the art of memory and architectural places

Sir Batshit Crazy

"It is not difficult to get hold of the general principles of the mnemonic.  The first step was to imprint on the memory of series of loci or places.  The commonest, though not the only mnemonic place system used was the architectural type....In order to form a series of places in memory...a building is to be remembered, as spacious and varied a one as possible, the forecourt, the living room, bedrooms, and parlours, not omitting statues and other ornaments with which the rooms are decorated." - The Art of Memory, Frances A. Yates

Today, I walked a job with a contractor.  When we left the garden level kitchen we had a conversation with regard to a certain point...then we digressed and  after thirty (30) minutes in the rear yard reviewing the facade and returning to the garden level kitchen we restarted or continued same previous conversation.

Is there an architectural space, place, element, plan that always triggers the same memory? If so, what space, place, element or plan and what memory? (if not too personal)

Johnny Mnemonic

Jul 14, 17 11:56 pm
Sir Batshit Crazy

fyi, memory is a bitch...

Keanu Reeves as Mr. Smith and not Mr. Anderson...and he needs iPhones in 1995...Henry Rollins will fix it later

don't take my word for it, but Steve Jobs was a hack and Apple is a joke.

History of iPhone

as posted above, what architectural project is your narrative to memory?

Jul 15, 17 1:04 am

Is there an architectural space, place, element, plan that always triggers the same memory? Every place. Sometimes even places I've never been before. 

I use the method of loci to remember my grocery list. In my mind, I do a walk through of the grocery store, going to all the places where I will need to pick stuff up. Then I do it for real. No list needed. 

Jul 15, 17 12:48 pm
Sir Batshit Crazy

nice! the one task in my life where I do not focus is the grocery list, i literally will look at the txt from my wife like 20 times.......I also like the "sometimes even places I've never been before". that is a really useful method I would think.


loci would be screwed up if all of a sudden, grocery staff decides to rearrange the items to different aisles. also, the hardest place to remember is that area my wife asks me to get her feminine stuff.


I don't call to mind the actual location, just use it like I need 5 things in produce, 3 in the bakery, etc. So I picture a 5 in the produce, picture a 3 in the bakery and so on. Then I can shop in a different store everytime, which I often do.

Sir Batshit Crazy

"If we wish to remember much material we must equip ourselves with a large number of places.  It is essential that the places should form a series and must be remembered in their order, so that we can start from any locus in the series and move either backwards or forwards from it."  - The Art of Memory, Frances A. Yates

Grocery store seems ideal for this!

Jul 15, 17 1:15 pm
Kos Scarpa Kos

>>>I cannot take a walk around my district (Rio Marin etc…) without getting attracted to the flaming vases sculptures (traditionally symbol of faith??) on the other side of the marble screen - Scuola San Giovanni Evangelista >>>strange feeling has been occurring whenever rewatching this >>>this may come in the form of an inexplicable dejà vu

Jul 15, 17 2:39 pm
Similar thoughts to tintt; anytime I forget or misplace something I retrace the steps in my mind. Which room was I in? If I met someone and can't remember the name, I need a where.

To OP - there's a concert venue/night club I wound up in with some friends many years ago. Those friends are long gone but the building, actually a particular hallway that is quite differently decorated now, brings back that first memory of entering this place which quickly became and remains one of my favorite buildings of all time.

I would say that I have a similar experience with buildings I consider favorites - I will always recall the first visit, why I went, who I went with, the sound, the smell, the weather outside. I assume the memories are tilted and exaggerated toward the positive as I consider them positive experiences. Memory is tricky that way in that it is never a factual recollection but rather a swirl of emotion and imagery. I am ok with this as the way I recollect these moments are likely far more interesting than were I to watch a video of the event.
Jul 15, 17 3:21 pm

>>>mysterious flaming vases (symbol of faith?)

Jul 19, 17 3:53 am
Sir Batshit Crazy

was going to ask, thanks for posting.


Cicero's method of remembering speeches?

Personally I find landscapes more memorable: Quads where I graduated, HS entry hall, parks close to old homes.  Architecturally, spaces with profound sections always seem to trigger associations; along with the spaces that were studied as precedents in school.

Jul 21, 17 1:33 pm
Sir Batshit Crazy

correct, Yates is starting with the ancients.

