And This is How Brain Cells Get Used Up

Photo by Max East

Check out this nifty video that shows a whole hike along the more than 2000 miles of the Appalachian trail, compressed into five minutes. One particular instant (literally) that caught my eye was the appearance of a stile.

In case you don't know what a stile is, it is a set of steps used to cross over a fence. I presume that animals don't care to climb up and over the steps.

And in case you do know what a stile is, then I have one question for you:

Why?

This was the question I was asking myself after watching the video. Why do I know the name of this thing? I can specifically recall in distant childhood my parents explaining it to me. Out of all the words they could have chosen to explain to me—"diabetes", "micromanagement", "bagels", etc.they chose the word "stile." I can only assume that they expected my adult life to be filled with various and sundry stile-related activities, but in this as in so many other respects, events did not develop as expected.



So, as it turns out, I have some number of brain cells devoted to remembering this word, describing an object which I have encountered maybe once in my life, and which could just as well be described by a phrase "a set of steps used to cross over a fence," and which in fact lies dormant for years (except for occasional Julia Stiles-related thoughts). How do I get those brain cells back?






2 comments:

wdjoyner said...

It seems as though images are more predominant than ideas:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/20/magazine/mind-secrets.html
Maybe that is why?

Serge Gorodish said...

Ah, yes. See my earlier post:

http://countryoftheblind.blogspot.com/2009/02/memory-training-crash-course-part-i.html

From the intro to the NYT article, it appears Foer is using the O'Brien system or something like it. Many prefer this system, citing the not-ridiculous argument that if the champion uses it, it must be the best. I prefer the Major system, as it seems more elegant and is infinitely scalable. Both are methods for converting numbers into pictures. I hope to explain this more fully in a forthcoming Part II of the "Memory Training Crash Course."