The memory palace of matteo ricci essay

The pictures are associated with these Chinese ideographs in order to summarize Christian ideas for the Chinese people. Touch by kissing and clinging to the places where these persons 3 walk or sit, always trying to profit thereby.

Let us imagine a modern medical student facing an oral examination that reviews her work on bones, cells, and nerves. One could also use specific "pictures" to evoke the images, wrote Ricci, just as Quintilian had urged in the first century a. He told them that the size of the palace would depend on how much they wanted to remember: the most ambitious construction would consist of several hundred buildings of all shapes and sizes, "the more there are the better it will be," said Ricci, thought he added that one did not have to build on a grandiose scale right away. Ludolfus of Sax- ony, a fourteenth-century devotional writer whom Ignatius of Loyola was later to read with fascination, used language of exceptional force. He does this by eschewing a conventional exposition in which narrative is balanced by analysis, and looks for a more thematic, artistic, human approach. The upshot, wrote Rabelais gravely, was that though Gargantua could indeed repeat the books he had learned "backwards by heart," and "became as wise as any man baked in an oven," when one wanted intelligent commentary from him "it was no more possible to draw a word from him than a fart 32 from a dead donkey. He had grown up with them, together with a whole range of other techniques for fixing the subjects of one's schooling in the memory. As Ricci wrote later that same year to the gen- eral of the Jesuit order, Claudio Acquaviva, the governor's eldest son had read the memory book with care, but had remarked to one of his confidants that "though the precepts are the true rules of memory, one has to have a remarkably fine memory to make any use of them. It's a fun book. Ricci suggested that there were three main options for such memory locations. How many such images could one or did one seek to retain in the memory palaces of one's mind? Cheng, who was about to pub- lish a collection of Chinese calligraphy and graphics under the title of "The Ink Garden," was eager to include samples of Western art and handwriting, and requested Ricci to contribute some. In her wonderfully erudite and comprehensive work on medieval and Renaissance mnemonic theory, The Art of Memory, Frances Yates mused over "what a Christianized artificial memory might have been like" and regretted the fact that "an Ars memorativa treatise, though it will always give the rules, rarely gives any concrete application of the rules, that is to say it rarely sets out a system of mnemonic images on their places. One could create modest palaces, or one could build less dramatic structures such as a temple compound, a cluster of government offices, a public hostel, or a merchants' meeting lodge. Since this entire memory system can work only if the images stay in the assigned positions and if we can in- stantly remember where we stored them, obviously it would seem eas- iest to rely on real locations which we know so well that we cannot ever forget them.

The second image, of the Lazy Zulu Pursuing Dark Damosels, gives the student the stages of cell division in meiosis as leptotene, zygotene, pachytene, diplotene, and diakinesis. Hannibal Lector. Within these contexts, said Ignatius, one could then move to a sharper picture by adding the sense of hearing: "Listen to what is being said by the people on the earth's surface, talking to each other, swearing and blas- pheming.

The memory palace of matteo ricci essay

To communicate the Christian idea to the Chinese, he creates a memory palace for them with a reception hall that contains four images derived from Chinese ideographs that are in turn associated with four pictures representing stories and individuals in the Bible.

Each image has a caption and three have his commentaries.

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The student's answers to the three ques- tions come quickly. But with that one caution one could introduce articles of furniture into the room, place small decorative objects of 10 gold or jade upon occasional tables, and paint the walls themselves in 26 glittering colors.

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The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci: Jonathan D. Spence: Books