Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In September

Angex Lin
The Book of Merlyn, by T. H. White
The First Men in the World, by Anne Terry White
The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer - It was fun to read and I enjoyed it; the ending of the book was a bit disappointing though. 
The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, by Elizabeth Payne 
Grimm's Fairy Tales, by the brothers Grimm

Doctor Who (season eight, as it comes) - I miss Eleven. 
Merlin (last half of season five)  
Bewitched (a couple episodes from season one)
State Fair
Robin Hood (season one) - It's fun but I don't think I want to watch any more of it
Downton Abbey (first bit of season one)

† Landmark Book

So, lots of school. ha. Oh, I finished a post about mind palaces last month that I'd been working on for a while, so you can go check it out if you want. ;) Did you read/watch any books/movies in September that you particularly liked? 

I hope you all have a wonderful October! xx

Monday, September 22, 2014

eleven pm, Sat.

*upon finishing first episode of BBC Robin Hood, my little sister and I look at each other*

meh lil' sis: Let's do the next one!
moi: ... First we're doing the dishes.
meh lil' sis: *puts on an unsurprised and resigned look* Oh, come on! Why do you have to be such an idealist?!

*we do dishes*

two happy sisters: This is awesome.

the end

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How to Build a Mind Palace

The pin said "how to think like Sherlock Holmes"; at that point I hadn’t read or watched any Holmes stories, but I knew his mind was famous for its grey cells. So I clicked on the pin and read the article it linked to, then several more. Eventually one used the term ‘mind palace.’ I didn’t know what it meant, but thought it sounded cool. So I looked it up. That was about a year ago.


There are two types of memory: Natural Memory and Artificial Memory. Natural memory is the memory we create, without any effort, of an event, thought, sensation, etc. Artificial memory is the memory we deliberately make a special effort to build or retain. Thus mnemonics, which aid or exemplify the memory, have to do with the artificial memory; a mind palace, the subject of this post, is a kind of mnemonic. Mind palaces are not so much for memorizing things as for remembering them.

The ancient Greek poet Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC) is the one usually credited with inventing the mnemonic sometimes called a mind palace. This art of memory was taught by the ancients through to medieval times as an easy and accurate way to remember things in times when not many knew how to write.

Simonides was invited to write a poem in honor of a nobleman of Thessaly, he did and recited it at a banquet held by the nobleman. In a section of his poem Simonides praised the twin demigods Castor and Pollux. This angered the nobleman, who proceeded to tell Simonides that, because the poem was only half in his praise, he would not pay its full price. He told Simonides that if he wished for his full payment he must request it of the two gods themselves. Later that night as the banquet continued, a servant came into the room with a message for Simonides telling him two men were outside who wished to speak with him. Simonides went outside looking for the  men, but found no one. As he stood outside, the roof of the banquet room collapsed, and the nobleman and everyone in the room were crushed and killed. So it was that the demigods Castor and Pollux paid for their share of the poem by drawing Simonides outside in time to save his life. After the accident when people came to retrieve the bodies for burial, the corpses were so mangled that they could not be recognized. However, Simonides was able to remember where each man at the table had been sitting in relation to the rest of the room and to the dinner table, and so was able to identify the remains. That is the story of how Simonides of Ceos discovered the principles of the art he is reputed to have created.

He inferred that persons desiring to train this faculty (of memory) must select places and form mental images of the things they wish to remember and store those images in the places, so that the order of the places will preserve the order of the things, and the images of the things will denote the things themselves, … .  (Cicero, De Oratore, II, lxxxvi – translation: Sutton & Rackham, 1942)

A mind palace is, quite simply, a building in which to store memories. The trick is that this building is not a memory but a place, and this place is contained within your mind. A mind palace for storing memories: it is, as Mycroft Holmes calls it, a memory palace.
In ancient Greece this art of memory was taught to students as a part of rhetoric. Were you to go back in time, you could watch a rhetoric student wander through a large and mostly empty building, memorizing the building until he could visualize it clearly with closed eyes. The building became a place in the student’s imagination to which he could go whenever he wished.
After making himself familiar with the building, a student would select different places in it such as an arch, the corner of a room, or a tabletop. These places are called loci (pronounced ‘loh-sigh,’ singular form locus). Then he would go, in his imagination, to a particular place in the building and put there an image of something that would remind him of whatever he wanted to remember. He could then walk through the building along a designated route, seeing the images he had put down as he went along and recalling as he saw them what they stood for.
There are two ways these images can be used: As a reminder of a particular word or as a reminder of a particular thing. However, images for words are much more complicated and time consuming than those used for things, and were not often used by the ancients except as a practice to strengthen the mind. The following notes and techniques for the building and use of a mind palace concern images for things only.

