Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to originate a "new" idea: Synthesizing Bruno's Mnemonics with Hegel's Dialectic Method

I've been reading various articles online to try and better understand what's been said in this book I'm reading.

The author painted an image, firstly, of Giordani Bruno (an italian philosopher from the 1500's). Bruno developed a mnemonic device to help him remember things. Good so far. The trick was to visualize a wheel. You simply think of the thing you want to memorize, affix it to your mental wheel, and leave it there. Then when you want to remember the thing (be it a name, factoid, date, or whatever) you could mentally rotate the wheel and...voila!

And here I'll stop until I re-read that section...


Sean Benson said...

Bruno believed in a cosmology handed down from the early Christians and the ancient Egyptians, and had his own version of the memory wheel--which consisted of 6 concentric wheels, all able to rotate independently of the others.

Sean Benson said...

Bruno's method of coming up with a new idea was easy. Since each ring had different things attached to them, turn one ring so that a concept from one ring lined up with a new concept on a different ring, one that hadn't been tried before.

JogLabJo said...

Ace, I hadn't heard about that before.
To easily create mnemonics (jogs) try this cool site...
Jog your memory. Remember everything.
Enjoy, and please pass it on...

Sean Benson said...

Hey thanks. I like how intensely colorful the words are in the jogger.

Sean Benson said...

Bruno's mnemonic tool could be used (in theory) to represent any concept ever, simply by lining up different symbols on each of the rings.

Okay, on to the point of this entire gets a bit metaphysical.

I recently finished reading the young-adult-fiction trilogy by Philip Pullman called "His Dark Materials". The first book of this series was made into a movie called "The Golden Compass".

The device (the golden compass) allowed people to speak with an angel trapped inside it, who always had to tell the truth.
The compass needle had 20-some archetypal symbols all around the outside (where N NW W SW S SE E NE should have been).
To communicate, a person turned levers to move the needle to different symbols.
Then the angel would respond to the question by moving the needle (erratically) to different symbols.

Now each symbol has several different meanings. The Baby could represent A BABY, or on a deeper level BIRTH, or deeper still IMMATURITY, etc. When the angel responded, the needle would swing around erratically, stopping on the Baby symbol once to indicate "Baby", twice for "Birth", and so on.
(To communicate with the angel, the user mentally selected the correct level of meaning and turned a knob to point the needle to the symbol.)

Okay, so all I really wanted to show in this blog was that the symbol-reader "The Golden Compass" in Philip Pullman's book was very similar to Bruno's mnemonic rings.

Instead of having one ring with several different levels of meaning (like in Pullman's books), Bruno had 6 rings layered on top of each other.

So could he possibly represent EVERYTHING IN EXISTENCE with just 6 finite rings? I seem to remember there were 24 symbols on each ring--to correspond to the Greek alphabet. But even if there were 100 symbols on each ring, this would only be 100 to the 6th power (or 1,000,000,000,000 --one trillion) things.

As for me, I'm dubious.

Anonymous said...

I was just beginning to research whether or not Pullman used Bruno's memory wheel for inspiration for the Golden Compass ( a break from what I really should be researching)and on first search your blog was the only thing that popped, I am going to keep looking but I thought I'd tell you, you weren't the only one who made that connection. I read about the Memory Wheel in Glut by Alex Wright, but as a YA lit lover I immediately connected to Pullman.