Mnemonic Visualization Turned Up to 11
“Visualize yourself succeeding!” said the American west coast guru after hot yoga and avocado quinoa smoothie. Hey, that type of visualization is great! But when we say “You can visualize your way to fluency”, we have a much more literal meaning. It’s a huge part of the reason why we guarantee your success in Chinese acquisition.
Sometimes we tell people about our method and get the following response:
“Yeah, this method seems great! I mean, obviously, it doesn’t work for everyone, but definitely good that you guys are doing something different!”
Gosh, this idea has bothered us. It sounds nice, very inclusive. Hey, some people learn differently than others! Of course!
Thing is though, mnemonic visualization is WAY older than such concepts as “learning” or “personality”. Chinese character mnemonic visualization is simply an extrapolation. Allow us to elaborate…
Chinese Character Mnemonics: Not A “Special” Skill
Imagine you are standing in your kitchen. You there? How long did that take you? Instant, right? Bring to mind the acquaintance you’ve seen most recently.
OK, now imagine you are standing in your kitchen, and Neo from the Matrix is standing next to the stove with the burner on. He stares at it and says “Whoa.” How long did that take you? Oh right, instant again.
Why is it instant? Because visualization is as much of a natural function of our brain as our sense of sight itself. It’s just “using your imagination”. How our brains evolved to be able to interpret light going into our eyes through a visual cortex has a history. A 700 million year history. Evolutionary scientists’ best understanding based on the evidence available is that the first of our common ancestors to evolve a visual cortex did so 700 million years ago. Since then there has been 700 million years of natural selection and improvement. Is it any surprise that it is easy for us to do?
Here’s another way to think about it, have you ever read a book? Read a newspaper article about something that happened recently? Listened to an audiobook? Read this passage:
Yeh’ll get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec,” Hagrid called over his shoulder, “Jus’ round this bend here.”
There was a loud “Ooooooh!”
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
“No more ‘n four to a boat!” Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione.
“Everyone in?” shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself, “Right then— FORWARD!”
And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.
What do you think you are doing that entire time? You are visualizing the scene. You aren’t just seeing the words on the screen, you’re seeing the lake, the boats, the castle and however, your brain decided to imagine Hagrid. Sure, it’s not as high-definition as watching the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Blu-ray, but it doesn’t have to be. As a side point, your personal memories of actual lived experience aren’t high-resolution either. Remember that thing you did yesterday? Dang, that’s some low resolution, must be lower than 144p or something. Yet you still remember it.
Don’t Worry, You’re Still Uniquely You
Now, remember that the ability to visualize and the content of said visualization are not the same. You are still a unique individual in that regard. It’s actually quite fascinating. Before the Harry Potter movies came out if you were reading the books your brain automatically put a face to the character. Sure, J.K. Rowling helped a bit with her descriptions, but at the end of the day how your imagination manufactured Draco Malfoy’s face was a unique product of your own.
You’re the Only Thing in Your Way
To the honest people who say they didn’t realize how big of a project it was and move on, we tip our hats. You can do whatever you want with this life. Become an astrophysicist or make artisanal tissue boxes. We get it. How you expend your effort and time is an incredibly important decision. Deciding not to spend it on Chinese (despite it being an excellent decision to spend time on it) is completely reasonable. 因人而异吧.
It’s the people that say “Oh, I just don’t think I learn this way” that are misdiagnosing the problem. Saying “I just don’t think visualization helps me remember things” is directly analogous to saying “I just don’t think seeing things with my eyes helps me remember things”. Again, if they said “It doesn’t work for me because of my brain injury” that would be honest, but no one has ever said that to us. When people say that, it isn’t us they are being dishonest with, it’s themselves. Hey, long-term planning and consistent habit building are hard! Go read Tim Ferris. Listen to the Jocko Podcast. Read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but diagnose the right problem. It isn’t the method that is making you not show up, it’s that you haven’t found your deeper drive. Blaming a method with this much scientific backing & that took years to develop with the lame platitude of “well everyone learns differently” is a recipe for complacency. Rise above it. Rise above it while pursuing a totally different path and never come back to our website again if you want! Just stop scapegoating the external factors when the path forward lies within.
We’ve broken it down to the individual steps and given you a path to get there. It’s going to be ready come Autumn 2018. When the time comes, are you ready to walk the path? We’ve solved the problem of what to do. The only question is whether or not you want to apply your time & attention to this project. We honestly can’t imagine a scenario where learning Chinese won’t change your life forever. How could access to 800,000,000 people and a language where meaning is expressed so efficiently that you can discover a whole self-help book packed into a single word be any other way? Your show starts now, are you up?
Luke & Phil