Stencil Palaces for spatially non-organized data

Hey, fellow mnemonists!
I have noticed that there isn’t much info in this forum and wiki about using the same memory palace many times for long term memorization. The suggested ideas are:

  1. Each time reusing the palace for linked info only

  2. Each time using a different theme for that palace
    Now I’d like to extend these ideas.

LociInTheSky hit the Jackpot here: since the info is already linked, putting them into loci of palace is just a tool to give them spatial relationships.
2. Another example is my garret: I can remember both of its interiors before and after its renovation. I can do this because I got familiar with the first interior (walked around, interacted with its objects) and later also with the second interioir.

In the first case we place objects into already existing loci of memory palace. Since they are quite far from each other (a meter or more for an ordinary mnemonist), the theme of the palace doesn’t change much. We use causal motion (story) to recall different lists of elements we place there.
In the second case we put big objects (furniture) into existing empty room. They are relatively close to each other and quite big, we also change the wallpaper. So the image of the room changes completely. It can be thought as the objects providing a new theme for the garret. The objects aren’t linked, they are just spatially connected. However, memorizing both the interiors would be much easier if we used stories for extra.

Now I would like to propose some new terms:
Stencil Palace – a palace that we use to give spatial relationships to data that lack of it*. We can use it repeatedly for long term memorization. We may also use the same set of loci of this palace each time, then we get the same pattern**. Each time we fill the loci of the pattern with list of info. Then this one pattern of info forms a new Memory Palace (info becomes new loci). Let’s call it (one possible***) Pattern Palace (of that Stencil Palace).
*The first resemblence to stencil - it helps us with spatial cognition, just like stencil directs our hand while drawing shapes.
**The second resemblence to stencil - just like we use stencil repeatedly to draw same pattern shapes, we can select the same set of loci each time (create the same pattern)
***“One possible” in two ways: 1. We can choose different set of loci each time and come up with different patterns. 2. Info in that pattern is unique anyway, so two Pattern Palaces (of the same Stencil Palace) can’t be identical, even if they have the same pattern

Uses of Stencil Palaces:
1. Providing spatial stucture for lists you have remembered using Mnemonic Link System (LocilnTheSky example). You can also link the list together during the placement.
2. Merging loci together into Pattern Palace (garret example).
Majority of us start making new palaces in „empty space“. In that space they can merge existing locations into a Palace, or even create the loci themselves (coming up with completely Imaniginary Palace is even harder). But why not use a Palace you already know and in that Palace do the job. It makes creating new memory palaces easier, because it provides you predetermined spatial relationships (between its loci) for the images you place there (like stencil provides you a predetermined shape). Then you can use that Palace repeateldy for creating new palaces. And as I mentioned in the garret example, you’ll memorize the Pattern Palace faster if you link its loci with each other.

Some extra techniques when using Stencil Palaces:
In case of ordinary palace the important thing is the backgrounds of the loci, which we later use to recall the images we place in the loci. But as already mentioned, in case of Stencil Palace the thing we are interested in is its space, NOT level of detail (e.g. color changing). Thus the palace itself can be somehow faded (then there’s also less chance of interference, bacause you aren’t concentrating on the loci of Stencil Palace, but instead on the info you place there). You can then add a different theme for each Pattern Palace you create (already before starting to build it). Then recalling linked info will be even easier.
If you use one Stencil Palace to create more than two or three Pattern Palaces then in order to recall them all you should place them into another palace (you make a Massive Memory Palace out of your Pattern Palaces) (you could even place them into the loci of their parent Stencil Palace and link them together there :-D). For example you have a palace with 9 loci (best if they had completely different backgrounds, e.g they could all be different rooms (empty rooms, if you wish) – you get 9 different themes), in each you put the replica of the Stencil Palace and then fill each stencil palace with images (similar to gavino’s imaginative floor method, with the difference that the rooms are real).
I use the same technique for my episodic memory palaces. I have Very Big Stencil Palace, which’s replicas I have in 12 loci.Each replica I fill with images of one month. Although images of the same day are already quite well linked (my Story of that day), I still use some extra linking to be sure I don’t forget it. And I definitely have to link the images of the adjacent days together.

Sources used:

  1. Erasing/Reusing memory palaces
  2. LociInTheSky comment
  3. Wiki’s page
Stencil Palace – a palace that we use to give spatial relationships to data that lack of it
I gave you two examples where we had data that lacked of spatial structure: 1. Linked info and 2. Objects/loci that we merge into memory palace. Now I'd like to talk about 2 other cases.

3. Pictures and Movie scenes

My post: The second idea of placing a movie into a locus is to give it 3D shape, which it lacks (when you watch it, you see it more like 2D). E.g. when placing a scene into a empty room you stretch it out in depth, meaning you can also more easily watch the actors from the side or even from their back if you wanted to. Not to mention this only works when the locus itself is 3D, not a poster on the wall or something like that
The same applies even more to pictures, because they are shown only from one angle (in case of movie scenes camera often changes the angle). Of course you don't need the room (Stencil Palace) to perform the stretching part, you could visualize it yourself. But it's easier if you do it in the room (then you already perceive how far the scene's walls are going to be and where exatly you place the actors and objects). Thanks to 3D perspective what you have now achieved is that the movie scene/picture is 1. more memorable 2. makes a better memory palace (Pattern Palace) than before

4. Zooming in

gavino's post: 1. I know some people can cram lots of loci into a small space. I find that quite difficult, so generally don't do this and have looked for other alternatives such as in my recent 'massive memory palace' post.
  1. One tip if you do persist with small areas would be focus in on the specific small locus and then ‘zoom in’ to create a much larger landscape. Then place your images. Don’t try to make the images small, but instead make the location bigger!..