"The clothed woman cradles vase with jewels representing the riches of earthly love. Her naked twin on the right holds the burning flame of ethernal love" >>> Tiziano - Sacred and profane love

Jul 31, 17 6:47 am

I really like this book.
Haven't read this thread though. Shot in the dark. 

Jul 31, 17 7:06 am

ILA ... Byatt is the author of the BookerPrize winning novel "Possession" ...

Aug 7, 17 7:27 am

The completion of human architecture is when it is finally in ruins, and those spaces seemed to inspire more contemplation for me personally. Some people and architects in my experience would seem depressed in such places, but I saw it as a cyclic completion which may seem a little melancholy for some, but at one time it was a place of joy in other peoples' memories.

What happened to these places?

I asked myself.

Why will it happen to these other places now in the middle of their cycle?

Aug 8, 17 5:35 am

BIMBlaster  - 100% agree. Aren’t we 2 Piranesi Instagram followers? 


Aug 13, 17 9:06 pm
Sir Batshit Crazy

"The five rules for choosing places are now quoted, namely (1) in quiet spots to avoid disturbance of the intense concentration needed for memorising; (2) not too much alike, for example not too many identical intercolumniations; (3) neither too large nor too small; (4) neither too brightly lighted nor too obscure; (5) with intervals between them of moderate extent, about thirty feet." - The Art of Memory: The Art of Memory in the Middle Ages, Frances A. Yates (discussing De bono of Albertus Magnus)

Aug 18, 17 7:55 pm

it's not a sport - it's an obsession >>>flaming vases #3

Aug 24, 17 12:18 pm
Sir Batshit Crazy

How do you space them apart properly?

>these 2 are difficult to clean >>> anyway they move by themselves. They run with their own L+L

Sir Batshit Crazy

was that an l-system reference?

“In the “Time Passes” section of To The Lighthouse, the inside and the outside of the house interpenetrate as Woolf explores the notion that the books are about people first and houses second".

“Significantly, the emptiness of the house in “Time Passes” evokes a fullness of purpose that relies on a domestic and a literaly tradition of retreat, which invests the house with a meaning beyond its ideological and physical structure”

“The disintegration of the interior space of the house and its penetration by the outside world mirrors the obliteration between the private and the public feminine self in Clarissa’s and Mrs. Ramsay’s moments of retirement. Woolf’s empty house and these moments of feminine retirement gesture toward a reconstruction of nineteenths – century ideology that aligns an architecture of the self with an architecture of the house".

E. Blair - Virginia Woolf and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel

Aug 30, 17 11:41 am
Sir Batshit Crazy

Like where you are going with this

“Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind” Virginia Woolf

Woolf + Woolf + Woolf – stream of consciousness – memory + Time passes + Time passes + home + home + memory + Woolf – memory – memory – memory + Woolf + Woolf – memory – The lighthouse + stream of consciousness + home + home

​>>> l-system Woolf's fractal

>>>Borromini >>>the lantern of Sant'Ivo is topped with a spiral shape, surmounted by flaming vases

Sep 14, 17 7:24 am
Sir Batshit Crazy

"Peter gives practical advice.  When discussing the rule that memory loci are to be formed in quiet places he says that the best type of building to use is an unfrequented church.  He describes how he goes round the church he has chosen three or four times, committing the places in it to memory.  He chooses his first place near the door; the next, five or six feet further in; and so on.  As a young man he started with one hundred thousand memorised places, but he has added many more since then.  On his travels, he does not cease to make new places in some monastery or church, remembering through them histories, or fables, or Lenten sermons.  His memory of the Scriptures, of canon law, and many other matters is based on this method.  He can repeat from memory the whole of the canon law, text and gloss (he was a jurist trained at Padua); two hundred speeches or sayings of Cicero; three hundred sayings of the philosophers; twenty thousand  legal points.  Peter probably was one of those people with very good natural memories who had so drilled themselves in the classical technique that they really could perform astonishing feats of memory." on Petrus Tommai (Peter of Ravenna) taken from "The Art of Memory" by Frances A. Yates

Dec 30, 17 2:36 pm

one office I work was an older left over residence result of eminent domain turned office building. It was well down the conversion but it always made my mind explore the family’s memory of the space and where old spaces used to be. Plus the bathroom had a full size window and depending on the time of the day / year there would be a golden ray of light dead center right on the shitter. It was magical

Dec 30, 17 3:09 pm
Sir Batshit Crazy

The throne

Clearly, the basic topics of the conversation are >>> the mnemonic techniques + >>>the permanence of the spatial perception in the individual memory. Memory + space + memory + space...

