In Pursuit of A Better Memory. Mnemosyne And The Three Muses Characters in Greek Mythology. Does Memory Really Matter ?


Willie Willie Harry Stee
Harry Dick John Harry three;
One two three Neds, Richard two
Harrys four five six….then who?
Edwards four five, Dick the bad,
Harrys (twain), Ned six (the lad);
Mary, Bessie, James you ken,
Then Charlie, Charlie, James again…
Will and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Georges four, Will four Victoria;
Edward seven next, and then
Came George the fifth in nineteen ten;
Ned the eighth soon abdicated
Then George six was coronated;
After which Elizabeth
And that’s all folks until her death.

When A Joke Made Me A Joker,
Van Held The Poker,
The Fiery Poker,
But Long John Grant Had Gone
And Chased His Crazy Mooses
‘Round The West Hollering,
“Can’t Help Rinse Those Empty Kettles Just Now, Friend.”
Come ‘Round By Charlie’s Bed Often (or: Colanders Rinse Bad Cabbage Best, Obviously)


What ? What the hell are the two rhymes I listed out? Take a guess. William the Conqueror ? Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. George Washington Abraham Lincoln , Roosevelt and Obama. That’s the clue. Well If one were asked to sequentially name all the kings of England I make a very safe guess Nine out of Ten would draw a blank and the same goes for naming all the presidents of America. Most of us would care less to remember all the kings of England or all the Presidents of America for the general consensus would be how it would matter if someone is able to name all the Kings and Queens of England or the Presidents of America. I agree it does not amount to much but no denying the power to impress a random someone with one’s remarkable memory is not questionable. So coming to the point the first rhyme I started out with is the mnemonic to remember all the kings of England and the second one is the one to remember the presidents of America where the first letter of the word in the rhyme corresponds to the last name of the president in a sequential fashion. So what is a mnemonic to begin with ? A device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.

I am up to some thing now. Is Memory really important? Does Blind memorizing aid in the pursuit of knowledge? Do we really need mnemonics to aid memory? Does More Memory lead to enhanced thinking? Even before I start answering these questions I was recently asked by my friend to read a book about Memory. But Why? I and my friends were off on a vacation in Mexico and I had created an impression on quite a few with my recollection of facts more importantly when we visited the Aztec ruins and Pyramids in the province of Yucatan, Mexico including the guide who was giving us a tour. My Friends realized my love for trivia and I myself confessed that I would like to take part in world Quiz Championship 2017 for the fun of it. Once we were back from the vacation my friend sent me a message to read the book I am talking about and he said “The Book would help me improve my memory and help me if I were to take part in the World Quiz Championship”. The Book Moon Lighting with Einstein by Joshua Foer describes a Journalists story about how he had become the American Memory Champion with less than a year of preparation by mastering the techniques of Memory Enhancement.


Frankly the Book was an interesting read. The techniques which Joshua describes were used by the Greeks and the scholars in the Late fifteenth century where memory was at a premium before the advent of the printing press. The Books were rare and there was a great impetus on remembering what was learned because Google was not around. The author argues the education system which was so focused on memorization gradually gave in to the critics who argued for analytical thinking than the rote memorization of facts. But the author a great fan of factual learning argued by introducing characters from Greek mythology Mnemosyne and three Muses. The Muses were the Greek goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts. They were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the personification of memory), Now days Muse is a world colloquially used for thinking. In short the author makes a point its memory which enhances thinking and creativity and it takes knowledge to acquire more knowledge and memory acting as the reservoir for knowledge interestingly the reservoir would not risk overflowing. The books discusses the method of Loci a memory enhancement technique amongst a variety of techniques including Tony Buzan the inventor of Mind Mapping

The method of loci is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualizations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one’s environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information. The method of loci is also known as the memory journey, memory palace, or mind palace technique. This method is a mnemonic device adopted in ancient Roman and Greek rhetorical treatises (in the anonymous Rhetorica ad Herennium, Cicero’s De Oratore, and Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria). Many memory contest champions claim to use this technique to recall faces, digits, and lists of words. These champions’ successes have little to do with brain structure or intelligence, but more to do with using spatial memory and the use of the method of loci.

The term is most often found in specialized works on psychology, neurobiology, and memory, though it was used in the same general way at least as early as the first half of the nineteenth century in works on rhetoric, logic, and philosophy. John O’Keefe and Lynn Nadel refer to:

‘The method of loci’, an imaginary technique known to the ancient Greeks and Romans and described by Yates (1966) in her book The Art of Memory as well as by Luria (1969). In this technique the subject memorizes the layout of some building, or the arrangement of shops on a street, or any geographical entity which is composed of a number of discrete loci. When desiring to remember a set of items the subject ‘walks’ through these loci in their imagination and commits an item to each one by forming an image between the item and any feature of that locus. Retrieval of items is achieved by ‘walking’ through the loci, allowing the latter to activate the desired items. The efficacy of this technique has been well established (Ross and Lawrence 1968, Crovitz 1969, 1971, Briggs, Hawkins and Crovitz 1970, Lea 1975), as is the minimal interference seen with its use.


After Reading the Book I felt only If I had read the book way back in my life when I was in college, Well I was thankful for having read the book any way but even if we pursue to enhance our memory would it be of any use assuming any of us are not sitting to take a competitive exam where the focus is on remembering a vast array of information. Well as It has been said Mnemosyne and Muse share a Mother daughter relationship and the more we remember the more we think and to contemplate you need to know something? But why contemplate in the first place. Well We are Humans and we can think and that’s why we pride ourselves as a collective whole, and thinking and Memory are interrelated. Tribute to Rodin the Great French Sculptor who immortalized the Great Thinker

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RS is a deep thinker. His hobby is to analyze and reanalyze. Out of a passion to analyze he started this blog

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