Association types

I may be getting too philosophical here but I notice there’s some interest in that so I’ll throw out something I’ve found concerning one of the most basic building blocks in memory work: creating associations.

There’s the wiki page which outlines techniques:

But I was looking at more of a categorical system. I found a similar system in a related art of critical theory of literature by the French author, Roland Barthes. It’s my belief that memory images are just the visual translation of speaking or writing in sentences so this breakdown of narratives seemed to mimic the visual narratives that we create.

His five major narrative forms, or codes as he calls them, with my idea of memory systems relationships are:

  • Semantic - one element suggests another by connotation. This is the usual planned association for long-term storage. Albert Einstein does something relevant like drawing on a blackboard with a piece of chalk in a classroom.
  • Proairetic - one element has an action (the cause) left without an effect creating suspense. A good way to connect up two memory images like a Person-Action system. Albert Einstein is drawing on a blackboard but suddenly hears an unusual noise, turns, and throws the chalk toward the back of the classroom.
  • Hermeneutic - one element raises questions about why it happened and is resolved after another element resolves it. Albert Einstein throws the chalk toward the back of the classroom. His student, Boris Johnson was so bored he pulled his hair into a mess, and went to the back of the classroom to talk with other bored students. Albert was upset with Boris.
  • Symbolic - similar to semantic but at a deeper level for organization. This is maybe when you associate to an index or category. Albert Einstein holds the physics chair in the sciences building.
  • Cultural - an element that refers to a body of knowledge like groupings of clichés, proverbs, or popular sayings. I would call this an index peg that associations are made to. Albert Einstein is drawing on a blackboard with a piece of chalk in a classroom. The blackboard is on pulleys and can be pulled up into the upstairs classroom for classical mechanics. A radiator has pipes that lead down to the furnace room for thermodynamics. He carries a cell phone that communicates with a cell tower for electromagnetism. The clock on the wall has a rocket where you learn about relativity. And he really annoyed with meowing from a room next door with many boxes but can’t figure out which box it comes from for quantum mechanics.

How do you think that lines up with the visual language of memory images and are there any good principles that we can derive from his thinking here? You can follow up on the original concepts for more detail.