I’d like to invite you to close your eyes.
Imagine yourself standing outside the front door of your home. I’d like you to notice the color of the door, the material that it’s made out of. Now visualize a pack of overweight nudists on bicycles. They are competing in a naked bicycle race, and they are headed straight for your front door. I need you to actually see this. They are pedaling really hard, they’re sweaty, they’re bouncing around a lot. And they crash straight into the front door of your home. Bicycles fly everywhere, wheels roll past you, spokes end up in awkward places. Step over the threshold of your door into your foyer, your hallway, whatever’s on the other side, and appreciate the quality of the light. The light is shining down on Cookie Monster. Cookie Monster is waving at you from his perch on top of a tan horse. It’s a talking horse. You can practically feel his blue fur tickling your nose. You can smell the oatmeal raisin cookie that he’s about to shovel into his mouth. Walk past him. Walk past him into your living room. In your living room, in full imaginative broadband, picture Britney Spears. She is scantily clad, she’s dancing on your coffee table, and she’s singing “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” And then follow me into your kitchen. In your kitchen, the floor has been paved over with a yellow brick road and out of your oven are coming towards you Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion from “The Wizard of Oz,” hand-in-hand skipping straight towards you.
你站在，自己家门口的外面，请留心一下门的颜色，以及门的材质，现在请想象一群超重的骑者，正在进行一场自行车赛，向你的前门直冲而来，尽量让画面想象得栩栩如生近在眼前，他们都在奋力地踩脚踏板 汗流浃背，路面非常颠簸，然后径直撞进了你家前门，自行车四下飞散 车轮从你身旁滚过，辐条扎进了各种尴尬角落，跨过门槛，进到门厅、走廊 和门里的其他地方，室内光线柔和舒适，光线洒在甜饼怪物身上，他坐在一匹棕色骏马的马背上，正向你招手，这匹马会说话，你可以感觉到他的蓝色鬃毛让你鼻子发痒，你可以闻到他正要扔进嘴里的葡萄燕麦曲奇的香气，绕过他 绕过他走进客厅，站在客厅里 把你的想象力调到最大档，想象小甜甜布兰妮，她在你咖啡桌上跳舞，并唱着”Hit Me Baby One More Time”，接下来 跟着我走进你的厨房，厨房的地面被一道黄砖路覆盖，依次钻出你的烤箱向你走来的是，《绿野仙踪》里的多萝西 铁皮人，稻草人 和狮子，他们手挽着手蹦蹦跳跳地向你走来，
Okay. Open your eyes.好了 睁开眼睛吧，
I want to tell you about a very bizarre contest that is held every spring in New York City. It’s called the United States Memory Championship. And I had gone to cover this contest a few years back as a science journalist expecting, I guess, that this was going to be like the Superbowl of savants. This was a bunch of guys and a few ladies, widely varying in both age and hygienic upkeep.
我要给你们讲一个每年春天在纽约，都会举办的奇异竞赛，叫做全美记忆冠军赛，几年前我作为一名科技类记者，去报道这项竞赛，心里想着 大概那儿得像，怪才的”超级碗冠军赛”一样热闹吧，一大堆男人和屈指可数的女性，从小孩儿到老人 有些还不怎么注意个人卫生，
They were memorizing hundreds of random numbers, looking at them just once. They were memorizing the names of dozens and dozens and dozens of strangers. They were memorizing entire poems in just a few minutes. They were competing to see who could memorize the order of a shuffled pack of playing cards the fastest. I was like, this is unbelievable. These people must be freaks of nature.
And I started talking to a few of the competitors. This is a guy called Ed Cook who had come over from England where he had one of the best trained memories. And I said to him, “Ed, when did you realize that you were a savant?” And Ed was like, “I’m not a savant. In fact, I have just an average memory. Everybody who competes in this contest will tell you that they have just an average memory. We’ve all trained ourselves to perform these utterly miraculous feats of memory using a set of ancient techniques, techniques invented 2,500 years ago in Greece, the same techniques that Cicero had used to memorize his speeches, that medieval scholars had used to memorize entire books.” And I was like, “Whoa. How come I never heard of this before?”
