"For we are such Stuff as Dreams are made on; and our Little Life is Rounded with a Sleep."
So far we have discussed only the tried and true—the known and proven in the field of memory. Our system of training has been solidly built upon the foundation of tested principles and demonstrated laws.
That which has been presented in former chapters is definitely known and established as sound doctrine and the points and principles set forth are agreed upon by the leading thinkers in this field. Now, it may be well for the sake of the student who desires to delve into the speculative side of the subject, to devote a little space to the unknown and unproved, or the more impractical and theoretical side of memory.
Like any other big subject, there is much that is unknown about memory, and the last word has not yet been written in regard to it. This speculative side is of fascinating interest. It leads us directly to the study of the subconscious mind—that mysterious part which works while we sleep —those chambers of memory deep below the threshold of consciousness—that great Within of ourselves. Certainly, we should all know and understand as much about it as possible, but it is not the training-ground for the student of memory, and for that reason our attention has been given almost exclusively to the conscious mind, which is the only field where the battle of remembering and forgetting can be fought and won.
I am not alone in thinking that the realm of the subconscious is not a practical working-ground for the development of a keen, retentive memory,, nor in the belief that there is danger of failure for the student who strays too far or stays too long in this uncharted depth of the mind. I quite appreciate the viewpoint of, and agree with, the remarks of Dana on this point.
"Psychology is an estimable, even a fascinating, science but sometimes nonsensical ideas are exploited in its name. Some of the vagaries in researches of theorists concerning the subconscious mind, the subliminal, are extravagant to the verge of the farcical. So, in the matter of memory. It is currently claimed that all details of experience are stored in the sublirainal consciousness, never to be forgotten. . . . The only trouble is that these things cannot be re-membered: There is a paradox to cause angels to weep and imps to grin. Everything is retained in the subliminal mind. There, it is al-ways in memory. But that subliminal mind is below the threshold of consciousness and, so, we know nothing of its contents. From the stand-point of one who desires a practical, working memory this retentiveness on the part of the subconscious mind seems a bleak failure. It offers an inversion of the cynical old saying, 'What you don't know doesn't hurt you." Here, it is a case of ` What you don't know does you no earthly good.'
" Let me confess, at last, that I believe fully in the wonderful subconscious memory, f or I have tested it, and always found it true. But it is no better than a trap for the ambitious student, since it will not work, save under the compulsion of those rules I have set forth with so much insistence. Yet, following these rules, i is amazing to find the developments that are possible.
Working thus legitimately, anything may be recalled. With concentration, day after day, on some seemingly forgotten scene of boyhood, the whole scene will be recalled finally in a perfection of detail. The concentration of memory brings memory. It is amazing indeed how repeated efforts toward one particular theme will bring out from a haze of forgotten hours a clearly outlined memory as of yesterday."