Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Power of Loci

Last week was the last week of adult education classes that I had through my university. The subject for the last week of classes was based on an article that I read in the New York Times magazine called "Secrets of a Mind Gamer." The article is an excerpt from Joshua Foer's book called Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.

The article describes a memory technique called "The Method of Loci" The Method of Loci uses spatial associations to help memorize things like lists of words, people's names, or lists of numbers. You can visualize a room or your route to work and put the things that you want to memorize in the locations of things on the route.

I asked my students to give me a list of Korean words to memorize as I gave them my own list of words for them to memorize. None of them did the homework, but I was successful in memorizing the list of words that they gave me.

On my bike ride home I took the list of words and associated the words with buildings and things on my route home. I was able to memorize a list of 21 Korean words in about 15 minutes...or the time it takes for me to ride my bike home. I found that the method worked quite well.

I plan to use this to memorize Korean songs to help me study Korean. I figure if I remember a song by associating things line by line I might be able to memorize songs for singing in the 노래방. I figure that if I have a good song library I can impress Korean strangers that I might find myself in a 노래방 with. My first song will be 이승기's 내여자란니까.

This song haunted me the first time I came to Korea.

It was the summer of 2004. I found myself living in a high school dormitory for an elite Tae Kwon Do team. These kids lived at their high school. They woke up at six, ran around for an hour and a half, went to class, then in the afternoon they would kick the air as fast as they could for two hours. Later in the evening, they would have night training for an hour and a half. I trained with them for about five weeks when I was 23 years old. I had a hard time walking when I wasn't training with them.

At that time 이승기 was just becoming popular. The male students loved him. 내여자란니까 is a love song about a boy who falls in love with an older woman. I think that the song exemplifies everything K-pop. In addition to being a power ballad, the video is both cheesy and violent as Lee Seung Gi falls in love with an older girl who works in a 다방. His friends make fun of him, and the girl is strong enough to fight them off. When he goes to the 다방 to help his 누나 out; gangsters kick the shit out of him.

This is the song that I'm going to memorize:

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