所以我开始采访参赛者，这位叫Ed Cook，是从英格兰来的，他在那儿接受了最好的记忆训练，我问他 “Ed 你是什么时候开始意识到，自己是记忆天才的?”，Ed答道 “我并不是什么专家，其实 我的很一般，来参赛的每一个人，都会告诉你他们的记忆力只是一般水平，我们都在训练自己后，才能完成这些奇迹般的记忆游戏，我们运用了一系列古老的技巧，这些技巧是希腊人在两千五百年前发明的，西塞罗正是用了这些技巧，来记忆他的演讲稿的，中世纪学者用这种技巧来背诵正本书籍的内容”，我惊讶不已 “哇噻 怎么我从来没听说过呢?”，
And we were standing outside the competition hall, and Ed, who is a wonderful, brilliant, but somewhat eccentric English guy, says to me, “Josh, you’re an American journalist. Do you know Britney Spears?” I’m like, “What? No. Why?” “Because I really want to teach Britney Spears how to memorize the order of a shuffled pack of playing cards on U.S. national television. It will prove to the world that anybody can do this.”
我们站在竞技大厅外，聪明过人 令人惊叹，而又稍有些古怪的英国人Ed，对我说 “Josh 你是个美国记者，你知道小甜甜布兰妮吧?”，我茫然不解 “什么? 当然 为什么要问这个?”，“因为我真的很想在，美国国家电台上教会布兰妮，怎样记住一整副打乱的牌的顺序，就能证明这是人人都可以做到的了”，
I was like, “Well I’m not Britney Spears, but maybe you could teach me. I mean, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?” And that was the beginning of a very strange journey for me.
我说 “虽然我不是布兰妮，但你也可以教教我呀，总得找个人开教嘛 不是吗?”，接着 一段非常奇特的历程在我面前展开了序幕，
I ended up spending the better part of the next year not only training my memory, but also investigating it, trying to understand how it works, why it sometimes doesn’t work and what its potential might be.
I met a host of really interesting people. This is a guy called E.P. He’s an amnesic who had, very possibly, the very worst memory in the world. His memory was so bad that he didn’t even remember he had a memory problem, which is amazing. And he was this incredibly tragic figure, but he was a window into the extent to which our memories make us who we are.
途中我遇到了很多有趣的人，其中一个叫E.P.，他患有健忘症 他的记忆力，恐怕是世界上最差的了，他的记忆能力差到，甚至记不得自己有健忘症，真的很神奇，虽然他是个悲剧角色，但通过他 我们能了解到，记忆在何种程度上塑造了我们的人格，
The other end of the spectrum: I met this guy. This is Kim Peek. He was the basis for Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie “Rain Man.” We spent an afternoon together in the Salt Lake City Public Library memorizing phone books, which was scintillating.
情况的另一个极端是 我遇到了这样一个人，他叫Kim Peek，他是Dustin Hoffman在电影《雨人》里的角色的原型，我和他花了一下午，在盐湖城公共图书馆里背电话簿，让我大开眼界，
And I went back and I read a whole host of memory treatises, treatises written 2,000-plus years ago in Latin in Antiquity and then later in the Middle Ages. And I learned a whole bunch of really interesting stuff. One of the really interesting things that I learned is that once upon a time, this idea of having a trained, disciplined, cultivated memory was not nearly so alien as it would seem to us to be today. Once upon a time, people invested in their memories, in laboriously furnishing their minds.
回家后 我读了许多关于记忆的论文，写于两千多年前的论文，用拉丁文写的 从古代，一直到后来中世纪期间，我学到很多很有意思的事儿，其中一个就是，曾经，训练 规束 培养记忆力的这种概念，完全不像如今那样陌生，曾几何时 人们寄希望于自己的记忆，能不遗余力地装饰自己的心灵，
Over the last few millenia we’ve invented a series of technologies — from the alphabet to the scroll to the codex, the printing press, photography, the computer, the smartphone — that have made it progressively easier and easier for us to externalize our memories, for us to essentially outsource this fundamental human capacity. These technologies have made our modern world possible, but they’ve also changed us. They’ve changed us culturally, and I would argue that they’ve changed us cognitively. Having little need to remember anymore, it sometimes seems like we’ve forgotten how.
