New Ideas for the Memory Binder (Part II)

Published on Thursday, April 09, 2009 in , , , , , , ,

BrainNote: If you like the idea of the Memory Binder, I discuss other ideas for it in Memory Feat Props, Memory Feat Props II and in New Ideas for the Memory Binder (Part I, Part III, Part IV).

With the previous post about poems in the Memory Binder, I've only started to scratch the surface of the possibilities of this great tool.

For some added fun, here's a way to add a little extra magic to the poems. Have someone announce their choice of any poem, and then turn to that poem in the binder (As an example, we'll use the version of Monday's Child from the previous post). Holding the binder so you can't see the poem itsef, ask them to put their finger on any word in the first line of that poem (as an example, let's say they chose the word fair in the first line).

Tell them to spell that word silently, and move their finger one word ahead for each letter. So, if they started on the word fair in the first line, they'd spell f-a-i-r, moving their finger one word ahead for each letter, and end up on child in the second line. Tell them to repeat this process of spelling and finger moving until they reach the last line of the poem, and don't have enough words to continue the spelling procedure.

Remind them to keep that final word secret, and that you'll try and read their mind. Reminding them that they could have chosen any word in the first line, and that it obviously affects the word on which they end up, you divine their final word - good.

How does this work? This uses what's known as the Kruskal principle, developed by Martin Kruskal. Here's the same principle applied to a similar card trick, along with an excellent visual explanation of why the principle works. Since the principle works with any items in sequence, be they cards in a deck or words in a book or poem, it's not hard to adapt the principle. Here's the same effect done with the first three sentences of the book The Wizard of Oz, and another using the first sentence from the US Declaration of Independence. Note that this latter version uses a slightly different version of the procedure, in order to get a better result.

Once you understand the method and principle behind this effect, you should have little trouble adapting it to the poems in your Memory Binder. Go through each poem, and work out what the resulting word on which you'll land in each poem, and use basic linking technique to remember the force word for each poem. You'll want to make sure that the poem is long enough that every word in the first line ends up on the same word in the last line.

Speaking of length, what do you do for longer poems, such as Casey at the Bat? The Kruskal procedure would take too long to remain interesting if you used the full poem. In a case like that, you could just limit the procedure to the first stanza of the poem (or first two stanzas, if one stanza isn't long enough to force a word). Just make sure you remember to include the proper stopping point for the chosen poem in your instructions to the spectator.

If your interested in more details of the principle itself, check out John Allen Paulo's article Who's Counting: A Card Trick and a Religious Hoax, or if you're up to it, Jeffrey C. Lagarias' detailed mathematical paper on the Kruskal Count.

That will wrap up my thoughts on a poetry section, but not on the Memory Binder itself. In the next post, I'll discuss many other uses for it.

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