Assimilative Memory; or, How to Attend and Never Forget

Assimilative Memory; or, How to Attend and Never Forget

A. Loisette
A. Loisette

Author: Loisette, A. (Alphonse)
Assimilative Memory; or, How to Attend and Never Forget

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Copyright, 1896, by

All Rights Reserved
Entered at Stationer’s Hall, 1896.

All Rights Reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.


Prof. A. Loisette wishes to call the attention of those who are now for the first time becoming acquainted with his System of Memory Training, that he was the first teacher of a Memory System to announce and to insist that Memory is not a separate faculty whose office it is to carry the recollective burdens of the other faculties—but that Memory is a Physiological and Psychological property of each mental act, and that such act retains the traces and history of its own action, and that there are as many memories as there are kinds of mental action, and that, therefore, Memory is always concrete, although, for convenience sake, we do speak of it in the abstract, and that consequently all Memory improvement means improvement of the Action or Manner of action of the Mental powers, and that what he imparts is the right way to use the Intellect and Attention—and that hence his System does make and must make better observers, clearer and more consecutive thinkers, and sounder reasoners as well as surer rememberers; that in short the fundamental principle of his System is Learn by Thinking, and that his achievements as a mind-trainer are completed when he has helped the student of his System to acquire the Habit of Attention and the Habit of Thinking on that to which he is attending on all occasions, which two Habits combined constitute the Habit of Assimilation, and that when this Habit of Assimilation is thus established in the pupil’s mind, the System as such is no longer consciously used.



  1. Fundamental Principles of Assimilative Memory. 1
  2. Brain Tonic; or, The stimulating Power of the Method. 6
  3. —Educating the Intellect to stay with the senses of Sight and Hearing; or, Cure of Mind Wandering. 15
  4. —Learning any Series of Proper Names—American Presidents. 25
  5. —The Unique Case of the English Sovereigns—How to learn their Succession quickly. 31
  6. Numeric Thinking; or, Learning the longest sets of figures almost instantly. 38
  7. Decomposition or Recomposition, and Intellectual Inquisition; or, How to learn Prose and Poetry by heart, with numerous examples, including Poe’s Bells. 47
  8. Analytic Substitutions; or, A Quick Training in Dates, etc., Dates of the Accession of American Presidents and of the English Kings, Specific Gravities, Rivers, Mountains, Latitudes and Longitudes, etc. 66
  9. Thoughtive Unifications; or, How to never forget Proper Names, Series of Facts, Faces, Errands, Conversations, Speeches or Lectures, Languages, Foreign Vocabularies, Music, Mathematics, etc., Speaking without notes, Anatomy, and all other Memory wants. 109
  10. Acme of Acquisition; or, Learning unconnected facts, rules and principles in the Arts, Sciences, Histories, etc., etc., chapters in books, or books themselves, in one reading or study. 149
  11. —Learning one hundred facts in the Victorian Era, with dates of year, month, and day of each in one thoughtive perusal. 159



What is the basic principle of my system? It is, Learn by Thinking. What is Attention? It is the will directing the activity of the intellect into some particular channel and keeping it there. It is the opposite of mind-wandering. What is thinking? It consists in finding relations between the objects of thought with an immediate awareness of those relations.
What is the Sensuous memory? It is association through the eye or ear of a succession of sights or sounds without any reflection or consideration of the units of the succession, or what they stand for, or represent. It is learning by rote—mere repetition—mere brainless or thoughtless repetition—a mode of learning that is not lasting—and always causes or promotes mind-wandering.
What is Assimilative memory? It is the habit of so receiving and absorbing impressions or ideas that they or their representatives shall be ready for revival or recall whenever wanted. It is learning through relations—by thinking—from grasping the ideas or thoughts—the meaning and the comprehension of the subject matter. This mode of learning promotes attention and prevents mind-wandering.
What are the two stages of the Memory? Let me illustrate: Last week, month, or year you saw a military procession pass along the streets. Note how your mind was affected. Into your eyes went impressions as to the number composing the procession, their style of costume or dress, the orderliness or otherwise of their march, the shape and form of the musical instruments in the hands of the band, and the appearance of the officer in charge on horseback. Into your ears went impressions of the sound of the tramp and tread of the soldiers, the tune played by the band, and any commands uttered by the officer. These impressions commingling in your brain made up your experience of the passing of the procession—your first and only experience of it at that time. I call this the First Stage of the Memory—the stage of the First Impression, which is always the precursor of the Second Stage.
What is the Second Stage of the Memory? This moment you recall what? Not the procession itself; for it is no longer in existence. You saw and heard it then, but you do not see or hear it now. You only recall the impression left upon your mind by the procession. A ray of Consciousness is passed over that impression and you re-read it, you re-awaken the record. This is the Second Stage of the Memory—the revival of the previous experience—the recall to consciousness of the First Impression. The First Impression with no power to revive it afterward, gives no memory. However great the power of Revival, there is no memory unless there was a First Impression. There are three conditions of memory—(1) Impression. (2) Its Preservation. (3) Its Revival. We are mainly concerned here with the Impression and its Revival.
There are (five) kinds of memories rising from the natural aptitudes of different individuals—(1) First Impressions are apt to be feeble and the power to revive them weak—a poor memory. (2) First Impressions are usually weak but the power to revive them is strong—still a poor memory. (3) First Impressions are usually vivid but the power to revive them is weak—a poor memory. (4) First Impressions on all subjects are strong and the power to revive them is strong—a first-class memory. (5) First Impressions in some particulars are very strong and the reviving power in regard to them is very strong—a good memory for these particulars, or a memory good for mathematics, or music, or faces, or reciting, or languages, &c., but usually weak in most other respects.
Since we are to learn by thinking we must at the outset learn the definition of the three Laws of Thinking.


