Memory modern and ancient

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Memory modern and ancient

Postby KEND on Sun Apr 30, 2017 4:50 am

The introduction of writing, printing and more recently, data storage has advanced humanity's ability to modify the planet and understand the universe around us. As a result of this we have become less dependent on our memories. This may be to the detriment of the psyche. The following is an article which addresses this.

Ancient Indigenous Memory Systems
By Cassandra Sheppard on Thursday October 6th, 2016
Using Ancient Techniques to Train Modern Brains
How much degradation of old people’s minds could be linked to the fact that we isolate them from their old songs, dances and stories?
The human brain has the natural ability to remember thousands of facts and huge swathes of information, by adopting the technique of orality, which the ancients used to construct their entire knowledge systems.
In her work with Australian Indigenous elders, Honorary Research Associate at LaTrobe University , science writer and author of The Memory Code, Lynne Kelly, has unlocked the secrets of Aboriginal Songlines, Stonehenge, Easter Island and
The places, songs, dances, art, stories and rituals connected to the Aboriginal Songlines contain entire knowledge systems that, today, would be the equivalent to universities. They are sophisticated memory systems that ensured survival, brought the land alive and made it sacred ground.
This discovery is the key to understanding the purpose of the Neolithic stone circles of Britain and Europe, the ancient Pueblo buildings in New Mexico and other prehistoric stone monuments across the world. We can still use these techniques today to train our own memories.
Upon asking how the Elders “…could remember so much stuff without writing anything down,” Lynne developed this body of work that has completely transformed her life. “When you don’t have literacy, you have orality,” she said.
Thousands of Years of Information
People could remember countless details about the natural and social world around them, yet they were non-literate. In their nomadic, oral traditions they needed to be able to store knowledge and information somewhere. Lynne’s work has revealed that this was the purpose of Songlines. “The Songlines are heavily imbued with the minutely detailed, practical information necessary for survival and for maintaining cultural integrity,” said Lynne Kelly.
They contain thousands of years of collated information about plants, animals, landscape, weather, star systems, navigation, ethics and lore, resource use rights, genealogy and marriage rules. It is the vast and complex intellectual property they contain that makes Songlines and the landscapes they traverse sacred to Indigenous people.
Associating Story with Place
Other scientific research has proven that the human brain has an inner GPS system that locates information in places. It is why you can remember how to get from place to place and remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard significant news. Ancient oral cultures knew that the brain easily associates physical place with remembering information.
In a Songline, each location in a landscape has attached to it an instruction about the relevant song, dance, story, character or all of those. In those songs and stories is all the information about a particular thing that people needed to remember, as well as the rights and responsibilities attached to that information. It is the practical information needed for survival.
Making Stories Memorable
The creative delivery of the information makes it even more memorable and fun. “The stories and songs can be quite nonsensical, making them even easier to remember. It was about being able to remember, and that’s why Indigenous stories and myths can often seem quite fantastical,” said Kelly.
Depending on the nature of the information it is necessary to repeat it regularly in the form of ceremonies and rituals (meaning a repeated act) to ensure it is accurately remembered. Initiation created different levels of access to the knowledge as a way of keeping the information accurate. There were layers and layers and layers – to avoid the Chinese whisper effect.
Every songline contains different stories and dances
More than one piece of information can be attached to a place and the brain naturally has the ability to sift through and bring up what is needed. The landscape is literally alive with knowledge. It is a system that makes coming together regularly to sing, dance and tell stories a matter of life and death.
Songlines that have been recorded along the Queensland coast and in Victoria contain accurate geographical data that is at least 7,000 years old – a true indication of how effective this method of remembering is.
Indigenous Memory Systems Around the World
Indigenous cultures around the world use these systems. The Navajo in America are able to recall the details of 701 species of insect to three levels of classification. In the American south west, the pueblo culture which is intact, have maintained at least seven varieties of corn of different colour and variety for hundreds of years.
The Navajo continue to pass their stories on through the generations
“If you plant a monoculture in a harsh environment and things go wrong, the people will die, because they depend on it. If you read the pueblo accounts you get stories of the corn mothers and the cord maidens who all wear a different colour… the implications are that the rules for the corn are embedded in them. They are to protect the variety, to optimise survival,” said Kelly.
Changing the Way we Store Knowledge
Once cultures settled into an agrarian lifestyle they needed to store their knowledge somewhere. They needed hooks for their information and they needed ceremonial performance space. The stones at Stonehenge, the elaborate buildings of New Mexico and the statues at Easter Island all have innumerable distinguishing features onto which information hooks could be placed. And the ceremonial spaces around them would have been used to perform the associated songs, dances and rituals to ensure the knowledge formerly kept in the landscape was not lost.
Non-literate cultures also used memory boards. The West Africans use a lukasa, while the Aboriginal Australians had a tjuringa. It’s a piece of wood or art onto which individual identifiable features are added in order to remember a set of knowledge.
The Prevalence of Ancient Memory Boards
Kelly explained, “Mysterious carved stone balls from the Scottish Neolithic period that have been found and no one knows what they are for. I showed a photo of one to an Aboriginal Elder and he said – Oh they do their tjuringa on these balls!
“No one had ever asked an Elder what these objects might be for! So you’ve also got the Stonehenge chalk paths decorated with enigmatic inscriptions, it’s the same concept as an Aboriginal tjuringa. It fits the pattern absolutely.
“Until you’ve tried these methods, it’s impossible to understand. On my memory board I’ve encoded the more than 400 birds of Victoria. I would never have believed I could do that. Now I will go up to the birds of the whole of Australia. It’s extraordinarily strong. I can’t see any bird out there without seeing that bird’s location on my board. And that is an incredibly precious object to me,” she said.
Contemporary Applications
When I asked Lynne about contemporary application for these systems she said, “This work has invaluable application in contemporary life. It links directly to how our brains naturally work. For example in Alzheimer’s – you can take people to places and they can sing, and remember things off the landscape. How much degradation of old people’s minds could be linked to the fact that we isolate them from their old songs, dances and stories?”
Alzheimer patient remembering old music
“Look at children,” she said. “Singing, dancing, art are natural ways they express themselves. That is included as a part of their school curriculum, but then when it is time to learn maths or science we shut that part of their brains down. Why? Knowledge and remembering arises through narrative, music, and dance. No one is saying there is anything wrong with what we are doing – just that this approach can enhance what we’re doing.”
Lynne Kelly regards one of the most important issues around her discovery to be the Indigenous intellectual property. “I think what has been lost out of all of this is the practical intellect, the intellectual property. Development going ahead on Indigenous sacred sites is effectively the same as burning down a university. It is the intellect that we westerners value so highly and it is there. We just couldn’t see it,” she said.
Kelly hopes that this work has helped a bit:
It can be brought back; the thing is if it is not respected by the youth it is very hard for the elders to get them. It is hard work. They study every bit as hard as we do. It is not just some chat while out on the gather and hunt. It is studying and learning in systematic ways through initiation. You can’t teach and Songlines if you can’t sing a Songline.
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby jimmy on Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:36 am

