I use what I call fixed images and key images, but I’m sure there are better names for them!
Essentially, one set of images that reference specific concepts or ideas, that I can use anywhere and recognise - example: I see an old style yellow telephone, I know this is a telephone number. I would include Major System 2-digit images in this group. That’s the “fixed” category.
The second set are the key images, which connect everything to do with that person or event together. For example, when you think of Abraham Lincoln or Albert Einstein, you know what they look like, so I can use them to interact with the fixed images, creating a little scene or event.
Using the same example artist:
Name: Vincent Van Gogh
Major works: The Starry Night, Wheatfield with crows, sunflowers.
- Cut off his own ear.
- Suicide by gunshot.
As a note, I use a modified Major System, as follows:
0=S/Z 1=L 2=N 3=M 4=R 5=F/V 6= b/P 7=T/D 8=J/Ch 9=g/K
I will put standard MS usage words in my examples as alternatives.
Vincent Van Gogh - there are self-portraits of him, and his painting style means I can imagine him like an animation in this style - so he’s reasonably unique, short red hair, clear face shape and beard, intense eyes, I’ve gone with a blue jacket for higher contrast. Alternatively, any actor you’ve seen playing the part would work. He is the “key image” for information about him.
In natural image, for me, he carries a painter’s palette (indicating his art).
If I needed to link his name, I’d include V.I.N.CENT, a robot from the old Black Hole movie, entering a white van being driven by the artist (one handed, palette in the other), who drives into a Goth who says “Oof!” (Vincent to the left, Van central, Goth/oof to the right) I might add the splash of colour on the Goth from the palette flying across in the collision.
I don’t have a fixed image for “name” because, so far, if I don’t know the name, I’ll put a scene like this temporarily into a locus in a memory palace as a place to begin knowing about them and to start a review process.
Birth. My fixed image for births is a diaper with an oversized pin. Diaper-wearing Vincent has a top hat (I associate the 1800’s with top hats, sometimes they smoke like an industrial chimney), which is dribbling foam (for me, F=5, M=3, the more usual image would be a Lamb climbing down onto him from the hat perhaps). Clinging to his middle might be a Sumo the size of a mouse with a mouse’s tail and ears (or moose antlers) (S=0, M=3 → SuMo MouSe → 03-30), but for me it’s a (Mad) March Hare with moose antlers, fighting to grip in the foam.
Death: fixed image of a black scythe. Again, Vincent in top hat, but I’ll make it battered this time. The scythe has cut into the hat. 90 for me is “gas” but standard is peas or bus. So, the cut top hat is leaking a green gas (or peas) , choking Julie, who’s covering her mouth and choking while trying to eat a nougat bar [N=2,9=g, I pronounce it “noo-gaa” because I’m British] (perhaps a NaPkin?)
Major Works: The Major and Vincent are looking at a picture on an easel (it’s facing away from me) at night (perhaps in a wheatfield with crows making noises, or a crow calling and clawing at the picture top?) , and he gives Vincent a big shiny starry medal with dark swirly ribbon for this painting. Vincent is also wearing a wheat-straw hat with a sunflower in it, that bobs as he moves his head.
Now let’s demonstrate adding more information. We discover that he died of a suicidal gunshot to the belly. We could add that Julie backs away as Van Gogh draws a gun and shoots himself in the belly, causing Julie to scream (nougat everywhere) as he collapses. We could add that the green smoke smells like spent gunpowder. Perhaps he steals the gun from Julie using the scythe (there are stories that he stole the gun that killed him). We can include all that without changing the image drastically, but linking in more story.
Vincent birth = Vincent +diaper → links top hat, foam (or lamb) , March hare (or sumo), moose antlers.
Vincent death = Vincent + Black scythe → links battered/cut top hat, green gunpowder choking gas (or peas), choking Julie, nougat bar = died, 1890-07-29. Smell of gunpowder, Uses gun, Julie screams = gunshot suicide. What other details? Shot in belly, stolen gun.
Vincent and the Major = looking at a painting at night, in a wheat field with crows, gets a bright starry medal, wearing a wheat-straw hat and bobbing sunflower. = major paintings: starry night, wheatfield with crows, sunflowers.
So I’ve built all that from an image of Vincent, a big pin diaper for birth, a black scythe for death, and an image of an army Major. I’ve used a “mad March hare” and Julie for months, but you can use your own preference (Americans often use fireworks to represent July, you could use someone marching or Mars for March, etc.) and the Major System for all other numbers. I already have those fixed and reusable images, and by adding Vincent with each I’ve created new stories and details.
I didn’t include the ear bit because it wasn’t relevant to those little scenes. Organising your data is important, so if I included it in birth, death, or major works it wouldn’t make sense and wouldn’t be easy to find. I could have easily added it to the “name” scene, but that wouldn’t leave room for why he did it and might confuse the name itself.
I hope that explains a couple of useful principles.