Zodiac

(1) To associate a familiar with a familiar, as, for example, lamp with dog, or man with river.

(2) To associate a familiar with an unfamiliar, as, cow with obelus, or green leaf with chlorophyll.

(3) To associate an unfamiliar with an unfamiliar, as, pomelo with amra, or scutage with perianth.

Let me here quote Major Beniowski's excellent illustration—

"Suppose a London publisher, who being for many years a constant reader of the newspapers, cannot fail of becoming familiar with the names of the leading members of the House of Commons. He knows about the biography, literary productions, and political principles of Dr. Bowring, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Melbourne, etc., as much as any man living.

"Suppose also, that having on many occasions seen these personages themselves, as at chapel, the opera, museum, etc., he has their physiognomies, their gait, etc., perfectly impressed upon his brain.

"Suppose moreover that they are his occasional customers, although he never knew who these customers were; he never in the least suspected that these customers are the very individuals whose speeches he was just anatomizing, and whose political conduct he was just praising or deprecating.

" He knows well their names; he knows a host of circumstances connected with these names; he knows well the personages themselves; he saw them, he conversed with them, he dealt with them; still he had never an opportunity of learning that such names had anything to do with such personages.

"A visit to the gallery of the House of Commons during the debate on the (say) libel question, is the occasion on which those names and their owners are for the first time to come into contact with each other in his brain. The Speaker, one of his customers, takes the chair, and immediately our publisher bursts into an ' Is it possible!'

"He can scarcely believe it, that the gentleman whom he had seen so often before was the very Speaker of the House of Commons, whose name and person he knew separately for so many years.

"His surprise increases by seeing Dr. Bowring, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Melbourne, etc., addressing the House.

"He knew them all—he had seen all three in his own shop —he had conversed with them—nay, had made serious allusions to their names when present.

" He is now determined to commit to memory the names of all those personages; in other words, he is determined to stick together the names with their respective personages.

"Next to him sat a Colonial publisher just arrived say, from Quebec. This colonial gentleman is perfectly familiar with the names of the above M.P.'s; but he indeed never saw any of them.

"He also attempts to commit to memory the names of various speakers on the occasion.

"In another corner of the same House sat a Chinese, just arrived in London, who also wishes to commit to memory the names, shapes, gait, dresses, etc., of the Barbarians that spoke and legislated in his presence.

"The Londoner, the colonial gentleman, and the Chinese have evidently the same piece of knowledge to heave into their brain; but for the Londoner it is the first phrenotypic problem; he has to stick together a name which is to him a familiar notion with a personage which is for him a familiar notion also—thus, a with a

"For the colonial gentleman it is the second phrenotypic problem; he has to stick together a name which is for him a familiar notion, with a personage which is for him a not-familiar notion—thus, a with a

"For the Chinese it is the third phrenotypic problem; he has to stick together a name which is for him a not-familiar notion, with a personage which is for him a not-familiar notion—thus, a "Q with a .1,1

The task for the Chinese is an exceedingly difficult one, yet students have often to face it. Imagine the distress of a student of botany who has hundreds of times to link a ^ with a ^ > the appearance of an unfamiliar plant with an unfamiliar name. There is only one way of getting out of the difficulty, and that is in every case to make the unfamiliar thing familiar, to make the ^ into a either by thinking about it, and studying it, or by seeing in it a resemblance to something already familiar.

In no case is it desirable to try to remember things which are not familiar. So, first recognize whether your problem is of the first, second or third order, and if it is of the second or third, convert the unfamiliar into a familiar. The diagrams on page 34 show the process. Let me now give an example, from the Major, of the process of making the unfamiliar familiar—

"In my early infancy, my father, a physician and an extraordinary linguist, initiated me in the mysteries of several mnemonic contrivances. In the study of languages I invariably employed the association of ideas. I succeeded so far that, when at the age of not full thirteen, my father sent me to study medicine at the University of Vilna, in Poland, relying upon my extraordinary memory, as it was called, I attended several courses of lectures, besides those usually prescribed for students in medicine.

"I succeeded perfectly everywhere during several months, until spring came, and with it the study of botany. Here, far from outstripping my fellow-students, I actually remained behind even those whom I was accustomed to look upon as poor, flat mediocrities.

1 Handbook of Phrenotypics, by Major Beniowski, 1845.

Second Problem: Unfamiliar with familiar:

Third Problem: Unfamiliar with Unfamiliar:

"The matter stood thus: Besides attending the lectures on botany, the students are admitted twice a week to the botanic garden; there they find a metallic label with a number upon it; that number refers them to a catalogue where they find the respective names; these names they write out into a copy-book thus—

No. 1778 . . Valeriana officinalis, No. 9789 . . Nepeta Cataria, etc.

"And having thus found out the names of a dozen of plants they endeavour to commit them to memory in the best manner they can. Anyone finds it tiresome, awkward, and annoying to look to the huge numbers upon the label, then to the catalogue, then to the spelling of the names, then to the copy-book, and after all to be allowed to remain there only about an hour twice a week, when the taking away with you a single leaf may exclude you for ever from entering the garden at all.

" But I was peculiarly vexed and broken-hearted. I came to the garden tired out by other studies; I had a full dozen of copy-books under my arm, a very old catalogue with many loose leaves; to which if you add an umbrella in my left, a pen in my right, an ink-bottle dangling from my waistcoat-button, and, above all, the heart of a spoiled child in my breast, you will have a tolerable idea of my embarrassment.

