24. Sets of objects – Greek and Roman gods
I am encoding the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods to a set of distinct objects (the image shows the end of the first act, with the actors for the next few acts waiting in the wings). All cultures have supernatural beings of some kind, so I’ve chosen the Greek and Roman version to memorise.
I arrange and rearrange the objects in different combinations as the stories are told, such as is known to have been done by the Yoruba with the 16 cowries or pine nuts, as in the experiment below. Australian Aboriginal cultures will arrange objects such as leaves, twigs and stones as stories are told. They will also draw in the soil with a stick. Seeds were used in various combinations as a mnemonic device by the Inca timekeepers as well, so it is the use of objects in combinations which is the basis of this experiment.
The more I use the arrangements of objects to encode the stories of supernatural beings, the more I find my brain recalls the layouts and the gods involved, but my memory also replays the movements which have become quite stylised. Almost a dance of my hands. I wish I could explain better! I hadn’t expected that. It reflects what musicians and actors have told me about muscle memory.
26. Scottish carved stone balls (in wood) – song and ceremonial cycles
Tom Chippindall is creating copies of Scottish carved stone balls to explore exactly how effective these are as memory devices. I have many songs from different experiments above. I am taking the six most important to encode to a six knob ball ( the most common) as my first level of initiation. I am then using balls with more knobs for my higher levels and further songs. This experiment is working wonderfully well.
The bottom left hand ball in the photo is my ceremonial cycle ball, to ensure I cycle through my memory experiments over the year and keep them all fresh. This mimicks the way indigenous ceremonies work.