Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Ad Herennium - Memory Technique (90 BC)

Why is it that some images are so strong and sharp and so suitable for awakening memory, whilst others are so weak and feeble that they hardly stimulate memory at all ? We must enquire into this so as to know which images to avoid and which to seek.

"Now nature herself teaches us what we should do. When we see in every day life things that are pretty, ordinary, and banal, we generally fail to remember them, because the mind is not being stirred by anything novel or marvellous. But if we see or hear something exceptionally base, dishonorable, unusual, great, unbelievable, or ridiculous, that we are likely to remember for a long time.... We ought then, to set up images of a kind that can adhere longest in memory. And we shall do so if we establish similitudes as striking as possible; if we set up images that are not many or vague but active (imagines agentes); if we assign to them exceptional beauty or singular ugliness; if we ornament some of them, as with crowns or purple cloaks, so as the similitude may be more distinct to us; or if we somehow disfigure them, as by introducing one stained with blood or soiled with mud or smeared with red paint, so that it's form is more striking, or by assigning certain comic effects to our images, for that too, will ensure our remembering them more readily. The things we easily remember when they are real we likewise remember them without difficulty when they are figments." (Ad Herennium - 90 BC)

Mark 15:17
They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.

Isaiah 52:14
Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—

John 19:34
Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

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