There’s a classic Greek Tragedy behind the history of mnemonics, the method for setting up patterns to remember things.
The story goes that around 500BC a Greek poet, Simonides was celebrating a victory with a renowned nobleman. He had just stepped out of the building where the celebrations were being held when it collapsed killing many of the revelers.
Simonides was able to recall the position of each person who had been in the building so they could be identified for burial. His system to use the location of each person as a memory aid founded the system of mnemonics.
Today, the world’s great memory experts still use this system, now known as a Memory Palace, to build a pattern based on locations and images, to remember sequences of facts, figures or any piece of information. The memoriser simply ‘walks’ through these loci and commits an item to each one by forming an image between the item and any distinguishing feature of that locus.
This system is also called the Method of Loci or the Journey Method. It is so effective as it lights up a number of areas of the brain that enable us to remember.
Stories do the same thing. In fact, you could say that great stories are simply different forms of a memory palace, where a pattern is set up for a series of happenings from our life and experiences.
There is both an art and a science both to memorizing things and using stories to convey information.
In today’s media and information saturated world, embedding and remembering what we need to know to navigate our work, our goals and our lives is the key to success.