What is the Method of Loci
The ‘Method of Loci’ is an ancient memory technique (or mnemonic strategy) devised at the time of the Roman Empire to recall large quantities of data in sequential order. It is based on the assumption that you can easily remember places you are familiar with, and then, by associating specific information, such as items on a shopping list, people, dates or even conceptual ideas, each individual location will serve as an effective memory jogger. The speed with which information can be gathered and memorised once primary routes are established, is astounding and makes learning enjoyable.
According to Cicero, this method was developed by the poet Simonides of Ceos, who was the only survivor of a building collapse during a dinner he attended. Simonides was able to identify the dead, who were crushed beyond recognition, by remembering where the guests had been sitting.
From this experience, he realized that it would be possible to remember anything by associating it with a mental image of a location. The loci system was used as a memory tool by both Greek and Roman orators, who took advantage of the technique to give speeches without the aid of notes.
Most recently these basic techniques have been popularised by TV and Film with characters as diverse as Dr Who, Sherlock Holmes, and Hannibal Lecter taking advantage of ‘Mind Palaces’ and ‘Memory Journeys’ to remember the details of crimes and to store large, unwritten archives of sensitive information.
Consequently, I decided whilst cleaning toilets in the office, packing boxes in a factory and washing dishes at the race course to employ the Method of Loci to learn the Bible from start to finish. By doing so, I allowed my mind to escape the drudgery of modern life and the terrors of a zero-hours contract! And I can honestly tell you - it not only works but it is fun and can be utilised anywhere!
Under constant development, adding books, chapters and verses now and then as time allows, I hope to have my own ‘Mind Palace’ near completion by the end of 2030?
Through this innovative web site I invite you to join me on some, if not all of the journey.
For further reading on the ‘Method of Loci’ refer to;
What Is MOLL-Y
The ‘Method of Loci Learning – York’ or ‘MOLL–Y’ in short, is my own personal attempt at using the numerous and varied landmarks, in and around the beautiful city of York to memorise the entire, conceptual content of the Bible. I am unapologetically Roman Catholic – confirmed as such in 2016 - so for me and other Christians of the Latin Rite, that makes a total of 73 ‘inspired’ books including the ‘Apocrypha’. By Linking one chapter or significant verse and associated location to the next I am slowly mapping out my own ‘mind palace’ with the city of York as the main backdrop.
To remember the titles of all 73 books, in sequential order, I have added one essential ‘Main Route’ off which the other routes radiate. This Main Route takes no more than a half day to walk. So for many, this initial immersion into the scriptures may be quite enough at any first attempt. On a sunny summer’s day there can be little else more exciting than a brain teasing, fitness inducing stroll through the beautiful suburbs and precincts of York.
For many years I lived in Ethiopia so you might consider yourself lucky that I am not imposing all 81 books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church upon visitors to the web site! Conversely, if you are an adherent of a Protestant denomination then there are 6 less books for you to contend with. For serious scholars the differences and comparison may be fascinating in themselves but it is always good to remember that what separates us is far less important than what unites us and our trust and faith in the salvation offered by Christ is paramount.
Using the ‘Method of Loci’ technique I am therefore, gradually and systematically, mapping out 74 separate and distinct routes across the city. As I commit to memory each location a photograph of the same is added to the route and website. Then a line or two of biblical verse is super-imposed upon the scene to further jog the memory. I suspect this endeavour may take many more years to complete but so far the method is working and the task pleasing.
Each route will be distinct; some entirely within a single building such as the Book of Ruth, situated in the Station Hall of the National Railway Museum. Others routes follow well-worn tourist trails around the city centre and along the disused railway line and cycle path from Selby to York for example. And yet other routes follow rather more quirky trajectories, up the river Ouse for instance from Kings Staith to Acaster Malbis or along the ancient ‘Snickleways’ of York. Some routes are better walked whilst others lend themselves to faster forms of transport – cycles, buses and even boats. Numerous cafés and restaurants along the way offer respite and places to discuss the significance of the attendant verse, chapter or book.
Along the various routes it is possible to meet and greet well known personalities; sellers of the 'Big Issue' perhaps, street entertainers, pensioners, stall holders and erstwhile citizens of York. These people are more allusive than buildings but I try to capture their personal stories as an added extra for the website. Something to read and real people to look out for and interact with – providing they are having a good day and welcome the interest. I make no promises! Other personalities have been included just to add spice to the MOLL-Y experience.
I hope you enjoy reading and learning from the ‘Method of Loci Learning – York’ website and take time to visit us again.