Anthony Metivier from Magnetic Memory outlines why using Bible memory software could be counterproductive to your attempts to memorize the Bible. He also talked about how to memorize Scripture in many languages and how to use the memory palace technique.
Or you can listen to the Memorize What Matters podcast on your favorite player:Listen to “Stop Using Your Mobile Phone to Memorize the Bible (w/ Anthony Metivier)” on Spreaker.
More on Anthony Metivier:
- Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@AnthonyMetivierMMM
- Official Website: https://www.magneticmemorymethod.com
Anthony Metivier Interview Transcript:
So how did I get into memory? Well, really the sad part about it, but the good thing about it is I was in a deep depression while doing my research for the early stages of my PhD, and it was actual depression. I had been hospitalized at one point and needed medication, and I was what you would maybe call like a zealous science person. So when they say take pills, I say how many, that sort of thing. And I would do the research myself, and even with a manic depression in the mix, I would be talking with the doctors as much as they would let me talk, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But then the depression would hit, and then I wouldn’t talk to anybody at all for days and days on end. So anyway, somehow I dragged myself up to campus one day, and I saw some street magicians in the middle of this winter because at York Lanes, which is part of York University in Toronto, they reproduce an outdoor location indoors.
And this was around the time that YouTube was just coming into the world and David Blaine was all the rage. And these people come up to me and they do a magic trick, and it reminded me of when I was a kid and I was into magic. And that’s where I found memory techniques. The long story short is I tried to evade reality and was putting aside all my problems, but I found that I could focus not on my biblical Hebrew that I had to study, not on French philosophy, none of that stuff, but card magic for sure. And in Card Magic is the holy grail of magic tricks, which is any card at any number. You don’t necessarily need a memorized deck, but it sure helps. And so I memorized the deck and I instantly saw that anything that is on a card can be memorized that way. So I just started extracting all of this stuff onto index cards, memorized it that way. And I just noticed a boost in mood wasn’t cured or anything like that. And years later I saw the Tim Dowley research that shows that us specifically using method of Loki helps people with ptsd, D symptoms with depression and so forth, really. And I think that’s exactly what saved my life in that situation, and I never stopped using them ever since.
Yeah, I mean, I think that you, you’ve got the magnetic memory method, which relies almost, is it almost exclusively on the method of lokai, the memory palace? Is that correct?
Well, yes and no.
The way that I see the techniques and experience them, which is not my invention to experience ’em this way, but I see it in the ancient text, is that all information is spatial. So the Greek is Stan Topo Septa, which is from Tailies, which means space is ultimate because it contains all things. And if you look in Aristotle’s Day Memorial, he’s taking that to the level of the alphabet, and he literally talks about entering the alphabet in the middle, which I interpret as a memory palace or method of Loki encoded set of spaces where you have A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and he’s doing basically what I interpret as Herman Ebbing housey and serial positioning effect. And so it’s just awesome, basically. Yeah. So yeah, I focus on the method of logo, but it seems to me way beyond terms, way beyond our words for things.
It’s about space itself. Every letter of the elephant, and if you look in Jordano Bruno, he’ll say, first station of your memory, palace, A inside of that is another A. And then there’s a whole alphabet inside of that alphabet, and then in there is another, and on and on and on. Oh, wow. To infinity. Now, does anybody actually have infinity to go through an infinite series of alphabets? No, but his point is is that nobody runs out of space. You’re never going to run out of memory palaces because the letter A itself can contain another set of memory palaces, which themselves will have spatial properties.
Yeah. Do you think that of all the things that people that approach your methods and even just approach you that are trying to memorize things, whether it’s just where I left my keys, the names of people, or obviously as we’re talking here, text scripture, is does the memory palace or do certain memory techniques work better for different types of things that you’re wanting to memorize? Or does it all just kind of apply as just how you apply that memory technique?
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I mean, you can use mnemonics to remember where your keys are very easy. You have a giant kangaroo landing, like a bomb on your keys, and you use a kangaroo because it starts with K, like all that sort of stuff. But there’s another technique that’s even better, which is put your keys in the same place every time. Right now, a lot of people will just ignore that, but that’s what I do. I’d rather spend my time with memory techniques, memorizing long form texts, et cetera, or just facts then to take that time and energy away to be able to live a chaotic life and have my keys all over the place. No, the keys are in the same place every time. And I think of that as itself, a memory technique. Yeah.
Interesting. Now I’ve seen you because you’re actually memorizing scripture in the original language. Is that correct?
Yeah, and that’s how I started with biblical Hebrew.
Okay. And what’s your motivation behind that and share a little be, I’m so curious about how that works for you.
Well, a couple of things. One thing is that there are multiple translations.