"Week after week elapsed before I mastered a few plants. When I looked at home into my copy-book, the scribbled names did not make rise the respective plants before my imagination; when I came to the garden, the plants did not make rise their respective names.

"My fellow-students made, in the meantime, great progress in this, for me, so unmanageable study;—for a good reason—they went every morning at five into the fields, gathered plants, determined their names, put them between blotting-paper, etc.—in a word, they gave to botany about six hours per day. I could not possibly afford such an expenditure of time; and besides, I could not bear the idea of studying simply as others did.

"The advantages I derived from mnemonic contrivances in other departments, induced me to hunt after some scheme in botany also.

"My landlady and her two daughters happened to be very inquisitive about the students passing by their parlour window, which was close to the gates of the university; they scarcely ever allowed me to sit down before I satisfied their inquiries respecting the names, respectability, pursuits, etc., of at least half a dozen pupils.

"I was never very affable, but on the days of my mischievous botanic garden they could hardly get from me a single syllable; I could not, however, refuse, when they once urged their earnest request thus—' Do tell us, pray, the name of that fish, do!' pointing most pathetically to a pupil just hurrying by close to the window.

"When I answered,'His name is Fisher' (I translate from the Polish, Ryba Rybski), they broke into an almost spasmodic chatter. 'We guessed his name! Oh, he could not have another name. Look only,' continued they, 'how his cocked hat sits upon his head, pointing from behind forward, exactly in the same direction with his nose! Look to the number of papers and copy-books fluttering about on each side between his ribs and elbows! Look how he walks—he is actually swimming! Oh, the name Fisher becomes him exceedingly well.'

"I could not but agree with the justness of their remarks. I complimented them. I became more attentive to their conversation when at table, which happened to run thus— 'Mother, what has become of the Long Cloak? I saw him yesterday with the Old Boot. Do they reside together?' 'Oh, no; the Long Cloak looks often through yon garret window, where the Big Nose lived some time ago, etc., etc' They perfectly understood one another by these nicknames —Long Cloak, Old Boot, Big Nose, etc.

"This conversation suggested to me at once the means of dispensing with my old anarchical catalogue when in the garden—and in fact the whole plan of proceeding in the study of botany stood before my view. I felt confident I should soon leave all the young, jealous, triumphant, and sneering botanic geniuses at a respectable distance behind.

"It happened to be the time of admission; I proceeded immediately to that corner of the garden where the medical plants were, leaving the catalogue at home. I began christening these plants just in the same manner as my landlady and her ingenious daughters christened the students of the university, viz. I gave them those names which spontaneously were suggested to me by the sight, touch, etc., of them.

"The first plant suggested imperatively the name of Roof covered with snow, from the smallness, whiteness and peculiar disposition of its flowers, and so I wrote down in my copybook 'No. 978, Roof covered with snow.'

"Next I found No. 735, Red, big-headed, cock-nosed plant; and so on to about twenty plants in a few minutes.

"Then I tried whether I had committed to memory these plants—YES. In looking to the plants, their nicknames immediately jumped up before my imagination; in looking to these nicknames in my copy-book the plants themselves jumped up.

"My joy was extreme. In a quarter of an hour I left the garden, convinced that I had carried away twenty plants which I could cherish, repeat, meditate upon at my own leisure.

"The only thing that remained to be done was to know how people, how learned people, call them. This business I settled in a few minutes, thus: I put comfortably my catalogue upon the table, looked for No. 978, and found Achiloea Millefolium; this made rise before my imagination an eagle with a thousand feathers (on account of aquila in Latin, eagle; mille, thousand; and folium, leaf).

" I put simultaneously before my mind, Roof covered with snow, and eagle; and high mountain rose immediately before my imagination, thus—ROOFS covered with snow are to be found in high mountains, and so are EAGLES."

I have quoted the Major's experience fully, as it indicates so well the average student's feelings, and so graphically explains the manner of relieving them.

It must be noted that when Major Beniowski had familiarized a plant in the garden, and afterwards the name of the plant at home, by likening them to something that he knew well, and had come to the business of joining the two permanently in his mind, he used his imagination in a natural way. He did not invent a story to connect them; he simply put the two things simultaneously before his mind's eye, and waited, and the connexion came of itself.

The probability of such a common idea springing up quickly is dependent upon the degree of familiarity of both the ideas which are to be connected. Hence the importance of familiarization first.

By this means the Major found that he could at once carry away from the garden a clear memory of at least twenty plants within the hour, and as his faculty grew by exercise he memorized some hundreds of medical plants in a few visits to the garden.

Every student who uses this method to learn names of objects, or the meaning of words of a foreign language, or in fact anything of the kind, will find that his faculty rapidly grows. But let him be warned, for the benefit of his memory and mind, to use the imagination only naturally in finding the common or connecting idea. Do not create a fanciful picture, for if you do you will have made something extra, and what is more, unnatural, which will be a burden to the mind.

Let me summarize this process of learning and remembering by imagination:

First, it must be settled which two notions you want to connect.

Secondly, the notions must be familiarized, if necessary.

Thirdly, the notions must be stuck together by simultaneous contemplation, resulting in natural imagination, and

Then, when one of the notions is given the other will rise before the mind's eye.

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