The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Posts Tagged ‘brain

Moonwalking with Einstein

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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering EverythingMoonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this book, Joshua Foer explores memory and the tricks people use to improve it, which sounds boring, but Mr. Foer manages to cast the book into a heroic journey during which he learns the ancient secrets of memorization. The result is an entertaining, though occasionally self indulgent story about practice and mastery. While this book will not teach you everything you need to learn about memory, it will give you a vivid window in to the world of remembrance, and may even spark an interest in further studying it.

Reading this book was fun, because I am familiar with some of the techniques the author describes, and I can attest to their effectiveness and limitations. I like to memorize poetry, and while the skill has come in handy only once, the whole endeavor was worth it. I recently took a couple of very difficult technical tests, and building a “memory palace” to master some of the concepts proved to be very helpful.

This book was very, very nerdy, but in a good way. I liked that Mr. Foer was skeptic about some of the more pseudoscientific promises made by memory gurus, and that he addressed the limitations of the systems he explores. If you are curious about memory, check this book out. It is probably one of the most entertaining ones in the subject.

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Here is a TED talk by the author:


Written by Hector

July 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm

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Musings On Being Bilingual

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Speaking more than one language is undeniably helpful, but I think it has a few curious side effects. I don’t know if there is any science to back them up, but some times, when I’ve thought about something for a few hours, or after a long day, I find it difficult to continue to be creative in the language I have been used up until then. If I switch to the other language, my brain feels almost refreshed and I am able to tackle some more creative thinking. I wonder why this is so. Maybe I’m using different parts of my brain. It’s like having a backup brain. This may also apply to different skills, like drawing instead of writing. What do you think? Any neurologists out there?

Written by Hector

August 27, 2009 at 2:44 pm

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Lack of posts and my brain

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I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to a longer writing project. I do not intend to abandon my blog, but my energy has been elsewhere. I’m going to expand the scope of my rants. I know, I know, I would attract more readers if I wrote about only one subject, but my mind contains multitudes. They usually argue amongst themselves in the middle of the night. Most of them want something, but do not know quite how to put it in to words or even in to primitive drives. My body does a great job of telling me when they are hungry, angry, romantic, or horrified, but my brain cortex has quite a difficult time of managing the more vague stirrings of my neural network, so I write and draw and create. The impulse to express the universes in my brain is very strong, and cannot be avoided. I suppose that is where art and religion come from. I apologize for ignoring the little blogger within. I promise to love it more every day, and to let it flourish, even if only to comment on the state of the world at large. For now, the novelist requires more of my devotion. She can get me in to existential funks when ignored. Stay tuned; there will be more crowy goodness coming your way.

Written by Hector

March 28, 2009 at 2:33 pm

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The Head Trip

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I’m reading an awesome book called “Head Trip.” The book is a fairly scientific exploration of the various states of mind people go through on a regular basis. The author is Jeff Warren. His writing is ejoyable and filled with interesting anecdotes and comic book references. If you are interested in discovering or naming the many events that go on in your mind, you owe it to yourself to check out the book.

Written by Hector

December 22, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Requiem for my brain

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It happened yesterday, when, after playing one of those cool Nintendo DS games, I realized that I have not used my brain in a long time. The general feeling of sluggishness and apathy that has prevailed for the last couple of years was but a slight indicator that the emergent engine of my thought was not being put to use.

There was a time when the Universe unfolded before my eyes like a wondrous flower of insight. There was a time when I devoured books on as many subjects as I could in an effort to make sense of it all, but once I felt like I had, I quit thinking, and opted to let things slide by.

I began to watch more TV and to read a little less. I ignored my RSS feeds in favor of easily deigestible idiot news. When I read, I read only things that didn’t require note taking for full understanding. My fiction went from Greg Egan to a few short stories here and there, and I died inside. I quit closing my eyes to see the music around me, because the music around me wasn’t worth looking at.

It is a sad fact that we can be swallowed by the idea that we know enough when there is so much to know. I see knowledge not as the greedy acquisition of facts, but as the addition of movements to the symphony of our existence. We learn not to know, but to experience the fabric of reality as closely as possible. We learn to stand naked ad true before the universe, and I refuse to let my brain die until it can sing no more.

Some of you may think that I am romanticizing the whole learning process, but I feel truly alive only when I can touch the world though my mind. I have no eventual goal for learning, I think that it is foolish to do something just to get ahead, though some times that may happen. No, we learn in order to truly exist, because what we learn connects us to the world, by depicting an accurate model of its majesty. We learn because out imaginations, and our ability to retain small scale universes within our brains makes us human.

So I’m embarking on a journey. I’ll report my findings.

Written by Hector

November 6, 2007 at 1:35 am