近几千年来，人类发明了一系列技术，从字母表到卷轴，到法典 印刷机 摄影技术，电脑 智能手机，让我们能越来越轻松地，外化记忆能力，让我们从根本上，把这种基础的人类能力拱手让出，这些技术让现代生活变为可能，但同时也改变了我们，不仅在文化上，我觉得也在认知上，不再需要费劲去记忆，有时会觉得我们已经忘了如何去记忆，
One of the last places on Earth where you still find people passionate about this idea of a trained, disciplined, cultivated memory is at this totally singular memory contest. It’s actually not that singular, there are contests held all over the world. And I was fascinated, I wanted to know how do these guys do it.
A few years back a group of researchers at University College London brought a bunch of memory champions into the lab. They wanted to know: Do these guys have brains that are somehow structurally, anatomically different from the rest of ours? The answer was no. Are they smarter than the rest of us? They gave them a bunch of cognitive tests, and the answer was not really.
There was however one really interesting and telling difference between the brains of the memory champions and the control subjects that they were comparing them to. When they put these guys in an fMRI machine, scanned their brains while they were memorizing numbers and people’s faces and pictures of snowflakes, they found that the memory champions were lighting up different parts of the brain than everyone else. Of note, they were using, or they seemed to be using, a part of the brain that’s involved in spatial memory and navigation. Why? And is there something the rest of us can learn from this?
但对比受控制的比对目标的大脑，记忆大赛冠军们的大脑，确实有一处很有趣的不同 很说明问题，这些人被送去做功能磁共振，扫描大脑时，当他们在记忆数字或人脸或雪花图案时，研究人员发现记忆大赛冠军们，的大脑激活的区域，跟普通人不太一样，值得注意的是 他们看来是在用，脑中在空间记忆和导航时会用到的部分，为什么? 我们可以从中得出什么样的结论呢?，
The sport of competitive memorizing is driven by a kind of arms race where every year somebody comes up with a new way to remember more stuff more quickly, and then the rest of the field has to play catchup.
This is my friend Ben Pridmore, three-time world memory champion. On his desk in front of him are 36 shuffled packs of playing cards that he is about to try to memorize in one hour, using a technique that he invented and he alone has mastered. He used a similar technique to memorize the precise order of 4,140 random binary digits in half an hour. Yeah.
这是我的朋友Ben Pridmore，赢得过三次国际记忆大赛冠军，在他的台前，有三十六副打乱顺序的牌，他要在一个小时内记下全部，用的是一种他自己发明的 也只有他会的技巧，用与此类似的方法，他曾一字不差地背下了，4140个任意排列的二进制数，只用了半个小时，很牛吧，
And while there are a whole host of ways of remembering stuff in these competitions, everything, all of the techniques that are being used, ultimately come down to a concept that psychologists refer to as elaborative encoding.
And it’s well illustrated by a nifty paradox known as the Baker/baker paradox, which goes like this: If I tell two people to remember the same word, if I say to you, “Remember that there is a guy named Baker.” That’s his name. And I say to you, “Remember that there is a guy who is a baker.” And I come back to you at some point later on, and I say, “Do you remember that word that I told you a while back? Do you remember what it was?” The person who was told his name is Baker is less likely to remember the same word than the person was told his job is that he is a baker. Same word, different amount of remembering; that’s weird. What’s going on here?
这个概念能用一则幽默的悖论完美诠释，叫做Baker/baker悖论，简单说来就是，假设我让两个人去记同一个词，我跟你说，”记住有个人叫Baker”，Baker是人名，我又来告诉你 “记住有个人是面包师(baker)”，过了一段时间我又回来找到你们，问 “还记得我之前，叫你们记住的那个词吗?”，”还记得是什么词吗?“，被告知人名是Baker的人，记住这个词的可能性远不如，被告知职业是面包师的那个人，同样的词 导致不同的记忆程度，到底是为什么呢，
Well the name Baker doesn’t actually mean anything to you. It is entirely untethered from all of the other memories floating around in your skull. But the common noun baker, we know bakers. Bakers wear funny white hats. Bakers have flour on their hands. Bakers smell good when they come home from work. Maybe we even know a baker. And when we first hear that word, we start putting these associational hooks into it that make it easier to fish it back out at some later date. The entire art of what is going on in these memory contests and the entire art of remembering stuff better in everyday life is figuring out ways to transform capital B Bakers into lower-case B bakers — to take information that is lacking in context, in significance, in meaning and transform it in some way so that it becomes meaningful in the light of all the other things that you have in your mind.
