Let us enter the Memory Palace of Dr Hannibal Lecter, he will not notice our entry since he is busy in the soundproof room that is the Hall of Appreciating Arts. If we are timely and careful, we might be able to leave before he even senses our presence.We can pass through the grand hall, a half-completed mosaic lines the floor that we walk on, it is only half-complete because the palace is in a state of flux - as it always is, always changing, always moving rooms and changing hallways - which, though appearing random, has a strict definition in its seemingly chaotic order.
For aging brains, two hemispheres are better than one
Older adults actually use different regions of the brain than younger adults to perform the same memory and information processing tasks, according to University of Michigan research to be presented Aug. 24 at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.The research, conducted by U-M cognitive neuroscientist Patricia Reuter-Lorenz and colleagues and funded by the National Institute on Aging, provides intriguing clues about how older adults compensate for some of the age-related declines in short-term memory and mental speed that plague so many older Americans."Older adults activate both hemispheres of the brain to remember what younger adults can remember using just one hemisphere," says Reuter-Lorenz, who has just received a new grant from the NIA to continue her research.
(...)Overall, though, Reuter-Lorenz believes that older adults benefit from bi-hemispheric processing. Using two hemispheres instead of one, and more of the brain overall, may allow seniors to compensate for some of the mental declines that come with age, she suggests. Moreover, by identifying precisely which areas of the brain seniors are using to remember and process information, she hopes that scientists and physicians will be able to develop more effective interventions to help seniors maintain and improve brain function well into old age.
The memory palace was a mnemonic system well known to ancient scholars and much information was preserved in them through the Dark Ages while Vandals burned the books. Like scholars before him, Dr. Lecter stores an enormous amount of information keyed to objects in his thousand rooms, but unlike the ancients, Dr.Lecter has a second purpose for his palace; sometimes he lives there.He has passed years among its exquisite collections, while his body lay bound on a violent ward with screams buzzing the steel bars like hell’s own harp.Hannibal Lecter’s palace is vast, even by medieval standards. Translated to the tangible world it would rival the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul for size and complexity.We catch up to him as the swift slippers of his mind pass from the foyer into the Great Hall of the Seasons. The palace is built according to the rules discovered by Simonides of Ceos and elaborated by Cicero four hundred years later; it is airy, high-ceilinged, furnished with objects and tableaux that are vivid, striking, sometimes shocking and absurd, and often beautiful. The displays are well spaced and well lighted like those of a great museum. But the walls are not the neutral colors of museum walls. Like Giotto, Dr. Lecter has frescoed the walls of his mind.He has decided to pick up Clarice Starling’s home address while he is in the palace, but he is in no hurry for it, so he stops at the foot of a great staircase where the Riace bronzes stand. These great bronze warriors attributed to Phidias, rased from the seafloor in our own time, are the centerpiece of a frescoed space that could unspool all of Homer and Sophocles.Dr. Lecter could have the bronze faces speak Meleager if he wished, but today he only wants to look at them.A thousand rooms, miles of corridors, hundreds of facts attached to each object furnishing each room, a pleasant respite awaiting Dr. Lecter whenever he chooses to retire there.Fearfully and wonderfully made, we follow as he moves with a swift stride along the corridor of his own making, through a scent of gardenias, the presence of great sculpture pressing on us, and the light of pictures. His way leads around to the right past a bust of Pliny and up the staircase to the Hall of Addresses, a room lined with statuary and paintings in a fixed order, spaced wide apart and well lit, as Cicero recommends.Ah… The third alcove from the door on the right is dominated by a painting of St. Francis feeding a moth to a starling. On the floor before the painting is this tableau, life-sized in painted marble. A parade in Arlington National Cemetery led by Jesus, thirty three, driving a ’27 Model-T Ford truck, a “tin lizzie,” with J. Edgar Hoover standing in the truck bed wearing a tutu and waving to an unseen crowd. Marching behind him is Clarice Starling carring a .308 Enfield rifle at shoulder arms.
