|"I feel assured that there is no such thing as ultimate forgetting; traces once impressed upon the memory are indestructible." —Thomas De Quincey|
An accurate and retentive memory is the basis of all business success. In the last analysis, all our knowledge is based on our memories. Plato said it this way, "All knowledge is but rememberance"; while Cicero said of memory, it is "the treasury and guardian of all things". One strong example should suffice for the time being—you could not be reading this book right now, if you didn't remember the sounds of the twenty-six letters of our alphabet!
This may seem a bit far fetched to you, but it is true, nevertheless. Actually, if you were to lose your memory completely, you would have to start learning everything from scratch, just like a new born baby. You wouldn't remember how to dress, or shave, or apply your makeup, or how to drive your car, or whether to use a knife or fork, etc. You see, all the things we attribute to habit, should be attributed to memory. Habit is memory.
Mnemonics, which is a large part of a trained memory, is not a new or strange thing. As a matter of fact, the word, "mnemonic" is derived from the name of the Greek Goddess, Mnemosyne; and, memory systems were used as far back as early Greek civilization. The strange thing is that trained memory systems are not known and used by many more people. Most of those who have learned the secret of mnemonics in memory, have been amazed, not only at their own tremendous ability to remember, but also at the kudos they received from their families and friends.
Some of them decided it was too good a thing to teach to anyone else. Why not be the only man at the office who could remember every style number and price; why not be the only one who could get up at a party, and demonstrate something that everyone marvelled at?
I, on the other hand, feel that trained memories should be brought to the foreground, and to this end—this book is dedicated. Although some of you may know me as an entertainer, it is not my purpose, of course, to teach you a memory act. I have no desire to put you on the stage. I do want to teach you the wonderful practical uses of a trained memory. There are many memory stunts taught in this book; these are fine for showing your friends how bright you are. More important, they are excellent memory exercises, and the ideas used in all the stunts can be applied practically.
The question that people ask me most often, is, "Isn't it confusing to remember too much?" My answer to that is, "No!" There is no limit to the capacity of the memory. Lucius Scipio was able to remember the names of all the people of Rome; Cyrus was able to call every soldier in his army by name; while Seneca could memorize and repeat two thousand words, after hearing them once.
I believe that the more you remember, the more you can remember. The memory, in many ways, is like a muscle. A muscle must be exercised and developed in order to give proper service and use; so must the memory. The difference is that a muscle can be overtrained or become musclebound while the memory cannot. You can be taught to have a trained memory just as you can be taught anything else. As a matter of fact, it is much easier to attain a trained memory than, say, to learn to play a musical instrument. If you can read and write English, and have a normal amount of common sense, and if you read and study this book, you will have acquired a trained memory! Along with the trained memory you will probably acquire a greater power of concentration, a purer sense of observation, and perhaps, a stronger imagination.
Remember please, that there is no such thing as a bad memory! This may come as a shock to those of you who have used your supposedly "bad" memories as an excuse for years. But, I repeat, there is no such thing as a bad memory. There are only trained or untrained memories. Almost all untrained memories are one-sided. That is to say that people who can remember names and faces, cannot remember telephone numbers, and those who remember phone numbers, can't, for the life of them, remember the names of the people they wish to call.
There are those who have a pretty good retentive memory, but a painfully slow one; just as there are some who can remember things quickly, but cannot retain them for any length of time. If you apply the systems and methods taught in this book, I can assure you a quick and retentive memory for just about anything.
As I mentioned in the previous chapter, anything you wish to remember must in some way or other, be associated in your mind to something you already know or remember. Of course, most of you will say that you have remembered, or do remember, many things, and that you do not associate them with anything else. Very true! If you were associating knowingly, then you would already have the beginnings of a trained memory.
You see, most of the things you have ever remembered, have been associated subconsciously with something else that you already knew or remembered. The important word here, is, "subconsciously". You yourselves do not realize what is going on in your subconscious; most of us would be frightened if we did. What you subconsciously associated strongly, will be remembered, what was not associated strongly, will be forgotten. Since this tiny mental calisthenic takes place without your knowledge, you cannot help it any.
Here then is the crux of the matter—I am going to teach you to associate anything you want to, consciously! When you have learned to do that, you will have acquired a trained memory!
Keep in mind that the system that I teach in this book is an aid to your normal or true memory. It is your true memory that does the work for you, whether you realize it or not. There is a very thin line between a trained memory and the true memory, and as you continue to use the system taught here, that line will begin to fade.
That is the wonderful part about the whole thing; after using my system consciously for a while—it becomes automatic and you almost start doing it subconsciously!
Test Your Memory