sorry... sometimes i just like to edit... :D

KEND wrote:The introduction of writing, printing and more recently, data storage has advanced humanity's ability to modify the planet and understand the universe around us. As a result of this we have become less dependent on our memories. This may be to the detriment of the psyche. The following is an article which addresses this.

Ancient Indigenous Memory Systems
By Cassandra Sheppard on Thursday October 6th, 2016

Using Ancient Techniques to Train Modern Brains
How much degradation of old people’s minds could be linked to the fact that we isolate them from their old songs, dances and stories?
The human brain has the natural ability to remember thousands of facts and huge swathes of information, by adopting the technique of orality, which the ancients used to construct their entire knowledge systems.

In her work with Australian Indigenous elders, Honorary Research Associate at LaTrobe University , science writer and author of The Memory Code, Lynne Kelly, has unlocked the secrets of Aboriginal Songlines, Stonehenge, Easter Island and...

The places, songs, dances, art, stories and rituals connected to the Aboriginal Songlines contain entire knowledge systems that, today, would be the equivalent to universities. They are sophisticated memory systems that ensured survival, brought the land alive and made it sacred ground.

This discovery is the key to understanding the purpose of the Neolithic stone circles of Britain and Europe, the ancient Pueblo buildings in New Mexico and other prehistoric stone monuments across the world. We can still use these techniques today to train our own memories.

