The September sun
A tripwire of smell

On practical wisdom and neurobics


Two traveling minstrels performing a scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet / Lake Chrisann / Sept. 2007

A recent story in the New York Times bemoaned the fact that memorization and recitation are old hat in our current culture. “Oration and recitation, once thought staples of the American school system, have largely been phased out.” Instead we rely upon computer chips to be our memory. Prof. James Engell is quoted as saying that at one time, “rhetoric was an umbrella where you got moral philosophy, the development of literary taste, intellectual prose, aesthetic appreciation, memorization and oral presentation. The ultimate object of this was what the Greeks call phronesis, or practical wisdom.” The story went on to say that “scientists have discovered that memorization exercises can stave off dementia, introducing a new world of 'neurobics'. Memory needs as much of a workout as the abs do.”

As I have been experiencing slight memory problems, I have resolved to try some memorization exercises -- starting with a passage from Shakespeare . . .

“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought” (Sonnet 30)


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