The Persistence of Memory

100 Paintings

A few years ago I got sick of having a terrible memory. I’ve since nailed it down to a slightly bizarre portion of bad memory in that I can’t for the life of me remember proper nouns; pubs, shops, roads, restaurants, people etc. However, like most people I’m better with faces, much better though, I could see a bloke walk by in the street and remember that he was two people ahead of me, in a queue in a chipper, in Dun Laoighre, eight years ago.

So apart from my otherwise terrible memory, I have a pretty good visual memory and when I came across a book called Master Your Memory by Tony Buzan, I scanned the back cover and saw that it had a system to improve your memory through your visual memory. So you can remember long numbers as images in a story for example. But it didn’t really make any sense without it’s  precursor Use your memory. So I bought that and spent every morning on the bus to work practicing the techniques in both. And they are fairly amazing techniques. Definitely a step above your average self help book.

The first thing I memorised, just for practise, was Pi to 500 decimal places.
The second half of Master Your Memory contains lists of trivia to memorize so
I went to work on them.

  • All the countries of the world – including their capitals and currency
  • The periodic table – including atomic number, atomic weights etc
  • 100 most frequently used words in Spanish
  • 100 Painters – including a famous work, its location, the artist’s lifespan, nationality and school of art

For the list of painters, I tracked down all the paintings on the web to make it a bit easier, and then discovered that the a lot of the data isn’t that well researched on any of the lists. When I reviewed the book on Amazon, I slated the content (while praising the system) for not researching any of the material properly even in it’s later editions. And Tony Buzan is definitely not short on pennies.

So, after quite a bit of waffle, the main point of this post is that list of paintings – if you’re looking for all the paintings in this list like I did, or just want to have a look through 100 famous paintings, here’s my list of 100 Artists, thoroughly researched, and backed up by a few books I’ve read over the years. And more importantly, there’s an image to go with each painting. There were a few cases where I couldn’t find the famous work that Tony Buzan chose, the fact that they were so hard to find was testamant in itself that they weren’t the most relevant works. In a couple of other cases I chose a different painting anyway just because it seemed much more relevant – but in most cases, I stuck to the original list as much as possible – apart from correcting all the mistakes, which were mostly dates and locations of paintings.

By the way, after years of this ‘Brain Training’ I still have a terrible memory! It didn’t do a thing to improve my day to day memory. Arsebags! Still an amusing way to pass the time at the bus stop though as you have to keep going through these lists in your head. Specially if you have a head like a sieve, like I do.

100 Artists – 100 paintings

  • Reply flossyla

    September 25, 2007, 10:44 pm

    i can’t believe it – i forgot to press publish comment earlier!! the jist was that i have the same type of memory. I mix up names or forget them. I forget Donals name all the time or i mix it up with someone elses…i do know what he looks like tho! I can’t remember numbers or small details like that. My visual memory is excellent. I can describe what people were wearing and the general surroundings but not recall their names. I reckon my memory is great for finding my way around cites. If I needed to pick someone from a line i probably could. I must investigate other ways that my memory is useful. Yes indeed visual memory is the superior one. I remember photos of my favourite moments in my head – excellent. I’ve gone beyond caring that i look like a moron when i fail to recall specific detail. i can’t even remember my times tables in my head but i do remember them written up on the board in class. indeed!

  • Reply John Braine

    September 26, 2007, 9:20 am

    “i can’t believe it – i forgot to press publish comment” Ha! gets us at every corner this memory lark! The most annoying thing for me lately is forgetting normal words during conversation (a lot).

    Reminds of that Simpson’s episode where, Homer, after becoming very articulate through a self help tape crashes back to normality and says something like “Marge can I have one of those things that help you pick up the food from the thing and put it in your mouth, you know the thing?” That’s me.

  • Reply flossyla

    September 26, 2007, 10:39 pm

    I’m a big fan of calling random stuff I can’t remember the name of – THINGY coupled with frustrated pointing at the object or the general air near the object. Donal usually cops what i’m talking about others just think i’m being blonde.

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