Upon asking how the Elders “…could remember so much stuff without writing anything down,” Lynne developed this body of work that has completely transformed her life. “When you don’t have literacy, you have orality,” she said.

Thousands of Years of Information
People could remember countless details about the natural and social world around them, yet they were non-literate. In their nomadic, oral traditions they needed to be able to store knowledge and information somewhere. Lynne’s work has revealed that this was the purpose of Songlines. “The Songlines are heavily imbued with the minutely detailed, practical information necessary for survival and for maintaining cultural integrity,” said Lynne Kelly.

They contain thousands of years of collated information about plants, animals, landscape, weather, star systems, navigation, ethics and lore, resource use rights, genealogy and marriage rules. It is the vast and complex intellectual property they contain that makes Songlines and the landscapes they traverse sacred to Indigenous people.

Associating Story with Place
Other scientific research has proven that the human brain has an inner GPS system that locates information in places. It is why you can remember how to get from place to place and remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard significant news. Ancient oral cultures knew that the brain easily associates physical place with remembering information.

In a Songline, each location in a landscape has attached to it an instruction about the relevant song, dance, story, character or all of those. In those songs and stories is all the information about a particular thing that people needed to remember, as well as the rights and responsibilities attached to that information. It is the practical information needed for survival.

Making Stories Memorable
The creative delivery of the information makes it even more memorable and fun. “The stories and songs can be quite nonsensical, making them even easier to remember. It was about being able to remember, and that’s why Indigenous stories and myths can often seem quite fantastical,” said Kelly.

Depending on the nature of the information it is necessary to repeat it regularly in the form of ceremonies and rituals (meaning a repeated act) to ensure it is accurately remembered. Initiation created different levels of access to the knowledge as a way of keeping the information accurate. There were layers and layers and layers – to avoid the Chinese whisper effect.

Every songline contains different stories and dances. More than one piece of information can be attached to a place and the brain naturally has the ability to sift through and bring up what is needed. The landscape is literally alive with knowledge. It is a system that makes coming together regularly to sing, dance and tell stories a matter of life and death.

Songlines that have been recorded along the Queensland coast and in Victoria contain accurate geographical data that is at least 7,000 years old – a true indication of how effective this method of remembering is.

Indigenous Memory Systems Around the World
Indigenous cultures around the world use these systems. The Navajo in America are able to recall the details of 701 species of insect to three levels of classification. In the American south west, the pueblo culture which is intact, have maintained at least seven varieties of corn of different colour and variety for hundreds of years.

The Navajo continue to pass their stories on through the generations. “If you plant a monoculture in a harsh environment and things go wrong, the people will die, because they depend on it. If you read the pueblo accounts you get stories of the corn mothers and the cord maidens who all wear a different colour… the implications are that the rules for the corn are embedded in them. They are to protect the variety, to optimise survival,” said Kelly.

Changing the Way we Store Knowledge
Once cultures settled into an agrarian lifestyle they needed to store their knowledge somewhere. They needed hooks for their information and they needed ceremonial performance space. The stones at Stonehenge, the elaborate buildings of New Mexico and the statues at Easter Island all have innumerable distinguishing features onto which information hooks could be placed. And the ceremonial spaces around them would have been used to perform the associated songs, dances and rituals to ensure the knowledge formerly kept in the landscape was not lost.

Non-literate cultures also used memory boards. The West Africans use a lukasa, while the Aboriginal Australians had a tjuringa. It’s a piece of wood or art onto which individual identifiable features are added in order to remember a set of knowledge.

The Prevalence of Ancient Memory Boards
Kelly explained, “Mysterious carved stone balls from the Scottish Neolithic period that have been found and no one knows what they are for. I showed a photo of one to an Aboriginal Elder and he said – Oh they do their tjuringa on these balls! “No one had ever asked an Elder what these objects might be for! So you’ve also got the Stonehenge chalk paths decorated with enigmatic inscriptions, it’s the same concept as an Aboriginal tjuringa. It fits the pattern absolutely.
“Until you’ve tried these methods, it’s impossible to understand. On my memory board I’ve encoded the more than 400 birds of Victoria. I would never have believed I could do that. Now I will go up to the birds of the whole of Australia. It’s extraordinarily strong. I can’t see any bird out there without seeing that bird’s location on my board. And that is an incredibly precious object to me,” she said.

