Right around the same time that Jacques Barzun wrote his amazing tome From Dawn to Decadence, I was teaching myself different memory techniques. One that caught my attention was Method of Loci: one sets up a familiar place (such as the rooms in one’s house) that they then use as the mental construct upon which to build their memories. Each memory is anchored at a certain spot within this mental locale. Remember the spot and the item mentally placed there is also easily remembered. The method is exceptionally good for items of a sequential nature…like lists, for instance.
At the time, I had the idea of committing to memory the historical figures that appear in Barzun’s index. Although I never got close (due to lack of time, I suppose) it was fun attempting to do so. The list, such that it was, has never really left my head, even though it’s some fifteen years later.
That was segue into my recent post suggesting that this blog is going to change. I don’t think that reporting the headlines surrounding Climate Change is adding much value to what many of you probably discover on your own, every day (if you are addicted to the headlines, as I admittedly am). You know about the fires burning outside of Boulder, Colorado very early in the season; the record hot temps being set out west that indicate what will probably amount to another record-breaking hot year on the whole; and the unraveling of long-standing policy regarding the environment by our new president’s cabinet members, whose ties to the fossil fuels industry apparently fog their vision and obligation to first do what’s right by the American public. As it is, we may be further down on their list, if we’re included at all.
Sometimes, it’s the personalities behind the headlines that are more interesting to me than the story, itself. That’s why I suppose I wanted to memorize all those characters from Barzun’s book – they fascinate me (rest assured, none of these politicians from the 2016 campaign will make the list). The idea that I could chance upon these personas at any time–simply by recalling them to memory from my list–made me happy in a simple sort of way.
At the same time, the relevance of most of those personalities has little, if anything, to do with what I’m currently doing with this blog… but they might.
In the posts to come, I will be expanding my memorized list in an earnest manner. The starting point will be 462, the number of people currently stored in my head, growing from there as we go along. The spin on this pursuit, and the thing that will hopefully make it interesting, and a little wacky for the both of us, me (the writer / artist) and you (the reader) is to tie the addition of more personalities together with the names of the beautiful animals that share our planet with us, many of which will be shared for the simple fact that they are already on, or heading there fast, the very undesirable list of “Endangered Species.” (More of course are disappearing all the time (read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Last Extinction) and I venture to guess that more than a few are going to be placed on this list, and later removed (because they didn’t make it) all within the span of a single human lifetime).
How am I going to do this? With the help of my artistically talented daughter. Each stylized, cutesified art illustration will have, as part of its composition, the initials of each historical figure on my list built right into the composition. We’ll be starting this adventure very soon, so be on the lookout for the first one.
These art pieces will be offered for sale over at my Etsy artshop, so visit there in the near future for more details about what I will include with each sale (type the words FloodedPlanet (no space between words) in the search field on Etsy’s home page to find me.
As always, thanks for stopping by!