At the moment, the East wing of the memory palace - set in a deeply gothic style with sweeping spires in grey elaborate framework and goblins peering from the corners of hallways; befitting its true nature - is growing by the moment, especially as Dr Lecter's mind grows more and more angry, as it does now in the Hall of Appreciating Arts. The East wing has always existed here, albeit on far smaller a scale but it always existed in some sense, from the very birth of the palace in his mind. But perhaps it was only a window before, looking out onto the palace grounds. Still, it was always there and slowly, over the years, corridors and floors appeared, however the doors remained locked, even to the good doctor, but now his key is starting to open locks and he is beginning to discover new and terrible things in his mind.Tread lightly now, for Dr Lecter is almost ready to leave the Hall, which is on the opposite wing from us in this vast palace, yet that is close enough for us to worry. There is nowhere in this palace farther away than a few strides through the nearest door. Everywhere is linked here, much like the neural pathways of the brain - firing neutrons along synapses and propagating signals that are readily symbolised by a man rushing through corridors and doorways as the doctor suddenly does now, leaving the Hall of Appreciating Arts in a fit of fury and passing through the room of eternal abominations. It is here that his memories of stillborn births and grotesque human deformities from his time in medical school were manifested, and it was in the dark dungeons of his school many years ago where he first discovered that his taste could stretch to…the unusual.The dungeon of this palace is the sickly underbelly of sheer insanity itself and it is a place that we cannot ever hope to probe. Indeed, the good doctor himself never ventures there consciously and the key is always kept safe in his breast pocket. Only when falling into the darkness of psychosis does the doctor find himself there, in the pitch black, slime-covered dungeon with things that have no names, and he always leaves immediately, for the things there would consume him entirely.We hide in the shadow of the grand staircase as Dr Lecter storms across the grand hall, he is spitting out balls of fire like a dragon disturbed from its sleep. It appears that he has been angered by an artist. Already, we can hear more grindings from the East wing as it continues to grow, its walls spreading out further, encompassing other rooms in its nightmarish grandeur.He has passed and we are now free to move upstairs, the doctor is engaged in the filing room, busy organising for tomorrow's patients. We move around the sharply inclining cyclical staircase, passing the famous Salvador Dali painting of Christ on the cross along the way, Dr Lecter's ironic memento to his own persecution. A memory palace is not without its own cruel sense of humour.We move into the gothic halls, its grey stone walls occasionally brightened by a vibrant splash of red like a gout of blood. Deeply crimson velvet curtains hang on either side of nightmarish portraits - this is a dark place, one fraught with Dr Lecter's own horrible dreams, much too horrible to describe - but we are also seeing the thoughts of his patients, and our great doctor's desire to harm them. He has the desire to harm those who are an affliction upon the polite and non-discerning world, the free-range rude in other words.To our immediate right we find a portrait of Martin Tellingsworth, before and after. In the before portrait we are shown a strange façade, a person with the lips of a woman, hair of a woman, yet the beard and eyes of a man, someone trying to be something they are not. That is what angers Dr Lecter about this man, his desire to shed that which he has, his irrefutable need to lose all that defines him. After…well, that is not for me to describe, someone else shall do that and it pains me too much…I can feel Martin's agony as should you, still vivid and screaming from the portrait, reaching out to us.Dr Lecter enters our hallway and we are easily caught, however, the good doctor does not choose to see us. He is obviously aware of our presence and respectfully, we must withdraw. Although we shall pause for the briefest of moments to observe the creature in his own habitat, to see how he marks his territory and keeps it safe from harm.Much fascination is placed on the contents of a memory palace, while not many venture to guess what lies beyond the doors of such a magnificent structure. In Dr Lecter's palace there are a great many rooms , the insides of which are only for himself, but there is a world beyond these doors, outside of the palace.We watch as Dr Hannibal Lecter stands by the huge window at the end of the east wing, this window seems to grow larger as he stares out, and we are quickly blinded by a bright whiteness as snow stretches off to the infinite horizon. If we were to be a fly on the wall, far enough above the good doctor for him to miss - engrossed as he is with the happenings outside - we would see what he sees:A pair of rough-looking, unshaven woodsmen with desperate eyes sunken in blueish sockets are traipsing through the snow purposefully, their mouths in thin, resolute lines. They are dressed in shabby clothes, which are practically coming apart at the seams. One carries a dangerously sharp axe and another carries a set of keys, they move towards a large rickety barn, speed entering their step now before they throw the wide door open. Suddenly we can see children, dozens of them, cowering in a corner like terrified lambs. The woodsmen select one of the young and a small boy protests their decision, only to be struck to the ground like a rag doll. Although this is an incarnation of the doctor it does not affect him and he does not flinch in memory of pain, for it is outside of his palace, banished from his emotions forever. The axe-wielding man passes his weapon to the other and takes the child away. The girl is dragged, kicking and screaming - quite healthily despite the fact that she is nearly starved to death - to a block of wood in sight of the barn. The other man then closes the door, blocking out the frightened wails of the children - who now sound like bleating lambs - and quickly moves to the block, then raises the rusty chipped axe high above his head.
The doctor catches our intent gazes, the bright glint of red in his maroon eyes is enough warning for us to withdraw, our privileges are spent, we leave speedily, past the horrific portraits and the wailing gargoyles spitting blood, spiralling down the staircase and across the mosaic, breaking out from the confines of the palace and into the bright whiteness of escape…
Somtimes our couple dances at dinnertime. Sometimes they do not finish dinner.Their relationship has a great deal to do with the penetration of Clarice Starling, which she avidly welcomes and en courtages. It has much to do with the envelopment of Hannibal Lecter, far beyond the bounds of his experience. I is possible that Clarice Starling could frighten him. Sex is a splendid structure the add to every day.Clarice Starling´s memory palace i building as well. It shares som room with Dr. Lecter´s own memory palce - he has discoverd her in there selveral times - but her own palace grows on its own. It is full of new things. She can visit her father there. Hannah i at pasture there. Jack Crawford is there, when she chooses to see him bent over his disk - after Carawfor was home for a month from the hospital, the chest pains came again in the night. Instead of calling an ambulance and going through it all again, he chose simply to roll over to the solace of his late wife´s side of the bed.(...)It is hard to know what Starling remembers of the old life, what she chooses to keep. The drugs that held her in the first days have had no part in their lives for at long time. Nor the long talks with at single light source in the room.Occasionally, on purpose, Dr, Lecter drops a teacup to shatter on the flooer. He is satisfied when it does not gather itself together. For many months now, he has not seen Micha in his dreams.