Contemporary Applications
When I asked Lynne about contemporary application for these systems she said, “This work has invaluable application in contemporary life. It links directly to how our brains naturally work. For example in Alzheimer’s – you can take people to places and they can sing, and remember things off the landscape. How much degradation of old people’s minds could be linked to the fact that we isolate them from their old songs, dances and stories?”

Alzheimer patient remembering old music
“Look at children,” she said. “Singing, dancing, art are natural ways they express themselves. That is included as a part of their school curriculum, but then when it is time to learn maths or science we shut that part of their brains down. Why? Knowledge and remembering arises through narrative, music, and dance. No one is saying there is anything wrong with what we are doing – just that this approach can enhance what we’re doing.”

Lynne Kelly regards one of the most important issues around her discovery to be the Indigenous intellectual property. “I think what has been lost out of all of this is the practical intellect, the intellectual property. Development going ahead on Indigenous sacred sites is effectively the same as burning down a university. It is the intellect that we westerners value so highly and it is there. We just couldn’t see it,” she said.

Kelly hopes that this work has helped a bit:
It can be brought back; the thing is if it is not respected by the youth it is very hard for the elders to get them. It is hard work. They study every bit as hard as we do. It is not just some chat while out on the gather and hunt. It is studying and learning in systematic ways through initiation. You can’t teach and Songlines if you can’t sing a Songline.
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby Peacedog on Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:06 am

Probably the best book ever written on memory techniques is by an academic named Kenneth L. Higbee entitled Your Memory: How It Works.

After a very long period of time it is back in print and now available on Kindle (see link below). I cannot recommend his book highly enough. It takes a lot of the mystery out of learning how to do this and revolutionized my study of herbal medicine. All of the commercial "how to improve your memory" books use one or more of the techniques described in this book. Don't waste your money on anything else. Just buy this book.

It takes about four to six months to gain proficiency at this kind of work if you give it an hour a day and is well worth the time.

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Memory-How- ... +L.+Higbee
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby yeniseri on Sun Apr 30, 2017 3:54 pm

Most people link memory to a modern exposition of writing, language and 'literacy', which at best is a forgery of the past.

The cultural memory of indigenous people has always subjected to, and lowered to that of primitve savages despite their traditions as being a reflection of thier journey and travels, which is usually truth as direction and vision/ Some cultural have special individuals tasked with remembering their cultural traditions and this is becoming a "lost" tradituion especially with these modern tools of communication being made affordable, and a trap for future generation.
I remember when I was just a young laddy bwoy )not a lady boy ;D where we had to memorize poetry *Robert, the Bruce" ;D multiplication tables and other stuff and today it has proved to be useful.

I do enjoy the many books on the usefullness of memory and how it works but in the face of increases in senile dementia, neurological disease and Alzheimers related syndromes something is dreadfully missing. I just a small video on how memories can be falsified due to lack of the necessary nutrients, age and disease but it is worthwile to try to counter those effects with positive research
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby KEND on Mon May 01, 2017 2:20 am

I work on the theory that the neural pathways , like muscles, have to be exercised, So, besides a daily regimen of crosswords and sudoko I set myself memory tests every week: movie directors/world maps/maths problems/music from movies/history etc
Incidentally what was the Robert the Bruce poem, my grandmother was a Bruce and would tell me the story of him watching a spider and learning to be patient
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby Steve James on Mon May 01, 2017 6:56 am

I think the difference between memorization ability and memorization need. Pre-literate societies orally transmitted the knowledge needed to survive. Elders were respected because they had that knowledge. Literacy eventually changed that, but it took a few thousand years. And, it's only very recently that literacy rates have been high (and that started only after the translations of the Bible, which was also originally an oral survival story). In fact, the keys to memory are need and desire. You will remember things that your life depends on or what you really want. For ex., if you're at a party and meet the woman/man of your dreams. She offers to give you her number, but you don't have a pen or piece of paper. She has to go right away, but she whispers her number in your ear. Whether you forget or not depends on how much you want to remember.

