THE MEMORY ARTS by Sarah & David Trustman

Written by John Teo

Magicians like the fantastic effects that a memorised deck can offer.  But many of them dread learning it because there is no logical system or structure to help them to remember the stack.  They remain contended with the Si Stabbins or “8 Kings” stack.  Yet they do not mind spending hours and months perfecting a certain sleight or move.  To them, memorising a deck of cards is not only difficult, but also extremely boring.

To these magicians, Sarah and David Trustman’s book “The Memory Arts”, is their perfect solution.  This is a book that teaches you how to store vast amounts of information with the minimal of effort, and specifically, how to memorise the Arason’s as well as the Tamariz’s deck stacks.

The book itself is attractive in every way.  It has an unusual square shape, measuring 7.5 X 7.5 inches, and contains 341 pages.  It is a hard cover book and has an artistically designed brown dust jacket.  Most of the pages are printed in full colours and contains beautiful drawings by David Trustman himself.  There is a black ribbon that attaches to the book and serves as a bookmark.  The book will sit proudly in any book-shelf.

The tome starts with a historical introduction to the world of mnemonics.  It then describes the benefits of having a good memeory, including that of combating Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

The brain stores information best as images.  The more weird and absurd and interesting the visuals, as versus those that are mundane and boring, the better our minds can retain them.  We also need a structure known as the Memory Palace in our minds to house myraids of information.  This also serves as a prompt or trigger so that we can easily recall and get the information we need.

Based on this principle, the authors show us how to link stunning visuals to each of 26 locations in our Magic Palace in our minds.  The next chapter shows us how to associate images to each of the 13 values of a playing card as well as to each of the 4 suits.  If we attach 2 playing cards to each of the 26 locations, we can then recall the identity of any card at any one of the 52 positions in a deck of cards.  This is done by creating a fantasy story for each of the 52 playing cards at each of the 26 locations.  The authors then straight-away show us how to memorise the Aronson stack as well as the Tamariz’s Mnemonica stack. 

In the next section of the book, they teach us how to remember locations 27 to 52.  If we again attach 2 cards to each of these locations, we can memorise 2 different memorised stacks and recall any of them at any of the 1 to 52 locations!  This is powerful and useful.  You can now easily memorise not one but both the Aronson as well as the Tamariz stacks and recall any or both of them!

“The Feinaiglian Grid”, with a slight modification, provides another method of organising and recalling 52 different items.  

There is an effect by Corinda called “The Amazing Memory Test”.  Inspired by this, the authors describe an effect called “The List Game”.  The performer draws up a list consisting of numerous items randomly generated by the audience.  He takes less than a minute to memorise this list and can immediately recall any item from any position in the list called for by the audience.  This can be performed either as a magic effect or a feat of extraordinary memory.  This system is helpful in preparing a shopping list.

Names also get a treatment in the book too.  An example is shown on how to remember the first 23 monarchs of England by associating images to 13 Christian names.

Before the book ends, the authors discuss the following important points:

  • How to erase the original images, if they are no longer required, in order to makle way for a fresh round of memorisation.
  • How to create alternative paths when locations become overcrowded with information.
  • The importance of mnemonics in this present age of advanced technology where information is readily available at the push of a button.

This is a most wonderful book to read.  You can use your own imageries once you understand the principles used in memorisation.  But you will want to use the visuals in the book because they are so stunning beautiful.  Once you start reading the book, it is hard to put it down.

The book is useful to laymen because they can easily remember phone numbers, birthdays, appointment dates and times, shopping lists, passwords and other important codes, and also where they keep certain important items in their homes.

The book is most useful to magicians because it gives the complete sytem of remembering not only the Aronson’s or the Tamariz’s stack, but both of them at the same time.  (10/10 star rating)