Memory is a fascinating emergent property. We all have it, use it everyday, but don't really know exactly how it works. Most of us have no trouble remembering faces, various sounds, and a certain amount of numbers. However, there are some who can remember a LOT more than that. How do they do it? Can anyone do it?
We recently finished two books covering different but related topics on memory. One we had mentioned last March. The other we discovered recently at a used book store in Maine.
The first book, Born On A Blue Day, is by Daniel Tammet. Daniel is a high functioning autistic savant with the ability to perform incredible mental calculations. While this is not unheard of, what is unique is Daniel's ability to describe how he does it.
Whatever the reason, Daniel's senses appears to be overlapped. He "sees" numbers as shapes and colors. They also evoke feelings and can have textures. Check out Daniel's visualization of Pi! The book is a fascinating and inspiring read of Dan's journey from childhood to present day.
The second book is "How To Remember Everything You Read" by Stanley Frank. The book is a 11 chapter version of the 7-day Evelyn Wood speed reading and learning program.
This book is a step by step program on how to drastically improve reading speed and comprehension. We did not work through all of the techniques in the book on our first read, but we will go back and try it in earnest this week.
We came away with renewed appreciation and wonder of the miracle of our brain and its capabilities. We also learn quite a bit about the struggle of those whose mind may work differently than the "average." In the end, if there is one thing we need to remember, is that it is not our capabilities, but how we treat each other that is really what is important. - Wan Chi Lau (permalink)