reverse memory palace

the memory palace, or method of loci, is a procedure for committing a sequence of details, points to make in a speech for example, to memory such that they can be recalled when delivering the speech.

this method works by chunking the details into another system that is already well established, such that cross-linking the details to be memorized with locations in ones home or the site of the speech allow the speaker to associate the points with those locations and only be required to memorize a path through them.

I have found a similar process at work when reading physical books, as opposed to electronic books. that is, I am able to recall where in the book a particular idea was located physically. whether it was the beginning middle or end of the book, whether it was on the top, middle, or bottom of the page, if it was the front or back of the page, where in the chapter it was, etc. not with perfect fidelity, but I’m usually able to use this sense to index to the idea I’m after quite quickly.

journaling as reverse memory palace

now imagine the activity of journaling. there are many ways to journal, but the one I use is first to reflect silently for 10 minutes, then to start writing. I never have a plan, I’m only attempting to capture what is waiting to come out. it’s a variety of what Jung called “automatic writing”. my goal is to find out what’s on my mind that I might not be aware of, and allow it to elaborate a bit.

the process of generatively allowing one’s mind to write journal entries is what I’m referring to as the reverse memory palace. rather than writing a speech, then using memories of familiar places to lock those details in, invert the process. use memories of familiar places, or states of mind, as prompts to write a speech. in this case, not really a speech but a journal entry which is trying to make a point, but that point is not known until the process is over.