If you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.
Our lives are the sum of our memories. How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by … not paying attention?
Our ability to find humor in the world, to make connections between previously unconnected notions, to create new ideas, to share in a common culture: All these essentially human acts depend on memory.
Memory is like a spiderweb that catches new information. The more it catches, the bigger it grows. And the bigger it grows, the more it catches.
The more we remember, the better we are at processing the world. And the better we are at processing the world, the more we can remember about it.
...who we are and what we do it is fundamentally a function of what we remember.
What makes things memorable is that they are meaningful, significant, colorful.
To the extent that experience is the sum of our memories and wisdom the sum of experience, having a better memory would mean knowing not only more about the world, but also more about myself.
The best memorizers in the world - who almost all hail from Europe - can memorize a pack of cards in less than a minute. A few have begun to approach the 30-second mark, considered the 'four-minute mile of memory.'
We've outsourced our memories to digital devices, and the result is that we no longer trust our memories. We see every small forgotten thing as evidence that they're failing us.
I met with amnesiacs and savants, educators and scientists, to try to understand what memory is, why it works, why it sometimes doesn't, and what its potential might be.
The way to get better at a skill is to force yourself to practice just beyond your limits.
How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by losing ourselves in our Blackberries, our iPhones, by not paying attention to the human being across from us who is talking with us, by being so lazy that we're not willing to process deeply?
Memory training is not just for the sake of performing party tricks; it's about nurturing something profoundly and essentially human.
During the Middle Ages they understood that words accompanied by imagery are much more memorable. By making the margins of a book colorful and beautiful, illuminations help make the text unforgettable. It's unfortunate that we've lost the art of illumination.
It is forgetting, not remembering, that is the essence of what makes us human. To make sense of the world, we must filter it. "To think," Borges writes, "is to forget.
Part of being creative is not being super-duper focused.
Someday in the distant cyborg future, when our internal and external memories fully merge, we may come to possess infinite knowledge. But that's not the same thing as wisdom.
Monotony collapses time. Novelty unfolds it.
With our blogs and tweets, digital cameras, and unlimited-gigabyte e-mail archives, participation in the online culture now means creating a trail of always present, ever searchable, unforgetting external memories that only grows as one ages.
Since at least the Middle Ages, philosophers and philologists have dreamed of curing natural languages of their flaws by constructing entirely new idioms according to orderly, logical principles.
Just as we accumulate memories of facts by integrating them into a network, we accumulate life experiences by integrating them into a web of other chronological memories. The denser the web, the denser the experience of time.
As bad as we are at remembering names and phone numbers and word-for-word instructions from our colleagues, we have really exceptional visual and spatial memories.
Experts step outside their comfort zone and study themselves failing.
When we first hear [a] word, we start putting these associational hooks into it that make it easier to fish it back out at some later date.
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