是因为 人名Baker没有任何特殊含义，没法跟你脑海里，零碎繁杂的记忆产生任何联系，但是面包师(baker)作为一个常用名词，我们都知道面包师是什么，面包师带着搞笑的白帽子，他们手上沾满了面粉，他们下班回到家带着扑鼻的烤面包香，甚至可能有些人有朋友就是面包师，我们初次听到这个词时，马上就会产生各种各样的联想，这使我们能在一段时间后还能回忆起来，其实 要理解记忆竞赛中的，一切奥妙，或在日常生活中改善记忆力的秘诀，仅仅在于想办法把Baker中的大写B，变为面包师(baker)中的小写b，把没有前因后果，没有重要性 没有涵义的信息，用某种方法转化为，有意义的内容，跟脑海里的其他记忆串联起来，
One of the more elaborate techniques for doing this dates back 2,500 years to Ancient Greece. It came to be known as the memory palace. The story behind its creation goes like this: There was a poet called Simonides who was attending a banquet. He was actually the hired entertainment, because back then if you wanted to throw a really slamming party, you didn’t hire a D.J., you hired a poet. And he stands up, delivers his poem from memory, walks out the door, and at the moment he does, the banquet hall collapses, kills everybody inside. It doesn’t just kill everybody, it mangles the bodies beyond all recognition. Nobody can say who was inside, nobody can say where they were sitting. The bodies can’t be properly buried. It’s one tragedy compounding another. Simonides, standing outside, the sole survivor amid the wreckage, closes his eyes and has this realization, which is that in his mind’s eye, he can see where each of the guests at the banquet had been sitting. And he takes the relatives by the hand and guides them each to their loved ones amid the wreckage.
这种精确记忆的技巧，在两千五百年前的古希腊就已出现，后来将其称为记忆宫殿，发明这种技巧的过程如下，有个叫做Simonides的诗人，他要去参加一个晚宴，其实他算是被请去做表演嘉宾的，因为在那个年代 炫酷派对的标准，不是请D.J.来打碟 而是要请诗人来颂诗，他站起来 背出了他的全篇诗作 然后潇洒离去，他刚走出门口 晚宴大厅就塌了，砸死了里面所有的人，不仅全体死亡，所有的死者都被砸得面目全非，没人说得清死者都有些谁，没人说得清谁坐在哪儿，导致死者的尸体没法得到合适的殉葬安置，这又加重了整件事的悲剧色彩，Simonides站在外面，作为废墟中的唯一幸存者，闭上眼睛 猛然意识到，在他的脑海中，他眼前出现了所有宾客所坐的位置，他就牵着亲属们的手，穿过废墟 把他们带到了亲人身边，
What Simonides figured out at that moment is something that I think we all kind of intuitively know, which is that, as bad as we are at remembering names and phone numbers and word-for-word instructions from our colleagues, we have really exceptional visual and spatial memories. If I asked you to recount the first 10 words of the story that I just told you about Simonides, chances are you would have a tough time with it. But I would wager that if I asked you to recall who is sitting on top of a talking tan horse in your foyer right now, you would be able to see that.
Simonides当时猛然醒悟的事，大概我们大家也都猜到了，其实是 不管我们，有多不善于记住姓名 电话号码，或是同事的每句指令，我们都拥有异常敏锐的视觉或空间记忆能力，要是我让你们逐字逐句地重述，我刚才讲的Simonides故事的前十个字，应该没几个人会记得，但我敢打赌，如果我让你们现在回想下，在你的门厅里 坐在会讲话的棕色骏马上的，是谁，你们就明白我刚才说的意思了，
The idea behind the memory palace is to create this imagined edifice in your mind’s eye and populate it with images of the things that you want to remember — the crazier, weirder, more bizarre, funnier, raunchier, stinkier the image is, the more unforgettable it’s likely to be. This is advice that goes back 2,000-plus years to the earliest Latin memory treatises.