Now, a cool thing that I’ve experienced a lot, especially with my Sanskrit project, which is quite intense, is that I can basically cross compare different translations and against the original. Right. Now, that’s a bit of tricky because even originals sometimes are copied, and there are variations in the text. So what exactly original means I is up to contest. But nonetheless, the point is if you’re going to do textual analysis, not to be a hardnosed about it, but you’re not really doing textual analysis unless you’re taking the original sources into context. And if you can know them, them in your memory, and you can do basically etymology and in interpretive work within a language itself, well then you’re going for the cliche next level. And it just strikes me as much more interesting and rewarding than getting into arguments about so-and-so’s translation. Okay, great. But what does the original text say? And have you ever dwelt upon it deeply? Yeah. And thought about the nature of language, which is the nature of space in many, many ways.
So then when you’re assuming that when you’re speaking the original language, is it Greek or Hebrew? Which one are you memorizing?
I’ve worked on Hebrew, very little Greek. Okay. And just recently started with Latin, with Book of John, which I was drawn to because of the references to light.
Interesting. Okay. So in those cases, I could be wrong. I’m assuming that those aren’t languages that you would consistently use. So when you’re creating memories of those words, are you essentially helping yourself by creating images that remind you of the sounds themselves? Because as opposed to what I might do in English, I would connect it maybe sometimes with the meaning or sometimes with the actual image. But in this case, it’s not probably a language that you’re using all the time. So is it mostly just the sounds?
Well, I try to be as sound based as possible,
But it’s ultimately whatever gets the job done, right? Yeah. So it is interesting what you mentioned about the use of the language. So nobody, well, I shouldn’t say nobody speaking biblical Hebrew. It’s not modern. Hebrew is not that different. But I don’t have anybody speaks Sanskrit with, I don’t have anybody to speak Latin with, et cetera. Sure. But that said, you can do things that emulate conversation with a language. So there’s lots of books. What we really took from the Romans when it comes to Latin, which will patch you into Greek almost automatically. And that gets you into dialogue with the larger language as such, which will give you ideas, and it comes back to etymological ideas that can be quite useful. And then you mentioned you framed it with create images. I try never to create images. First of all, I haven’t created anything.
I was created. And fair enough, if I’m going to, you go to just start with a letter A, I’m not going to try to create an image why I, I’ve seen a statue of Aristotle. I remember Adam West from Batman when I was a kid. Adam Sandler, for that matter, Adam from the old Bible. I can think of the old Bible stuff from church. I have a picture of Adam in the garden with Eve from a painting. Nobody’s created anything. And that’s the number one thing that a lot of people come to me, how do I create any image so fast? And I think I know I’ve done it. Yeah. Created an image or whatever. But I’ve tried over the years to just erase that from my speaking because there I never created anything, ever. And yeah, that’s part of the speed and the dexterity is actually training your mind to have images come to you because you’ve spent a little bit of time getting your hands involved in the curation of images, the gathering. You’ve probably heard the Beastie technique and so forth. Nobody created any of those animals that uses memory techniques. Okay. So it’s the gathering and then the practice of association.
Very cool. I was reading through, you’ve got an entire article on your website, how to memorize Scripture, and I was reading through some of that, and I wanted to ask you a couple questions that I thought were really interesting based on what you wrote in there. First of all, you had some interesting thoughts on using flashcards, or more than likely or better said, not using flashcards. Would you mind kind of expounding on, because I know that there are a lot of people that they use flashcards perhaps because that’s the only thing that they know how to do, right? So what do you say to that person and how do you use any type of flashcard?
Well, in that particular article, one of my goals was to contextualize what is a digital flashcard, not necessarily to outlaw the use of any tool. Sure. But there is also, I mean, just to be a teacher, you have to put your foot down and have a position on things. And a hard line position that I have is something I actually practice. So it is the limitation of digital repetition of any form. So I have spent some experiments with anky and have optimized it and played around with things. But if you’re going to do the art of memory, if you’re going to do mnemonics, this is non-digital. It is not rote. And that doesn’t mean you don’t use other tools, but if you’re going to use those other tools, then you use them in an monic way that avoids rote learning. So what is rote learning?
Rote is hoping, wishing, praying, fantasizing, that endless repetition is ever going to be fun because it’s not right? It’s not saying it doesn’t work. It obviously works. I mean, yeah, we have research that shows that wrote repetition directly leads to the reduction in critical thinking. So we know there are countries that really enforce wrote repetition. We even have now modern countries, so-called countries based on freedom that are having arguments over whether they’re going to allow certain devices on their platforms. And I would say to them, if you’re going to get rid of them, don’t get rid of them because you’re worried about patches in the backend and getting all your data worry about them because they are rote repetition machines that enforce you to see the same things over and over and over again and addict you to the device. And on top of addicting you to the advice, any good thing that you have in there is tethered to the addiction machines that are spiking your dopamine.