  2. If I am going through the journey in sequence I am vaguely aware of the previous and next image, but there is no reason to widen my focus to the room. However, if I want to, then I can do it and I think it is good practise for your imagination to zoom in and out

Gavino makes a perfect point here. In this post I demonstrate how you can place 4 scenes into the same locus so that each of them occupies the entire location (as opposed to placing them side by side into that locus). The purpose of this is to give each scene maximum space possible (I too with gavino oppose to making images small).
This was the first way to use space more efficiently. But what about zooming in and making the locus bigger?
top's post: > going small scale

Just because the animal in reality is “small” does not mean it needs to be in your mind. An Ant could be scaled up to the size of a mansion. It’s all in your head anyway.

My answer: Yes, I meant that zooming it up to the size of mansion is difficult for me. It takes extra work, because it's left for one's imagination. Simple comparison: In my home I can move around freely, fly from 1st locus (doorway) to 2nd locus (couch). If I want I can zoom out and see them both in the same picture. Seeing the ladybug's leg and eye at the same time is not a problem (can just look up a big picture of ladybug), but visualizing myself on it's leg and then flying above its body to its eye is hard.
Yes, zooming in is hard, and as also gavino said: zooming in is good practise for your visualization. But what does "zooming in" actually mean? The thing is that our visual Depth perception is not very accurate, it depends on many factors and can easily be fooled. For example, visualize a blank page covering all your visual area (it is all that you can see), now in the center of the screen, 2 meters away from you appears a dollhouse (1 meter = ca 1 yard). You could take a few steps and then touch the dollhouse. Now start the exercise again, but this time instead of dollhouse there is your real house. Looks exactly the same, feels like 2 meters away. But this isn't a model of your house, this is the real deal and the distance to it is actually 200 METERS. Instead of taking these 2 steps and seeing a house you could only put your head in, you take many-many-many steps, watch how the house gradually becoming bigger, bigger and bigger, and finally it's so big you can walk yourself in.

Now do the same exercise, but this time the house is in the center of your living room (mine’s is a considerably small 4x4 meter room, if your’s is different then the following distances are just a bit off). The house is supposed to be 200 hundred meters afar from you, but you see it as 2 meters. This doesn’t make sense! The problem lies within the background - you see the distance to left/right wall each 2 m and 4 m to the wall behind the house (in psychology it’s said that the room already has familiar size (find it here))

2…focus in on the specific small locus and then ‘zoom in’ to create a much larger landscape. Then place your images.
Gavino doesn’t specify what happens to the background of the locus (in our case: background - room, locus- the center of the room). So you just have to see the left/right wall 200 meters away and 400 meters to the wall you are facing. If you have a chair by the wall behind the center of the room then it would look like a gigantic chair 400 meters away. If you go near enough to the chair you could walk on it. And now if you place the house in the middle and zoom into it and walk around in the house, the chair wouldn’t move at all.

Are you now getting how hard it actually is to magnify the room? You really have to think and visualize. Changing the existing depth perception accurately isn’t easily done (because of many factors, mostly because of the familiar size)

To ease the process, we could first visualize a 400x400 m2 suburb (If you can recall some real suburb, or a part of city, then use it to visualize the following example. If you can’t, then you can use e.g a part of Privet Drive from Harry Potter 5), and then visualize that suburb being bordered by the room. First visualize yourself into the suburb, see it around you, then place the walls, windows, the chair into the edges of the suburb and finally the house in the middle. Now the room really feels gigantic. (thanks to relative size - we already know the familiar size of the suburb and use it to perceive the depth of the room). This suburb acted as a Stencil Palace (helped us with spatial perception).

So, if you want to zoom in (magnify) a locus, then do the following:

  1. Determine what are the final measures of the locus (with its background)
  2. Find a Stencil Palace at least that big (or even bigger)
  3. Visualize yourself in the Stencil Palace, perceive its depths
  4. Place the bacground of the locus around the Stencil Palace (if Stencil Palace is bigger, then inside it), perceive the new depths of the locus

Via the exercises In the previous post I tried to explain how “zooming in” can be differently understood. But I didn’t actually answer to the question what “zooming in” really is.

Well, in memory palace there are two ways to zoom in.

  1. You zoom in by just getting closer to the object
    Example from previos comment: You step closer to a dollhouse in the center of the room, until your head is let’s say 10 cm away from the house. The house is occupies the same amount of your screen as it would be standing 5 meters from the real size house.
  2. You also change the depth relations (much more difficult to achieve)
    Example: The suburb and living room (from previous comment). Via using suburb we magnified the size of the room from 4 meters to 400. Now you can also walk into the doll/real house that you placed into the suburb. But the image isn’t bigger, they just feel farther away (5 m instead of 10 cm).

I have not yet determined whether real house or a model of it makes better memory palace. Are the images you put there more memorable if they also feel like “far away” (in real house), instead of just being big and close (in model house)? My guess is that it’s not very important whether it feels like 5 meters or 10 cm away, the image just has to occupy a significant part of your “screen”. In this case the 2nd method would lose its importance.
(My guess bases on fact that the model houses from Sims games stick quite good to memory (they can be zoomed close, but they feel like doll houses))

What do you think? Is perceiving object “far away” important?

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