记忆宫殿的原理，就是在你的脑海里建立一栋想象大厦，并让你想记住的东西，的影像充满其中，越是疯狂 古怪 奇诡，荒诞搞笑 乱七八糟 招人厌恶的影像，就越容易记住，这个建议来自于两千多年前，拉丁最早的记忆学者，
So how does this work? Let’s say that you’ve been invited to TED center stage to give a speech and you want to do it from memory, and you want to do it the way that Cicero would have done it if he had been invited to TEDxRome 2,000 years ago. What you might do is picture yourself at the front door of your house. And you’d come up with some sort of an absolutely crazy, ridiculous, unforgettable image to remind you that the first thing you want to talk about is this totally bizarre contest. And then you’d go inside your house, and you would see an image of Cookie Monster on top of Mister Ed. And that would remind you that you would want to then introduce your friend Ed Cook. And then you’d see an image of Britney Spears to remind you of this funny anecdote you want to tell. And you go into your kitchen, and the fourth topic you were going to talk about was this strange journey that you went on for a year, and you have some friends to help you remember that.
那么 这种说法的原理到底是什么呢，假设你被邀请，站上TED的中心讲台演讲，而你想脱稿完成，如西塞罗在两千年前在TEDx罗马上的演讲一般，他就会这么霸气走一回 而你也想这样，你要做的就是，想象自己站在自家门前，然后凭空想象出，一段完全荒诞疯狂难忘的景象，用来提示你上台要提的第一件事，就是这场诡异的骑大赛，然后你走进房子里，想到甜饼怪物，坐在Ed先生背上的样子，这个景象会提醒你，要介绍你的朋友Ed Cook，然后你脑海里出现了小甜甜布兰妮的样子，你就会想起要讲那个关于布兰妮的小故事，然后你走进厨房，你要说到的第四个话题是，你花了一整年走过的奇妙历程，通过绿野仙踪就可以联想得到，
This is how Roman orators memorized their speeches — not word-for-word, which is just going to screw you up, but topic-for-topic. In fact, the phrase “topic sentence,” that comes from the Greek word “topos,” which means “place.” That’s a vestige of when people used to think about oratory and rhetoric in these sorts of spatial terms. The phrase “in the first place,” that’s like in the first place of your memory palace.
这就是罗马演说家背诵演讲稿的秘诀，并非一字不差 逐字背诵只会平添麻烦，而是记住一个个主题，其实 短语”主题句”，就来源于希腊词”topos”，意思是”地点”，这是古时候，人们谈到演讲或是修辞时，会用到的空间术语，短语 “第一”，就意味着你的记忆宫殿的第一层，
I thought this was just fascinating, and I got really into it. And I went to a few more of these memory contests. And I had this notion that I might write something longer about this subculture of competitive memorizers. But there was a problem. The problem was that a memory contest is a pathologically boring event. (Laughter) Truly, it is like a bunch of people sitting around taking the SATs. I mean, the most dramatic it gets is when somebody starts massaging their temples. And I’m a journalist, I need something to write about. I know that there’s this incredible stuff happening in these people’s minds, but I don’t have access to it.
这简直太有意思了，我对这起了很大的兴趣，后来我又去了更多记忆大赛，我开始萌发了要更详细描写，这种竞技记忆文化的念头，但有一个问题，问题是记忆大赛，其实过程很无聊的，(大笑)，真的 就像一群人坐那儿高考一样，最最激动人心的时刻，也不过就是有人揉了揉太阳穴，我是个记者 总得有东西可写呀，我知道这些人脑子里肯定是惊涛骇浪，但我作为外人无法得见，
And I realized, if I was going to tell this story, I needed to walk in their shoes a little bit. And so I started trying to spend 15 or 20 minutes every morning before I sat down with my New York Times just trying to remember something. Maybe it was a poem. Maybe it was names from an old yearbook that I bought at a flea market. And I found that this was shockingly fun. I never would have expected that. It was fun because this is actually not about training your memory. What you’re doing is you’re trying to get better and better and better at creating, at dreaming up, these utterly ludicrous, raunchy, hilarious and hopefully unforgettable images in your mind’s eye. And I got pretty into it.