Here, memory seems to act like another spatial dimension which through time gives an extension to the perceptive experience, warping, erasing the not-necessary or enhancing the slightest details.

That is surely true in the Woolf´s book “To the lighthouse” where the key subjects of the novel stick to two buildings, the family house + the lighthouse.

In the central part of the novel, the empty house acts like a recorder of the daily family diary of the first part, bringing it toward the suspension of the third act, where the past of the characters acquires a temporal depth which gives a revealing metaphorical sense to gestures and actions.

Between the two spots – the starting point (the house) and the arrival (the lighthouse) – there is the empty space of the abandoned building, damaged by atmospheric agents. The trip to the lighthouse, postponed for such a long time, when finally happens, it's a journey in the present of memory, in the actual action where the past still echoes.

I find these ideas very intriguing, in particular the prevalence of the details upon the whole scheme, which therefor would correspond – my hypothesis – to the prevalence of the inner dimension upon the perceptive one. >>>To the lighthouse

Jan 11, 18 6:52 am

... ah about Frances Yates... I found her name (if I am not wrong) in the front matter (It ed.) of a very difficult book – half read – Bruno's “The shadow of ideas”…

Jan 13, 18 12:06 pm
Sir Batshit Crazy

from "Unbuilt America: Forgotten Architecture in the United States from Thomas Jefferson to the Space Age- A Site Book" (Alison Sky, Michele Stone)

Proposal for a Bicentennial Project – 1975

Status: Hypothetical Bicentennial proposal.  A proposal to reconstruct the earliest house inhabited by the oldest living person in the United States, as it exists in his memory.  Plans are derived form interviews with this person.

               [Charlie Smith who claims to have been born in Liberia in 1842, brought to the U.S. on a slave ship in 1854, then reared on a Texas ranch as a family member rather than a slave, is recognized by the Social Security Administration as the oldest living American.  Newsweek, Feb. 9, 1976.]

               Although the proposal is actually to reconstruct a house as it exists in the memory of the oldest living person in the United States, the following interview with Kitty Ewans, age 100, and drawing of a house she inhabited in her twenties, is exemplary of how the Bicentennial proposal would be implemented.

Excerpts from a conversation recorded on August 28, 1974, with Kitty Ewans, interviewed by Roger Welch:

K.E.:”Oh, yes, well when I was married.  See, my husband was an architect and we were married in 1898.  We moved right into our own duplex.  He built a duplex-up and down, and we moved downstairs and we had a tenant upstairs.  When we were first married, well, the apartment was small – only one bedroom, and then we had one baby after another and we sold that and then he built another one right next door with two bedrooms.  We lived there a couple of years and then we had some more babies and then that was too small.  He always did like to remodel old places.  He enjoyed doing that.  Then he bought a regular old farmhouse a little more than a block away from where we lived.  It was a regular old farmhouse with a barn and he remodeled that.  We had one, two, three, four bedrooms and a sitting room on the second floor and a dining room and a living room, a reception room, a kitchen, and a little washroom downstairs.  It was very nice.  We lived there nineteen years while the children went to grade school.  They all went to the same grade school and then we moved to the east side after that.  Then he bought this house.  This was a rundown rooming house and this little house next door had a barn. He made a house out of that barn and remodeled this house.  Didn’t he do a good job? He was seventy years old then.”

R.W.: “He remodeled it when he was seventy.”

K.E.: “Yes, and I just love it.  I’d like to stay here until they carry me out.” 

Jan 13, 18 10:34 pm

"Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us" >>>Oscar Wilde

Jan 18, 18 5:35 am

>>>Oscar Wilde by Beardsley

Jan 26, 18 10:57 am

Virginia, again...

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”  V. Woolf

Feb 8, 18 5:47 am
Sir Batshit Crazy

Soooo....i wanted to post that....

Sir Batshit Crazy

But couldn't rememeber where i saw it....

>>> he he he

Sir Batshit Crazy

Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us. - Oscar Wilde

Mar 22, 18 8:01 am

>>>memory and architectural places >>>postcards chapter

May 21, 18 5:08 pm

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