The palace is a place in a person’s mind where memories are stored. The first step in building a mind palace is to choose a building. A palace can be any type of building, real or fictitious. Learn your palace by heart so that you can walk through it with ease in your imagination, then choose a route to follow when moving through your palace.
Particular places in a mind palace are called loci. These places should have enough space between them that they don't become confused with each other, the distance needed is different for everyone. If the lighting around a locus is bad it may be difficult to see the images well, and if the room around a locus is very brightly colored or shiny it may be distracting. Designate loci throughout your mind palace. The more loci there are in your palace the more memories there are room for. The more the merrier.
Placed on loci are images, used to recall memories by the attachment of the image with the memory. An image can be of anything (friend, cupcake, etc.), but it must be associated in some way with what you want to remember. For example, the name of the object could rhyme with the name of what you want to remember. If you want to remember something a certain person said you could use an image of that person holding or doing something related to what they said. If you want to remember to get some eggs at the grocery store you could put a carton of eggs on the front porch of your palace. It might be added here that Whovians will have no problem finding images for numbers one through twelve. Images of people work well. The more memorable and unique an image is the better. Emotionally memorable qualities make an image easily remembered. A funny, beautiful, or grotesque image is much better than a banal one. A simple way to make an image more memorable is to mentally splash some red paint on it.  
Once you have established your mind palace and loci, create a route in your palace and make a habit of following it. A designated pathway is very useful for memorizing long lists, as it insures that you will visit each locus, and in the correct order. It is best that this route always be followed both on the way in, and the way out, of your palace.  


To store a memory in your mind palace, attach or associate the memory with an image, then go into your palace and place that image on a locus. Some find it useful to store different categories of things to be remembered into their own rooms, e.g. a certain room for names and a certain room for math formulas.

When reviewing your memories, go into your palace and walk along your designated route, stopping as you go along at each locus and its image to recall its memory. The more often you walk through your palace reviewing your images and loci the stronger they will become, try to review your loci and images at least once a week, if not daily. How often you review them depends simply on how important it is to you to keep them. It’s surprising though how long they will stay without being reviewed; I’ve forgotten to review my own for months at a time, only to find when I enter my mind palace again that they have not faded, though they may have grown shabby and accumulated dust. But I should add that before that I had been reviewing them constantly.

To delete an image, go to the locus it is on and stare at the image until it disintegrates and eventually disappears; or simply pick up the image and carry it out of your palace. Different people prefer different methods, and there are more than are listed here.


Mnemonics (arts of memory) have been valued through the ages not only as an aid to memory but also as a moral control of the imagination, which the stoics believed to be an important part of ethics. I think it’s neat that in his earliest work on rhetoric, De invention, Cicero defines virtue as, “a habit of mind in harmony with reason and the order of nature,” and lists, as one of its four parts, Prudence, which he describes as “the knowledge of what is good, what is bad and what is neither good nor bad. Its parts are memory, intelligence, foresight. Memory is the faculty by which the mind recalls what has happened. ...” Cicero’s definition of the virtues played an important role in the formulation of the four cardinal virtues during the Middle Ages, at which time the artificial memory was thought of as part of the cardinal virtue Prudence.

When I built my mind palace I originally planned to use it to remember stuff. And I do, but not very often. More often I use it as sort of place to go to in my imagination to think. It's a place where I can go to to be alone. I’ve never told anyone what it’s like, when I imagine it I’m the only one who’s ever imagined it: I have its only key. My mind palace is a place where can go to be still and to think and for me that’s wonderful.

x x x

Most of the information here was found in the book The Art of Memory, by Francis A. Yates. Various Wikipedia pages were also informative, but especially this post: How to Build Your Own Mind Palace, from the blog another boy who lived. I'd love to hear what you all think of mind palaces - if any of you use one or are thinking of building one. xx

Friday, September 19, 2014

Captain Blood 1935 Review

(this review is spoiler -free)

Rated NR
Time 119 min 
Release year 1935
Soundtrack Erich Wolfgang Korngold

This review is specially for Hamlette's Piratical Blogathon. You can follow that link to find other entries for this pirate-y affair. Also, happy Talk Like a Pirate day! 

In 17th century England, Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) is an Irish doctor. One night while preforming his duties as a physician for a rebel of the Monmouth Rebellion, he is arrested and charged with high treason for aiding the rebellion and is sold into slavery at the English colony Port Royal. There he is bought by the military commander's beautiful niece who, to better his chances, recommends him to the local governor, who is suffering from gout, as his personal doctor. Blood eventually escapes with his fellow slaves and becomes a very successful pirate. 

Captain Blood
Apparently Flynn's performance in Captain Blood is what led him to major stardom and becoming a symbol of "an unvanquished man" during the DepressionI just looked up Captain Blood's rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it has one hundred percent there. One hundred percent, people. I mean, wow. That never happens. haha The film is not rated; but if any of you are wondering, I would guess it would have been given PG. The violence is very mild and there's no smut.