我意识到 若我真的想报道这事儿，一定得亲身体验才行，所以我开始尝试着每天早上坐下来看纽约时报前，花上十五到二十分钟，尝试记忆一些事，背背小诗，背背我在跳蚤市场买来的，旧年鉴里的人名，我惊奇地发现这其实非常带劲，要不去尝试根本想不到，有趣在于 其实目标并不是要通过训练提高记忆力，而是你在努力培养改善，创造力 想象力，在你的脑海里凭空造出，那些完全滑稽荒诞胡乱 最好是难忘的影像，而它成为了我的乐趣，
This is me wearing my standard competitive memorizer’s training kit. It’s a pair of earmuffs and a set of safety goggles that have been masked over except for two small pinholes, because distraction is the competitive memorizer’s greatest enemy.
I ended up coming back to that same contest that I had covered a year earlier. And I had this notion that I might enter it, sort of as an experiment in participatory journalism. It’d make, I thought, maybe a nice epilogue to all my research. Problem was the experiment went haywire. I won the contest, which really wasn’t supposed to happen.
最后 我再次回到了一年前报道的那场竞赛场上，我一时冲动 也想报名参加，就当做参与性新闻报道的实验了，我当时想 到时能在前言里调侃一下自己也好，问题是 实验最后得到了意想不到的结果，那场竞赛我赢了，真是完全出乎我预料之外，
Now it is nice to be able to memorize speeches and phone numbers and shopping lists, but it’s actually kind of beside the point. These are just tricks. They are tricks that work because they’re based on some pretty basic principles about how our brains work. And you don’t have to be building memory palaces or memorizing packs of playing cards to benefit from a little bit of insight about how your mind works.
对我来说现在，背演讲稿 电话号码 或是购物单，都是小菜一碟 倒是很不错，但其实这些都不重要了，这些都是小伎俩，这些记忆伎俩之所以有效，是因为它们依仗人类大脑运转的，一些基本原理，并不用真的去建立记忆宫殿，或记下几副牌的顺序，你也完全可以从了解大脑运转原理中，获得一些益处，
We often talk about people with great memories as though it were some sort of an innate gift, but that is not the case. Great memories are learned. At the most basic level, we remember when we pay attention. We remember when we are deeply engaged. We remember when we are able to take a piece of information and experience and figure out why it is meaningful to us, why it is significant, why it’s colorful, when we’re able to transform it in some way that it makes sense in the light of all of the other things floating around in our minds, when we’re able to transform Bakers into bakers.
我们总会议论记忆力很好的人，总觉得那些人是天赋异禀，事实并不是这样，强大的记忆力是可以联系得到的，从最根本的说起 专心致志就能记住，全心投入时就能记住，只要能想办法把信息和经历，转化为有意义的事，就能记住，想它为何重要 为何多彩，当我们能把它转化成为，有前因后果的事，并跟我们脑海中繁杂琐碎的其他事产生联想时，当我们能把人名Baker转化为面包师baker时，
The memory palace, these memory techniques, they’re just shortcuts. In fact, they’re not even really shortcuts. They work because they make you work. They force a kind of depth of processing, a kind of mindfulness, that most of us don’t normally walk around exercising. But there actually are no shortcuts. This is how stuff is made memorable.
记忆宫殿 或是那些，都只是捷径而已，其实 说到底它们都不能算捷径，这方法有效是因为它迫使你思考，它迫使你往更深层次去想，让你更加专注，大部分人平时并不会费力去训练这个，其实捷径并不存在，这一直就是我们能记住事物的原因，
And I think if there’s one thing that I want to leave you with, it’s what E.P., the amnesic who couldn’t even remember that he had a memory problem, left me with, which is the notion that our lives are the sum of our memories. How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by losing ourselves in our Blackberries, our iPhones, by not paying attention to the human being across from us who is talking with us, by being so lazy that we’re not willing to process deeply?
有一件事我希望你们能记住，就是E.P.，那个连自己患了健忘症都想不起来的人，让我深思，得出了一个感想，人生就是我们个人记忆的合集，在短暂的人生里，你还愿意因为黑莓 iPhone，丧失多少瞬间，忽略对面坐着的人，在跟我们交谈的人，变得越发懒惰 不愿意，深究任何事？，
I learned firsthand that there are incredible memory capacities latent in all of us. But if you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.