And when it comes to scripture memorization, it is leading you away from the goal because you’re going to want these dopamine spikes more and more and more, but proper, if I can use that term so directly. That’s okay. Yeah. Scripture meditation and memorization and meditation upon what you’ve memorized gives you tonic dopamine. And tonic dopamine is when you are away from the devices, did interruption machines, and you are sitting there. I mean, people ask me all the time, what’s AI going to do? Chat, G B T, all this sort of stuff. I said, man, I go in the park and I sit with a book and I memorize it. Wrong guy to ask, thank you. But this is what I think of as the real deal. And so if you want to take the risk, I’m not saying it wouldn’t necessarily work, but it’s the least likely path to getting what you want.
And it’s not for me to say, Hey, this is what you want, but what most people tell me what they want. I want to memorize scripture. I want to be able to recite long form. I want to meditate on it, then get a book. If you’re going to use flashcards, produce them by your own hand. Lynn Kelly says that it’s the ultimate cryptographic method, encryption method. That’s the term that she used in a recent Latrobe University article. Right. So you want the ultimate encryption method. It is actually writing from memory with your hand. So make your own cards. I make my own cards. I mean, I have stuff that I do with logic and non-classical logic. Yeah. This is to help me remember a certain symbol, which is this in one non-classical logic called dialogism, this is the symbol for totality. So I use a totem pole.
The fact that I did it by hand, I looked at this two, three times, and I remembered that that was totality. And then I can read this non-classical logic, and it’s just like, great, I’m not going to sit there. Roe learning. That is repetition. It risks rote, but it’s creative. Repetition gets the hands involved, haptic memory. So anyway, I know that a lot of people want convenience and they love the digital addiction. I love digital addiction too, but it is the opposite direction of the goal that we seek, especially when there are these getting closer to the maker kind of goals or Well, however you frame that in your mind. Yeah. Well, I mean, somebody could say, yeah, well, maybe the maker created digital too, and who knows. But he seems a lot like that version. That story seems a lot. Exactly the kind of outcomes we don’t want and we didn’t want in the 20th century. But it’s like the world is doing all it can to reduce critical thinking so that we get there in a hurry, even worse. So
One of the things that you showed there with your card that I thought was really fascinating when you were talking about flashcards and some of the stuff I’ve seen is you actually talk about not having all of the information on the flashcard. Is that correct? You’re you’re still forcing your brain to have to come up with something.
Yeah, exactly. So one common thing, the odd time, I will cheat, but one common thing is that there is no answer never except for the odd thing. Or I’ll make an example for somebody or whatever, and I’ll end up writing on it. And it looks like there’s an example. But the odd time, I will give myself a couple of more clues because sometimes there are really difficult things that I’m not going to punish myself. I’m not going to be like, well, this is black level and or black belt, sorry, and you’re not, or Black Diamond or whatever. Don’t be the Blue Diamond guy today. And I’m just like, come on, I’ll give myself a little bit extra. But then it’s like that app that you mentioned where you fill in the blanks, but there’s no reason why you can’t make that for yourself and get the extra benefits of having your hands involved, knowing what we know about the science of hands, helping with memory.
But yeah, so the actual scientific term for this is active recall. And what Active Recall tells us is that if you push and well, it’s caught a couple pieces, you give yourself variety, you personalize anything you do, even if you don’t know that you’re using mnemonics or whatnot, but you personalize it by thinking, what does this connect to? What does this remind me of, et cetera. And then the main part of it really is are you willing to push yourself? I even just did it here. I was just like, what was it? Oh yeah, totality, right? Yeah. So by not freaking out, not thinking, oh, I’m dumb, or what have you, just allowing yourself to solve that puzzle. And you’ll be situations like myself often where you’re interviewed or whatnot, and they’ll be this little glitch because you’re actually doing one thing, then you’re called upon to do a monic task or what have you. I had this with Ron Johnson. Ronald Johnson, I think is the proper thing. I never asked him if I can call him Ron, so I’ll correct myself. Yeah, they’ll
But we were talking and I said, Hugo of St. Victor or something, and then I was something like that. And I was actually thinking of my image for Hugh of St. Victor, but I’d use this guy named Hugo. So sometimes you make a little bit of a mess. And that, I think is the other thing, is that people should be willing to take risks because we get, even just in our mother town, we walk over our own. I’m doing it now. I’m speaking English and so forth. So the idea that you would ever avoid that with no matter how much memory training you ever is just, it’s just not practical. It’s not possible.
Interesting. Well, I’m Anthony. Obviously you are very well educated, very well read, very well spoken when you meet up with people, because let’s say I connect with a lot of people who would not consider themselves as the idea of doing memory palace is it’s almost like going and getting a PhD to them, or I don’t want to make it sound that big of a deal, but still, it seems so much work and it seems so higher than, Hey, I’m easier for me to just do rote. Honestly, I don’t even know whether it’s my role to try to convince people to use the memory palace for scripture memory. Or if it’s just like, listen, if you just don’t want to do it, then don’t do it. H how do you approach that kind of just the people that are interested in, let’s say your magnetic memory method that does rely very heavily on that?
