14 Matching Annotations
  1. Jun 2021
    1. Yet even thisdecline is followed by an unexpected resurgence in mnemonics in the 1800s, when Connors claimsthat writing was replacing speaking in school settings (127).

      I would question this statement, as annotated separately in this article. I have a feeling that the mnemonic tradition into the 1800's was more heavily influenced by the rise of the idea of the major system and not so much by the memory palace or the method of loci. This definitely seems to be the case in the United States based on my readings.

    2. Herdson also discusses how toconvert numbers and letters into such uninspiring mental pictures as a candle, a foot, a pipe, and similarhousehold items.

      What relation does Henry Herdson's The Art of Memory Made Plaine (1651, 1654) have to the potential development of the major system. The description here sounds like it's relatively similar. Who/What were his precursors, and who may have been influenced by his version of this system which sounds very similar.

    3. Willis’s primary interest was shorthand writing—he is chiefly noted forArt of Stenographie—andhis memory treatise is clearly influenced by shorthand’s mechanism of one-to-one correspondence.

      John Willis's Mnemonica (Latin 1618, English 1621, 1654, and 1661) covers memory, but he was apparently more interested in shorthand writing and also wrote Art of Stenographie.

      I'll have to read this for a view into the overlap of memory and shorthand with respect to the development of the major system. Did this influence others in the chain of history? It definitely fits into the right timeline.

    4. Memory treatises published in Europe, by half-century.

      In looking at this, I immediately wonder about the nature of the treatises. I would suspect there's a slow decline of treatises on the method of loci while the 1800's sees an increase of those writing about the major system and which I've found generally aren't aware of the method of loci or earlier methods.

  2. May 2021
    1. After 10 minutes, the word lists were collected and students were asked to write down as many of the list items as they could recall within five minutes.

      Were students asked or told if they'd be tested with this on long-term memory?

      Personally, I'd have used a simple major system method to memorize such a list for short term memory, but would have used other techniques for long term memory.

  3. Apr 2021
  4. mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk
    1. Hérigone’s only published work of any consequence is the Cursus mathematicus, a six-volume compendium of elementary and intermediate mathematics in French and Latin. Although there is little substantive originality in the Cursus, it shows an extensive knowledge and understanding of contemporary mathematics. Its striking feature is the introduction of a complete system of mathematical and logical notation, very much in line with the seventeenth-century preoccupation with universal languages.

      Interesting that this links the idea of universal languages to his mathematical notation and NOT to the idea of translating numbers into words using and early form of the major system.

    1. He also introduced a code by which numbers were translated into words to aid memorising them. The code was as follows: 1=p,a;2=b,e;3=c,i;4=d,o;5=t,u;6=f,ar,ra;7=g,er,re;8=l,ir,ri;9=m,or,ro;0=n,ur,ru1 = p, a; 2 = b, e; 3 = c, i; 4 = d, o; 5 = t, u; 6 = f, ar, ra; 7 = g, er, re; 8 = l, ir, ri; 9 = m, or, ro; 0 = n, ur, ru1=p,a;2=b,e;3=c,i;4=d,o;5=t,u;6=f,ar,ra;7=g,er,re;8=l,ir,ri;9=m,or,ro;0=n,ur,ru. So to remember a number such as 314159 one produced a word such as 'cadator' which then translated back into 314159. The assumption here was that 'cadator' was easier to remember than 314159.

      Sadly no reference to which book or portion in which this segment appears.

    1. Read chapter 11 "Memorizing Number" to see what Gardner says about available techniques. He only covers the phoenetic major system and some basic associative techniques.

      No mention of the method of loci. Some interesting references listed for the chapter however.



    1. To help himself to remember dates, he devised a system of mnemonics, which he circulated among his friends. As it has never been published, and as some of my readers may find it useful, I reproduce it here. My "Memoria Technica" is a modification of Gray's; but, whereas he used both consonants and vowels to represent digits, and had to content himself with a syllable of gibberish to represent the date or whatever other number was required, I use only consonants, and fill in with vowels ad libitum, and thus can always manage to make a real word of whatever has to be represented.

      Lewis Carroll aka Dodgson never published his own version of his memory system.

      N.B. He indicates here that he filled in his vowels ad libitum which is now the common practice for the phonetic major system. As this indicates he never published it, it then becomes a question as to whether or not he was the originator of this part of the technique or if it was later re-invented/discovered by others.

  5. Mar 2021
    1. Reasonable overview of history. Worth digging into to flesh out more fully with respect to the major system in particular.

    2. In 1648 Stanislaus Mink von Wenussheim or Winckelmann made known what he called the "most fertile secret" in mnemonics - namely, the use of consonants for figures, so as to express numbers by words (vowels being added as required); and the philosopher Leibnitz adopted an alphabet very similar to that of Winckelmann in connexion with his scheme for a form of writing common to all languages. Winckelmann's method, which in fact is adopted with slight changes by the majority of subsequent "original" systems, was modified and supplemented in regard to many details by Richard Grey (1694-1771), who published a Memoria technica in 1730.

      Apparently the beginning of the phonetic major system? Was there any relation to Celtes?

  6. Oct 2020
    1. The only exception is the letter A, which appears in the list – unlike the other vowels – and contains fi ve words beginning with the fi ve vowels: a – abbas (abbot), e – eques (knight), i – institor (tax-collector), o – offi cialis (ecclesiastical judge), and u – usurarius (usurer).

      Here he's interestingly removed the vowels, which is certainly reminiscent of the later Major System structure in at least some respect.

    2. As Celtis said, “it helps the memory a great deal, if someone knows the things of the world,”37 and Valentinus followed this advice when he refi lled the table of Celtis with meanings of his own.

      This seems to be very common practice in the modern art as many writers suggest using or modifying techniques so that they suit your experience and lived memory. If a different key word comes to you more quickly, then why not use that instead of one supplied by the creator of the system.

      There's also an echoing of this in Beniowski's idea of notions in "A Handbook of Phrenotypics" on the closeness of ideas.



    1. All we know for certain, through forensic testing, is that the manuscript likely dates to the 15th century, when books were handmade and rare.

      This may provide some additional proof that it's a memory aid in the potential form of a notebook or commonplace book. What were the likelihoods of these being more common that other books/texts? What other codes were used at the time? Was the major system or a variant in use at the time?