When I was little my family almost always watched movies all together (except when my mom and brother watched movies together in secret) and usually at dinner. I remember one night sitting at the dining room table watching Captain Blood for the first time, I've seen it a couple of times since. I remember the tingle of excitement I felt as, in the opening sequence, a man on horse galloped to warn Dr. Blood that the soldiers were coming; the feeling of helplessness when he was arrested. I loved the duels and the escapes, and found Captain Blood himself dashing, daring, and  handsome. I guess my tastes have changed, I liked the movie better when I was younger, but I haven't forgotten how much I loved it once.  

my rating 3.8 / 5
favorite line Good morning, Uncle.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


So, I wrote this a long time ago, or what feels like a long time ago (3-7-13), and I figure I might as well share it here now. You know when you're taking a shower (and it's awesome) and suddenly you feel an idea coming to you, so you grab a towel and scramble to find paper and pen? And then you write as fast as you can before you forget, because, for some reason, it's incredibly important to save that idea? Well, that's where this came from. I Hope you'll tell me what you think.

by AndrewEllisPortfolio.Tumblr.com

There is more,
Beyond the skies, and past the clouds,
Beyond the moon, and past the stars,
Beyond my heart, beyond my mind,
There is more, there is more.

I was on a journey,
I was traveling on the road.
I was young, the road was life,
The stars were bright, the sun was warm.

The road was life, the sun was cold,
The stars were dim, the moon was grey.

There is more,
Beyond the sky, beyond the clouds,
Beyond the moon, beyond the stars.
Beyond my heart, beyond my mind.

I saw the stars shining in the night.
I saw a candle lit in the night.
I saw the moon rise in the night.
I saw the stars shining in the night.

There is more,
Beyond my heart, beyond my mind,
No flower blooms without a seed:
I saw the stars shining in the night

I was young when I was tried,
But I saw the stars shining in the night.
The moon rose in the night.
I saw a candle lit in the night.

And I knew, that there was more,
No flower blooms without a seed.

Beyond my wildest dreams.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Book of Merlyn

The Book of Merlyn, by T. H. White 

publication year 1977


The Book of Merlyn is a sort of sequel to The Once and Future King, but really it’s more like a few more chapters of it that got sectioned off into a different book. The Once and Future King tells the story of King Arthur, Gwenevere, and Lancelot; and of the Round Table and its knights. But it also tells a story of Merlyn teaching young Wart to think, well and for himself; and how Merlyn shared his dream of Right over Might with Arthur and how Arthur took it and made it his own, as Merlyn had hoped - and known - that he would. The book ends with Arthur, an old man, sitting in his tent at night before the Battle of Camlann, waiting for the battle of tomorrow: war with his son Mordred.

It is exactly here that Book of Merlyn picks up; Merlyn comes to Arthur in his tent: the first time either has seen the other for a long time.  They travel together to the cave Merlyn has been living in for the past years where the assembly of animals has met and welcome him.

Written prior to and during WW2, The Book of Merlyn's main theme and topic is war. It tells in the end of the deaths of Lancelot, Gwenevere, and especially of Arthur; the whole of the book leads up to that end, not as a climax or new adventure, simply as what is about to occur. As he was in The Once and Future King, Arthur is again changed into  different forms to learn from the animals: he takes on the form of an ant, and then of a gander. He listens as Merlyn, Badger, and the assembled animals discuss and argue over communism, anarchy, capitalism, and government in general; as well as comparing the value of the individual and the state.

In the beginning of the book Arthur is an old, worn-out and broken man; in the end he is once again an oxen at the plow: fighting for Right over Might, his life and example and plea. My favorite scene of the story was when Arthur, sick of the talk of warfare and man’s evil sins, leaves the assembled committee to sit outside under the night’s large sky and be still. His only companion then is the hedgehog: his faithful admirer: a stout, good urchin who left the cave with a worn-out old man and returned with a king. Arthur had found Truth, and a deep well of hope and love, and he was ready to try again, though he knew he would give his life for the trying.

Summery of the end from wikipeadia
The last chapter of the book takes place only hours before the final battle between King Arthur and his son and nephew Mordred. Arthur does not want to fight after everything that he has learned from Merlyn. He makes a deal with Mordred to split England in half. Mordred accepts. During the making of this deal, a snake comes upon one of Mordred's soldiers. The soldier draws his sword. The opposing side, unaware of the snake, takes this as an act of betrayal. Arthur's troops attack Mordred's, and both Arthur and Mordred die in the battle that follows.

I loved that book. I honestly couldn’t rightly say why I love it and The Once and Future King the way I do, or what it is about them that I love. But I do. I wouldn’t recommend either lightly though, and there aren’t many I’d recommend it to.

Friday, September 05, 2014


BBC Merlin
"...you two have always listened to me about my Table. [King Arthur speaking to Lancelot and Gwenevere] I want you to understand,"
"We will do our best." [Lancelot]
"Long ago when I had Merlyn to help, he tried to teach me to think. He knew he would have to leave in the end, so he forced me to think for myself. Don't ever let anybody teach you to think, Lance: it is the curse of the world." The king sat looking at his fingers, and they waited while the old thoughts ran sideways across his hands like crabs.

from The Once and Future King, T. H. White