There are plenty of memory systems. Often, they're best for remembering things that one "needs" for school or for fun. In my literature classes, I have students read many texts and poems. On their tests, students are given a few lines from the texts and then asked merely to correctly identify the author and the title. Sure, they "need" to remember in order to pass the test; but, that's not why I ask them to remember. First and foremost, it requires them to actually read the text. That's the only way they will know what the text is about. And, they'll have to try to understand the text in order to recognize parts of it. In the beginning, they tell me that it's not possible to remember a dozen different texts. That's when I tell them that they need to develop a system --their own system.

Students who were interested in the texts get it right away. By the end of the semester (and four more tests), the majority are fairly proficient. Better yet, they say that they know how to apply their own technique to the rest of their studies. The best, though, is when a student comes up to me literally a decade later and says that he or she still remembers the texts read for the class. It's not because they've memorized anything, either.
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby wiesiek on Thu May 04, 2017 2:26 am

Octopus lack of "memory storage", different than their brains is main reason - that - we eat them in the 1st place ,not in reverse order :)
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby everything on Thu May 04, 2017 5:25 pm

People in the modern world can remember SO many pop song lyrics --- in the appropriate context with the appropriate cues -- with the song playing. Hearing one line or verse, the other lines and verses come to you from the far recesses of your brain. If there is an emotional connection/memory, even more so.

People can also do this with movie lines - entire movies even.

Usually people absolutely do not train for this.

I have no idea what my point is, but I guess humans still have incredible memories w/o any special training --- except the recall can happen to be strong when you mix all the media and senses - music, emotions, places, times of your life, sequences of lyrics that make your recall the rest, motion pictures, etc. --- there is some kind of "aided recall".
amateur practices til gets right pro til can't get wrong
/ better approx answer to right q than exact answer to wrong q which can be made precise /
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby Steve James on Thu May 04, 2017 6:11 pm

I have no idea what my point is, but I guess humans still have incredible memories w/o any special training --


Well, afa songs, there's a lot more to remembering than memory, and there are plenty of things that one remembers without trying. Some would argue that the ability to forget must be built in. Does anyone remember the name of his first love? Try to 'unremember' something sometime :).
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby jimmy on Thu May 04, 2017 6:44 pm

goddamn mary... but we still love her...
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby everything on Thu May 04, 2017 7:10 pm

No idea how they verify some of this but...

http://www.boredpanda.com/woman-remembe ... -sharrock/

Do you remember the details of your very first birthday? Of course you don’t. But Rebecca Sharrock does, because the 27-year-old from Brisbane has got something called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM). It’s a condition that stops people from being able to forget anything, and it’s thought that only around 60-80 people in the world have it. As a result, Rebecca is able to recall every part of her life in vivid detail, whether it be the dreams she had at eighteen months old or being photographed in a car just 12 days after her birth!




There must be some way these people can use this superpower.

We know a lot about how people create memories. We know almost nothing about how people forget.
Last edited by everything on Thu May 04, 2017 7:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
amateur practices til gets right pro til can't get wrong
/ better approx answer to right q than exact answer to wrong q which can be made precise /
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby Steve James on Thu May 04, 2017 7:49 pm

Yes, it's a real condition. But, for many of those with the syndrome, it's a curse. They don't want to remember everything; but, they have no choice. It's the opposite of a general amnesia. There was a guy who, after a head injury at 26, woke up every day as if it were the day before. It was a bit like Groundhog Day. I'm trying to remember whether the condition subsided, but I don't think it did. Iirc, he died in his eighties thinking he was still in his 20s.

Then there are the people with photographic memories on one hand an autistic savants on the other. There are those like the character in "Rain Man" who can remember almost whatever they want. However, for them, the trade offs are great. Maybe there's a link between memory and psychological well-being. We forget some things for our health. Prehistoric people couldn't have slept if they succumbed to their terror of night predators.
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Re: Memory modern and ancient

Postby greytowhite on Fri May 05, 2017 1:37 pm

I used to have an eidetic memory from childhood onward. I had to be drunk or stoned to not "record" stuff. Sometimes I'd get so fucked up I hoped to forget the traumatic bullshit. Had a stroke at a young age and it pretty much fucked over my memory - it's both a relief and a bother but I can still function better than most people intellectually if not socially. I recently read the Art of Memory by Frances A. Yates and one of the most basic techniques of "paint every 5th item gold" seemed like a simplification of the wuxing classifications.

Some knowledge of forgetting.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases ... 050516.php

http://www.wikihow.com/Purposefully-Forget-Things
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