Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Man with the Multiple Mind

"One day my teacher fired a sudden question at me, and finding that I was not paying attention, hauled me out for corporal punishment. It was really the feeling of his cane that first turned my thoughts in the direction of multiple mind concentration. I did not want to give up my daydreams, but on the other hand, I had a distinct aversion to corporal punishment. So after a while I got into the habit of letting one part of my brain wander into the realms of inventive fancy whilst I kept the other alert for an enfilade fire of questions from the teacher."

"Mr Kahne smiled.

"Perhaps you’re right", he said. :It is very hard work. In the two shows of ten minutes duration which I give every evening I calculate that I use up as much mental energy as the average brain worker expends in an 8-hour day. But I soon recover. I spend all the rest of my time in play and relaxation and never allow myself to worry. It’s worry that kills --- not mental effort. I attribute my clarity of thought not so much to a good memory, but to what I call a good ‘forgettery’. In my daily life I erase all unpleasant thoughts from my mind. And on the stage my ability to forget is an equally important asset. Unless I were able to wipe out from my memory the words given me at the first performance, I might easily confuse them with those called out at the second house. Then where should I be?"

I said that I did not know. Then I asked Mr Kahne if he could explain the method by which he has trained his memory.

"Well, in the first place, most people have a wrong idea of the faculty commonly called memory. Some regard it as a sort of adhesive jelly upon which facts will stick and remain until called for. Others look upon it as sort of card index where thoughts are sorted, to be retrieved at will by pulling a sort of mental ‘tag’ --- the ‘tag’ being what is commonly called ‘the association of ideas’. But such methods of memorizing are automatic rather than systematic."

"Then what is the secret of remembering several things at a time?" I asked.

"Focus", replied Mr Kahne promptly. "If you take a camera with a new roll of film and expose it five times at random, you get five blurred images. But if you focus the camera carefully upon a given object and then make the sixth exposure, you get a distinct image. So it is with the brain."

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