"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."
-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
2 How important is memory, anyway？4 How important is memory, anyway？How important is memory, anyway？How can we develop transformative tools for thought？2020-10-18Journal
One particularly common negative response to the mnemonic medium is that people don't want to remember “unimportant details”, and are just looking for “a broad, conceptual understanding”. It's difficult to know what to make of this argument. Bluntly, it seems likely that such people are fooling themselves, confusing a sense of enjoyment with any sort of durable understanding.
Imagine meeting a person who told you they “had a broad conceptual understanding” of how to speak French, but it turned out they didn’t know the meaning of “bonjour”, “au revoir”, or “tres bien”. You'd think their claim to have a broad conceptual understanding of French was hilarious. If you want to understand a subject in any real sense you need to know the details of the fundamentals. What's more, that means not just knowing them immediately after reading. It means internalizing them for the long termThe last two paragraphs are adapted from our forthcoming mnemonic essay: Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen, How quantum teleportation works (2019)..