The first and principal thing the pupil requires to do in this lesson after learning the definition of the following Three Laws—is to be able to clearly understand the examples under each Law, and whether they verify or illustrate that Law.

  1. INCLUSION indicates that there is an overlapping of meaning between two words, or that there is a prominent idea or sound that belongs to both alike, or that a similar fact or property belongs to two events or things as, to enumerate a few classes:—
    • Whole and Part.—(Earth, Poles.) (Ship, Rudder.) (Forest, Trees.) (Air, Oxygen.) (House, Parlor.) (Clock, Pendulum.) (Knife, Blade.) (India, Punjab.) (14, 7.) (24, 12.)
    • Genus and Species.—(Animal, Man.) (Plant, Thyme.) (Fish, Salmon.) (Tree, Oak.) (Game, Pheasant.) (Dog, Retriever.) (Universal Evolution, Natural Selection.) (Silver Lining, Relief of Lucknow.) (Empress Queen, Victoria.) (Money, Cash.)
    • Abstract and Concrete.—[The same Quality appears both in the Adjective and in the Substantive.]—(Dough, Soft.) (Empty, Drum.) (Lion, Strong.) (Eagle, Swift.) (Courage, Hero.) (Glass, Smoothness.) (Gold, Ductility.) (Sunshine, Light.) (Fire, Warmth.)
    • Similarity of Sound.—(Emperor, Empty.) (Salvation, Salamander.) (Hallelujah, Hallucination.) (Cat, Catastrophe.) (Top, Topsy.) [Inclusion by sound is not punning.]
    • Simple Inclusion embraces cases not found in either of the foregoing classes, but where there is something in common between the pairs, as (Church, Temple.) (Pocket, Black Hole.)
  2. EXCLUSION means Antithesis. One word excludes the other, or both words relate to one and the same thing, but occupy opposite positions in regard to it, as (Riches, Poverty.) (Hot, Cold.) (Old, Young.) (Damp, Dry.) (Life, Death.) (Love, Hate.) (Joy, Sorrow.) (Courage, Cowardice.) (Health, Sickness.) (Righteous, Wicked.) (Beauty, Ugliness.) (Peace, War.)
  3. CONCURRENCE is the sequence or co-existence of impressions or ideas that have been either accidentally or causally together.—It is either the accidental conjunction of experiences or the operation of cause and effect; since even in the latter case, it is merely the sensuous facts of immediate succession that we know about, as (Gravitation, Newton, Apple.) (Dives, Lazarus, Abraham, Bosom.) (Pipe, Tobacco.) (Michaelmas, Goose.) (Columbus, America.) (Bartholomew Diaz, Cape of Good Hope.) (Grandmother, Knitting.) (Socrates, Hemlock.) (Bruce, Spider.) (Nelson, Trafalgar.) (Demosthenes, Seashore, Stammering, Pebbles.) (Job, Patience.) (Wedding, Slippers, Cake.) (Wellington, Bonaparte, Waterloo.) (Depression, Fall of Silver.) (Lightning, Thunder.)

