Roscoe Learns to Think – Momento Contemplari

So! This week, I start(ed) Exercise II in Multiple Mentality, upped my daily dose of anapana to twenty minutes, started Session C, and continued to practice my observation exercises.

Exercise II, as most of you are now painfully aware, is the assembly of a list of three-letter words, and then the writing of them, from memory, backwards. I’ve found some ‘stiffness’ or ‘resistance,’ unrelated to interest or lack thereof (which plagued me all last week). It is difficult not to write ‘c’ or ‘p,’ for example, backwards. I’ve taken to writing one set in order (taking full advantage of my mnemonics training) and then writing a second (and third) set disordered. It’s hard not to start “going down the list” (writing “miv” [vim] and not following it with the next words: ale, sty, why, how…) when I’m trying to write it out disorderly, and I found myself alternating lists more than once.

So, tonight, I did an experiment. I interwove the list of words I’d selected, exactly as we did with the alphabet last week. I felt a lot of stiffness, trying to write the word forwards, or write it in mirror-script, and getting stuck on items I hadn’t quite linked well enough. I kept jumping ahead to the next item (jumping, by analogy of the alphabet, from B to C, instead of stopping at Y in the middle). But I felt myself start to loosen up toward the end, and felt a kind of brain split.

I’ll try transposing elements from tomorrow’s list.

Also, Exercise II makes the practice in mnemonics dead easy. Every day, I have to come up with and remember a list of at least thirty items (I’ve been doing fifty and will probably up it). Funny, I learned how to do that last week…I’m still having times where I stumble, of course. But practice, constant practice. Ostinate rigore!

I do believe, ladies and gentlemen, we are doing better than Kahne. He expected us to do only one list, whereas you and I, if we have been doing our homework like good boys and girls, can make seven, or fourteen, or as many as we please, and commit them to memory in shorter time. We can make a new list every day. Or, as I did yesterday, we could remember the entire fifty-item list from the day before…and then create an entirely new one.

I hasten to remind everyone, we could not have done this at the beginning of last week. If you wanted proof, there it is, we are better today than we were yesterday, at least when it comes to remembering sequential lists.

Marissa has climbed on board, at least as far as memory is concerned. She’s at her parents’, now, helping her sister move, and she took my copy of Memory Master with her. We’ve committed to memorizing the provinces of China, by region, by the end of the week. For me, this is a test of my ability to substitute words. For her, a test of associative memory.

And she’s testing me. She had me memorize the account number of our landlord for when I have to deposit the rent myself, then she teased me with her phone number. Tonight, she called me, and asked me what her phone number was. At a slow, measured pace, I recited it to her.

She was much pleased. Tom Smid was right, a better memory can improve your sex life social life.

As to meditation, my suspicion at the end of last week was right. Twenty minutes gives my brain time to settle down, get used to the idea of stillness, and lets me climb deeper into the breath. My notes on meditation have become rather …poetic. For example:

“Touched breath, once deeply: beautiful stillness. Hard to focus, Marissa next room (music, dryer, laughter). Looking forward to tomorrow. Roomscanned before opening eyes, felt languid, rich, all the time in the world.” (Thalass, is this similar to the slowing you felt?)

“Everything seems richer, fresher now. Beautiful stillness.”

“The breath is always there. It is patient, like Lila, like Laurie. Like a lover. Always there for me, always waiting. I need only turn to it, and let all else fall away.”

Harry Lorayne’s “final test of meditation” holds: I feel better after my daily sit. This is very different from last week, where I didn’t feel very different at all. I must revise Learning to Think to start with twenty minutes of anapana, unless some of you have a different story to tell?

They don't know where they're going either.

I’ve still been in a bit of a rut, when it comes to petit perception. Room surveys, window shopping, room surveys, window shopping…when Marissa comes back, I’m going to ask her to sit down and play Kim’s Game with me. Maybe even buy some beers or oranges and taste test, or describe the three or four kinds of incense we have. I could be doing more layered listening, I suppose, it’s quick enough. But Shenzhen is so painful to the ear…if you’ve got any suggestions, please do lay ‘em on me.

So how have you been? Thalass, I remember you were doing the futharc, and wraith, your meditating in the steam room, er, inspired me to try meditating while getting a foot massage. And I know there are more of you out there, plodding along with us. Tell us what it’s like for you.


About R. Jean Mathieu

They say he speaks five languages, was conceived on a chess board, and once seduced a tong boss' daughter and lived to tell the tale. All we know is, he's called Roscoe. You can find more scurrilous lies at and buy his books at View all posts by R. Jean Mathieu

2 responses to “Roscoe Learns to Think – Momento Contemplari

  • rmathieu

    I am amused that all of the ‘Possibly Related Posts’ are about physical training and how to incorporate it into daily life.

  • thalass

    I’ve been having trouble finding quiet time. Between the house chores, and Anastasia and Mel, and sleep… It may end up being easier on my work days, since Anastasia is in day care and Mel is at work. Not much of an excuse, i admit, but y’know.

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