-interest Always build a strong primary foundation impression; then build subsequent impressions around It. Let your primary impression consist of main facts, points, principles, etc., omitting unimportant details. Add the details in subsequent impressions. Classify your impressions into divisions and subdivisions. Original impressions should be intensified by frequent revivals in memory. Strengthening impressions by reviving the impression in memory, without reference to original object. Always associate a new thing in memory with old things. Importance of classification.

The wise man establishes many memory hooks of association, each supporting a long chain of related facts and things; the ignorant man places but one object on a memory hook. Schemes of artificial association in memory systems. Most of them too cumbersome for use. Examples of such systems, and the fallacy of them explained. Clever satire of the artificial memory systems. Some useful and effective principles of association stated and explained. Analysis; comparison; synthesis—in the use of associative memorizing. Interrogative analysis in memory training. Socratic method. Example illustrating the principle of interrogative analysis. Exercises. The Seven Questions. How to use them in bringing out and establishing facts. Higher analysis. The Sixteen Questions of the author. [Gurdjieff's list.] An excellent system.

The principle of comparison, in associative efficiency. Analysis; comparison; classification—the three steps in all human thinking. These also give the key to associative efficiency in memory training. How to compare things. The principle of comparison illustrated. Differences and resemblances. Points of resemblance and difference. Opposites, or contradictories. How to link a thing in memory by points of resemblance to other things. Intelligent and unintelligent comparison. Always link the unknown thing to the thing already known well. The principle of differences. Difference and resemblance merely a matter of degree. Remembering a thing by association with its opposites. A peculiar, but valid, law of memory. General comparison. Name, Place, Time, Shape, Effect, Cause, Action, History, etc.

Synthesis the reverse of analysis. Classification, or generalization. The drawers or compartments of the mind, and what we put into them. The mark of the scientific mind. The importance of mental classification in memory training. It is not as much a matter of knowing a thing, as to know where to find it. Making memory divisions and sub-divisions. Classifying the contents of memory. Charting and diagramming the contents of memory. Knowing the right drawer of memory is a great accomplishment. Indexing and cross-indexing your mental compartments. The mental card-index system. The memory library-catalogue. Examples: the zoological classification. Valuable mental training. The classes of men, according to the scientific system of classification. Logical classification.

Recollection a re-collection or re-calling in consciousness of something previously experienced. Recognition, and Identification in recollection; Recognition is really a re-knowing of a thing. Identification the final step in recollection. Involuntary recollection, or remembrance. Voluntary recollection is real recollection. Peculiarities of recollection. Always trust your memory, and expect it to aid you in recalling impressions when you desire them. Have faith in your memory, and it will rise to the occasion. Always seek the loose end of recollection, when trying to recall a thing. Seek for the associated idea. Recall a part, and you will recall the whole. Using the imagination In recollective effort. How to find a missing loose end. Recollecting a train of thought.

What memorizing means. The best methods of memorizing. The Cumulative Method of Memorizing. Adding one thing to another, and gaining by successive additions. Nature's own method of memorizing. Small beginnings: repeated small additions; review of the old, at time of each addition; gradual increase in size of additions. The associatlon of the old with the new. The strengthening of the old, by frequent repetition. The gain to proficiency from repeated small additions. Review and practice. Gain by review and frequent practice. Full directions how to begin the method. Suggestions regarding selection of materlal to memorize. How to take the second step. The importance of review work. Rivet each step as you proceed. Hold what you have gained. The third step. Succeeding steps. Full directions, etc.

The causes underlying the frequent failure to remember the names of persons. The cure for the trouble. The importance of taking an interest in the subject of names. Very little trouble to remember interesting or peculiar names. Easier to remember "nicknames" than ordinary surnames. How to cultivate an interest in names. The subject proves quite interesting when properly approached. How to study names so as to cultivate a keen perception and retention of them. How to group surnames in classes. Surnames derived from given names. What the suffixes "kin," "son," etc. mean. Surnames derived from occupations. Surnames denoting qualities or personal characteristics. Surnames derived from plants, or animals, or features of the landscape. Associative links to names.

Faces easier to remember than names. The reason of this. Great improvement in face-memory possible. Certain occupations develop this faculty wonderfully. Recognition and recollection of faces—the difference. How to study faces so as to remember and recall them The practice of visualising faces. Association of faces with other things. The study of physiognomy. How to group features into classes and sub-classes. Analysis, comparison and classiflcation in the study of facial characteristics. No two human faces exactly alike. The various shapes and forms of faces. Seven distinct types of faces. The classification of chins. The various types of jaws. The classification of mouths. The infinite variety of eyes, and how to study them. Ears, noses, hair. General appearance of persons.

Certain faculties of the brain are concerned in remembering location. How to cultivate these faculties. Locality perception, and locality-memory. How to perceive, and remember places, positions, locations, directions, etc. Remembering the "lay of the land," streets, roads, watercourses, landmarks, etc. The instinctive sense of location in some persons. High development of this faculty in seafaring men, hunters, trappers, explorers, etc. Interest in places and locations. Visualising travel. Making mental journeys to various parts of the world. How to acquire the "homing sense." The study and making of maps. Practices and exercises in perception and memory of places, directions and locations. Playing the game of travel. How to travel intelligently. The "map habit." General instructions.

The faculty of numbers, figures, calculation, etc. The relations betweeen numbers. How to strengthen the number-faculty. The study of dates, prices, figures, and things related to numbers. Exercise and practice. The secret of number perception and number memory. How to proceed in developing the perception and memory of numbers, figures, prices, dates, etc. Sight and sound association. Some interesting little tricks of this form of memorizing. Theory and practice. The cognizance, comparison, and recollection of the colors, hues, tints and shades of things. How to develop the color faculties. The study of Color. Table of colors. Primary colors. Secondary colors. Tertiary colors. Neutral colors. Hues, tints and shades. Harmony. How to develop the faculty and memory of tune. Memorizing music, etc.

One of the most valuable phases of memory. The perception and recollection of events, happenings, occurrences, facts and incidents of daily experience, etc. The "news instinct." Development of event-perception, observation, and recording. Events are composite, and composed of the happening of things, composed of properties, qualities and attributes. The importance of developed powers of observation. The importance of review work in developing event-memory. Directions for reviewing event impressions. The practice of "looking backward" scientifically and what is gained by it. The experience of Thurlow Weed, the American statesman. How he cultivated a marvellous memory of events. His system explained. Training the subconscious mind systematically. Mental ruminations. General rules.

Artificial pegs the basis of many systems of nemonics. Four practical pegs. The Topical System. Figure alphabets and how they operate. Fanciful associations, and how it works out. Correlatives, and intermediate words, and the systems built up on the idea. The theories of Pick, Loisette, etc. Date-words. Sambrook's system of memorizing dates and figures. Shedd's system of memorizing dates, etc. The weakness of the "patent systems." Doggerel verse method, their advantages and disadvantages. Using "jingles" in memorizing. Historical date jingles. Jingle for memorizing dates and months. Doggerel memory list of English sovereigns. Grammitical jingle. How to tell when Easter falls. The parts of speech—doggerel rhyme for memorizing them. The colors of the spectrum reduced to a key-word. Suggestions and general advice.

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