[In the case of the following pairs, one word has been so often appropriated to the other, that there seems to be something in common in the meaning of the terms—but it is not so, they are mere cases of Concurrence, but of almost indissoluble Concurrence. For instance, a man might examine a “spade” in all its parts and might even make one after a model, and not even know what “dig” means. The mention of “dig” is as likely to make us think of pickaxe as of spade. “Spade” does not mean “dig,” nor does “dig” mean spade. “Dig” merely means the action of the “spade,” or the use to which it is put. Hence this pair of words does not furnish an example of Inclusion. But as “dig” is frequently appropriated to “spade”—as we have often thought of those words together—this is a case of strong Concurrence. The term “swoop” is almost exclusively applied to “eagle.” A certain action or movement of the eagle is termed swooping. But “eagle” does not mean “swoop,” nor does “swoop” mean “eagle.” We always think of “eagle” when we think of “swoop,” but we do not often think of “swoop” when we think of “eagle.” It is not In., but Con.]
(Spade, Dig.) (Razor, Shaving.) (Coffin, Burial.) (Chair, Sitting.) (Scythe, Cut.) (Sword, Wound.) (Pen, Write.) (Ears, Hearing.) (Road, Travel.) (Food, Eating.) (Paper, Write.) (Wine, Drink.) (Worm, Crawl.) (Bird, Fly.) (Eagle, Swoop.) (Hawk, Hover.) (Ram, Butt.) (Teeth, Gnash.) (Wheel, Turn.) ←ToC



Building. Dwelling. } In. by G. & S.
If we examine the meaning of these two words—Building and Dwelling, we find that both indicate structures made by man. This idea is common to both. Now when we find that two words express the same thought, either completely or partially, we say that it is a case of Inclusion, because the pair of words contains or includes the same idea. Inclusion is the first law of memory.
There are several kinds of Inclusion. What variety have we here? Let us see. Building applies to many kinds of structures; house, stable, church, depot, store, etc. It is applicable to all of these in a general way, but it designates none of them. But dwelling means a special kind of structure—a building occupied by man—a place to live in. This pair of words therefore illustrates Inclusion by Genus and Species, indicated by the abridgement, In. G. & S. or simply by In. Other examples: “Planet, Mars;” “Mountain, Vesuvius;” “River, Mississippi;” “Building Material, Potsdam Sandstone;” “Fruit, Peaches.”
We may for convenience include in this class, cases of the Genus and the Individual as “Man and George Washington;” “Judge, Hon. John Gibson;” “New Yorker, Hon. W. W. Astor;” and cases of Species and the Individual, as, “Frenchman and Guizot;” “American, Abraham Lincoln.” And also Co-equal Species under a common Genus, as under “Receiver” we may include “Can” and “Bin”—under carnivorous birds we may include the Eagle and the Hawk. “Head-Covering, Hat, Cap;” “Hand-covering, Gloves, Mittens;” “Foot-covering, Boot, Shoe.”
Dwelling. House. } Synonymous In.
Inhabitability by man is the thought common to both of these words. Being nearly alike in meaning, we call them a case of Synonymous Inclusion, indicated by “Syn. In.” Other cases: “Near, Close to;” “Likeness, Resemblance;” “Lift, Raise;” “Meaning, Signification;” “John, Jack;” “James, Jim;” “Elizabeth, Bessy;” “Margaret, Maggy;” “Gertrude, Gertie;” “Ellen, Nellie.”

House.  Parlor. } In. by Whole & Part.
Another case of Inclusion. House is the whole containing as it does the parlor, dining-room, kitchen, bedroom, etc. Parlor is a part of the whole house. Hence this pair of words illustrates Inclusion by Whole & Part designated by In. W. & P., or merely by In. We may include in this class for convenience the material and the product as “Bureau, Oak;” “Tower, Brick;” “Harness, Leather.” Other cases: “Wagon, Wheel;” “Razor, Blade;” “Table, Legs;” “United States of North America, New York;” “State, County;” “City, Street;” “Bird, Feathers;” “Year, Month;” “Week, Sunday;” “Engine, Boiler;” “100, 50;” “10, 5,” &c.

PARlor.      PARtridge. } In. by S. & s.
Here we see that there is nothing in common in the meaning of the words, but there is the syllable “Par” belonging to both alike. It is the same in spelling in both words, and virtually the same in pronunciation, the same by Sight and by sound, represented by In. by capital S for In. by sight, and In. by small s for In. by sound, or merely by In. Examples: “Nice, Gneiss;” “Pole, Polarity;” “Popular, Popgun;” “Jefferson, Madison.”

Partridge. Feathers. } In. by W. & P.
Partridge is the name of the bird and feathers constitute part of the Partridge. Other cases: “Coat, Buttons;” “Elephant, Trunk;” “Bottle, Neck;” “Pen, Nib;” “South Africa, Cape Colony.”

Feathers. Light. } In. by A. & C.
Feathers are things perceived by touch and sight. They imply the quality of lightness, but say nothing about that quality. Light has several meanings. Here taken in connection with feathers, it means nearly destitute of weight, or the quality of lightness. It is an abstract term that describes an attribute, but feathers are things and therefore concrete. Hence the pair of words illustrate Inclusion by Abstract and Concrete, and is indicated by In. by A. and C., or merely by In. Other examples: “Sour, Vinegar;” “Sweet, Sugar;” “Coward, Fear;” “Swiftness, Express train,” &c.


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Assimilative Memory; or, How to Attend and Never Forget
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