There’s no perfect answer for it. Yeah. I can tell you one thing that breaks my heart, and it happens every time that I do it. And in some way I was glad for all the crazy lockdowns that we went through because it prevented me from being able to do memory demonstrations in public. But every time I’ve done a memory demonstration in public, 35 names, 45 names, whatever the amount of people are there, people line up to tell me how they could never do that. And I just, what have I done to fail? And people are always clamoring to explain why that their brain is different, why that they can’t do it. And I just have to sort of default on the, if you love them, let them go or let them be free. But by that same token, I try as much as I possibly can to spend the time and to explain to them, look, it is maybe a challenge in the beginning.
There might be some people who are a little bit ahead of you in terms of having had the good fortune to read more books when they were a kid or be attracted to reading in the first place, et cetera, which maybe gives you a bit of an edge, I don’t know. But I explained to them that I have seen so many people go from telling me I’m just a horrible human being by insisting that this is the way and yada yada. And then coming back to me a year later, two years later, and saying, I’m so glad that I gave this a second chance and I went to this book and suddenly it made sense to me. Or I took action, like you said, and all this Z stuff you’re always saying about the way must be tried and blah, blah, blah, do or do not.
There is no try. All this kind of stuff. And they’re just like, yeah, that’s true. Because what we’re talking about is beyond name and form the best memory. Scientists want to get rid of the word memory. It’s not sufficient to the cause. It doesn’t describe what we’re talking about, memory techniques, the word mnemonics that doesn’t describe what we’re talking about, space being everywhere. We can do all these things. Words, words, words, words, words, words, words. What we are really talking about has no explicit description, but we can make analogies and associations. You might be the kind of person who also doesn’t learn a martial art for whatever reason. Who knows? Damn. You might also be the person who doesn’t go and play chess. Who knows? You might also be the person who never goes to debate club, who knows. But, and you can sit and reflect and say, am I going to be the person who talks myself out of the thing, or am I going to be the person who explores an experiment?
Because that’s all I ever did is explore, experiment. And I’m just lucky that I had the predisposition for it. But I can tell you there’s lots of things I never had a predisposition for. And when I really wanted them, I made it happen. I wasn’t born with an understanding of the internet. But most of what I do on my site, I have very few people helping me. I figure it out. I get it done. Do I want to not necessarily do I like knowing what SSL sockets are and or whatever they’re called, all these things. No. I would’ve rather have been a better entrepreneur who actually could figure out, I mean, you said kind words about me being able to speak, but I can’t figure out how to explain what it is that I want to do. I have to edit my own videos because I’m thinking, okay, so we got Noah’s arc, and then we’re going to have a way to describe how that moving this way, and then that way with numbers and all, it’s like I have to do it myself.
So I had to learn how to edit videos and stuff like that. So at the end of the day, I mean, there’s no easy answer, but I think Yoda got it right. I mean, there is no try. There just isn’t one. If you want this, you can do it. It’s as simple as looking at the alphabet in a particular way. And when you sit down, spend the time consistently enough to rewire your brain, because it does require some neuroplastic engineering and maybe some neurogenesis. When you do that, you will then say, this is as easy as time. My shoes. That guy was right. What was I hesitating for? That’s what I hear all the time. It’s like a mantra. Why didn’t I do this sooner? Yeah, I don’t know. Neither do you. It doesn’t matter. Let’s get get together. Just get started. I think all of us who, and people ask me all the time, I love this technique. It’s touched me. It’s transformed me so deeply. How come I can’t convince other people to do it? And I just say, this is not a cult. It just be a person who loves it and share. And then when you make a mistake in public and you fall flat in your face, just say, look, I’m a person who who loves memory. And what was your name again? Sorry. I’m going to correct my mnemonic here. Yeah,
What a thought-provoking conversation with Anthony. If you want to learn more about him, you can go to magnetic memory method.com. Or he has, as he said, tons of free videos on his YouTube channel that I’ll link to below. Or you can just search for magnetic memory method. If you want to improve your ability to memorize scripture. I hope that you’ll take a moment to subscribe to this channel, but then also watch another one of these great interviews that I’ve done with other people who have memorized extended portions of scripture, who share their tips, their techniques, and their encouragements that will hopefully inspire.
More Bible Memory Resources
Are you interested to memorize more of God’s Word? Check out the various resources we have available on Bible Memory Goal:
- Not sure where to start? Learn where to start with Bible memory here!
- Want to join a community? We have a great Bible memory community here!
- Want to listen to more interviews? We have amazing Scripture memory interviews here!
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